How did a small-town girl from Oklahoma, with zero college coaching experience, become the legendary head coach of one of the biggest women’s basketball programs in the country? It sounds like a movie plot, but this is the true story of Sherri Coale.
As a high school coach, Sherri Coale never dreamed she’d one day be leading one of the biggest women’s basketball programs in the country. But with grit and determination, she rose to the top.
Sherri grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, played college basketball at Oklahoma Christian, and then became a teacher and a high school basketball coach.
Then, Sherri was handed the keys to the University of Oklahoma women’s basketball program. She turned around a struggling program and went on to a Hall of Fame career as the winningest women’s basketball coach in OU history.
In this episode of the Success Through Failure podcast, Sherri shares her wisdom and insights on leadership, building a basketball team from scratch, and overcoming adversity.
This episode isn’t just for basketball enthusiasts; it’s for anyone who wants to learn about life, leadership, and building something great.
Get ready to be inspired by the story of Sherri Coale, a true legend of women’s basketball. Tune in now!
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
Download the Action Plan from This Episode Here
[00:00] Sherri Coale: We lost that game. No telling what could have happened that year. We got the stomach clue. You know? So things happen. And if you think about it in terms of one outcome, one final outcome, you're gonna be miserable.
[00:20] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Welcome to another episode of Success Through Failure. The Show for successful people and for those who want to become successful, the only only show that reveals the true nature of success. Today, I bring you Sherri Coale. I can't believe episode 400 is coming up. 400 episodes of success through failure. All right, so here's what we're doing. We're doing a promotion. To promote that episode, we want to get everybody to listen to that episode. All of your friends and people you know.
[00:51] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So here's what we're doing. We're gonna give away 10 success through failure. T-shirts, these are brand new hot off presses. They're pretty sweet. 10. Success through failure t-shirts are gonna be given away. Here's how you enter to win one. All you have to do is go to any of my social media profiles, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and you'll find a post it's pinned to the top.
[01:12] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: All you've gotta do is like the. Make sure you're following me and then just tag three friends in the comments. That's it, like the post follow me tag three friends in the comments, and you will get entered into the drawing. If you wanna have a bonus entry, go ahead and share the post as well. So that'll give you two entries into the contest.
[01:32] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Listen, I'm not a huge influencer. I'm not Joe Rogan or Tim Ferris or something like that. So, You probably have a fair chance of winning a t-shirt by doing either one of these. If you do both of these, you double your chances. So again, go to any of my social media profiles, go to Jim Harshaw, just Google Jim Harshaw, or Jim Harshaw, Jr.
[01:49] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And you'll find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Find that pinned post and follow me like that post. And then tag three friends who you think would like the success or failure podcast. Tag them in the comments and you'll be entered to win. Share it. You get a second. Here we go. First ever giveaway of the success or failure T-shirt.
[02:09] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Check it out. Thank you. Sherri Coale is a native Oklahoman. She grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. Went to college, played women's basketball at Oklahoma Christian. She had a nice career there. She became a teacher and she was an assistant high school basketball coach, and then she became a head high school basketball coach for seven years.
[02:31] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Okay, so she's teaching in high school coaching a high school girls basketball team, and she gets handed the keys to the program at the University of Oklahoma to the women's basketball program. Imagine that zero experience as a college coach and she gets handed the keys to one of the biggest programs in the country in today's parlance.
[02:53] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: It's a Power Five program. And you know, you wonder how somebody like that could, you know, make that kind of leap. Well, Sherri goes on to a Hall of fame career. Like how does she do it? She breaks it all down for us. She breaks down her wisdom about leading a program, building a program. She took over the program when it was in turmoil.
[03:13] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So much wisdom in this episode about how to live your life, about how to lead and how to build something. If you know somebody, I should say this, you know, somebody who this episode would be great for. Who do you know, who coaches? girls or women's basketball team or even an, any women's team or any sports program?
[03:33] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Any coaches that you know out there, anybody you know who played college basketball? maybe women's basketball. Maybe they are involved in, girls high school basketball. This. Excellent episode for anybody who falls into any of those categories to listen to. So please give this episode a share.
