Meet the winner of the MOJO “My Coach Rules” contest
| 4 min read
“He’s always there to support us.”
“He makes our team feel like a family.”
“He always puts the team first.”
Those are just some of the comments MOJO heard about Coach Daniel Spalding, of the Arizona Strikers Football team in Mesa, Arizona — and winner of the My Coach Rules contest.
When talking to Coach Spalding, it’s clear why he’s so beloved. He’s as passionate about his community as he is about competition.
A long-time martial arts instructor, he stepped up to coach flag football when his then 6-year-old son wanted to play.
That was three years ago. Spalding has since coached hundreds of kids in football and hopes to continue to show his support for many more seasons to come. “I want to be with the kids and take them as far as I can take them,” he says. For him, it’s about teaching valuable lessons that he hopes kids are able to take with them for the rest of their lives.
MOJO took time out with Spalding to learn more about his approach to being a coach.
Tell me about your best day as a coach.
It’s when the kid who is struggling, or maybe doesn’t have the best confidence, hits that peak or has that impressive play — and then you see how they feel. I think that’s what makes it worth it to me, to see them accomplish and feel really good about themselves.
And then, of course, you know, when my son throws a scoring touchdown or runs the ball and gets the first down, that’s like the biggest proud papa moment.
And your toughest?
We had a game in a new league and we were already kind of the new guys with the smallest team. And we had a couple of kids call out sick. We really didn’t have any kids to spare. We didn’t have anybody to substitute.
I thought, OK, I’ve got to empower them to not be afraid and realize it’s going to be an exhausting long day and we’re all going to feel it. We’ve all got to band together to get this done.
What it really taught is that you hope for the best, expect the worst and just be ready to dive in whichever direction it goes.
What is the best piece of coaching advice that you’ve received?
The best piece of coaching advice I’ve received is just to simply have fun.
What advice do you give to other coaches?
You’ve got to have thick skin. Not only because you’re going to lose at times, but there are going to be kids that challenge you, who aren’t giving their best. You’ve got to figure out a way to motivate them.
Why do you coach?
I love the saying, Life’s a competition. Be trained.
I’m a firm believer that no matter if you have a competitive background, a competitive spirit, you’re going to have to compete in the world. Whether it’s for a job or for whatever it is, competition is just part of life.
That is what really inspires me to coach. Hopefully giving back some of the things that I’ve learned from my coaches and instructors over the years so that they can become better people.
Finish this sentence: You know you’ve got MOJO when…
… you wake up being your best every day.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.