published Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Coaches must find ways to handle stress

Coach Wes Moore reacts on the sidelines as UTC defeated Furman in January in a Southern Conference women's basketball at the McKenzie Arena.
Coach Wes Moore reacts on the sidelines as UTC defeated Furman in January in a Southern Conference women's basketball at the McKenzie Arena.
Photo by John Rawlston.
Audio clip

Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman unwinds by watching football on television. UTC women's basketball coach Wes Moore often relaxes by reading up on his beloved Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers.

Like anyone with a stressful job, coaches need to do something to eliminate that frustration, fixation and anxiety. So how do coaches deal with stress?

"Not very well," Moore joked. "I probably need to [get away] more. I probably need to make time to step away from it.

"It's on your mind 24/7. When you lay down at night you're thinking about it, and when you wake up in the morning you're thinking about it."

Coaches may worry more about their players' health than their own, but that could be changing. In the past few years numerous coaches around the country, including in the Southern Conference, have had health issues.

Samford men's basketball coach Jimmy Tillette suffered a seizure on the court during a January 2010 game at UNC Greensboro, the result of bleeding in his brain. Tillette spent a few days in the hospital before returning to the bench.

College of Charleston men's basketball coach Bobby Cremins took an indefinite leave of absence last month. In a news conference last week, Cremins said he "got physically exhausted, fatigued and lacked the necessary energy to coach our team."

Schools have a lot invested in their coaches and programs, so they need their coaches happy, healthy and physically and emotionally up to the task of leading their teams. UTC athletic director Rick Hart said he pays attention to how his coaches look and the hours they put in at the office.

"I always pay attention to it, and sometimes I say something or suggest things," Hart said. "It's tough because they're driven."

Huesman is as stressed and high-strung as anyone during games, as is Moore. They both said they sleep pretty well on the days they don't have games, but after a game it is often hard to relax and shut down their minds.

"You can't sleep -- you can forget that," Huesman said. "During the season it's hard. I can get to sleep during the week, but after a game there's just no way. Win or lose, it's hard. You're running everything through your mind, and I've always been like that."

Huesman said he goes through the same thing sometimes around national signing day. The Mocs lost a couple of commitments in the days leading up to this year's signing day on Feb. 1, and Huesman said he felt the stress.

"I can tell when I'm stressed because I get headaches," he said. "Two or three days before signing day, I had a headache the whole time and couldn't shake it."

Hart said he wants his coaches to have balance in their lives. He doesn't want them sleeping in their offices and grinding away 20 hours a day. Coaching jobs are cyclical and there are months during the year when coaches are going to be working long into the night, but it can't be all-consuming, Hart said.

It makes Hart happy to see coaches bring their families to the office from time to time, or to see coaches take off early to watch their children in a play or sporting event.

"We have to have the type of environment where people can come and go when they're able to do those types of things," he said. "I think that's healthy because I think the more balance we all have, with our health and the relationships that we have, the better jobs we're going to do."

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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