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National ‘positive’ coaching honor for Mount Ayr’s Showalter

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 9:34 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014 9:45 a.m. CST
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(CNA file photo by LARRY PETERSON)
Mount Ayr's pink jerseys were auctioned off as one of the fundraising efforts for the Oct. 18 "Pink Out" fight against breast cancer game. The partnership with Ringgold County Hospital raised funds to help uninsured and under-insured women of Ringgold County get mammograms. The event was one of many that Delwyn Showalter, Mount Ayr football co-coach and athletic director, has been a primary organizer for in helping the community. He has been honored for those efforts by the Positive Coaching Alliance.
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Delwyn Showalter

MOUNT AYR — Delwyn Showalter says it’s as much an award for the community as it is for him personally.

The Mount Ayr Raiders football co-coach and school athletic director has won Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal Coach Award presented by MaxPreps for his positive impact on youth athletes.

Showalter was the only coach from Iowa nominated for the award and one of only 25 award-winners of 1,732 nominees from across the nation.

The award — named for coaches who strive to win while pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports — carries a $250 prize, a trophy and mention within the websites and newsletters of Positive Coaching Alliance.

“I’m very honored and humbled to get that type of award,” Showalter said. “It’s not something I expected. It means a lot to me because of what it represents.”

Showalter was nominated locally, with the nomination process including input from multiple residents of the school’s community. Information submitted from Mount Ayr made an impact on the committee.

“Delwyn helps youth athletes win on the field and off,” said Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) and author of nine books on youth sports. “By creating a positive, character-building youth sports experience and serving as a double-goal coach, Delwyn helps youth develop into better athletes and better people.”

Under his leadership, the Mount Ayr Community Schools’ athletic department has been involved in several community efforts, such as raising funds to fight cancer through the sale or auction of players’ pink jerseys. A Coaches Against Cancer event was also held during the basketball season.

In fact, Showalter already informed representatives of the Positive Coaching Alliance that he will be unable to attend the April 12 awards banquet in Palo Alto, Calif., because of involvement with a local event.

“That is when we host our Live Healthy Iowa race,” Showalter said.

Coaching football and overseeing several sports as an athletic administrator would seem to present enough challenges, but Showalter said he’s proud that in Mount Ayr, efforts go beyond the playing field.

Life lessons

“We have a tremendous responsibility as coaches and athletes that we’re part of a bigger community,” Showalter said. “It’s easy in any (athletic) job to get wrapped up in the season that you are in, and the next game you have on the schedule. Sometimes you forget to look beyond that and forget about the big picture. We often talk about what we are trying to accomplish through athletics. Athletics isn’t the end in itself.”

Thompson, who founded the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) within the Stanford University athletic department in 1998, said PCA workshops strive to transform high school and youth sports into a “Development Zone” where the goal is “to develop better athletes and better people.”

The “double goal” coach, Thompson explained, strives to win while also pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. He said the “second-goal parent” concentrates on life lessons while letting coaches and athletes focus on competing.

“I’ve been blessed to spend my career in a school and community where people are supportive in how we’re trying to run our programs,” Showalter said. “It’s not just me. I’m continuing the traditions I learned from (former football coach) Dave Still, who was big in community involvement. We just kind of picked that up. Derek (Lambert) and James (Smith) and all of our other coaches are on board with that. To me, this is an award that should go to our program and our community. It speaks well to what our community is all about.

“We try to send the message that other people have needs, and we can use our position to do a lot of good.”

Positive style

Thompson said Showalter was also recognized for “positive coaching techniques.”

“I’m not a yeller or screamer,” Showalter said. “If I raise my voice, I think it gets their attention because they don’t expect that from me. You get more from being positive with kids than negative. You still have to correct, but you can do that and still treat the kids with respect and dignity.”

The longtime Mount Ayr coach said players who fear making mistakes because of the rage they will face are sometimes “paralyzed” into ineffective performances.

“We always tell our team that there is very rarely a perfect play,” Showlater said. “You are going to make mistakes. We understand that. Sometimes we all forget that a positive result can come out of a busted play. Just go hard on every play. If you’re not sure who you are supposed to block, block somebody!

“There is so much negative stuff in the world around us,” Showalter said.”You have more results if you try to use the positive approach. We try to be on an even keel.”

For its workshops and clinics promoting positive development in athletics, PCA gains support from a National Advisory Board, including newly-hired New York Knicks President Phil Jackson as a national spokesperson.

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