Sometimes working the sidelines, you get a special insight into the way a coach works with his or her athletes.
I've seen several state champion coaches in action. Before Scott Theisen ever won a state championship, I was impressed by the way he taught baseball during the games. Baseball presents a multitude of scenarios and situations every game, and Theisen constantly quizzed players about what was taking place - which forced them to think about the game - even when they weren't playing.
Todd Brunty has coached eight teams to swim and dive state championships -- seven of those here at Saline High School. One might imagine that a coach with so much success might spend his time working with the elite, all-state athletes and delegate the other kids to assistants. But Brunty does no such thing.
Thursday night I was taking pictures on the sideline when I heard him working with a sophomore who was upset that he didn't qualify for the state finals. Brunty quickly got him thinking about the positives.
"What's the fastest time you ever swam?"
The kid told Brunty that he just set his personal best.
"So you just swam your best time ever? You should be happy with that," Brunty said.
With the positive reinforcement delivered, Brunty then began telling the youngster about the things he can do to improve.
Sometimes, coaches are state champions. Sometimes, coaches are champions of their students.
Todd Brunty is both.