Women's soccer head coach Mick Statham shares his love of reading, which spans a range of fiction and nonfiction genres and topics.
I have always enjoyed reading, but now it’s part of a lifestyle. I committed myself many years ago to read a minimum of one page a day for the rest of my life. So far, so good.
I have varying interests in what I read. Some may be fairly obvious for a coach, like leadership and personal development, but some subjects, like terrorism, may not be. Over time I’ve also found different uses for the books I’m reading. When I travel abroad, for example, I always take a mystery novel or two set in American cities to remind me of home. I find it oddly comforting.
My favorite author is James Lee Burke. Most of his novels are set in Louisiana and just written so beautifully. Another favorite is John Sandford’s Prey Series. Easy to read and massively entertaining.
Another way I use books is depending on what time of the year we are in, I will read novels based in the opposite climate. During winter when I am longing for the summer I will read authors like Robert Crais, whose books are based in Los Angeles. L.A Requiem is a brilliant read. In the summer I will get into books that are more winter-based like Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series set by the Canadian border in Michigan.
During our [women’s soccer] season, which is organized chaos, I like easy reading that purely entertains and provides no challenge! Just something to make me smile and decompress for an hour. You cannot go wrong with the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child or the Bosch series by the great Michael Connelly.
I also have a big interest in military history, military strategy, and also terrorism. Two books that I have recently read on terrorism are wonderful reads. Steve Coll’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Ghost Wars is a comprehensive look at the CIA’s role in the lead-up to 9/11. It’s long and exhausting but a brilliant piece of writing. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe is a tremendous book about “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. It’s an intense account of a history I know all too well. It’s well worth a read. Steven Pressfield’s The Warrior Ethos is a dynamic, quick read for those interested in code and honor.
I have also found books to be one of the biggest personal development tools you could ever imagine. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People changed my life. It put into words and organized many thoughts and values I already had while also introducing me to new ways to live. It’s a book that is at the core of my coaching and daily life. It’s in my interactions with colleagues. It’s in my teachings to the players. It helps me guide my own children through the difficulties of growing up. It helps me stay True North.
As a team, we read a book every summer, then discuss it when we return for preseason. Selecting the book is no easy task because it’s something you hope the players can use long after the season is over while also making the team stronger in its clarity. The past summer we read Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. In the past, we have read Legacy by James Kerr and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. We now have started to get alumni involved in reading the summer book to share their thoughts with the players.
The Athletics Department has also gotten in on the act! As a department we read Range by David Epstein. Every department member got a copy of the book and most enjoyed the varying topics on development that were presented.
Reading and books are a love of mine that is a prominent part of my daily life. In the summer you will see me outside Mojo with Americano in one hand and a book in the other. If you are around, stop by and share your favorites with me.