Ben McDonald with his son Jase. Photo by Collin Richie.

From the April issue: Pro athletes become youth coaches

Sports don’t build character, they reveal character. There is no “I” in team. These might be sports cliches, but for former LSU and professional athletes Ben McDonald, Ricky Blanton and Ryan Theriot–each of whom now coaches youth teams in the Baton Rouge area–these principles ring true.

“I tell my kids all the time: ‘You’re going to compete one day for a job,'” says McDonald. “‘If you learn to compete now, you’ll compete for the rest of your life, and you’ll be successful.'”

This is the spirit of sports. Many former athletes look back on their glory days and instead of remembering how many games they lost or how many times they struck out, they remember what they learned from it all. According to McDonald, coaches once used an “iron fist” approach. These days, he says, encouragement and gentle instruction have more of an effect.

Former LSU basketball star Ricky Blanton embodies a twofold approach to coaching. First, he teaches the fundamentals of the game. More importantly, he instills in his players how to be a good athlete. Being a good teammate and good sportsmanship are just two examples of lessons that can be applied both on and off the court. “It’s not about winning every game,” Blanton says. “It’s about teaching, and you have to value the journey for the young athlete.”

To learn more about these former stars of basketball and baseball and their spirited approach to coaching, read this article from the April issue of inRegister, on newsstands now.