Kurt Herbstreit has been the Fenton varsity girls golf coach for 12 seasons, leading the squad to four Metro League titles. Herbstreit is entering his third season as Fenton’s varsity boys golf coach, earning a Metro crown last spring. We recently asked Herbstreit to answer a few questions. Here are his answers.
How did you get into coaching?
When I began teaching I jumped into coaching right away with middle school track. I had always been involved in athletics throughout my life and so coaching was a natural extension of the school day and another way to support students in our community and in an area that I was always passionate about. I had no idea what I was doing with track, but was fortunate to be able to work closely with some very strong and seasoned coaches like Jim Leh and Greg Pruitt.
What high school did you attend and what sports did you play?
I graduated from South Lyon High School. I played baseball from second grade through my senior year. I also played football. Baseball has always been my first love.
What are some of the valuable lessons you think students can learn through athletics?
Working through adversity, collaborating with others, managing a wide range of personalities and ways of thinking, how to be a part of a team, sportsmanship especially when things do not go your way and learning that hard work and team work pay off.
What have you learned about yourself through coaching athletics?
I’ve learned that I have a strength for and really enjoy mentoring kids outside of the classroom. I really love and value the process of building relationships with students and their families beyond the walls of the classroom and athletics provides a backdrop with so many dynamics that those relationships really flourish. I see them through some of their proudest and toughest moments while they are on the team and this takes your relationship to a deeper level. I have been fortunate to maintain relationships with many of my athletes and their families long after graduation.
What advice would you give to a high school coach just starting their coaching career today?
I would recommend that a new coach puts their focus on building relationships and fostering a strong team culture. Put the winning aside in the early days and really work to bond with your team. When those relationships exist and are strong and when players buy into your philosophy, the winning will come.
What makes a squad a good team?
A group becomes a good team when they feel like a family. Accepting and supporting one another through the differences that may exist off the field while working towards a common goal on the field helps to bond them into a team. It’s all about the relationships. When you believe in one another and in your purpose you will come together and succeed as a team.
What has been the most rewarding part of coaching so far during your career?
Again it’s the relationships. The lifelong friendships with former players and their families is by far the most rewarding. Through these relationships we have built a program that has a deep level of respect from players, parents, and from other coaches and teams. I am still in contact with many of my players and it is great to see them move on in life. You can see the impacts of the team on them as they navigate adulthood.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I might be a little bit addicted to reality
TV. If someone is fishing, or in the wilderness, or living a lifestyle that’s off the beaten path, I’m down with watching it all happen on TV.
Is there anything else you'd like to say that we didn't cover with the other questions?
Coaching has become a huge part of my identity and who I am. I really never expected this to happen. Twelve years ago when I took over the girls golf program I never imagined that the program, the kids and their families would become such an integral part of my life. My youngest daughter is now one of my golfers, so this team has taken on an even deeper meaning. I have always felt that the team is an extension of my family and with Brook playing and having this common bond it makes it all that much more special.