Once you got success, it breeds success, said T.C. Williams Basketball Coach Ivan Thomas from his office, Titans varsity letters and championship T-shirts strewn throughout.
Already coach of the state champion Titans, Thomas has been using a pen for more than just signing autographs and his recently published book, 45 Tips for Discovering Your Childs Gift, adds to his winding list of successes.
Thomas has a masters in guidance and counseling and one in educational leadership, with a bachelors in sociology. Hes accomplished. Leading his team to a state championship is no doubt an addition to his repertoire, and it was aided by his understanding of young people and how to foster their gifts.
We tend to focus on child prodigies and things of that nature, but those gifts are easily established, Thomas said. The gift of communication, of leadership, writing; normal everyday things we dont tend to foster. These are things that most of our kids will end up doing as well as with sports, dont get me wrong but the point is, I believe if you can give a kid his gift and natural talent in life, his life will have more purpose.
In speaking with Thomas it is obvious that his background as a guidance counselor and mentor stays with him. Because of his past, his roles as a coach, assistant athletic director and now author, allow him to purvey his knowledge to his students, athletes and readers with authority.
But while his knowledge of young people is inherently applicable to the court, Thomas said that his book is more of a handbook for parents.
It has less to do with sports and more with everyday gifts of our children, Thomas said. It attempts to teach [parents] how to recognize and promote their childs natural ability, and that isnt always easily recognizable.
Still, communicating with kids and fostering their individual talents are things that Thomas book preaches, as well as know-how from which the champion Titans certainly benefited.
The ability to establish a rapport with a kid is important, Thomas said. You cant get a kid to buy into your system until you get them to buy into you. And then once you get them to buy into you, you get them to buy into themselves and believe in themselves.
Setting goals, promoting effort and engaging a young persons mindset and attitude are all mentioned in 45 Tips, and Thomas says these are basics of fostering a young persons talent that he translated to his coaching role.
Thomas players work. Literally. They punch time cards before and after each practice, instilling an unbelievable work ethic in the high school students. A team toolbox is carried around. And while they dont practice in the offseason, current and former players can be found in T.C.s gymnasium during open gym, scrimmaging on their own.
They embrace the feeling of working hard, Thomas said. We dont sign a basketball. We sign a hard hat.
A parent of three himself, Thomas hopes that parents will invest in the philosophy laid out in his book, just as his players invested in his coaching techniques.
I know one thing, Thomas said. My players definitely saw what can happen if youre willing to buy into the philosophy here of setting a goal, working hard and having the right attitude, and then serving each other on the court. What can you tell me now? It works.
45 Tips for Discovering your Childs Gift is in all major bookstores and at www.45tipsbook.com.