These days, little league players in Menlo Park don’t heckle other baseball players. At least the ones on Coach Jeff Phillips’ team don’t.
“But that doesn’t mean you can’t make noise,” Phillips clarified.
Phillips is the head coach of Threshers of the Menlo-Atherton Little League. Instead of booing the players who are up to bat, the Threshers cheer for the kids who make great plays.
“When a kid strikes out, we say ‘Good job, Billy’ for the pitch, not that he struck the kid out,” Phillips said, describing one of the ways his team differs from others.
His positive demeanor and perspective of sports earned Philllips a shot at a coaching award coveted by coaches throughout the U.S.
Phillips is one of 50 finalists for the Double-Goal Coach Award that honors people who use sports to build character in youth and teach life lessons.
“Being named a finalist for the Double-Goal Coach Award honors the impact these coaches have on youth, helping them become better athletes and better people,” said Jim Thompson, PCA’s founder.
“No matter which of the 50 national finalists eventually earn our 20 awards, they already are winners, and so are the youth athletes they coach,” Thompson said.
Thompson, who is the former director of Stanford University’s GSB Public Management Program, founded the Positive Coaching Alliance in 1998. Since then, the non-profit organization has touched more than four million lives nationwide, according to the PCA’s website.
In Menlo Park, Phillips develops the baseball skills of 12 kids, each of whom have very different ways of interpreting life. So, he treats every player differently.
“Some kids can take direct criticism,” he said. “Others you have to come at them differently."
His approach to skill development could best be described as a “compliment sandwich,” which, according to Phillips, is threefold: You open up the conversation by talking about something positive that the child did, then transition into what they could have done better. The conversation concludes with encouraging words.
If Phillips wins the award he will be the second coach from the Menlo Park-Atherton community to win the award in the past two years. Menlo School water polo coach Jack Bowen, a former Stanford All-American, earned a Double-Goal Coach Award in 2012.
Both of the coaches exhibit similarities in their team management styles.
“At the beginning of the season, we look to set a tone,” Phillips told Patch. “We’re big on respect, for the rules of the team, the team we’re playing against, and the coaches."
When asked how he feels about being nominated for this prestigious award, he enthusiastically said, “It feels great.”
“It’s a little embarrassing when people come up to me, but it feels good. I’ve put a lot of time into it and love interacting with the kids and families,” he said.
Winners will be announced on March 19, 2013.
Take a look at this PatchClip to see him in action on the field at Willow Oaks.
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