Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hope Is Not The Best Strategy

"I hope we do better this year."

"I hope that I start."

"I hope that we win the championship."

"I hope that I get recruited by college scouts."

Have you ever said any of those statements?  Have you ever used the word 'hope' in describing something about your athletic team or your athletic career?  Have you ever wished that something was different but did nothing about it?

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN broadcaster, Herm Edwards, once said that "Every goal needs to have a plan or else it's just a wish."

This year, do you believe that you will win, be better or start because you are finally a senior?  Or will you accomplish your goals because you have a plan for how to achieve them?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Prepare to Win

July is here. That means one month left until the start of the high school practice season. How will you spend this month? Will you prepare? Bobby Knight used to say “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.

As a former college basketball coach, we played games in the winter but players were made during the summer. The same is true for the other sports, as well. Great players don’t train because they love training. They train because they love winning.

Think back to last year? Did the last game end well? Did you have regrets? Do you wish that you had work harder or been more ready? Was the role on the team what you wanted?

After one of our team’s games last year, a number of players were distraught. There were even some tears shed. I commented to a number of players “remember this game, remember this feeling…let it motivate you.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keep Athletic Departments Accountable

This editorial appeared in the Chronicle-Tribune on May 21, 2015

We are both grateful and concerned about the effort to plan spending for the Marion High School athletic department. Last week Athletic Director Jamy Bechler came to the school board and said he has been working in the past year to clean up the spending of funds that fall outside of the overall school budget.
“I had a stack of bills numbering about $15,000 and we did not have the money to pay for that when I came in,” Bechler said. “What we did is we tried to stop the bleeding. We tried to stabilize the athletic department and we tried to modify some behaviors in terms of making sure we put into place an expenditure process.”

Other than paying for the transportation of sports teams, public schools don’t use tax money to fund athletics, Bechler said. The department relies on donations and event ticket sales to provide much of the money that goes for things like uniforms and paying officials to referee games.

“The data we have currently goes back to 2006 where we had a CD (certificate of deposit) of $95,000,” Bechler said. “That was essentially our savings. We had a checkbook for $31,000 in 2006. Eight years later when I took over, we had $30,000 in our savings and $6,300 in our checkbook. Over the course of eight years, we lost nearly $90,000. Essentially we are living beyond our means.”

Bechler was appointed director last spring. We are grateful he had the courage to do something to fix the problem while there was still time. He has shown leadership, even though those used to spending on a whim will now have to adhere to a budget. Bechler has instituted a spending process to increase accountability and the fund now projects a surplus balance of $12,000 at the end of this year.

Thank goodness Bechler did the right thing.

But we can help but wonder along with School Board Member Pam Hutchison that if the unchecked spending without a budget went on for so many years, perhaps there are other areas of school finance the board should check and make sure matters are being handled correctly. It might not be tax money, but the athletic department money is public money. We need to have a handle on it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Transforming Marion's Athletic Spending

Bechler addressing the crowd at the Marion turf field dedication ceremony in August
This article was written by the Chronicle-Tribune's Jillian Fellows on May 14, 2015
When Jamy Bechler was appointed director of the Marion High School athletic department last spring, he took command of sports teams with a storied and successful past as well as a mountain of debt from more than a decade of unchecked spending.  

Bechler presented a financial summary to the Marion Community Schools board members at their Wednesday meeting, and the numbers told a story of the highs and lows of athletic spending over the years.

Bechler began by quoting from a financial report put together in 1996 by the athletic director of the time that "the athletic department was very close to dipping into the investment principal in order to meet operating expenses."
That report indicates that the financial situation for Giants athletics has been in poor shape for many years, although current records only date back to 2006.
"The data we have currently goes back to 2006 where we had a CD (certificate of deposit) of $95,000," Bechler said. "That was essentially our savings. We had a checkbook for $31,000 in 2006. Eight years later when I took over, we had $30,000 in our savings and $6,300 in our checkbook. Over the course of eight years, we lost nearly $90,000. Essentially we are living beyond our means."
Immediately after stepping into the athletic director position a year ago, Bechler was faced with debt and unmonitored spending. Bechler and his staff quickly began efforts to turn the finances around.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Marion Student-Athletes Learning Leadership Skills

Some Marion High School student-athletes are learning how to be better leaders in order to help their teams on the field of competition and improve the world around them.

About 25 student-athletes from various teams at Marion met weekly this past semester before school to learn about different leadership concepts.

“The morning sessions taught me a new thing every single week on how to be good teammate and player both on and off the field,” said Luke Oliver, who plays both football and soccer.

