Pete Carroll: A football coach on human potential


Last night I watched a 60 Minutes interview with Pete Carroll, head coach of the USC football team.   Pete spent a few years as an NFL coach before USC. Actually he was fired from both the Jets and Patriots jobs.  When asked about being fired from the Jets after one year, he said “Best thing that ever happened to me. “   

You get the sense from the interview that he’s not just putting a positive spin on career disappointments.  He honestly believed that a better opportunity would emerge. Now he’s one of the most successful college football coaches and leading a community effort to stop gang violence in L.A.

“But I didn’t go out thinking I’d failed. I was looking, ‘Let me go, let’s go to the next shot. Let’s go, let’s get this thing right.'”

 He described his coaching philosophy as “Win Forever.”  It is about “finding out how good you could become at something and then making it come to life.”   What I found most interesting is how he is taking this philosophy into some of the most violent neighborhoods in L.A. in an attempt to get rival gangs to cooperate with each other and end violence. He’s formed a non profit group called A Better L.A. that brings together gang members, community organizers and law enforcement officials.   He visits inner city neighborhoods late at night to talk to young people about working together to create a better life. Carroll sees that as his life’s work: teach young people, not just ball players, to seize every opportunity and make the most of it.

In once scene, a sixteen-year-old boy describes how he thinks about how he’ll either die or end up in jail. 

Coach Carroll’s response, “To just say I am going to die or I am going to jail and live with that. That’s more likely to happen the longer you keep thinking that. That’s why it’s so important for us to go and create hope. And to help people with their vision and to help them understand what they can become.”

“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. And sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching. And, you know, the greatest of things can happen,” Carroll said.





3 responses to “Pete Carroll: A football coach on human potential

  1. Sarah! Excellent stuff.

    I specifically like the sentence: “believing that a better opportunity can emerge…” – A great lesson for life. Reminds me of the “brick walls” in Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”:

    “The brick walls are there for a reason,” he said during his lecture. “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

    Merry Xmas to you, Craig and Jack 🙂

  2. I’ve always liked Pete Carroll and was convinced he would succeed as a coach in the NFL. His style of coaching is one that I would respond to (that is, if I were 6’4”, 225 lbs. and an extremely talented football player). This proves that you don’t have to be a hard-nosed coach (or manager) to build a successful team. Unlocking the potential within people to help them succeed is something he does well. I was happy when he took over at USC and stopped wasting his talents on overly-paid, egotistical cry-babies who think they’re above “coaching.”

  3. I need to ask Coach Carroll a question I am looking for Pete Carroll who coached a semi pro team called the Crusaders I am trying to get in touch with him coached my brother and I need to contact him if
    he can help me my brothers name was Ralph Coppola

    Thanking you in advance
    Lena Simon

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