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Joe Ehrmann On Rewarding Players

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Joe Ehrmann (@JoeEhrmann76), a PCA National Advisory Board Member and winner of PCA's Ronald L. Jensen Award for Lifetime Achievement, is a former NFL Pro Bowl defensive lineman, founder of Coach For America and author of InSide Out Coaching. Ehrmann gained additional prominence when Parade Magazine dubbed him “the most important coach in America” for his unorthodox, but highly effective, coaching at Gilman School in the Baltimore area. Ehrmann was also the subject of Season of Life by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Marx.

Many coaches reward players for their athletic feats, but Joe Ehrmann recommends the coaching staff also recognize players for other contributions in order to affirm young people for exhibiting outstanding character traits. Whether or not athletes are star players, those who come to practice and work hard to improve deserve positive acknowledgement. That approach keeps everyone involved mindful of what is valued and striving toward outstanding character, regardless of talent level.

With his own high school football team, Ehrmann celebrates each player for his successes as an individual, on and off and field. Instead of giving out performance-based awards, he and his coaching staff award players stickers for their helmets based on character traits. If an athlete becomes an Eagle Scout or writes a great paper, he recognizes these accomplishments, as well as when they exhibit exceptional behavior as a teammate. This honors the entirety of a player and affirms positive character strengths.