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Casting the Perfect Sports Coach: 10 Great Movie Coaches

Some of you know I’m a bit of a movie buff. I thought it would be fun to consider what the perfect movie coach might look like. Browsing the top 100 sports movies, one quickly realizes there are some great role models to choose from. To cast the perfect coach I have chosen 10 important qualities every great coach should possess. I would love to know your thoughts. Who do you think is the all-time best movie coach?

Teacher – Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) “Coach Carter”
Coach Ken Carter knew what his athletes needed to succeed in both sports and life, and even more importantly, he got them to understand the value of education. Balancing athlete’s needs and wants is a difficult trick Coach Carter did well.

Motivator – Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) “Hoosiers”
Coach Dale inspired his players to accept their fears and shortcomings as they moved their small Indiana town toward an impossible dream. The geniuses of Coach Dale was his ability to create a common emotion of pride which ultimately enveloped everyone from the town drunk to the town council.

Organizer – Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) “Moneyball”
Moneyball described how Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team) changed the game of baseball with the introduction of sabermetrics. Billy Beane’s innovations not only changed baseball but every sport.
     Honorable Mention – Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) “Field of Dreams”
     “Build it and they will come.”

Passion – Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) “Remember the Titans”
Coach Boone’s tenacity, commitment, and power is unequalled in movie history.
     Honorable Mention – Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) “Any Given Sunday”

Wisdom – Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) “Karate Kid”
When it comes to profound simplicity you can’t get much better than “wax on, wax off”.
     Honorable Mention – Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) “The Natural”      “I should have been a farmer”, is one of my favorite movie lines of all time.

Persistence – Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) “Miracle”
The scene where Coach Brooks forces his team to skate lines after failing to put forth their best effort, “Again, Again, Again” is a sports movie classic.
     Honorable Mention – Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) “The Blind Side”
Politician – Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) “The Longest Yard”
Crewe was a master at building a coalition and finding a way around every issue thrown his way.
     Honorable Mention – Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) “Glory Road”

The Look – Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) “Rocky”
Mickey’s gravelly voice, crooked-nose, broken down body, and never say die attitude is how I believe ever coach ultimately sees himself looking one day.
     Honorable Mention – Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) “The Bad News Bears”
     Every great coach has a prop. There is no better prop than Coach Buttermaker’s beer
     can.

Mystery and Swagger – Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) “Bull Durham”
Every great coach has a mystical quality, an IT factor. Something you can’t really describe, but you know it when you see it. The seductress Annie definitely had that special quality. “Just breathe through your eyelids.”

A Player – Brian Piccolo (James Caan) “Brian’s Song”
No list of sports movies is complete without this movie. Brian Piccolo is the ultimate player-coach.


Was your favorite movie coach left off the list? Let me know your thoughts about what qualities every sports coach should possess, and the actor that best portrayed it.
Let the debate begin.

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