Thursday, January 17, 2002

Coaches and clothes: Dressing for success

Published in the Current

Go to any high school game, you'll see the coaches striding the sidelines, exhorting their team to try harder, "want it" more, and play as a team. Coaches are hoisted high when major victories are won, and suffer the wrath of disappointed fans if failure comes home to roost.

And each game offers a new opportunity for coaches to present themselves to the community in person, beyond the sports-page scoreboard of results. Many parents don't get a chance to talk to the coaches at the games, leaving their clothes to do the talking.

Some of them have truly achieved sartorial splendor. Others, equally qualified as coaches, are less formal, but they have their reasons.

Tammy Loring, the Cape Elizabeth girls basketball coach, follows basketball tradition. She dresses up for each match, and requires her players to do so in school the day of a game.

"I played for Scarborough and we had to wear dresses or skirts," she said. "We're in the spotlight, we're representing the community."

She said it helps build team unity and a sense of pride. "We start as a team," Loring said. "It's a class act."

She said working as a team and being a role model for the team - and having the players be role models in the community - are her major efforts this year.

"I'm really focusing on teams, on (having) no individuals," she said. "We win together, we lose together."

She did say there is an element of competition, too. "Of course we're all out there to win."

And win they can. "We've come a long, long way from last year," Loring said.

From a 1-17 record last year, the Lady Capers are already at 3-7, and she is optimistic. "They've just got to believe in themselves."

Scarborough boys basketball coach Chris Hasson said self-respect is part of dressing up, though he has seen players dress up and misbehave and others, in casual clothes, behave very well. His players have to wear ties in school, and bring a sport coat to wear as the team enters the gym before the game.

"You're representing your school," he said.

Hasson said he normally wears a shirt and tie on the sidelines, but wore a golf shirt during the Christmas tournament, in which Scarborough did very well. He has worn the shirt for three of the past four games, and they have won all three.

"I wore a shirt and tie and coat at Cape and we got pounded," he said.

So it's back to the golf shirt. "I'm not very superstitious, but I'm not changing it," Hasson said. He did say he washes the shirt between games.

Hasson even has a dress code during practice: school colors are required, and shooting jerseys or school T-shirts are preferred. T-shirts worn under their practice jerseys must be white or gray.

Scarborough girls soccer coach Mark Coulston takes another approach. Without a locker room for changing into game clothes, he said, dressing formally is less of an option.

"What they'll do is wear their game shirts to school that day," Coulston said.

The night before a big game, the team will often have a group dinner at someone's house. As part of that, they will sometimes decorate shirts and wear those on game day, instead of the jerseys.

He said most other soccer coaches wear jogging suits at games, but others do dress up more, and require players to dress up too.

"Each coach is different, and each team is different," Coulston said.