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The skills you develop outside of education can help you succeed in farm business.

David Kohl, Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

February 28, 2024

3 Min Read
Getty Images/FOTOKITA

In recent months, the connection between “the hardwood,” or the basketball court, and business perspectives have been front and center. Recently, we honored our high school basketball coach at Hamilton College in upstate New York by naming the court after him. He led the team to a 104-game winning streak in high school, a modern-day record at the time. His over 600 wins at Hamilton College and 1,000 wins overall are a tribute to his coaching and teaching that have stood the test of time.

Whether it was people from our high school, many who are blue collar workers or those with an agrarian background to Wall Street investors, lawyers, famous surgeons, and business people at Hamilton College, the life skills learned on and off the hardwood early in life were transformative into adulthood. Hard work, discipline, teamwork, humility, knowing where you came from, and the people who shaped our lives were on display for the weekend event. Many of us chuckled at memories of playing barn basketball when it was 20 below zero outside after a weekend game. These memories and what our coach was able to accomplish both on and off the hardwood are a testament to the passion and the fortitude that Coach Tom Murphy represents.

Recently, I was on a program with the former Oklahoma Hall of Fame Coach Sherri Coale. After a quick conversation with her and listening to her speech, I could quickly discern why she was successful.

Be aware, not just smart

Her first piece of advice was being aware is much more important than being smart. This is why I often comment that success for young people cannot be measured by a standardized test. The experiences and lessons taught in sports, FFA, 4-H, band, and other organizations can be very instrumental in developing life skill sets.

One big concern is technology and how preoccupied people have become with it. Young people are increasingly relying on technology which can inhibit their oral, written, listening, and nonverbal communication skills. In the future, young people in agriculture will be required to be interdependent rather than independent as the people part of the equation will play a bigger role in the agriculture industry’s success.

Wisdom shared

Another piece of wisdom that Coach Coale bestowed on the group was how you react and respond is a choice. She indicated life does not happen in a vacuum. You must work around the uncontrollable events like geopolitics, weather, war, etc. and focus on the things that you can control. The environment and trends are changing daily and the elite farmers know how to channel energy for the most positive response.

As I reflect on these recent basketball experiences, both coaches were old school and tough, but also compassionate for the individual and the team. Whether it is the hardwood or the field of agriculture, one can quickly see the transformative skill sets needed for both.



The opinions of David Kohl are not necessarily those of Farm Progress.

About the Author(s)

David Kohl

Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

Dr. Dave Kohl is an academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. Dr. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research, and involvement in ag businesses. He has traveled over 10 million miles; conducted more than 7,000 presentations; and published more than 2,500 articles in his career. Dr. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

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