Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

UNC Soccer Coach’s Rules for Soccer – and Life

team successEvery year at spring, I think of a PTA program I helped put together that featured UNC Women’s Soccer Coach Anson Dorrance as guest speaker.              

It was a triumphant success. I remember how excited everyone was, and how impressed we all were when Coach Dorrance shared his 12 Core Values.

That warm Carolina night, he blessed us with pearls of wisdom.

Every so often, I pull out his 12 Core Values. Just for refreshment, you know. It occurred to me you might find them refreshing as well.

12 Core Values for Team Success

Coach Dorrance’s teams have won 22 NCAA national titles and 20 of 27 ACC championships.

He knows a thing or two about winning. He says one factor is 12 Core Values. These have been developed over the years. They have come from philosophers, writers, former captains, and even a team manager. They guide the players from season to season, practice to practice, minute to minute.

  1. We don’t whine. “The true joy in life is to be a force of fortune instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” (George Bernard Shaw
  2. The truly extraordinary do something every day. “Roosevelt, more than any other man living within the range of notoriety showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter, the quality that medieval theology assigned to God:  ‘he was pure act.” (Desmond Morris
  3. Make your experience rich, valuable and deep. “[B]roaden your mastery of one or more important subjects that will go on deepening your understanding of the world, yourself and the people around you.” (Reynolds Price)
  4. We work hard. “The difference between one person and another, between the weak and the powerful, the great and the insignificant, is energy – invisible determination . . .  This quality will do anything that has to be done in the world, and no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities will make you a great person without it.” (Thomas Buxton)
  5. We don’t freak out over ridiculous issues or live in fragile states of emotional catharsis or create crises where none should exist. “What an extraordinary place of liberties the West really is . . . exempt from many of the relentless physical and social obligations necessary for a traditional life for survival, they become spoiled and fragile like over bred dogs; neurotic and prone to a host of emotional crises elsewhere.” (Jason Elliot  An Unexpected Light:  Travels in Afghanistan)
  6. We choose to be positive. “Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance . . . in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person (you are is) the result of an inner decision  . . . therefore, any man can . . . decide . . . that (this) last inner freedom cannot be lost.” (Viktor E. Frankl)
  7. We treat everyone with respect. “Class is the graceful way you treat someone even when they can do nothing for you.” (Doug Smith, Manager 1986)
  8. We care about each other as teammates and human beings. “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . .  any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” (John Donne, For Whom the Bell Tolls)
  9. When we don’t play as much as we would like we are noble and still support the team and its mission. “Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death.  Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.  The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.  It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish.  Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal.  Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him.  And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.” (Viktor E. Frankl)
  10. We play for each other. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (Note given to me by Rakel Karvelsson, UNC ’98)
  11. We are well led. “Not long ago, to ‘believe in yourself’ meant taking a principled, and often lonely, stand when it appeared difficult or dangerous to do so.  Now it means accepting one’s own desires and inclinations, whatever they may be, and taking whatever steps that may be necessary to advance them.” (William Damon)
  12. We want our lives to be never-ending ascensions, but for that to happen properly our fundamental attitude about life and our appreciation for it is critical. “Failing to feel grateful to those who came before is such a corrosive notion, it must account at some level for part of our bad feelings about the present.  The solution—a rebirth of thankfulness—is in our self-interest.” (Gregg Easterbrook, The Progress Paradox)

Source: Anson Dorrance                    






About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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