What it Means to Be a Role Model

March 29, 2019

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA, CIC

The moment that a person accepts a high school coaching position, he or she automatically becomes a role model. It isn’t up for debate and there are no exceptions. Programs which operate within the education-based athletics concept require this function or aspect from coaches. They must be role models!

Even though the expectation should be clear, athletic administrators may need to reinforce it with their coaches. After all, one should never assume that everyone understands or is on the same page. Sound reasons and examples may have to be given and counseling, on occasion, may also take place to get the message across that all coaches have to be a role model.

The following are some aspects or elements which need to be emphasized and reiterated periodically with your staff.

  • Treat everyone with respect and professionalism. This includes anyone that a coach comes in contact with – athletes, officials, colleagues, parents, teachers and administrators. While there may be occasions to raise one’s voice in practice sessions or games, it should not be done in an abusive or demeaning manner. Also, this aspect may not be easy considering the other party may be hostile, obnoxious and out of control. But exhibiting respect has to be a requirement.

  • Exhibit sincere concern about the growth and welfare of his or her players. This would involve physical safety and emotional well-being and a coach’s involvement should not be restricted to the court or field.

  • Be honest and ethical. Whether making decisions as to who should start or to follow state rules, there can be no question that coaches always have to do what is right. Hidden agendas and doing things strictly for personal gain without regard to the athletes or what is best for the program are unacceptable.

  • Exhibit a professional appearance. This means wearing appropriate attire – and this will vary sport to sport and in different settings – for practice sessions and during games. If your coaches aren’t sure what is expected, outline your school’s expectations for them. To be considered as a professional, it is vital to start by looking the part.

  • Never use inappropriate or foul language. Since coaches are teachers and represent the school, they always have to write and speak professionally. While games can have emotional moments, this can never be used as an excuse for using inappropriate language. Coaches have to meet this higher standard.

  • Work hard and be diligent. Things won’t always go one’s way, but the amount of effort, planning and organization should never change. Persevere and bounce back after losses or periods of difficulty, because athletes need and look to their coaches for help, guidance and leadership.

While being a role model may not always be easy, it is critically important for your athletes, fans and community.


David Hoch retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach. In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association’s Athletic Director of the Year. Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at: [email protected]

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