T.C. Williams head boys basketball coach Ivan Thomas probably could not have planned a better launch time to release his first book. On the heels of the Titans’ first Virginia AAA state championship in 31 years, Thomas plans to debut “45 Tips for Discovering Your Child’s Talents,” his part-motivational, part-parenting manual, which will become available on April 20.
The 90-page handbook, distributed by Bloomington, Ind.-based AuthorHouse Publishing is geared to parents or educators, whom Thomas urges to listen to children’s ‘gifts.’ Thomas sprinkles in insights he’s scooped from basketball, but deals mainly with the parent-child, teacher-student dynamic.
He believes that either parents or educators much impact their child’s life through education, tough love, self-control, patience and goal setting.
Thomas just completed his third season as the Titans’ head coach where he has a 78-11 record. He was recently voted the Virginia Group AAA Coach of the Year by the Virginia High School Coaches Association, and has also been selected the Northern Region Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
Thomas has already written — or collected — a second book tentatively titled “Listen to Me.” The book is a collection of essays from various youth detailing hard-to-talk-about sensitive issues.
Thomas chose to write the book after two former students at Edison committed suicide.
“I felt like they had everything going for them in life, but for some reason, they decided to take their life,” Thomas said.
“Listen to Me” has a tentative release of the winter of 2009.
Further information about how to purchase the “45 Tips for Discovering Your Child’s Talents” and Thomas’ biography are available online at www.45tipsbook.com. The book will be released nationally later this month, and should be available in most major bookstores.
The Gazette Packet recently asked Thomas five questions about why his first book is important and why he wrote it.
<b>Gazette Packet</b>: What was the motivating factor that led you to feel compelled to write a motivational book highlighting how to uncover children’s talent?
<b>Ivan Thomas</b>: The No. 1 factor is that I would see, as a counselor a lot of kids come through my office not very sure of themselves. When you’re not sure of yourself as a teenager, you allow dumb stuff to roll through your mind in terms of your purpose here on life and what you’re good at. The kids who are surer of them are better equipped with self-esteemed.
Being in athletics, we foster athletic prodigies. If a kid at four (years-old) can hit a jump shot, we foster those, but not the other things. I felt compelled to discuss how we can foster those other gifts.
<b>GP</b>: Former UCLA coach John Wooden famously created the Pyramid of Success. Former UNC coach Dean Smith wrote about the Carolina Way, much like current Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wrote “Leading with the Heart.” Even Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy’s book “Quiet Strength” reached No. 1 on the “New York Times” bestseller list on two separate occasions. How is your book different from the other run-of-the-mill motivational manuals authored by coaches?
<b>IT</b>: Because it has nothing to do with basketball in a sense of motivating. It’s actually motivating parents. It’s a handbook, but it has nothing to do with basketball — it’s about elevating our children in general. Those books are good, but this is about motivating parents and people who come in contact with young people.
It differs in the fact that I have a sociology and counseling background. Don’t get me wrong, I used some of these tips with my team. In fact, in the state championship game, that was the final speech that we talked about. When you’re working as a team, everybody has a natural gift that they provide. I went through every person on this team and told them what their gift was in terms of their personality.
<b>GP</b>: On the basketball court, you have a roster full of players who fill certain roles in a structured win-loss environment. Off the court, what happens when there is no scoreboard?
<b>IT</b>: A scoreboard is instant gratification. You put in the time in the gym, you do well and you win. You get gratification in terms of a pat on the back, the score and winning versus off the court. But there can be gratification if you set a goal. You can begin to see smaller steps if you set short-term goals and get that same reward. Setting a goal is your scoreboard for life.
<b>GP</b>: Of the 45 tips you offer, if you had to pick the most important one for a parent or a coach to follow, which one would it be?
<b>IT</b>: The No. 1 is ‘be engaged with your child.’ Spend time with them. Ask them what they like to do, and help them discover it. If you tell them what they’re good at, at least they’ll go after it, even if it changes. Give them a purpose and a goal in life so that they can understand and say, ‘hey, this person cares enough about me to think I can do this.’
If you control a man’s thinking, you control his actions. If you give him something, put it his head that he’s capable of doing something, he’ll become it. I firmly believe that.
<b>GP</b>: With your wife (Dr. Jennifer Miles-Thomas) currently in a time-demanding job (chief urology resident at Johns Hopkins), you coaching AAU basketball during the summer and also raising three children, when did you balance enough free time to write?
<b>IT</b>: I wrote it when I was in Chicago. It was a matter of me finally putting out my ideas and getting it printed and published. Time is very limited. But it was a goal of mine so if you have a goal, you’ll map out certain time in the day to complete your task.