Dr. Terry Franson – I Coach the Person, Not the Sport (Part 1)

“[When] I found my faith…I realized it wasn’t all about performance. It was about loving God and loving others, and that radically changed my coaching philosophy and my leadership philosophy.” -Dr. Terry Franson

I’ve long held a fascination and admiration for great coaches.  They influence the lives of young people, and I believe they have a significant role in modeling them to not only be great athletes but to also be better people and better citizens.  For some time, I’ve felt there must be an artform to figuring out how to coach individuals and—to paraphrase a great Army slogan—to be all they can be.

My guest today is Dr. Terry Franson.  Terry coached Azusa Pacific University’s Track & Field Team from 1980 to 1995.  He coached the Men’s Track & Field Team to 11 outdoor championships in 13 years—the most in NAIA history. 

Throughout his career, Terry coached 123 NAIA All Americans, 81 National Championships, and 8 Olympians.  

In our conversation today, Dr. Terry Franson shares his philosophy on coaching and leadership and tells some of the most amazing stories about the athletes he’s coached over the years.  I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the famous United States Olympians from the 1990s that Terry helped to reach their true potential.

I hope you’re as amazed by Terry’s wisdom and stories as I was while interviewing him.  Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button so that you never miss an episode of Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership, and I also encourage you to share the podcast with a friend who would also be likely to get something out of it!

“The greatest service anyone can do is to help another reach their own true potential.” -Dr. Terry Franson

Show Notes

[1:33] – Tommy introduces us to his guest, Dr. Terry Franson.

[2:11] – Terry gives us a glimpse into his childhood and how he got into athletics. 

[4:21] – How did Dr. Terry’s high school coach get the best out of him?

[6:01] – We learn a few takeaways from Dr. Terry’s dissertation about getting the best out of young athletes.

[8:10] – Terry addresses his process when he realizes he’s not the best person to help someone.

[9:23] – Terry explains his stance on whether he coaches the person or the sport.

[10:42] – We hear a story about an Aha! moment Terry had when applying the lessons from his dissertation.  

[12:24] – How someone walked from relative obscurity to becoming an Olympian.

[14:17] –  Older listeners may remember this story about Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson who were featured in a $20 million Reebok campaign in the early 90s.

[15:44] – We’re surprised to learn about Dave Johnson, an athlete who had trained for twelve years and discovered he had a fractured bone in his foot five weeks before the Olympic Games in Barcelona.

[18:18] – What happened during the Games in Barcelona?  

[19:20] – Dr. Terry tells us about a little boy sitting in the stands watching Dave compete with a broken foot.

[21:21] – Mike Barnett goes from throwing footballs, to throwing javelins, to getting thrown off the team.  

[23:38] – Dr. Terry shares how he helped coach Mike and turn his life around. 

“Coaching is way bigger than [athletics]. It’s bringing out the best in people.” -Dr. Terry Franson

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

Connect with Dr. Terry Franson on LinkedIn

Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century, by Mark C. Crowley

Reebok Commercials – Dan and Dave – 1992

Anne Sullivan

Dave Johnson

Innocent Egbunike

Mike Barnett

Azusa Pacific University


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