[03:52] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Text your friends, tell 'em about it. Email this, forward this. If you get this email in your inbox every Monday, I send out the action plan. If you're on my email list, just go to jimharshawjr.com/action. You can get this action plan and every single action. Every single freaking episode I've ever recorded of the Success Through Failure podcast, but that comes to your inbox every week.
[04:12] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: If you're getting that, just forward it along to a couple of folks. That's how this thing grows. Thank you in advance for that. All right, let's get into my interview with Hall of Fame legend Women's basketball Coach at University of Oklahoma, Sherri Coale, you were a high school head girls basketball coach for seven.
[04:33] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And then you were handed the keys to a major division one college program in Oklahoma. Like how in the world
[04:41] Sherri Coale: did that happen? Right place, right time, doing the right things. I was really, really lucky to be at a school like Norman High School. It was the second largest school in the state at the time.
[04:52] Sherri Coale: When I took over the program, they hadn't experienced much success. The success they had had had been a long, long time ago. And so I was able to build the program really from scratch and we had a lot of people in town came to watch us play and the community's a very, as you might imagine, where the University of Oklahoma is very sports minded community.
[05:11] Sherri Coale: So our gym would be standing room only for our high school girls games. We won a couple of state championships. We had some really talented players in a six A school. You have some really talented players, and I had the privilege of coaching some amazing young women who were really passionate about basketball.
[05:27] Sherri Coale: We built the program. The people at the University of Oklahoma could see you couldn't help but see. It's right under your nose in this community. And I was teaching and coaching and living my dream I'd never really had, which is kind of strange because I was a very goal-oriented kid growing up, but I never had a goal of being a major college basketball coach because I didn't wanna be a nomad.
[05:49] Sherri Coale: I wanted to raise my family and put down roots and have my kids go to the same school all the way through. That was just sort of had been my experience and it's what I wanted for my children. After teaching and watching a lot of kids moving in and outta school systems and seeing how tough that is for them, I wanted my kids to have roots, and so I didn't really have a hard and fast goal about coaching at a different level.
[06:13] Sherri Coale: I love my life, so I have a three-year-old son. I'm eight months pregnant, and Anne walks a group of men from the community into my office at Norman High School, my coaching office, and they. OU job is open. We think you should, you should apply to it. And I was like, are you drunk? Whatcha are you talking about?
[06:33] Sherri Coale: And they were like, no, no, no, we think you can do it. And I was like, whatever. And I kind of just dismissed it. And then they came back about a week later and said, no, really, here's who you need to call. We really think you should do this. And that's when I began to kind of think about it for the first time.
[06:46] Sherri Coale: And I called Marita Hines, who was chairing the committee and asked her if they would consider somebody who didn't. College coaching experience. And she said, we're gonna hire the best coach. And I had a master's degree, so I qualified in that regard. And I went about the business of trying to decide if I wanted it.
[07:04] Sherri Coale: And people always think that's strange because why would you not want the job at the University of Oklahoma? But I had. The life that I dreamed of, I really did. And I'd never really imagined this sort of life. And so I just went about the business of trying to, a, decide if I wanted to do it, and then b, if I thought I could, because there was no sense in trying to put your name in the hat and go through an interview process if those two things aren't in place.
[07:33] Sherri Coale: So, they were, and I did and they offered me the job. Moved offices across town and I still live in the same house I lived in when I taught at Norman High School. And the kids grew up and went to the same schools and I've had a fairytale sort of career there. It was just, remarkable. the resources, the people.
[07:52] Sherri Coale: The stature of the institution. I really, really landed lucky.
[07:57] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So when you get the job, did you feel like you were in over your head? Was there fear, was there imposter syndrome? Were you just confident or were you naive? I mean, what, take us back to that. Like you get the job, you walk into the office, it's the first day, what are you feeling?
[08:14] Sherri Coale: I was very excited. I was probably, Too young to realize the magnitude of what was going on. I'd just turned 31 years old and I probably, it was a good thing that I didn't know what I didn't know. I had, as I said, I was just about to give birth to my second child, and so my first few months on the job were, I was working, but I was also raising a three year old and a brand new baby, and I used to sit in the living room floor when my daughter was an infant and feed her and put her in the little.
