Assistants coaches vital to Guilford teams

Assistant coaches at Guilford College understand that to become a head coach, they must embrace and overcome all challenges they encounter.

In her short time on the job, Athletic Director Sue Bower has meticulously developed the Guilford College coaching staff to maintain and reflect Guilford’s core values. She conducts interviews with each person she wants to implement into the coaching staff, even assistant coaches and volunteer coaches.  Bower says that this will not be the end of recruiting staff and is eager to interview other people.

“We are short on numbers in coaches for specific sports, but I am meeting with people still,” Bower said. “You want to hire people who you believe will be really transformative in someone’s life and garner great respect.”

Guilford head coaches may be the in the forefront of their respective sport programs, but the assistant coaches play critical roles in maintaining and rebuilding them.

Assistant track and field coach Marla Lindsay has several responsibilities for her sports program. She, with the help of Director of Track and Field Marty Owens, recruit, coach and mentor her runners. While doing so, Lindsay also is an influential perso in the United States Association of Track and Field. She says that all aspects of coaching with the USATF has transferred over to coaching at Guilford.

“Everything I do with the (USATF), comes here because it helps with recruiting,” Lindsay said. “Resources that are being used there are also helping us bring in athletes.”

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Games has become a catalyst in  recruiting for Lindsay.

“Track and field is big in North Carolina, so when the AAU Junior Olympic Games come here, pretty much everyone from around the United States come here,” said Lindsay. “I represent both the USATF and Guilford College when I go, so I can use it as a recruiting device.”

Lindsay has close connections with Olympic athletes and coaches and she believes, paired with the depth of information given by Owens and Bowers, that she will learn a multitude of information about all facets of track and field.

Assistant basketball coach Ronnie Thomas also has developed a learning relationship with Bowers through the two jobs he occupies at Guilford.

In the summer and most of the early fall semester, Thomas is fulfilling his position as the compliance director. After two years of doing this, Thomas says that he feels this job has allowed him to mesh with the Guilford College coaching staff.

“This job helps me with my connections with the coaches around campus,” said Thomas. “The professional relationship building with my colleagues has been very beneficial for me. It is almost like an internship.”

Bower acknowledges that Thomas’ aspirations are to become a head basketball coach and says that she thinks being a compliance director will help him reach that goal.

“A head basketball coach who has a full knowledge of the compliance of Division III athletics is someone that can be easily picked up because he knows all the rules and regulations,” Bower said. “I am very fortunate to have him because he is an incredible resource and is very bright.”

Thomas has been able to learn from head men’s basketball coach Tom Palombo. He says that his thought process and how he maintains a professional relationship with his players are something that he will use when he becomes a head coach.

“(Palombo) has a great understanding of the game and people,” Thomas said. “So, I take how he is receiving and responding to situations and figure out what is making him think and act that way. He has gifted me a habit of watching film and breaking down your opponents before games. It has increased my critical thinking process and decision making.”

Both Lindsay and Thomas are critical assets to their programs. Bower says that she has informed head coaches to mentor their assistants and show them everything they do. She says that by doing this, it will create an easier opportunity for athletic directors to find acceptable and responsible coaches to bring into their program.

“The assistant coaches are the unsung heroes,” Bower said “They do a lot of work behind the scenes. They make phone calls, recruiting, and handle administrations and they are all working these different opportunities to become a head coach.”