How “50 Tips” changed to “14 Coaches”

Author Christopher Trieste with his sons Ryan and Tyler.

Author Christopher Trieste with his sons Ryan and Tyler.

Books can change as you start to work on them. It happened to Christopher Trieste. He wanted to provide tips for coaches. But as he did his research, he changed the format of the book he envisioned.

A former tennis player for Marist College, Mr. Trieste coached the Mount Saint Mary tennis team while he was working as an athletic director in Orange County. He observed coaches as a sports fan and as a parent of three young athletes.

He started his research about two or three years ago. It sounds like drudgery, but it wasn’t. As a hobby, he liked to read books about coaches or articles they had written. He was highlighting passages in a book by John Wooden (who led UCLA to 10 national basketball championships) when he got an idea. Rather than provide tips for coaches, he would examine the best of them and explain what made them successful.

And that’s how Christopher Trieste decided to write “14 Great Coaches” — a book that he’s been promoting  on podcasts. The title naturally led to questions — “Why did you pick those coaches?” “Why did you leave out Bill Belichick [or any other famous coach]?”

The author explains that this is not an encyclopedia It’s less than 120 pages long, but it gets right to the point The format is simple. Each chapter starts with a summary of the coach’s career, followed by the coach’s lessons and a short section called “You May Be Surprised to Hear.”

The information under the “Surprised to Hear” heading is fun and sometimes instructive. For example, Joe Torre appeared in more than 4,000 Major League games as a player and manager before he reached the World Series — evidence that persistency can be rewarded.

In setting up his tennis academy, Nick Bollettieri received help from football Hall-of-Famer Vince Lombardi. And gridiron coach Pete Carroll claims that a book on tennis had a huge impact on his career — which is relevant to the Trieste book, which can be helpful to leaders in business and education, as well as sports.

Chris Trieste says that he’s applied some of the coaches’ lessons in his current job as coordinator of physical education and health for White Plains Schools. Among the concepts we discussed were establishing standards rather than rules, maintaining a five-to-one positive ratio, and being positive but holding people accountable.

Despite the changes in midstream, Mr. Trieste has enjoyed being an author. He hinted that he might not be finished. “I do feel,” he admitted, “that there will be another book in the future.”

People can order “14 Great Coaches” at amazon.com.

Coaches: Nick Bollettieri, Pete Carroll, Tom Coughlin, Tony Dungy, Phil Jackson, Billie Jean King, Mike Krzyzewski, Vince Lombardi, Joe Maddon, Pat Summitt, Joe Torre, John Wooden, Morgan Wootten

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Ken Cashman