The following interview highlights the passion and purpose of our lead coach, Andy Carriere.
Andy has been part of the GPC coaching team for two years now, and supports a variety of programs ranging from adult mastery classes to junior programs. More than anywhere else, Andy has developed into a specialist with young juniors in environments like camps and leagues. From our perspective, Andy’s greatest skill comes through his listening and empathy.
For the purposes of our broader research into coach motivation within the GPC community, Andy was asked: “why do you feel so much fulfillment in being a Junior Leader?”
His answers are summarized below:
1. Leadership: Being a role model of authenticity
Firstly, I derive much fulfillment from the responsibility inherent in being a role-model. Kids often mimic and become like the adults they look up to. I see this all the time in my work with young athletes, and I know this because when I was a child, I copied the behaviors of grown-ups that I wanted to emulate.
“as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we’re liberated of our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”
The younger a person is, the more innocent their perspective is. At young ages, children simply copy and emulate people and behaviors that bring them happiness and purpose. It’s as if the Innocence presented by these younger players challenges me to be most honest as a coach.
By showing up the best I can, in my own integrity, I am modelling this possibility for others. When these young athletes feel safe to be themselves and to explore with curiosity, the possibilities for self-development are endless. It is fulfilling to see kids stand in their own power and come from a place of love instead of fear.
The younger the player, the less time is spent trying to fit in, be accepted, or impress upon others. This allows for a much more fertile learning environment for both coach and player alike. Interestingly, this authenticity that I am forced to bring as a coach in turn breeds more authentic actions from the young athletes who must feel more free to experiment and learn. It’s a sweet cycle.
Through my experience and observations over my early years as a golf coach, it sometime feels that a student will put their coach up on a pedestal – feeling that the coach may have all the answers and “know it all”.
But in my experience, I have found the reverse to be true in many ways. As a teacher, I often find myself learning so much from my students by being present to them and the experience we are sharing. This often leads me to self-discovery, higher perspectives about golf/life and also such an amazing awareness in knowing that kids themselves have so much wisdom to share through their innocence and being.
Allowing the student to have a voice in their process has allowed me to view perspectives through their lens of life. I enjoy the role of providing small amounts of structure to guide their creative impulses through the game of golf. As a coach, it bring me immense joy to see students succeed through their own imaginations and creations.
3. Empathy: Connections through Emotions
To qualify my thoughts, there is no question that I will never truly know what someone is going through because I haven’t lived in their body or gone through that same experience. Nonetheless, I feel that a most integral aspect of the coaching process is to exude empathy for the person in front of me. I start with the question “how is this person feeling right now”, and once I have one foot in their world I can begin the process of learning with them.
“Birds Fly, Fish Swim, Humans Feel”
The surest way I know is to connect through emotions. It is in the emotions that distinct perspectives find a common ground to communicate from. I have learned to welcome emotions as a starting point for conversations and communication. The closer I can get to knowing what the student is going through will allow me to connect. This connection is so important to build trust and trust is what can take one beyond fear, to a safe place to explore and grow. Trust allows skills to develop, while fear causes skills to wither.
As a coach, I am able to experience through my own lens an experience that another is having. I’ve heard this described as having “one foot in their world and one foot in yours”. When I can relate, empathize and help someone navigate through their own experiences I derive a greater sense of purpose on my own side. I love to provide a feeling to young people that they have a companion in their journey and that another person understands the successes and struggles which are all part of the athletic experience.