Coach Tommy Wallace was my football and baseball coach for four years.  He also was my math teacher for four years in six different courses.  By far, without realizing it, he was the most influential (non-family) adult during my adolescence.  I was not Coach’s best student or athlete.  I wasn’t his favorite student either.  In fact, if Coach had a favorite (which I am sure he did), I don’t know if anyone on his teams or in his classes knew who it was.  All we knew is that he had a standard of performance (both on the field and in the class) that he expected and as long as you were working to meet that standard you got time and support, no matter how long it took (I still hear “Run it again, Cain,” in my sleep). And if you quit working, Coach was right there in your ear, talking you out of making a bad decision that could possibly define you for years. 

Because of all of the hours I spent with Coach Wallace (two to five hours a day, every school day for four years) I studied him.  Then, in my own classroom, I modeled my instructional style after him.  It was when I became an administrator that I began to reflect on why Coach Wallace was different.  I think about this more often than you might expect.

Here is how I explain Coach Wallace’s lasting impact on his student’s.  Coach Wallace was always a Coach.  It didn’t matter where he was standing, on the field, in the locker room, gym, classroom, hallway or cafeteria.  Every interaction he had with us was a coaching experience.  And since he was a coach, he didn’t freak out when we did stupid things.  “Run it again,” applied to everything from a play, a throw, a math problem, a disrespectful comment, all the way to inadvertent teenage profanity.  Just do it again, and this time let’s do it right (or at least better).  But Coach Wallace also did what all great coaches do; he tied whatever we were doing to a bigger picture.  He showed us how the decisions and actions we made defined us.  So it was imperative to do things right and do it at full speed.  And if we did it wrong, make amends and then work harder. 

Coach Wallace coached (and still coaches) kids.  That is the constant. The content is the variable.

Run It Again…

Your turn…

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on!
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “Look at Me: A Cautionary School Leadership Tale” Individual copies available on!
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool); PW Lite (Basic PowerWalks Tool); PW Pro (Mid-level PowerWalks Tool)
  • Upcoming Presentations: Region 10 ESC Fall Leadership Conference (Keynote), Advancing Improvement in Education Conference (Multiple Presentations), TASSP Assistant Principals’ Workshop (Featured Speaker), North Dakota Association of Secondary School Principals (Keynote), American Association of School Administrators Conference (Multiple Presentations), National Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations)
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on