It’s no secret that coaches play a huge role in the lives of their student-athletes. From the fundamentals of the game to the fundamentals of life, a great coach will develop success players while shaping them into successful people.
In Oklahoma City Public Schools, where more than 8 out of 10 students come from economically disadvantaged households, a coach’s role is even more significant because she might be the most important person in her players’ lives.
Whether it’s transporting students home after practice, making sure they have a meal to eat, or simply being a reliable presence, OKCPS coaches go above and beyond to help their student-athletes succeed in all areas of life.
Moore than a Coach
For our first Coach’s Corner interview, we talked with Coach Madison Moore, Wheeler Middle School’s volleyball, softball, and boys’ soccer coach.
Coach Moore is relatively new to the profession but has the poise and presence of a seasoned vet. Earlier this year, she was named the Oklahoma City Public Schools 2019-2020 Middle School Female Sport Coach of the Year for her impact in the lives of student-athletes on and off the field.
In the midst of uncertainty, Coach Moore is game planning for the upcoming school year and sports seasons. But, like any great coach, you can rest assured she and her student-athletes will be prepared to meet any setback head-on.
When did you realize you were meant to be a coach?
I knew I was meant to be a coach for almost my entire life. I grew up in the gym watching my grandpa coach college basketball. My grandpa had a huge influence on me growing up and introduced me to basketball.
If there was a specific event or moment that led you down this path, tell us about it.
I have been coaching for the last 4 years and helping coach for about the last 10 years with the younger groups of my AAU organization.
The moment I knew I was doing what I was born to do was at my grandfather’s funeral in 2017. I saw firsthand the influence he had over his players, both high school and college athletes. He had always played a huge role in my life, but I had no idea the impact he had made in others’ lives.
I strive every day to make that impact with my players and watch them grow as human beings as well as athletes.
What is your favorite thing about being a coach?
My favorite thing about being a coach is that I am able to form relationships with the players beyond the classroom. Being able to be there for my players and help them grow every day into their potential is the best feeling in the world.
What is the most difficult thing about being a coach?
I would say the most difficult thing about being a coach is watching players waste their potential. I try to show my players their potential and speak it into them daily.
A lot of times young athletes, or athletes in general, do not get enough praise for their efforts. I am hard on my players but I try to lift them up more than anything.
What has been your favorite or most memorable coaching moment?
My most memorable coaching moment is with one of my players from last year in the 2019-2020 basketball season. I saw a girl who looked tall and athletic coming through the doors of our school during the first week of classes. I asked her if she planned to play basketball this year. She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said “NO.”
I continued to ask her day after day and she finally agreed to play… fast forward 6 months to the end of basketball season and she was one of our leading scorers and best players.
The students were asked to write down their five-year plan on a whiteboard and take a picture for the yearbook. She asked me to take a picture with her for the yearbook. I ran over to take the picture having no idea what it said. I asked to read it right after and she had written, “To go play college basketball.” My heart melted. That is what coaching is all about. Seeing potential in young players and showing them that they are capable of whatever they put their mind to and work for.
How important are sports in the development of a young person? Why do you feel this way?
I feel sports are very important in the development of young people because it teaches so many core values that they might not otherwise be exposed to or master, such as hard work, responsibility, structure, accountability, and the ability to work well with others.
I watch my players work on these things daily through athletics. Some struggle more than others but we work on these values and skills daily. These values are very important for the players to work on not only in sports but in their everyday life as well.
What do you feel is your biggest responsibility as a coach?
I feel that it is to lead by example. I cannot ask my players to do anything that I can’t or would not do. By holding myself accountable, my players respond better to the direction I am trying to push them in whether it is in athletics or life skills.
What is the most important life lesson you learned as an athlete or through sports?
I learned not to give up on myself or my team. That was huge for me because growing up, just like with anything else, there were times I wanted to quit but I didn’t. Showing myself that I can power through anything taught me a lot about myself and my abilities. I try to implement this in my players’ lives every day.
Did you have a coach that greatly impacted you or taught you something you still remember today?
I played on an AAU team out of East Tulsa growing up for Coach Sammy Mack. He taught me so much about what it meant to be a coach and impact young athletes that need help seeing their potential and having their back through everything.
Coach Mack was one of the toughest coaches I have ever played for but also one of the most memorable because of his dedication to our team and our success. He put in countless hours for us to be able to accomplish everything we did. He showed us what hard work, dedication, and teamwork was all about.
If you could accomplish one thing in your coaching career, what would it be?
I want to make a positive impact on every one of my players. Big or small, I want them to remember “Coach Moore” and have a positive memory of playing for me.
Do you believe new fields and facilities have a positive impact on a school’s student-athletes and sports programs? How?
I watch my students and athletes both use the facilities daily at our school. I have seen some kids open up and play on the courts and fields that I would have otherwise never known they played.
These fields make a huge difference in the culture and fun our students have daily. I will be the PE teacher at Wheeler next year and I cannot wait to use the field and court for my class and be able to teach my students about different sports.
How did your student-athletes react when they first saw the finished Fields & Futures facilities?
Our student-athletes were so excited. Watching their faces light up at their finished product was amazing.
How has COVID-19 affected you and your athletes?
My athletes had to miss their entire spring season as well as the structure and meals that our school provides. This has been a very trying time for student-athletes.
How are you ensuring your team will be ready for the upcoming season?
My main priority is the health and safety of my athletes. As long as they are healthy and safe we can work on the skills in practice.
What are your thoughts about the possibility that there might not be school athletics for the upcoming school year? How will you tend to your players if that’s the case?
I am praying every day that they do not put an end to athletics. That would be detrimental to so many children especially to those who have very little outside of sports.
Do you have any past experiences as a coach or athlete that can help you or your players in overcoming these current challenges?
Not anything particular, but I do feel it is important for them to keep their heads up and focus on the future. Make good choices, focus on school, and be productive human beings.
How have you been communicating with your players? What are their thoughts and feelings right now?
I have communicated with my girls via GroupMe. This is a very trying time but most of them are in good spirits.
How can the community help you, your coaching staff, and your players?
The community can help by supporting the players and the coaches as we continue to navigate through this weird time.
What are some words of advice for the rest of the community?
My advice would be to love and support each other through these hard times. We can get through anything if we do it together.