It’s not unusual for a teacher, professor, instructor, and coach to be listed as a reference on applications or a job, scholastic documents, and for a host of other reasons. In fact, this is a basic .. “what do other people think of you”.
Just a word of advice along those lines. It’s a good idea - even a standard courtesy to ask permission prior to listing anyone as a reference.
Now invariably, you’re going to get a decent reference. However, if a request for a reference catches the responder by surprise the initial first impression by the person asking can be somewhat less than desirable.
For example, let’s say that I was your coach three years ago. From that point forward, I’ve had a lot of players come and go … not only in the program that your were in, but in other programs as well. And like most coaches, I do keep notes on players .. but not all. These notes are great archive for other coaches and scouts as the need arises and for other situations.
Now out of the blue came a phone call that says you’ve listed me as a reference. Not only will this catch me off guard, but it also puts me on the spot in many ways. Here are just a few:
• My first response will be that of surprise – a vocal tone that won’t go unnoticed.
• My first instinct will be to ask this person to call back. This gives me some time
to do a little research of whom it is this person is asking about. This too does not go
unnoticed by the caller.
• Unless this player was some kind of all star, my recollection and notes will be
general at best, a generic whitewash of sort..” he was a good kid, good hustle,
good control…etc..” But notice the lack of specifics. A seasoned coach will pick
up on this ASAP and knows I’m being gracious about the player, and thus – will not
pursue the matter further.
• If it’s a letter that requests a reference, the same will hold true. Only more often than
not a quick reply will not be forthcoming due to the unexpected arrival of the
reference request to begin with.
• I mentioned that surprise references puts me on the spot in many ways… and they end up giving the impression that I’m not in touch with my fellow coaches, nor do I have an organization plan for progressive player recognition and a host of other things. This reaction can be cultivated by administrative personnel who are simply following up a paper trail and other fact-finding routines.
So, if your going to give a coach as a reference, let him/her have the courtesy of at least being asked. Also, and just as important, make sure the reference is directed to a person that can be somewhat instep with the topical nature of the reference.