Coach Bill Courtney is known for his inspirational leadership as a high school football coach in West Tennessee. His story, as told in the Oscar-winning documentary “Undefeated,” is a shining example of encouragement to create winners on and off the field. Learn how “Undefeated” was a game changer for Courtney and how today he’s recognizing “an army of normal folks” who make a difference in life.
Here’s a winning soundbite from the interview:
“Players win games. Coaches win players. And what I mean by that is you win their hearts and minds. You coach them on things besides the fundamental Xs and Os of the game. You also coach them on fundamentals of tenets like character and commitment, integrity, and teamwork. And a lot of what you do to win players is how you walk your own life. The first place you need to look is the mirror.”
Interviewing a football coach brings so much action and analogy well beyond the playing field. In this podcast, Coach Bill Courtney elevates topics well beyond sports. His wisdom and character shine as he uses real-world examples from his life to model behavior for others. By sharing examples from his youth, he explains that his modest background was not dissimilar to the players he coached at Manassas High School, one of the poorest areas of Memphis. This inspiring interview is story-driven and offers challenges to make us look a bit deeper in ourselves to find and create greater good.
Q. The “Undefeated” documentary shows your remarkable coaching career and the impact you’ve had on your players. Some people have even compared it to the Ted Lasso series calling you a Lasso-type character. How do you describe your coaching philosophy and what sets it apart?
Well, first what’s funny is I’d never seen Ted Lasso and I was in New York doing some press about three weeks ago and the guy said that. He asked me how I thought I compared, and I said, sorry, I’ll answer any question you ask me, but I have no idea who Ted Lasso is. So, I went home, and I watched some Ted Lasso. And I get the comparison in terms of trying to draw out the best of your players in terms of people before they’re actually players. And my philosophy, well I have a number, but in general, I think players win games and coaches win players. I’ve never seen a coach make a tackle. I’ve never seen a coach throw a touchdown pass. I’ve never seen a coach catch a pass or kick a field goal. Coaches stand on the sideline; they don’t do any of that. Players win games.
Coach Courtney goes on to talk about the fundamentals of life and how a coach must illustrate them. He explains how he ended up being a coach – especially since he had no experience. In listening to this podcast, you will gain insight on his story and his unique coaching style. Coach underscores the importance of not being defeated by your circumstances. When one of his players offered the “turkey” analogy, it gives a life-changing perspective on social interaction that will prompt some compelling self-analysis.
Q. What other lessons have you learned about life and about things from your players?
What day? You learn something every day, there’s a story under every helmet…
To me, it’s pretty obvious that we need to drop the preconceived notions about one another based on how we look, or vote, or think, or worship. And we need to start having real conversations about faith and race and creed and politics … until we’re all willing as an army of normal folks to have conversations like that, I think we will continue to be divided and we (will) continue to walk past learning opportunities on a daily basis.
This podcast offers lessons that should not be missed. Coach Courtney takes listeners on a reflective journey about life, priorities, and preconceived notions all of which he suggests we re-evaluate, challenge, and realign to improve our lives. Character counts and actions speak louder than words. Join this team for a life-changing experience.
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