SGG episode #14: Amherst HS (WI) football coach Mark Lusic develops team identity
Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.
Mark Lusic is a teacher and the head football coach at Amherst High School in Wisconsin. By developing an intensive weight training program, developing deep relationships, and building a winning culture, he’s led Amherst to four state championships and built one of the most respected programs in the state. In this episode of SGG, we discuss:
1. Learning from Coach John Koronkiewicz about how to listen and develop relationships.
2. Does “scheme” win games? (no) What does?
3. Make your average players good, your good players great, and your great players “studs.”
4. What does the team talk about in the weight room?
5. Developing a team identity, sticking to it, and putting time into practicing it.
6. The 600, 800, and 1000 pound clubs.
7. How kids develop confidence through weightlifting. (see excerpt from student essay below)
8. Kids needing football more than football needs them.
9. Asking kids to “pay it forward” one day.
10. It’s all about the players.
11. Why he asks his team, “Are you satisfied?” after each game.
12. His annual “life review.”
13. Knowing what to do on 3rd and 1.
14. Being ok with not always knowing the answer right away.
Excerpt from Amherst HS student essay on how weightlifting built his confidence:
"I didn’t always believe in myself. It finally clicked last year. To understand how I found my confidence, you need to know that I have always been a scrawny kid. I wanted to get stronger, so I started going to the weight room in the mornings in middle school. However, I never really saw or felt the results I wanted. Every morning, I would see everyone lifting heavier than me. Even though I felt like giving up, I continued waking up extra early every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and lifting. This went on until Junior year. I knew I was improving, but I thought it wasn’t much.
Junior year was when I figured it out. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else lifting. The only person I compared myself to was who I was the day before. I realized that I am myself, and no one else has any effect on me. Although I still don’t really look like it, I became much stronger than I ever had. I worked hard to improve myself every day.
At the end of the year, we had max out week, which is when we do as much weight as we can for one rep for bench, squat, and deadlift. All I wanted since I started lifting was to make it to the six hundred pound club, which is where your combined maxes added up to at least six hundred. I managed to get 165 pounds for bench press. For squat, I maxed out at 225, and, for deadlift, I maxed out at 275. If you do the math, those numbers add up to 665 pounds. I finally accomplished my goal from middle school. I got my numbers written on the paper in the weight room and a t-shirt, which I wear proudly.
My confidence spread through my life. I felt more confident with my school work. Whether it was someone I normally did not talk to or a complete stranger, I found it easier to talk to people. I also found it easier to ask for help. I always try to learn from my mistakes, but this helped me learn to ask for help, so that I did not have to make mistakes that could be prevented."