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  • Peter Miller

SGG episode #36: Memorial HS coach Michael Harris wants his players to leave as better people


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.

Michael Harris is the head football coach at Madison Memorial High School. He has achieved great success, including leading the Spartans to an undefeated 2019 season. Coach Harris is widely respected across the community as a positive leader on and off the field. On this SGG episode, we discussed:

1. A significant life challenge that he experienced in 8th grade – and the important role that a coach played in helping him through it. “He recognized that I was longing for a sense of belonging.”

2. Playing football at UW-Whitewater.

3. “There are some kids who need football more than football needs them.”

4. The importance of sharing his own story with the team – and asking the players to share their own stories.

5. His team’s four core values: courage, integrity, positive work ethic, and unconditional love.

6. “I want them to leave here as better people.”

7. The importance of being in the building as a teacher at the school. “The students want to see how you respond to uncertainty or uncomfortable situations…It’s up to us to be ambassadors in the building.”

8. Pausing during his team’s games to ask younger children, “what do you see here?”

9. The importance of routines and rituals, including his game-day distribution of black-eyed peas to his team.

10. The importance of life-long bonds being formed through sports.