Mentally Tough Mustang Men

For my first blog here, I want to document some of what our team has embraced this season in the 2019 – 2020 season. I won’t bore you in this blog with the details and back story of how I built the team / program at Stevenson, but I would like to share some high-level details that are pertinent to this particular blog post.

Much like a business team, I ensure each team I coach, comes up with a Mission and Vision statement together, this way they are on the same page as to what we are trying to accomplish as a group. I have also included the graphic below in my coaching repertoire for the past 6 years. I think it illustrates to players the crossover between different characteristics it takes to win. In my mind if players can commit to the team, work hard and ensure everyone is having fun, that is a winning formula.


I then introduce the following Acronym as our “Core Values”. These are a set of values and standards that we all expect from each other, both players and coaches. The acronym is H-I-R-T. Is stands for Honesty, Integrity, Respect, and Trust. In my opinion, any high performing team should be rooted in trust. The trick, especially in college where there is a constant turnover of personalities on your team, is how to establish trust as quickly and meaningfully as possible.

I have come to the conclusion that this is done by constantly confirming your credibility, again, this applies to both players and coaches. I believe that your credibility increases based on your honesty, conducting yourself with integrity and respecting everyone around you.

What I am doing is layering on concepts with players and taking every opportunity to exemplify the expectations myself. I do this either by conducting myself appropriately, or by recognizing different situations and coaching players through conversations. It’s unrealistic to expect a large group of people just to respect each other and grow trust organically no matter what age or maturity, let alone a room full of college athletes. So when situations of conflict arise, I take it upon myself to coach players through the resolution, which helps them learn, and continues to grow my credibility with both parties.

Finally, I believe that these concepts need to constantly be reviewed. To do this, I try to find ways to quickly remind them of the focus. Each year I try to do something different and unique to the team so that the whole team owns it and new guys don’t feel like they didn’t have a part in creating it. For the 2019 – 2020 season, our focus so far is on two things:

Being Mentally Tough and being Mustang Men.

Being mentally tough is self-explanatory, but I can tie it back to both the Venn Diagram and the Acronym. By coming up with Mustang men (Mustang being the mascot), I am tying it to the school and creating a quick reference that can be defined however I want. So now, before every game and during tough times at practice, I ask the guys:

Me: “What is the number one thing we are focused on?”

Team: “Mental Toughness!”

Me: “What are we?”

Team: “Mustang Men!”


Then, I walk onto the bench, prepared for the game and ready to coach my Mentally Tough Mustang men.


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