#InspiredCoaching: It’s all about relationships

Penn State Nittany Lions head football coach James Franklin congratulates quarterback Trace McSorley after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Beaver Stadium.
Sep 1, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin congratulates quarterback Trace McSorley (9) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

For Penn State Head Football Coach James Franklin, successful coaching is all about relationships.

His relationships with coaches is what drew him to the sport when he first stepped onto the field as a child and kept him going as he continued to play through college.

“It was coaches that were big brothers, that were father figures in a lot of ways,” Franklin said. “I grew up in a single-parent home for the most part, and my coaches kind of filled that role for me.”

As he sought his master’s degree to pursue a career in psychology, he picked up a coaching job to help pay the bills. Once again, he was amazed at the power of relationships with coaches, this time from the other side.

Coaching connections

“Through coaching, I realized I could connect with people and use the game of football that I loved so much to really make a difference in people’s lives – in some ways, maybe more than I could have through psychology,” Franklin said. “It was my calling.”

Franklin talked with USA TODAY about his love of coaching and his philosophy as part of the Amway Coaches’ Poll partnership between Amway, USA TODAY and the American Football Coaches Association.

The partnership is an example of Amway’s commitment to #InspiredCoaching. The company promotes inspired coaching because when new Amway Independent Business Owners, or IBOs, start their own business, coaching from established IBOs is a key part of their training.

Individual growth

For Franklin, it is his life. Now in his fifth year as head coach of the Nittany Lions, he works hard to build relationships with and among his players. He sets up his locker room to encourage players from different positions and backgrounds to get to know each other.

“That’s what’s great about college athletics, you’re surrounded by so many different people,” he said. “And that’s as much as your education as anything, learning different perspectives and being able to kind of soak all that in and grow – grow as an individual.”

Mentorship

Mentoring is a key part of his approach, too. He and his coaching team use their life experiences to guide their players, “so they can learn from things we’ve done well and from mistakes we’ve made.”

Amway IBO Anthony Melillo does the same thing with the team of IBOs he coaches and advises in their Amway business. It’s one of the best parts of his job, he said.

“Those breakthrough moments are the most valuable to me, when I see somebody catch on way earlier than I did,” Melillo said.

To read more about how Coach Franklin approaches his job and the parallels between coaching on the field or in the Amway business, visit USATODAY.com.

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