By Daniel Levy
Facebook: Coach Dan Levy
The next three months were some of the most difficult of my career. A lot of people think coaching is a mix of yelling, cursing, and X&O’s. But it’s so much more. Coaching is psychology. Coaching is sociology. Coaching is reading people, situations, context. It’s knowing how to package a message and deliver it so that it is received properly (and nothing is lost between the translation from English to Portuguese). Coaching is a never-ending balancing act of patience and urgency; discipline and compassion; confidence and humility.
But for all their lack of discipline, I did recognize something within my players. They wanted to be great. They wanted to excel. Maybe not all of them, but those who did not were quickly purged. The ones who remained, they had it in their eyes. I could sense a real spark within this team. They truly wanted to be great. They just needed someone to show them how.
Now entering the World Cup break, it seems like as good a time as any to evaluate our progress. With a record of 2-0, the Vila Velha Tritões are undefeated and according to the latest power rankings, the best team in the league. But I will be the first to say that we are overrated—vastly overrated. We do not handle ourselves well early in games, lacking focus, discipline and falling into repeated fundamental breakdowns. Being undefeated may feel great, but it hardly makes you the greatest.
What I am about to say I don’t consider a secret. But coaching—and moreover, leading men—is a paradox of sorts. Whether a leader is appreciated or unappreciated really has so little to do with the how good he is. We are defined by our circumstances. Great coaches experience failure everyday while those lesser find success time and time again due in large part to their situation. A lot of times, good coaching comes down to not screwing things up.
Moreover, being a leader is not about teaching your men to be great. It’s about tapping into the greatness that is already in them. I know I will not always say the right things, and I may fall short more times than not, but as long as we all keep believing in the same thing, we’ll continue to move in the right direction.
In all this has been a historic beginning for the Tritões. An undefeated start. Working with a pro bowl NFL player. Importing an NFL-caliber talent in Nic Harris to play for us, who may be the best player to ever set foot on a football field outside of the United States. But the key to take away from all this is it is still just the beginning. The work ahead is daunting and will require constant diligence, and the margin for error is, at best, razor-thin.
But it is these challenges that we find addicting. They are what lead us to travel the world for a game born in our very backyards. Football. American Football. Futebol Americano. Call it what you will. The name may change, but the game never really does.
So how would I answer that initial question? What would I tell a first-time import to bring with them to their new home halfway across the world?
“Everything.” Bring everything you have. Everything that makes you who you are. Everything you’ve learned. Everything you can teach. Everything you have worked, bled and sweat for.
Now give it up. Willingly, without question, give all of that to your new team. Your new home. Your new country.
Go all in.
If you can do that, exactly that, then I promise you, you will return home with so very much more. More than you could have ever imagined.