Craig Robinson, Billie Jean King, Others on the Coach Who Made the Difference

November 20, 2013  • Institute Contributor

What do Oregon State University’s Craig Robinson, tennis legend Billie Jean King, Sports Illustrated 2010 Kid of the Year Jessica Aney, Olympic Gold-Medalist Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, and top Nike executive Elliott Hill have in common? They were all coached. Some by their family, some by their faculty, some by their rec center leaders, but they all point to pivotal lessons that their amateur coaches taught them before they ever ascended to competitive levels on the court, track, and rink, as well as in the boardroom.

On November 20, the Aspen Institute’s Project Play convened more than 30 thought leaders in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to help develop a plan to grow the quality and quantity of youth coaches nationally. In anticipation of the latest in a series of events that aim to re-imagine youth sports in the US, Robinson, King, Aney, Fitzgerald Mosley, and Hill offered their personal stories about the coaches who inspired them not just to compete, but to sustain a long, healthy relationship with sports.

Click below to read their blog posts in the Institute’s latest series on the Huffington Post Aspen Institute channel

We Need More Trained Coaches — and More Fraser Robinsons” by Craig Robinson, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, Oregon State University

Let’s face it, most kids aren’t going to play sports at the D-I college level, so it’s important that they come away from their experience where they want to be in sports and be active for the rest of their lives. It’s about their psychological, emotional, social and physical welfare. Read More…


Coaching for Life” by Billie Jean King, Member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and Founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation 

Long before I competed at Wimbledon, won a Grand Slam, or stepped on the same court as Bobby Riggs, I was a fifth-grade student in Long Beach, Calif., holding a tennis racquet for the very first time. Read More…


My Sports Influences” by Jessica Aney, 2010 Sports Illustrated ‘SportsKid of the Year’

While many coaches have played a huge role in my development, none have taught me as much as my dad. My dad has coached me in hockey and tennis for my whole life. As a serious athlete, it is crucial to have a parent or coach that cares about you and understands where you want to go with your sports. My dreams in sports are mine, not his, and he has always understood this. Read More…


Winning Gold Medals on The Playing Field of Life” by Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Olympic Gold Medalist and Chief of Organizational Excellence, United States Olympic Committee

Quality coaching is a critical factor in determining whether an athlete will be successful at the elite level. Yet, sports organizations often do not invest adequate resources in developing coaches. Read More…


Early Positive Experiences = Athletes for Life” by Elliott J. Hill, President of Geographies & Sales for Nike

Sure I played football, baseball and basketball from an early age — 7 or 8 — like most kids where I lived. It taught me a lot about sport, commitment and that internal drive. But those lessons paled in comparison to what I got from those countless hours spent playing at the Dottie Jordan recreation center, and the intangible gifts from my coach Mr. Armistead, even if we didn’t realize how much he was investing in our lives at the time. Read More…


For more on the work from the Sports & Society program at the Aspen Institute, follow @AspenInstSports.