[08:47] Sherri Coale: Basket thing, I don't even know what to call 'em anymore. And I would make job descriptions. I had butcher papers spread all across the living room floor, and I was just so busy that I didn't have time to think about, can I do it? Can I not do it? Do people think I can do it? Do they not? I didn't have time for any of that, and it was such a blessing to be able to just work without the outside noise because I, my life was too full to be able to hear in the.
[09:15] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: You take over a program, you have no college coaching experience. And four years later in the term, the program itself was in turmoil at that point. And then four years later, you make the NCAA tournament. Two years after that you make the NCAA finals. Why do you think you reached success so quickly?
[09:38] Sherri Coale: Oh, great kids, there's no doubt. I mean, Coaches don't win any games without great players. We picked the right players. I think my staff deserves a great deal of credit for picking the right players. And by that I mean when you're starting to build a program, there's a certain kind of person you need, maybe even more than a certain kind of player that you need.
[09:59] Sherri Coale: Don't get me wrong, they gotta be able to score. They gotta be able to play the game at a high level, but that intestinal fortitude, that ability to be responsible for building a thing, to want that, I just think that there are some that do and some that don't, and it doesn't make someone good or someone bad.
[10:16] Sherri Coale: It's just some people are wired to want that weight to be able to wade through that. the world believing that they can, they're just built to be able to do that, and we were able to find some remarkable kids who did that. One of the blessings in disguise, as I look back on it, there was nothing there, Jim, there was nothing.
[10:38] Sherri Coale: There were no recruiting files. There were, there was nothing. I mean, file cabinets were empty. It was nothing. And I hadn't been a college coach, so I. Who are we recruiting? Like okay, we, so we literally started from scratch and I actually tell a story in my book about Felicia Whaley, the first player that I ever signed at Oklahoma.
[11:02] Sherri Coale: You know, you have your class that you inherent the players that are there. And then the first kid I signed in April, which is really, really late to find a good player at all in women's. Was Felicia and she was a kid living right outside of Lubbock, Texas who had dreamed of playing for Marsha Sharp at Texas Tech And Marsh ran outta scholarships in the spring and Felicia was left hanging and I found her through a friend of a friend of a friend.
[11:27] Sherri Coale: The lesson being, use your network, you know, my college coach. Knew someone who knew her high school coach and said, Hey, I don't know if this kid's any good or not, but you might take a look at her. And we called her and she came and visited and she ended up being an honorable mention all-American player for us.
[11:42] Sherri Coale: And she's literally the kid upon whose shoulders we built our program because she was this kid who just would run through a wall for me and she set the tone. She, by her behavior, by the way, she interacted with other teammates by the way she worked. She just set the tone and then we. Like the old Herbal Essence commercial, we began, you know, you tell two friends and you tell two friends and so on and so on, and Stacy Dales, you're gonna wanna play with Felicia Whaley and Caton Hill, you're gonna wanna play with Stacy Dales.
[12:11] Sherri Coale: And that's just how we built that squad that went to the 2002 National Championship game. A lot of hard work it sounds like. You know, like, woo. We just did this. I mean, the squad I inherited, one of the most pivotal players still to this day in the lure of Oklahoma women's basketball was a gal named Tina Taylor, who was a senior the year I came in, and she had one kind of bad knee and one terrible knee, but she could really shoot it, and she toughed it out and hung around and believed in me and bought in.
[12:47] Sherri Coale: And without that, I don't know that, that we get it going. So it was a lot of, when you look back at it in a snapshot, it seems like, you know, just checking those boxes. But boy, there were lots of hard days and lots of mistakes and lots of growing pains, and we were able to get it done because the quality of the humans we had in our program.
[13:07] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So people, people are, are the. Getting the right people on board, no
[13:12] Sherri Coale: question. And I think it's what you need at the time, you know, like when you're putting a basketball team together. I remember when we signed Courtney Paris, she was the number one player in the country out of the Bay Area in California.