The student-athlete leadership training was led by Marion’s Director of Athletics Jamy Bechler.   It was a combination of the IHSAA and NAIA’s Champions of Character programs and Bechler’s own ULeadership initiative, which promotes the concept of “Leadership Begins with U.”

Friday, January 9, 2015

Opportunity Knocks

The Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes will battle Monday night in the first-ever College Football Playoffs Championship Game. Both teams have glaring examples of people who took advantage of opportunities presented to them and didn’t quit or become disruptive to their teams. I will come back to these Bucks and Ducks in a moment.
As a long-time coach and now an athletic director, it pains me every time that I see a student-athlete get disgruntled over playing time or their role on the team. In nearly every case, the player quits. Oh, they might not quit the team and they might not even make a visible show but slowly and surely they cash out mentally. Instead of seeing the opportunity in every challenge, as Winston Churchill used to say, they see the difficulty in every opportunity. Unfortunately instead of persevering, they make excuses and take on a victim-mentality.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Win the Day

As I write this, it is January 1st.  It’s the first day of the new year.  This is a day of new beginnings.  It is a day that gets people thinking about change.   I went to the gym this afternoon for my normal exercise session.  There were a number of new people there that I haven’t seen before.  I think this will become the new normal…at least for a month or so.  New Year’s resolutions abound.  Promises are made.  Commitments are revealed.  The start of a new year is a great time to re-evaluate where you are personally and professionally.  There is no magic to a new year but the perception exists that wonderful things can be accomplished and that we have a clean slate.  It is always good to make long term plans and seek to improve our lives.  However, I think New Year’s resolutions can sometimes be a little daunting.  New beginnings are great but what if our goals are rather large?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Favorite Quotes

In the last issue of THE ENCOURAGING LEADER, we highlighted some of the best books to help you become a better leader.  This issue’s theme centers around quotes.  We asked a number of leaders to write about their favorite quote and what it means to them. 

Just as I am obsessed with reading books, I love quotes.  The first motivational quote that I ever learned was “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal”.  When I was an aspiring junior high basketball player in Michigan, the state’s Mr. Basketball was a player out of Saginaw by the name of Mark Macon.  He went on to have a great career at Temple University.  I saw him featured on a CBS special.  In the segment, he mentioned that quote.  I wrote it out on a piece of paper and taped it to the wall next to my bed.  Every morning when I’d wake up, that was the first thing that I saw.    

That quote still resonates with me.  Through the years, I have worked with many athletes and that quote is still a go-to for me.  The Kentucky Derby was held last week.  Every time I think of horse racing, I am reminded of this quote.  Horses have blinders on that keep them from seeing what is beside them.  All they do is look straight ahead.  They focus on where they need to go.  We’d do well to remember this concept.  Why get caught up in drama, distractions, detours or disillusionment?  Set your eyes on the prize and focus on the goal.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bechler to lead the Marion Athletic Department

The new leader of Marion Giants athletics brings collegiate-level experience and a vision for maximizing student-athlete potential, supporting coaches, and generating community excitement. 

Jamy Bechler will take over as director of athletics at Marion High School starting June 2. He was approved by the Marion Community Schools Board of School Trustees during its regular meeting on May 14.

“There’s a lot of opportunity at Marion,” Bechler said. “You need a visionary leader when you have 20 sports, a wide fan base, and a proud tradition. It’s a big job, and I’m honored to have been chosen.”

Bechler most recently served as associate athletic director and head women’s basketball coach for Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn. He has previously served in various coaching and instructional positions at colleges around the country. His history of visionary leadership in developing high level programs, his emphasis on innovative thinking, and his passion for supporting coaches and helping to provide the tools and opportunities for growth are traits that will help advance Marion Giants athletics.

“Jamy brings to Marion successful experience as a collegiate coach and athletic administrator. He will relate well with our coaches, our student-athletes, our alumni, and our community,” Marion Community Schools Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “His rich experience at the collegiate level will help us prepare our student-athletes for life beyond Marion High School.”

Bechler emphasized the importance of the lessons student-athletes can learn both on and off the field with good leadership in place.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I admit it; I am an obsessed reader.  I normally read 2 or 3 books at a time.  There is the book that I read when I am on the stationary bike; there is my evening time book next to my bed; and oftentimes a book for when I travel.  My wife has a Kindle Fire, but I am old school and prefer paper books so that I can dog-ear the pages and highlight certain sections.

The books highlighted in the latest edition of THE ENCOURAGING LEADER are books that I'd recommend for anyone in any field that wants to be successful.  The books are: