ACS: Dell Lever, Ben Lippen School, Columbia, SC

Dell Lever
Assistant Baseball Coach
Ben Lippen School
Columbia, South Carolina
Physical Education teacher
Alma Mater: Newberry College
Twitter: @Dell_Lever

The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career?

I think back to my early high school days is where I first had thoughts of becoming a coach. I played for many coaches and have taken something from each of them while creating my own philosophy. There’s a few that really helped solidify me wanting to coach.

Coaches Mark Kish and Mark Dudley really taught me how the game should be played and how winners should carry themselves on and off the field. They never raised their voices at us but they didn’t have to. The way they handled themselves and treated us made us absolutely not want to disappoint them or let them down.

Coach Tom Myers taught me other aspects successful coaches have. He was fiery and demanding and believed in playing a certain way. But he got the best out of every one of his players.

Lastly, Coach Hu Mills left a huge impact on me. To this day, I tell people he’s the best pitching coach, and one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. His rapport and the way he builds relationships with players is second to none. He taught me how to take what you do seriously but also have fun at the same time.

These four men have left a lasting impression on me and aside from my parents, have been the biggest impact on my life on the field and off.

Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.

Teaching elementary PE has taught me so much. Every day is an adventure, and no day is ever the same. We take a lot of things for granted and overlook so much but teaching will humble you very quick. I’ve learned that my bad days really aren’t all that bad. I’ve also learned that as a teacher or coach, you may be the only smile or positive interaction those kids get. Teaching and coaching go hand in hand; it’s about being a consistent, positive, and enthusiastic leader for each student. Whether we realize it or not, we have the power to make a tremendous impact on the lives of many youth. I keep that with me always. I’m not just teaching or coaching. I’m leading in life.

If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Losses have always hit me hard. I’m the utmost competitor. I think early on I felt any team I coached had to win every game. For the most part I was always surrounded with very talented football and baseball teams. I believe this fed into my thinking. The losses were tough, I felt I didn’t prepare our guys well enough. I was coaching for my own stats. I felt winning made me look good when in reality teaching our players how to play the right way and how to carry themselves on and off the field is what really matters. Looking back at that young coach I’d tell him exactly what I believe now. And that is: coach your players to prepare them for the next level. If you’re preparing them for the next level and teaching them the right way, winning will take care of itself.

Best career or work advice you ever received?

“Be where your feet are.” I know from my own experience as a young coach we all want to move up fast, thinking we are the exception and we’ll climb to the top rapidly. But I’ve learned that it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you are currently is exactly where you are supposed to be right now. So learn all you can and do the best possible job where you are. Things tend to fall into place when you least expect it.

Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?

Man, I can’t just pick one. I’ve got to be different and choose two.

First, I’d like to pick the brain of Josh Niblett, Head Football Coach at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. It’s funny how I stumbled upon him. I was actually looking up a video for my PE class on YouTube and one of his videos was on the side bar. I clicked on the video and was blown away. I then watched all the videos and interviews he’s done that were on there. I took pages and pages of notes. To me, his beliefs and the way he conducts his business while leading young people is what coaching is all about. He’s a man of strong faith and character and believes in his vision. I’d tell anyone who’s a coach, especially a high school coach to look this guy up and learn what he’s about. His passion and energy for leading is unmatchable. Plus, his motivational speeches will make you want to run through a wall!!

Secondly, I’d like to sit down with Coach K from Duke University. To be as successful for as long as he’s been, he is certainly doing something right. His players love him and so do his peers. He’s coaching for more than just the W. He’s coaching to impact lives. Getting to listen to him explain the ins and outs of his philosophy would be invaluable.

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