[13:23] Sherri Coale: And her, she and her sister Ashley came and played for us. And Courtney was the six four, just. Amazing post player, great hands finish around the rim. Rebound one of those kids that just has a nose for rebounding. Well, we signed Courtney. The first thing that we needed to go sign was the best post feeder in the country.
[13:41] Sherri Coale: We needed a guard who could really get the ball to the post and wanted to get the ball to the post. And that's so important, you know, because she was gonna have to defer it. Courtney was gonna be our first option every time down the floor, and if that didn't work, there were all kinds of other things that we could go.
[13:58] Sherri Coale: There's a certain player, a certain mindset that resides in a player who's good in that environment. So it's not just that they're talented or that they're tough, it's that they're what you need. You have to know what you need and then go
[14:11] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: get it. So you start out your first season, you go five and 22.
[14:16] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Year four, you make the sweet 16 year five, you're 28 and six, you're six, you're an NCAA runner up. You guys make the the finals. It was easy sailing, I guess, for you. Like you show up, you get the right people and every day's happy and a walk in the park, and success is just easy. And you go onto this Hall of Fame career and you have this incredible legacy in women's basketball as a whole.
[14:41] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Tell us about the failures. I mean, tell us about the struggle. Were there failures? Were there struggles? Were there setbacks along the way that we, from the outside looking in at this Hall of Fame career that you've had that we don't see
[14:52] Sherri Coale: every day? Probably. Two, three weeks in to practice. That first year, my post player that I had inherited from the squad walked into my office and said, how much longer are we gonna practice like this?
[15:04] Sherri Coale: And I'm like, what are you talking about? This is how we practice. And she's like, no, no. And I said, no, this is how we practice. And she said, then I'm outta here. And I said, have a great life. And I let her go. And we were then decimated at the post. We were so tiny. We won our. Conference game. It gives Texas a and m.
[15:26] Sherri Coale: I'll never forget first league game. We win it. Don't win another one the entire season. And somewhere about halfway through there, I remember walking in the back door after a game and just kind of falling in the back door, you know, bags and you know, so forth and just falling into the floor and dropping everything and crying.
[15:46] Sherri Coale: And my husband was in the kitchen and I said, he said, what's going on? And I said, I can't do. I can't, I can't do this. And he just kind of looked at me and said, what are you talking about? Of course you can do it. And he just went on and I was just laying in the, in the doorway in the floor. And you know, I got two kids in bed asleep, thank God.
[16:06] Sherri Coale: And I remember just thinking, well, Of course I can. And I just got up and went on about the next thing. But it was that there were lots of, those just fall to the floor moments and then you just pick yourself up and you keep going. And it went like this for a long, long time. I mean, we had, I think it was in, 2001, we had a really good team, but.
[16:29] Sherri Coale: Not quite good enough. We drew a crazy time in the n NCAA tournament. We were on the West coast and like at home, it was like we were playing at midnight. We were tipping at midnight. and, we didn't adjust to it. Well, I didn't handle the lead up to the game. Well, that team probably should have won a few more games.
[16:47] Sherri Coale: I remember that being just such a low coming home from that NCAA tournament. Cause we felt like we were better than the way that we finished the, even the 2002 season, which we had a reunion, I guess. Or 20 year reunion. Yeah, just a couple years ago. And you get back together and you know, when kids get back together, they start talking about the, you know, the awful practice and the time you kicked them out of the gym or that horrible game or that flight home or, you know, and it's funny, they don't really go back to that national championship semi-final when we were just, you know, in front of 27,000 people with, the Alamo Dome ringing Boomer on one side and sooner on the other.
[17:25] Sherri Coale: We all remember it, but that's not really what we talk. When we got back together, we just talked about the stuff when it was hard and Stacy Dales, who was my point guard, an all American and e s p broadcaster on the N F L network. To this day, she's just a super successful, I started to call her young lady, I guess she still is young compared to me, which not that young anymore, but, I remember Stacy, when we, she came back for the reunion.
[17:50] Sherri Coale: She's like, do you remember that, that practice before the n NCAA tournament in 2000? And I'm like, oh yeah. I knew exactly what she was talking. Because they were tired and she told me they were tired. And I said, you can be tired later. We have important things to do. And she's like, no coach. And she wasn't a, she was like a real shoot at straight kind of kid, you know?
