Independence Day Lessons & Leadership

Some thoughts on why we celebrate the 4th of July and what we as coaches and leaders can learn from it to avoid being a cliche like “Coach Kilmer” from the movie “Varsity Blues.”

This weekend we celebrate The Declaration of Independence. The ideas of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” were central to the Colonies’ desire to throw off the yoke of tyranny from Great Britain.

Americans have a long history of not tolerating Tyrants and such stories are told and retold in books and movies. As Coaches, we have to lead our teams, and there can be no doubt as to who is in charge, given the responsibility for all things stops with the Head Coach. However, as noted in the opening, characters like Coach Kilmer from “Varsity Blues” are closer to tyrants like King George III of England. Just as the Colonists reacted to tyranny, players ultimately react negatively to tyrants as well.

Over the last five years, much of the content of this blog has surrounded aspects of leadership, team building, and character. While as a coach I believe these traits and skills to be essential to success, it’s obvious King George didn’t perceive the same need when dealing with the Colonies.

The Colonies just wanted to have a say, their voices to be heard.  They wanted to be part of a team, share interdependence, and become more than any could alone. Members of a team are no different.  Tyrannical coaches and leaders eventually fester resentment and often face revolt. 

As we think about this 4th of July Holiday, consider what this day means to our country and the founding fathers’ hopes of what we could become. Think also about your players, the team, and your collective aspirations. Celebrate Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and encourage a vision of who and what your team could become; United, Purposeful, Resilient, Capable, and Committed to the best we might be together.

Happy Independence Day!

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!   

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