The mission of Coach Q & A is to give recognition to coaches with significant accomplishments and/or contributions in all sports at all levels. If you know a coach that we should highlight, please send us an email: [email protected]
Coach Q&A – AL Endriss
AL ENDRISS, native of Oakland, California, is one of this country’s most accomplished figures in the game of baseball at the interscholastic and intercollegiate levels. Over a career that spans nearly 60 years, Endriss has earned virtually every coaching honor imaginable and continues to involve himself in developing athletes. A gifted multi-sport athlete, he played professionally for both the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball organization and the NFL San Francisco 49ers, before joining the coaching profession in 1954. Here is a summary of his career at Redwood High School in Northern California:
- His record was 472 wins and 119 losses.
- His teams won 12 MCAL championships, including a remarkable eight-year run: 1965, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1981.
- His teams appeared in the North Coast sectional playoffs six times, and brought home NCS titles three times, in 1977, 1978 and 1980.
- At the height of Endriss’s tenure in 1977, Redwood was named “Mythical National Champion.”
- Perhaps the crowning achievement was when Sporting News named the Redwood High varsity baseball team as the “Team of the Decade” for the 1970s
- Endriss enjoyed other honors along the way: he was named North Coast Section Coach of the Year in 1974 and 1975, and California Coach of the Year in 1976. That same year his peers nationwide named him to their highest honor, National High School Coach of the Year.
Q: When it comes to sports and coaching, who were your mentors?
Endriss: Growing up in Oakland in the 1930s and 40s I had the great fortune to be exposed to three men who were major influences on my coaching, though I probably didn’t realize it until later. They were Mel Nickerson, Tom Fitzpatrick, and Bill Rockwell. What I saw in them is what I hope I conveyed to my players throughout my career: attention to detail and fundamentals, toughness and determination, discipline, and also caring about people as individuals and a sense of sports as pure fun. They certainly inspired me.
Q: How did you get your start in coaching?
Endriss: As a professional athlete I knew I would go into coaching at some point. That point came in 1954 at my high school alma mater, St. Elizabeth’s in Oakland. In those days it was standard practice to coach several sports and I was head coach of football, basketball, and baseball there when I started. I later moved up to St. Vincent’s in Vallejo, and came to Redwood in Larkspur in 1958, my first assignment in a public high school, where I coached for 21 years.
Q: At what point did you feel you were completely comfortable as a coach?
A: It took me a few years to “figure it out” as we say. I had been a top flight athlete as a younger person and when I first got into coaching I assumed that all I had to do was tell a player what I wanted done and it would indeed get done. What I didn’t realize is that I had to become a teacher to be a coach, just as any teacher in English or math at the high school level. I had to break down the game and teach the “hows” and the “whys” of what to do. That was an adjustment. What I wanted to do from that point onward is learn as much as I could about the teaching aspect of coaching, which Is why I was so adamant about attending every coaching clinic I could find, now matter where I had to go. I literally consumed knowledge at every opportunity and then tried to transfer it to my teams as best as I could.
Q: Such devotion to the profession had to have some costs, some sacrifices. What were yours?
Endriss: Yes, the cost for me came in the form of not taking the time to teach my own children. There was a cost there and I do have some regrets. I don’t think there is a successful coach alive who hasn’t paid that kind of price. But, that aside, I wouldn’t change very much of what happened in my career. It has been extremely rewarding.
Q: You have coached at the interscholastic level for almost 60 years. Is it possible to identify any of your major challenges?
Endriss: Yes, for me it was the adjustment I had to make coming from an inner city environment in Oakland to the suburbs of Marin County in the late 1950s. I think most people today can understand that difference in culture. The city kids were just more determined to succeed as athletes at the time. They were tougher and more determined. The suburban kids had other options and interests and it was more of a challenge to get and keep their attention, so my teaching skills had to take another leap forward. Instilling a stronger work ethic for success in sports was something I had to do to help those kids see what they could accomplish. They already had that for their schoolwork, of course, so I had to convince them it was worthwhile to extend that behavior to athletics. I was extremely satisfying to see that work as well as it did.
Q: And now let’s look at the present. Which coaches working today do you respect and admire?
A: There are two that stand out. One is Andy Lopez, the head baseball coach at the University of Arizona, who has won national championships at two different schools now, Arizona and Pepperdine. He is hard-nosed and very fair and does a great job. The other is a man whom I coached in high school, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks. What I liked about him as a youngster and what he continues to exhibit is that rare combination of enthusiasm, technical knowledge, and the tremendous passion he has for his players and the game of football.
Coach Q & A is a partnership between G-board and Skip Corsini. Skip Corsini is a freelance writer, teacher and consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area who has coached basketball at the interscholastic level since 1980. Learn more about Skip on www.twtwritingcoach.com and skipcorsini.tumblr.com. He can be reached at [email protected].
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