[18:09] Sherri Coale: And she was like, no, coach. We're really tired. And I said, Well, so what sta it's the NCAA tournament we're gonna practice. And she was so mad at me, I'll never forget, she was so mad at me and the team was mad at me and it probably wasn't even the right thing to do to practice, but we had to get through that little juncture there where I thought I knew one thing and they thought they knew another.
[18:31] Sherri Coale: And those are the things you talk about when you get back.
[18:35] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Yeah. For the listeners, I want you to take this, what Sherri's sharing and apply this to your life. Have you ever had that walk in the door, drop your bags moment and just, I can't do this? Have you ever had that moment where as a leader you make a mistake and you lose your people for a little while, but you learn from that?
[18:52] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Like you get better from that? Like, we're hearing from a coach who is a legend and one of the greatest who's ever done what she has done, and she had these failures, she had these moments as well. So it's, this is part of the. To success. Sherri, you talk about how, you know, in coaching, if you count on winning the national championship and achieving your goal as success and you depend on that for, for satisfaction and happiness in your life, then by definition one person's happy, one person's satisfied at the end of the year, and that's, that's a hard, hard way to live our lives.
[19:30] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: But you got to a point in your coaching career where you redefined success and it wasn't just winning the national championship, which of course you wanna do. and everybody, the listeners, myself, we all have our goals and like whatever that national championship is for us, like that's what we wanna get to.
[19:45] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: But you redefined success. What was the catalyst for that and and how did you redefine it?
[19:51] Sherri Coale: You know, again, I think it was very fortunate in that while we were building the program and climbing to that 2002 Pinnacle where we're playing in the national championship game, we were very much a goal setting culture.
[20:02] Sherri Coale: I mean, we were very specific. By March of 2000, we will win a game in the N C A tournament. I mean, we were very specific and we had little signs around and we were, it was just a very much process oriented. Well, as soon as you get to the national championship game, you realize that it's dumb the next year to go back and say, okay, we wanna make the NCAA tournament, what?
[20:22] Sherri Coale: Like you just played for the national championship. There's only one goal left to win that last game. And it's so hard to get to the. To get to the Sweet 16, to get to the final four. Do you know how many storied programs, how many fantastic coaches have won thousands of games and never been able to play in the Final Four?
[20:45] Sherri Coale: There's so much that goes into it. There's some luck, there's, there's timing, there's, there's all kinds of things. one year we were playing in the NCAA tournament with a really, really good team day before the game, and it was at our place. Everybody got the worst stomach flu you've ever seen in your life.
[21:02] Sherri Coale: We were on IVs in the locker room before the game. We lost that game. No telling what could have happened that year. We got the stomach flu, you know? So things happen, and if you think about it in terms of one outcome, one final outcome, you're gonna be miserable. I was lucky in that I didn't have to be miserable in that chase to understand.
[21:28] Sherri Coale: It just dawned on me while we were sitting in a really good spot, national Championship, national Runner up. Hey, Gino's, the only person on the planet happy today. That's dumb. That's dumb. We're not gonna do that. We're gonna play a certain way and we're gonna have goals and objectives, but they're gonna be about the things that we can control, not the things that we can't.
[21:51] Sherri Coale: And so it. This is what an Oklahoma team looks like. This is what an Oklahoma team plays like. And at the end of a game, I would ask my guys, did the people who came to watch, did they leave thinking, I'm gonna be a better nurse or teacher or doctor or policeman or whatever tomorrow if they left thinking that after watching you play, if they were inspired to be who they are and do what they do, in a better way, we won.
[22:17] Sherri Coale: I don't care what the final score was. And sometimes we're gonna have more points than the other. And they're not gonna walk to their car and feel that way. And we didn't win. So our barometer was just different. And that's not to say that you don't hurt when you lose. That's not to say that you're not devastated when your season ends before you think it should.
[22:37] Sherri Coale: It does mean that what happens at the end does not define you. And I think that's healthy, not just for coaches, but certainly for players. For the
[22:45] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: listeners internalize this. There are so many nuggets of wisdom from this conversation. Take this one, take this one with you. I always tell young wrestlers like, you don't control whether you win or you lose.
