Melissa sits down with Anson Dorrance, one of the most successful coaches in collegiate athletics, to discuss how to build a lasting culture in a high turnover environment.
Melissa: Hi. Welcome to the cultur(ED) podcast. I’m Melissa Jezior, your host. On this podcast we talk to top culture makers in the world today from a variety of industries and backgrounds to unpack the visible and not so visible forces that make up this often overlooked superpower, culture. Right now we’re in the heart of the women’s World Cup, and this inspired me to learn from elite athletes and coaches to unpack their tips and tricks for building winning cultures.
Today I’ll be talking to Anson Dorrance, the head coach of the women’s soccer program at the University of North Carolina, and one of the most successful, if not the most successful, coaches in the history of college athletics. Well, thank you so much for taking time today. I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
Anson: Hi. I’m looking forward to it myself.
Melissa: So it’s been fun for me because I went through the process, as I was getting ready for this interview I read about you and I watched some interviews that you gave, and I have to tell you I was positively blown away by your numbers.
And I think, ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your hats, ‘cause I’m about to blow you away with this one man’s accomplishments. Anson has 40 years in his coaching career and he’s lost less than 70 games. Think about that for a second. And he’s won more than 800. He was the first coach in NCAA history to win 20 championships coaching a single sport. In fact the Lady Tar Heels have won 22 of the 36 NCAA soccer championships.
He’s led a team to 101 game winning streak, coached 13 different women to a total of 20 national Player of the Year awards, member of the UNC Hall of Fame and the Soccer Hall of Fame, and he’s coached some of the best players in soccer history, including Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Tobin Heath, Crystal Dunn, and one of my colleagues here at Eagle Hill, Lindsay Henson. And I can’t forget to admit he also had 5 players on stage at the World Cup last week. So Anson, you are quite an accomplished man and I’m sure have lots of great insights to share with us.
Anson: Well, you’re very kind with that introduction. Thank you very much.
Melissa: So I hear you’re about to begin your 41st season as head coach of the Tar Heels in the fall. And one of the things that really interested me the most about you, Anson, after reading about you and talking to Lindsay Henson here at Eagle Hill, and one of the phrases that she associates most with you and the team culture, was “refuse to lose.” Lindsay said refuse to lose really stays with her today, and not just as a memory, but really and truly as her mindset and how she shows up in all aspects of her life. So how do you inject this mindset into your players? Maybe you can let us in on the secret.
Anson: Actually, it’s probably the core of our success. When I was a young coach our legendary former basketball coach, Dean Smith, used to let me come watch his basketball practices, and the thing I liked most about watching his teams train was the amount of data they would collect in a typical practice. Everything counted. So we stole this idea, we soccer-ized it, we took it to a new level.
And this was a game changer for us in practice, because before you came to practice the next day you could go to our bulletin board and in 28 different categories you would see where you ranked on the team. All the different elements that are critical for our success in a practice and a game were recorded by the managers and then posted on the bulletin board.
Melissa: So let’s talk a little bit about these 28 factors that you identify and grade on or rate on every day. I think right now in the corporate world