Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bringing perspective to athletic competition

Dorrance describes his coaching philosophy. He seeks to inject a "healthy perspective" into coaching, reassuring his athletes that losses should not be devastating, just as wins should not be the only object of competition. He believes that this posture encourages hard work, which leads to successful outcomes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Was your experience here something that you want your current players to have something like it?
Yes. It's really funny because of the success our teams have had I get to do a lot of speaking engagements and I guess people are always surprised at the way I treat athletics, because I really don't think it's anything particularly earth shattering or viable to any great degree. And I try to sell my athletes on that because if we lose, no one dies and if we win, we're not any closer to world peace. And so we try to put it in perspective. But I think the thing we try to communicate with them is that it's certainly important to do the best you can. And the best we could has been pretty good because we've had some great success. But also I think putting it in that perspective takes a kind of pressure off. And I think we should take it off because I just don't think tremendous success in athletics really dictates too many other kinds of successes. I think it's a coincidence that occurs. So we try to convince our athletes not to have any illusions of grandeur over success and certainly not to have a sort of cathartic withdrawal if we happen to fail. I think that's a healthy perspective and I think the kids have enjoyed competing here. And I enjoyed playing sports just because I really enjoyed running around. I enjoyed competition tremendously. It excited me. I had developed my self-esteem enough to know that just by trying real hard at something, I could be successful. I was never a real gifted athlete, but I just tried real hard and as a result I was successful. And I think that translates into something positive; a feeling that, you know, if you really put yourself into something that positive things will occur. So those are sort of the messages we try to share with the athletes we recruit here.