[22:57] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: You don't control the outcome. You control the food you put in your mouth. You control the what time you go to bed. You control if you watch film, did you show up early? Did you stay late at practice? Did you do all the things? You could even control the thoughts, the the words that you use in your head if things are going wrong or if things are going right, like those are the things that you control.
[23:15] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: But at the end of the day, If you lose because you had the stomach flu, you didn't control that. So if you focus on the things that are within your control, while it doesn't completely take the sting off of losing, It actually allows you to be more empowered, to be more positive, to focus on the things you can control.
[23:36] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And you know, what we're really trying to replicate here is performance. We're trying to replicate our best performance. Like performance is what really matters here. And you and I were talking about Tony Bennett, the head basketball coach for UVA head men's basketball coach before we hit record here.
[23:50] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And he said a quote that I heard recently, from him and he said, Don't accept in victory what you wouldn't accept in defeat. Don't accept in victory what you wouldn't accept in defeat. So if in victory you performed poorly, don't accept it just because I won or in defeat. If you performed well, then that's what you're trying to replicate.
[24:14] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: You're trying to replicate good performance. And like I said, it doesn't completely take the sting off of losing, but it helps you focus on the right. Sherri, you believe in the power of questions, but as leaders and as doers, shouldn't we out be out there, you know, telling people what to do and executing as opposed to asking questions.
[24:35] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: But you believe in the power of questions. Tell us about that.
[24:38] Sherri Coale: I've always believed in the power of questions. As a teacher, that's what you do in a classroom. That's how you make it stick. And I was taught by. Tremendous teachers. Again, there's a story in the book about my college, Shakespeare professor who really taught me the power of questioning, but I think early in my coaching career, I did way, way, way more telling like probably 90 to 10, telling to asking.
[25:03] Sherri Coale: As I got older, I began to realize the importance of asking the questions for a number of reasons. One being that's how we learn. That's how we remember best. When we have to go fishing inside there for the answer and come out with it, it has a way of sticking. And if you know you. Coach can say a thing 10 times and it kind of floats right by.
[25:24] Sherri Coale: But if a player has to find it and say it, it sticks. It creates these ruts in our brain where information flows that's scientific as well as, what we feel when we're teaching what we can see happening. So, I used to ask my players questions like, what did you notice there? And they'd be like, excuse me, you know, young players.
[25:43] Sherri Coale: Excuse me. What did you notice? Why did you decide to drive right there? I don. Well pay attention next time. Tell me what you notice. And they become coaches of themselves, which I think is ultimately where we want our athletes to be. Like, why did you make that cut? Because the defender was leaning to the passing lane.
[26:01] Sherri Coale: Okay, that's perfect. See, you knew what to do. You don't even need me. That's perfect. Because things happen so fast, the closer they are to the decision making process, the better the decision's gonna. And I'm all the way over on the sideline making that decision. I'm gonna be late half the time if I tell them what to do.
[26:18] Sherri Coale: But if they can make it in the split second, have a better chance of of being on par. And so also there are like so many other advantages of it, the building of an athlete's self-esteem. When they have to think for a minute and talk their way into a solution, now they feel cap. They feel capable.
[26:38] Sherri Coale: They're not bound to your wisdom or your expertise. They can find their way there. Now, as I used to tell my coaches, my assistant coaches and young coaches about this process, there's a certain amount of skill development that has to be. Information relay. You have to get them up to a certain level in terms of them understanding what things are.
[27:01] Sherri Coale: You have to lay that foundation. But once you do, then I think it's up to a coach to put athletes in positions where they have to use that information that you've given them to draw their own conclusions, to make their own decisions, and what a skill that is to take into your life. The ability to make your own decisions based on information and a sound thought process.
[27:24] Sherri Coale: I mean, that in and of itself would be enough reason to participate in sport. For
[27:29] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: those of you who are listening, who are leaders, whether you're a parent or a leader in your profession, in your job, this is how you help people up their game. If you wanna help them be more independent, be able to think on their own, be more mindful and do the things that you want them to do, then lead them by asking questions.
