An Uncommon Coach: Coach Joe Cluley

Jul 31, 2014

In May, we asked people to nominate an Uncommon Coach in their community for our Uncommon Coaches contest.  The prize was a trip to our Uncommon Coaches Clinic, co-hosted with Rachel’s Challenge, July 17-19.  But more importantly, it was a chance to recognize the dedicated men and women who are out on the fields, courts, tracks, and pools, not only teaching sports but also coaching young athletes who will grow up to be uncommon people.  We had two winners.  One of them is Joe Cluley, from Wichita Falls, Texas.  A world geography teacher at Wichita Falls High School, Joe also serves as the defensive coordinator for the football team and the head powerlifting coach.  Here's a little more on Joe's coaching inspiration and perspective.

Coach who inspired him:

This one is rally easy for me. My Dad, Joe Cluley, has and always will be my inspiration. I grew up around the game of football because of him. He hasn't coached since 1993, but being with him on the sidelines as a young boy is one of the highlights of my life and career.

Everything I am as a man and a coach I owe to him. He is the best man I've ever been around and the best coach I've ever been associated with.

He truly is an inspiration to me everyday, in fact after every game I either call him or go see him and we still talk coaching strategy and game strategy!!

Best coaching advice he’s ever received:

The best advice I've ever received as a coach is also from my father: as a young coach we always talked about how to handle different situations and something that has always stuck with me is my father once told me: "it's not about how many wins, playoff games, or championships you play in, but about how you affect these kids’ lives each day."

I've taken this with me at every sport I've ever coached. He exemplified this, at a playoff game we attended together back in 2004, we walked into the stands at a school he was the head football coach from 1985-1989. Immediately shouts of "Coach Cluley" started ringing out, as his former players came up to hug him and see how he was doing. He lived by these words and I try to do the same thing every day.

Favorite coaching strategy or tool:

There are several different coaching tools or strategies you have to use each day in the hallways and on the practice field. I think the most important one is to show the kids that you're there for them. Shaking a hand, pounding fists, putting your arms around them and just letting them know you care about them is incredibly important. It's important because it builds trust. It allows you to coach harder and players respond better. It becomes essential if during a practice you really have to get on an athlete: after practice you need to go put an arm around that kid and let them know you love them and put anything that happened to practice to rest!