People of Georgian: Co-op manager fields life lessons as rugby coach

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The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet John Daggett

I’ve always said I get more out of coaching rugby than the players do.

It keeps me connected to a game I love; it gives me a ton of energy; it keeps my competitive side fired up; and working with the players also makes me a better coach.

Looking back 10 years ago at the coach I was… Oh my goodness, if I saw that guy on the sideline I’d think, “What a complete moron.” Just yelling and screaming, no direction.

Now, with a great group of assistant coaches and great leaders on the team over the last number of years, I’m very open to feedback. How can we make things better? How can I be a better coach?

A person with a grey beard, wearing a ball cap, sunglasses, grey T-shirt, navy shorts, and shoes stands outside on a sidewalk next to a road sign reading "Old Coach Rd."

We do a lot of coaching around rugby, but we also do coaching around life.

We’ve always focused on culture; we were never going to focus on wins and losses. If we ever got to that we knew we were doing a bad job.

‘At the end of the day, if you leave and you’re a better person, we’ve done our job’

We’ve had players come who were excellent players, but we just didn’t want them as part of our team because they weren’t focused on what we were trying to do.

At the end of the day, if you leave and you’re a better person, we’ve done our job. If you leave and you’re just a better rugby player, then we’ve really failed you.

Drawing from that focus, we’ve had great success on the field.

We’ve won medals the last six years, we’re constantly at the top, we have one of the best programs in the province – college and university – and it’s a place where young athletes want to come play.

A group of people dressed casually and some in rugby uniforms, stand together on a playing field and put their hands together in the centre.

Right from the beginning, we talk to our athletes about being truthful and honest, and if we can start there then we can really build something.

When the trust builds up, we can really start talking about accountability.

Are you doing that extra work we asked you to do in the gym? Are you coming to practice on time? Are you making sure all your academics are on point? Are you eating well? Looking at those personal relationships you have – are those going well?

“It’s a great privilege and honour to be able to coach the rugby team and work at Georgian.”

John Daggett

From accountability, then you can really get growth and resilience.

When our athletes understand what accountability is, and they appreciate the process of honesty and trust, and they build some resilience to go out into the workforce, then we’ve really succeeded.

It’s a great privilege and honour to be able to coach the rugby team and work at Georgian.

John Daggett, Manager of Co-operative Education and Career Success and Head Coach of the Georgian rugby team out of the Barrie Campus.

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