Five Southlake Carroll coaches were given the athletic experience of a lifetime two weekends ago when Carroll athletic director Kevin Ozee was able to procure funds to send them to Florida.
This was far from a vacation, however, as the five coaches went to a two-day sports psychology seminar at IMG Academy. To the uninitiated, IMG Academy is a facility in Bradenton, Fla., where children as young as 9 go to in order to hone their skills in the sport of their choice and live full-time.
Countless tennis, golf and soccer prodigies spent time in IMG, and it's known as a popular training hangout for football and basketball pros alike. During the trip, the Carroll coaches caught sight of North Carolina standout point guard Kendall Marshall, who was among numerous college basketball players hoping to be drafted.
Swimming coach Kevin Murphy, boys soccer coach Greg Oglesby, girls basketball coach Terri Morrison, girls soccer coach Matt Colvin and wrestling coach Joe Hathaway all made the trip and spent two days absorbing how to mentally make their Dragons programs better.
"It's the coaching of the mind and the brain," Oglesby said. "We did very little in terms of addressing from the shoulders down. It was more about the mental preparation prior to games, and then coaching adjustments and the psychology of competing, how to perform at your best under pressure."
The coaches were in a small group of around 20, and were taught throughout by five coaches who took them through mental preparation along with what the teachers at IMG do to mold such successful athletes.
"They are totally professional in terms of the way they did things, the organization, the structure, the discipline, the professionalism and the planning," Oglesby said. "The culture you get when you're there is the best in the world.
For some, the fact that there was overlap in what they were doing made them feel doubly certain that they were on a good path.
"There was a lot of stuff about building confidence in the athlete, making sure that the relationships are strong, and they trust you as a coach," Murphy said. "They do many of the same things we do. Validation and affirmation that we are going about things the right way are the biggest things I took from it."
But even so, Murphy admitted that there was a handful of new ideas they talked about that he would like to incorporate into his team's preparation for next season.
"They talked about kids getting together in a group setting and making a list of what it takes to stink at their sport," Murphy said. "I thought that was quite interesting, because you could come up with a whole list, then you avoid those things. It makes kids aware of some of the self-defeating things that they do."
The trip, while an unusual move for a high school, was part of what the Dragons do in order to stay sharp in the face of competition.
"It was tremendous on his part to go ahead and do it," Oglesby said of Ozee's decision to send them. "I think he had to write a creative proposal to get the funds for us, and to be able to select five of us was tremendous, too. We do things like this, and that's part of the reason we do have an incredible program. We're always finding ways to improve and get better and get an edge compared to these other programs."