Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

During the opening round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament last week, many people watched Michigan State head coach, Tom Izzo, in a heated shouting match with one of his players. That player was freshman, Aaron Henry. His teammates had to hold back Izzo, as the head coach aggressively yelled, with clenched fist, at Henry during a timeout of a closely contested game.

As I watched this live on TV, I knew instantly that the interaction would be debated online over the next few days. Was he wrong to verbally berate one of his players with what some described as out-of-control rage and disgust?

Twitter erupted with both sides taking shots.

“I’ll be happy when this type of coaching finally goes extinct as this generation of coaches retire and fade away. There are better methods of communication.” stated @bballbreakdown.

 “Anybody upset by that has never played an organized competitive sport. Coaches yell. Get over it,” responded @JoshSkillman.

Those who voiced their disdain for Izzo’s approach were labeled as “soft” or “whiney” by others who support the head coach.

ESPN personality, Scott Van Pelt, shared his support of Coach Izzo during his “1 Big Thing” segment. It’s now been viewed more than three million times. 

“We’re so concerned with if anyone has had their feelings hurt, that we lose sight of this fact: life has a scoreboard. The world will be difficult. And we do nobody any favors when we coddle them to the point that they never hear criticism, or hear a harsh word, or have to face any adversity,” Van Pelt lectured.

As someone who played competitive sports all through high school, I can say I faced similar situations as a player. One of my coaches repeatedly screamed in my face. I recall one memory with my back against a wall, and my coach’s nose touching my nose as he yelled at me during a summer league game. I mean veins-popping-out-of-his-neck kind of yelling.

It scared the hell out of me. But here’s the thing: I learned a lot about accountability. I learned that mistakes have consequences. I learned that it’s important to stay focused and strive to reach the highest expectations.

Someone once told me that if the coach yells at you, it means he likes you. Think about it, how would you feel if you made a mistake on the court or in the office, and your coach/boss didn’t say ANYTHING? What if he ignored you completely? What would scare you more? Being yelled at or being ignored by someone you respect?

The fact is, I DID respect that coach who yelled at me, because he was also extremely encouraging. He celebrated my successes as much as he challenged me during my failures. He saw something special in me, and his actions reflected his expectations. As a result, my desire to succeed increased. Not just for myself, but for my coach who unquestionably wanted the best for me and my teammates.

I’m now grown up with kids of my own and I’ve coached them in athletics. My coaching philosophy is slightly different; I could never see myself screaming at a player in that way because that’s not quite my personality. But you know what? There was a practice when a few of the young girls (my daughter included) weren’t paying attention. After one warning, my voice got louder and they had to take a few laps. By the looks on their faces—and the rest of the team—I could tell they were all a bit shocked. It was an uncomfortable moment for 4th grade girls basketball. I asked my daughter about it after practice, curious to know her thoughts on the matter. Her response: “I get it, Dad. We weren’t listening. That was the only way to get our attention.”

No hurt feelings. No lingering distress. Just respect between a player and a coach who had the same goal in mind.

It’s is the same takeaway Aaron Henry had in the locker room following last week’s game. “That’s his job, he’s just coaching me,” he told reporters. “I’m all for it.” 

Ultimately, a coach has to find what methods work best for him and each of his players. I stand with Coach Tom Izzo and all other coaches who find ways to challenge their players to be better, even when it’s uncomfortable. Because to be truly successful, you have to leave your comfort zone.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Kyle Means

Kyle Means is the Director of Marketing for the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He enjoyed a fulfilling career in Sports & Entertainment prior to his work in higher education. Past stops include HuskerVision, Houston Rockets/Toyota Center, and the Tri-City Storm/Viaero Event Center. Kyle left the sports biz in 2014 to pursue a career more focused on marketing where he can use a combination of strategic and creative skills. Plus, he now has a few more nights and weekends to spend with his awesome family including his wife (HerViewFromHome founder) Leslie Means, their two daughters Ella and Grace and son, Keithan.  Kyle still enjoys watching and playing a variety of sports. The competitive, yet unifying, nature of sports is a strangely beautiful concept that he loves. When he’s not enhancing the brand at UNK, spending time with family or watching/playing sports, Kyle can usually be found volunteering at First Lutheran Church where likes to display a strong faith and give back to the community.

Brothers Fight Hard and Love Harder

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys play outside, one lifting the other on his back

The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days. Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends. Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck,...

Keep Reading

Stop Putting an Expiration Date on Making Memories

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and son in small train ride

We get 12 times to play Santa (if we’re lucky). This phrase stopped my scroll on a Sunday evening. I had an idea of the direction this post was going but I continued on reading. 12 spring breaks 12 easter baskets 20 tooth fairy visits 13 first days of school 1 first date 1-2 proms 1-2 times of seeing them in their graduation cap and gown 18 summers under the same roof And so on and so on. It was essentially another post listing the number of all the monumental moments that we, Lord willing, will get to experience with our...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

Go Easy On the Parents Who Refuse to Skip Naps

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two little boys and their sister walking down a gravel road, color photo

Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them. But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one. Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a...

Keep Reading

My Heart Isn’t Ready for You to Stop Believing in Santa

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing in front of lit christmas tree

“My friend doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, Mom,” my son said out of the blue the other day. We were driving in the car, and when I met his gaze in the rear-view mirror his eyes searched mine. Immediately, my heart sank.  This sweet boy, he’s our first. Thoughtful and smart and eight years old. A quick Google search tells me that’s the average age kids stop believing in Santa, but as his mom, I’m not ready for that—not even a little bit.  I can still hear his barely 2-year-old voice going on about reindeer as we lay together on...

Keep Reading

Motherhood is a Million Little Letting Gos and Fresh Hellos

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with child on her lap by the setting sun and water

I missed my grocery-shopping buddy the other day. Mondays are usually the days my littlest and I knock out our grocery list. In the past, we’ve dropped the kids at school and then headed to the store. I grab a latte, and she chooses a hot chocolate. But that day, they were all in school. That day, she sat in her kindergarten class, and I went to the grocery store. Alone. A new rhythm. A changed routine. A different season. I listened to a podcast on the drive. My podcast. Then I grabbed a drink. Just one. I got the...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is My Wish for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugs three kids

To my kids, The world you’re stepping into is unlike anything I experienced at your age. It’s fast-paced, interconnected, and sometimes overwhelming. But within this chaos lie countless opportunities for growth and joy. My wish for you is that you find the perfect balance between embracing the modern world and staying true to yourselves. Change is one thing you can always count on. Embrace it because it’s often the motivation for growth. Embracing change doesn’t mean letting go of who you are; rather, it’s about evolving into the best version of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to have all the...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Stay Wild

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach, color photo

I can’t really put my finger on it. Or manage to find all the words. But there’s just something about that girl. Maybe it’s the way her hair sits tangled. Curled up at the end. The way she moves. Dances. As if everyone was watching. Or no one at all. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine It could be the way she smiles. With her heart. The way only she can. The way she cares, loves. For everyone. For herself. You see, she is beautiful in the way only wild things are. The way they...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading