November 30th, 2022 | Josh Adelman
This November we honor US Army Master Sergeant Bryson Preddy the Coach of the Month Award for his steadfast commitment to coaching mastery. He has approached his craft with deliberate intention and trust in the process. He has worked the process, which has yielded huge dividends and tons of personal fulfillment.
Bryson has served for over 23 years and all the while has coached as a volunteer for youth football, youth softball, and as a strength and conditioning intern. He certified with Soldiers To Sidelines earlier this year and then worked through the STS Membership Development Program. His hard work and perseverance earned him a guest coaching opportunity in his hometown at LSU football. We interviewed Bryson to share his experience with us and lessons learned.
STS: Tell your story about how and why you go into coaching. Discuss how coaching has impacted you as a person.
Coach Preddy: I got involved with coaching 13 years ago when my son first started playing flag football. His team didn’t have a coach, so I volunteered. It was going to be extremely easy, and I had some experience playing; I could throw and catch and knew a little bit of offense and defense. How could it be? It’s six and 7-year-old flag football. That couldn’t be further from the truth; it was much harder than I expected. It was a challenge; I was very naive, and just because I could perform a skill doesn’t easily translate to teaching a skill. We may have won more games than we lost that first season, but it was fun.
My son and I had fun, and the team had fun. It was the fun and excitement that brought me back the following year. Over that next off-season, I worked with my son, and he improved significantly. I learned more about the game, drew plays on napkins, researched drills, and recruited a couple of coaches to help. That next season was remarkable; unfortunately, we lost on the final play in the semifinals. I knew I wanted to coach after the military. I understood I was at a disadvantage because I didn’t have coaching experience. However, if I leveraged my career as a Green Beret, I figured I could bring something to the fight. So, I embarked on a journey seeking scholarly knowledge to fill the gap in coaching experience and volunteered as a coach at every opportunity I could find.
Coaching has impacted me tremendously because it reinforces what I believe as an individual—it’s a process. If you go to practice one day and look for progress in the mirror, you probably won’t see it. You can go back to practice the next day, come home, look in the mirror, and see the same thing, nothing. So it’s hard to measure results, so the weak individual quits. Or you believe that practice, commitment to the process, and intentional action are the right course. You stick with it and commit yourself to practice. You commit yourself to the weight room. Sure, you can strike out—you’re going to. You can eat cake one day. You can even miss a day or two in a season. But if you have grit and stick with it consistently, I can promise you; you’ll get better. You will be bigger, faster, and stronger. You will be able to make the tackles. Just be consistent and trust the process!
STS: How has your military experience influenced you as a coach?
Coach Preddy: I didn’t accidentally become a Green Beret; you must be intentional. I led my life, took control of it, and took the necessary steps to succeed. I didn’t do things because that’s the way it was done before me. I wanted a rationale for why I did what I did and directly transferred from the military to the sidelines. I didn’t have things that were not worth my time and energy, and I was intentional. You don’t go uphill by accident. You don’t read books on accidental achievements. Be intentional with who you are and what you do.
STS: Describe a coaching interaction with a player or group of players, that has a special place in your heart.
Coach Preddy: Speaking to the LSU Offense during fall camp holds a particular spot in my heart. It was my first official interaction with the team. Coach Denbrock asked me to address the team on no specific topic other than speaking from my heart. Knowing how precious time is at LSU, I was very appreciative of this opportunity. I talked about my experiences as a Green Beret over a 22-and-a-half-year career. The conversation centered around the 12 characteristics that were important to be successful on a Special Forces Team. I then opened the floor to questions and answers. Most questions centered around overcoming adversity, being mentally strong, grit, and character. I received a standing ovation and immediately bonded with the coaches and the players.
STS: Which player you have coached are you most proud of? Why?
Coach Preddy: Reese, Eve, and Renee are my three daughters playing softball because they all break the stigma of playing like a girl. They are beautiful yet fierce competitors when they step on the field. They are incredibly competitive, hard-working, and driven to succeed on and off the field. They aren’t afraid to slide headfirst into home plate. They enjoy strength training and can’t wait to learn how to power clean. I am super proud to be their dad and their coach.
STS: What was the most difficult challenge you have experienced in coaching, and what have you learned from that experience?
Coach Preddy: As funny as it sounds, getting passed over for a head softball coach position that I felt I was overqualified for. Who knows why I didn’t get the job? I am not in the building, and I’m not a teacher at the school, whatever the reason may be. The head coach position was given to a staff member, and I took a volunteer position on the staff because I wanted to coach. It all worked out. If I had taken the head coach position, I wouldn’t have been able to meet Coach Mike Denbrock. You can never have enough patience. Even though I had a plan, I had to take a detour to get where I was going momentarily. Trust the process and stay intentional.