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Finding Passion, Setting Boundaries, & Creating a Winning Team

We're back with another exciting episode of Coach's Corner, where we dive deep into the minds of incredible coaches. In this episode, we had the pleasure of chatting with Kemp Savage, the head coach at Eastern Michigan University. Host David Kerns and Savage share valuable insights about the importance of setting boundaries, objectivity, cultivating buy-in, and what it takes to build a winning team.

Get stoked for the second episode! To catch the full interview, watch the video below or keep reading as we break down the top takeaways from this conversation. Let's go!


Establishing Boundaries

Navigating boundaries as a coach can be tricky. Starting out as a coach at a young age, Savage found himself in a unique position, being only a few years older than the athletes he coached. He recounts the surreal experience of transitioning from being a competitor to a coach guiding their success. To maintain professionalism and create a clear coach-athlete dynamic, Savage discusses the need to establish boundaries and avoid situations where the lines between peers may blur. While it can be challenging to separate personal friendships from professional roles, objective decisions are crucial for making the best decisions for the team.

Cultivating Buy-in

Creating a strong team culture and cultivating buy-in is essential for sustained athlete success. Savage believes that the process begins during the recruitment phase. By selecting athletes who align with the team's core values, coaches can ensure that everyone is on the same page right from the start. Family, one of their core values, is emphasized as a key aspect of their team culture. Savage explains that being part of a family means supporting and holding each other accountable, even when it's not always easy or comfortable. The Eastern Michigan team implements a multi-level leadership structure that includes athletes from all levels, ensuring that every voice is heard and valued.

The Power of Objectiveness

True objectivity is necessary for a team's success. Savage emphasizes the importance of making tough choices, such as assigning athletes to specific roles for the benefit of the group. When coaches must put aside personal biases and focus on what is best for the team, they gain the respect and trust of their athletes, creating a unified and committed group.


Coach Kemp Savage's journey in coaching provides valuable lessons about establishing clear boundaries, cultivating buy-in, and embracing objectivity. Coaches have the power to create an environment that promotes growth, teamwork, and shared success. Remember, building a winning team requires more than just athletic skill—it requires dedication, making difficult decisions, and strong leadership.

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