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A sign outside "The Pod" room in Schoonover Center at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Oct. 20, 2023.

‘The Coaching Life Podcast’ stresses the importance of athletics

Chris Stewart, an Ohio University professor and the Operations Manager for the Scripps College of Communication, hosts "The Coaching Life" podcast with Pat Martin, where they discuss all things sports, with a particular focus on coaching and player development.

Stewart and Martin met while coaching their kids’ youth baseball teams, prompting them to start the podcast in 2019. The pair has since released episodes weekly, amassing over 160 in total. 

Martin, an Applications System Analyst at OU, discussed the origin of the pair’s friendship and how it led to the creation of the podcast. 

“We started to meet for lunch for a few years talking about the issues with youth sports and the things that we've done wrong, primarily in our experiences,” Martin said. “We had that shared passion and we just one day said, ‘Hey, we should start recording and preserve this conversation.’”

Before starting the podcast, Stewart published two books on coaching, parenting and athletics. “Building Champions: Coaching, Parenting, and Playing to Win in What Really Matters” was published in March 2018, followed by “Coaching Life: giving your best so others can be theirs!” in December 2018. The latter served as the inspiration for the name and central theme of the podcast. 

The pair originally only planned to do a limited number of episodes but quickly realized they had more to talk about. Between the two, Stewart and Martin both have an extensive background in youth sports, coaching baseball, basketball, football and track. Through their podcast, the two discuss their experiences as coaches and as parents of young athletes. 

“In your life, everybody is a coach,” Martin said. “Your kids, your peers, your family members, everybody has kind of served in that role and everyone gets coached. There's a lot of life lessons that kids take away from sports. Kids learn how to handle struggle, challenges and how to handle success.”

Stewart chimed in on the importance of coaching and its impact on players and their lives outside of sports.

“I think the reason why coaching is so valuable is because of the relationships that you build, but also the relationships that are needed,” Stewart said. “But we recognize that in many ways often, we're the only father figure that some of these kids might have … Ultimately, we're coaching people. We're not coaching a sport.”

As former coaches themselves, Martin and Stewart understand the challenges and rewards inherent in guiding kids’ athletic development. They don’t just focus on their success as coaches but also make sure to discuss their failures and how their listeners can learn from the pair’s mistakes.

“We talk about our mistakes and a lot of things we’ve done wrong as coaches and as parents,” Martin said. “We want other people to hear those, so they can maybe not make those same mistakes.” 

Besides coaching, the podcasters frequently examine the importance of youth athletics and how prioritizing physical activity promotes overall well-being. 

Additionally, they emphasize the correlation between achieving athletic success and being a good human being.

“One of the big things we always talk about and push our kids to understand is that in order to be the best player you can be, you must strive to be the best person you can be,” Stewart said.

Over the course of their 160 episodes, the duo has often invited guests to include other perspectives and create more conversation. The pair hosted current and former OU athletes, retired OU softball coach Kenzie Roark and Jimmy Burrow, father of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. 

“Anytime we have a guest on, it’s the best episode we’ve put out in a while,” Martin said. “It’s always enjoyable to bring (guests) in and have a different perspective.”

By sharing ideas through lively discussions with coaches and athletes on "The Coaching Life" podcast and using sports as a springboard for vital life lessons, Martin and Stewart believe youth coaches have a platform to make a difference well beyond the playing field.


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