Step 2: Building a championship program with Hall of Fame Coach Sherri Coale. 

Step Two: Establish a Belief System.

When building a championship athletic program (or an organization), Coach Sherri Coale stressed the importance of building a solid culture. Establishing a Belief System was critical to her program’s sustainable success within the culture she was constructing.  

What do we believe in? The answers fly in from various topics and directions if you ask anyone. But these are individual beliefs. To build a team, we need collective thoughts. We need interdependence, not independence.  

For Coach Coale, it began on the practice floor, privately. Coale wanted an approach that valued hard work. Yes, hard work is not drudgery. It is not a chore; it is a component of success. Coale said, “We needed to learn that hard work is a good thing. Not a bad thing.”  It is what is needed and required. Period. Coale said, “This took a long time to sort of shift the mindset.” Again, let us reinforce that we are playing the long game here, not the short and unsustainable game. 

This Belief System sidestepped rules. There were none. Only expectations and standards existed. Coale’s energizer bunny approach, especially early in her career, poked, prodded, and sometimes shoved the program’s newly established expectations and standards. The coaches and, in time, the players lived and modeled these expectations and standards daily. Coale said, “Ten minutes early was on time.” And, like all great coaches and programs, time is critical to success. It teaches discipline, and discipline wins. 

The Belief System would become OU women’s basketball’s religion. It guided their thoughts, actions, and how they spoke to each other and treated others. It was their promise to each other. We are teammates, a team. Yes, the Sooner culture was maturing. 

In time, when players walked off the court at the end of practice with their hearts pounding, legs aching, and sweat burning their eyes, they may ask, is this what winning is supposed to feel like? If so, let’s do it again tomorrow. Privately.  #URtheCulture

Dr. Barry Davis

Share this post