[27:49] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: This is an incredible leadership. Sherri along the lines of asking questions, you also did something along these same lines that, after every game you would do a post-game thoughts exercise with the individuals on your team. Tell us about that.
[28:06] Sherri Coale: I wanted to know where they were after a game, where their head was, where their heart was, what they were noticing.
[28:12] Sherri Coale: Again, I'll use that word. So I just made these pieces of paper that were so simple. It was. It had question number one, what went well and why, and they were to draw a line and write individually on one side and team on the other. Because a kid may not play, may not go in the game. That doesn't mean they're not responsible for knowing what went well and why.
[28:32] Sherri Coale: And so they would, if an individual played 40 minutes, she would talk about what went well in terms of her own. I, was indecisive on the catch. I, thought I did a good job at the free throw line, blah, blah, blah, whatever. But then she would also have to talk about the. I thought we were non-committal in our man defense, or we have to have more discipline in blocking out or whatever.
[28:54] Sherri Coale: So there would be those two sides. And then the second question was, what can we do better and how, and that again, was individual on one side and team on the other. And I would learn that where they were and what they saw was not necessarily where I was and what I saw. And the side benefit, the added value that I didn't really anticipate being so monumental was I could tell where they were emotionally by how they wrote their words on the page.
[29:23] Sherri Coale: I could tell by the handwriting, I could tell by the amount or lack thereof. I could tell by the angle of the writing, you, I just pick it up and go, this kid's in a bad place, you know? And I call again the next morning and just say, Hey, talk to me about the gang lesson, how you. And, sometimes I would get one and it would, you know, this kid feels like it was really good and it really wasn't very good, and she's missing the mark.
[29:48] Sherri Coale: She's looking at the wrong things. Her indicators are screwed up, so let's get in and talk about what the main things really are. So those became such a north star for me in terms of recalibration after a win or a loss, like where do we need to go next? Those papers would.
[30:07] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I want the listener to recognize for a moment that Sherri started the conversation today talking about getting the right people on board, and now she's talking about developing those people.
[30:19] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: She's not talking about Xs and O's. I mean, Xs and O's are important. We all know that. Whether it's X and O's in in sport, or whatever it is that you are doing in your world, Xs and O's are important. We all know that. That's table stake. It all comes down to people in the performance of your people, getting the right people and then developing these people.
[30:39] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And one of the ways that Sherri's talking about doing this is through this post-game thoughts report and Sherri, we have a, term that we use in my community. We call it the productive pause in the productive pauses defined as this. It's a short period of focus reflection around specific questions that leads to clarity of.
[30:58] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Peace of mind. And that's exactly what this post-game thoughts exercise is and is done for you and your team. It's fantastic. I love it.
[31:04] Sherri Coale: I like the alliteration there. Productive pause. I like that. Yeah.
[31:08] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And for the listeners, like, can you do this yourself? Can you do this once a week and review your week or after a sales presentation or after, you know, some project is completed at work?
[31:19] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Like, can you do this after a job interview or whatever the situation might be in your own life? Can you do this? Can you hit the pause button on your life long enough to do this? Sherri, you wrote a book called Rooted to Rise. Tell us about the book.
[31:35] Sherri Coale: Well, I've long loved to write. I've been a writer probably since I was in middle school, early high school.
[31:43] Sherri Coale: I just recently became an author cuz I wrote a book. But those two things are very, very different. I've always written to see what I think, to clarify things to make sense of the. I used to journal, I used to do an online journal. I had a very forward thinking sports information director before social media went crazy and before blogs were everywhere.
[32:03] Sherri Coale: He had me writing an online journal. I just love it. I love words. I love string and sentences together. So I always knew that I didn't wanna coach forever, that there was some point at which I wanted to try this writer's life and see what could happen there. So Covid hit and I. I've got some free time here where I'm locked in my own home.
[32:24] Sherri Coale: So, I think, all right. It had been a long time and I didn't really realize how much I had missed the consistent practice of it, and it so helped me sort of get honest about what I felt was going on with Covid. Get, you know, we, we were at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City and told to go get on a bus and go straight home and not leave our houses.
