Ridgefield High School, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Hometown: Mahopac, New York
Education: Roanoke College (BA), Mercy College (MS), Western Governors University (MS)
Email: rosten.adam [at] gmail.com
The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.
The moment I realized that I wanted to make coaching a part of my life and career was when a family friend, Tom Nelligan, asked me to work at his summer basketball camp. I was sixteen years old and I worked with younger campers, 4th-6th grade. There was one camper in particular, Teddy, that was still developing. He was the youngest and smallest on the team but man did he work hard. He had a great attitude, was always smiling and was the consummate teammate. After camp ended every day and the kids were waiting to be picked up, he always asked me to work with him on his shot. It took his whole little body to get the ball up to the ten foot rim and every basket he made was like he won the lottery.
The last day of camp every week, there is a tournament of the teams and our team made it to the championship game. 10 seconds left in the game, we have the ball under our own basket and we call a timeout. Teddy looks me dead in the eyes and says coach I can make the shot. We draw a play where our best player gets the ball and since we know they will double team, Teddy will be wide open. The play didn’t go exactly as planned, our best player ended up hiking the ball between his legs to Teddy but he hit the shot! I remember the moment perfectly as he jumped up as high as he could, arms raised, being surrounded by his teammates. Knowing I helped to create that joy and success is something that drives me to this day.
Outside of mentors, talk about one or more ways you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
One way I’ve learned about coaching was by watching. I’m an avid sports fan so growing up I got to watch some great coaches like Joe Torre, Coach K, and Phil Jackson. Another great resource I have now is the American Baseball Coach Association. The video library is extensive and has everything you need to know. I also enjoy listening to the ABCA podcast hosted by Ryan Brownlee.
I’ve also learned about coaching through my career as a social studies teacher since 2011. Many of the techniques I use in my classroom I use on the field. Creating connections with my students and players is all about personalization. I try to make a personal connection with all my students and players in order to develop trust and a relationship that will have a lasting impact.
Tony Wolfe talks about Goals vs. Purpose. Kevin Wilson calls it your “Why”. What is your purpose or “why” for coaching?
My why for coaching is in a sense to pay tribute to the coaches who influenced me and developed me into the person I am today. Coaching, like teaching, can be a thankless job especially at the youth level. Providing players with the best baseball education I can and creating an environment where they are learning and having fun is why I coach.
If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?
One piece of advice I would give my rookie coach self is that it’s not all about winning. It’s about teaching the game the right way, providing a fun and competitive learning environment, creating relationships and developing young people into future leaders both personally and professionally. Wins will come when the culture falls into place.
Best career or work advice you ever received.
There are two that I would like to share. First, not every kid is going to like you. As a teacher and coach over the past decade I’ve learned that I’m not going to be everyone’s favorite teacher or coach. Working with adolescents it’s very easy to tell when one of them doesn’t like you. It’s not personal, it’s just for whatever reason you’re not their cup of tea. When these situations occur I want the students or players to know that I’m still going to give them the same hard work and dedication in order to help them be successful.
Second, don’t be afraid to be embarrassed in front of your players. This has been one of the soundest pieces of advice I’ve heard and impacted that way I personalize my coaching and teaching. It allows me to be more personable with my players and students and lets them know it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them
What is one thing you didn’t know (or fully understand) about what coaches do before you got into coaching?
One thing I didn’t know or fully understand about what coaches do before getting into coaching is all the preparation. Being a high school baseball coach there is so much that goes into the preparation before the season even starts. Off season lifting and conditioning programs, reserving and setting up times and dates for those things. Going through the inventory of the equipment and field needs, making sure the players are doing what they are supposed to be doing inside the classroom. Then once the season gets going, creating and developing practice plans, film work, scouting, etc. I have a great appreciation for all that my high school coaches went through to ensure we were becoming the best baseball players that we could be
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Living or dead. Who is it?
My dream lunch date with one coach would be Coach K from Duke. The ultimate motivator with a calm demeanor. I would love to pick his brain about culture, developing young men, and how to run a program.