Coach-approved wisdom for fathers

Marketing and Communications


Tom Limbert '91

By Bridget Tharp

Parenting is a lot like coaching. That's the concept behind the first book by alumnus Tom Limbert '91: "Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time."

His work is a compilation of advice from coaches that may be applied to fatherhood, including from John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach who led his players in the 1970s to the pioneering achievement of winning 10 league championships in 12 years and whose biography inspired Limbert to create the book.

"Everything he had to say about motivating people and getting the best out of people, it really applied to what fathers do," Limbert said of Wooden. "So I looked at what other coaches said, and it was clear to me that there was a correlation."

But as the leaders in the house, if you are going around (feeling and acting) frustrated and defeated, that is going to be a cycle.The book captures advice from Baseball Hall of Famer and coach Tommy Lasorda to "motivate players through communication, being honest with them" and from college basketball coach Rick Pitino, who took three different schools to the Final Four and advised: "Don't coach mad."

The book seems to be the culmination of the Youngstown native's academic preparation as an undergraduate English major at BGSU and the unlikely career he discovered out of his passion for working with young children. He first experienced the joy of educating youngsters during a part-time job at a preschool on his San Francisco-area college campus while he earned his master's degree in literature.

"Compared to dissecting (the work of modernist poet) Ezra Pound, there seemed more truth to interacting with children and helping them," Limbert said.

Limbert's success came after several years of experience working with children and earning his master's degree in early childhood education. He is director of a preschool and co-creator of Studio Grow, an educational play space for little ones with multiple locations in northern California. He also provides one-on-one sessions related to motivating positive child behavior as a parent coach.

The last section of the book, "Live and Enjoy," embodies the sort of advice he likes to offer parents: to communicate honestly with children and seek joy even during difficult moments.

"Successful coaches found that living in the moment, consciously enjoying the moment and enjoying their role as leaders led them to success," he said.

"That applies to parenting. It can be really challenging and frustrating. But as the leaders in the house, if you are going around (feeling and acting) frustrated and defeated, that is going to be a cycle. Embrace your role, learn together with your children from the inevitable mistakes and challenges, then everything will work out."

This Father's Day, Limbert will be enjoying his own 8-year-old son, who unintentionally reminds his dad to follow his own advice.

"Just yesterday he said to me, 'Dad why do you sound frustrated?' . . . He wasn't bratty about it," Limbert said. "I love that he kind of called me out on being frustrated. You can't just go through life not talking about things like that."

(Posted June 10, 2013 )