[32:46] Sherri Coale: It was the strangest thing. We all have that moment You. In writing about it, I sort of was able to dissect that and put it in pieces that led me out of the hole that we were all sitting in. And I thought, oh, this is, there's something in, I mean, like I'm excited and no one, I mean, I didn't even know if anybody would read it.
[33:06] Sherri Coale: It was just about the process of getting it out, and that's how I used to tell my players, you know, when you're in your lane of passion, because you'd work on something for five hours. And feel like you just got outta bed and you can't wait to go to work. It's just this thing, you know? And I felt that thing.
[33:23] Sherri Coale: And so I started going through pieces of writing. I had in an old Moses basket here in my study and just looking at stuff and writing every day. I started writing every day and after a while I had 17 or 18 pieces. And then I was like, I'm gonna keep going. And I ended up with 35 or 36 pieces and I sent it to a literary agent and I said, I don't know what this is.
[33:44] Sherri Coale: It may not be anything. If it's a thing, will you tell me and I'll try to do something with it? And she said, it's a thing. And so then the work began of trying to turn it all into a book. But all that lead up to say, it's a book about people that I've crossed paths with. It's a, it's a book about human intersections where you bump into people and they leave a little bit of themselves on you and you leave a little bit of yourself on them and you're both different cause of that encounter and.
[34:14] Sherri Coale: It turned into this sort of gratitude book for all these people who had, whether knowingly or unknowingly poured into my life. You can take and they can speak to you how, however they speak to you, but my entire mission in writing the book was. That if people read it, they're nudged to think or feel.
[34:35] Sherri Coale: That's it. Send somebody a recipe for success or changing their life. It's certainly not the Sherri Coale, Oklahoma basketball story, though. There's basketball woven in it because it's been such a big part of my life. But it's really a book about life and people and the way we make each other better.
[34:50] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Sherri, for the listener who is bought into your philosophy, loves what they're hearing from you, and they want to take action on something that you've shared today, what's one action item that the listener can do in the next, let's say, 24 to 48 hours to put into practice what they're learning from you here today?
[35:07] Sherri Coale: Write at least one note every single day. A handwritten note to someone. It is an outward action. I used to block off 20 minutes on my calendar every. While I was at the University of Oklahoma for note writing and recruit note writing did not count in those. It was, you know, the custodian did an unbelievable job or the associate athletic directors having a birthday or anything that you notice.
[35:35] Sherri Coale: And what it does is makes you notice when you have that practice, then you pay attention.
[35:42] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Kinda like a gratitude. Yeah.
[35:44] Sherri Coale: Yeah. So I think yes, that practice affects the people around you, but you'll be amazed at how it affects you and what you think about and the lens you look through that may be as big of a differentiating factor in how you lead and what your success looks like, than anything.
[36:01] Sherri Coale: It's the perspective and the approach that you take toward all that you do.
[36:05] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Where can people find you, follow you by your book, et cetera?
[36:09] Sherri Coale: Well, the book is available on Amazon. It's also Barnes and Noble online, and then select bookstores in Oklahoma, which has been really cool cause I'm a big believer in brick and mortar and to have it in Oklahoma bookstores that I've.
[36:21] Sherri Coale: Frequented throughout my life. It's just super cool. So if you're not in Oklahoma though, Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and my website is Sherri Coale.com. I also write a weekly blog. Every Tuesday a blog comes out, and I'm really proud of the consistency of that. You can find my blog there. You can find the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and you can sign up for the blog.
[36:39] Sherri Coale: And then there's a monthly newsletter that comes if you're a subscriber as well. So all that on the website.
[36:45] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Sherri, thank you so much for making time to come on the show.
[36:47] Sherri Coale: Thank you. You're awesome.
[36:51] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk. You can see the limited spaces that are open on my calendar at jimharshawjr.com/apply, where you can sign up for a free one-time coaching call directly with me.
[37:06] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And don't forget to grab your action plan. Just go to jimharshawjr.com/action. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more. You would totally make my day if you give me a rating and review. Those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast audience. Just open up your podcast app.
[37:27] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: If you have an iPhone, do a search for success through failure, select it, and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast a rating and review. Now, I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck and thanks for listening.
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