Feb. 8, 2023
If you’ve played a sport, you know how influential a coach can be. And even if you haven’t played a sport, there’s that teacher, that friend or that co-worker who knows how to get the best out of you and help you flourish. They take on a huge responsibility, and the good ones are pretty special.
With the Big Game coming up (We can’t use the actual name. We think it’s silly, too, since it’s just free promotion, but we digress), we wanted to introduce you to some of Sam’s Club’s favorite coaches. These associates went through a nomination process, and we’re proud to have them serving in a community near you.
Anthony Lewandowski has been with Sam’s Club as the Meat Lead in Cheektowaga, New York for nearly a year, and coaching and sports just run in the family. Anthony’s dad was a coach, and Anthony coaches football and baseball.
"I have a passion for developing and teaching kids the game," he said, acknowledging he played both football and baseball, so he knows the ins and outs. "I coach because it’s about showing kids that what they learn on the field, they can use in life. It’s not just about the game."
Not only is Anthony a coach, he’s also a part of the board and is his league’s football commissioner. And he uses some of the same coaching principles inside the walls of Sam’s Club.
"I use what I do in my normal job when it comes to training and developing employees to help teach kids sports. And I do the same at work," he said, adding he does what he does to help people for the future, including when coaching his son and watching his daughter be a cheerleader for their team. "Being a great coach isn’t always about how many games you win it’s about what the kids take with them that they may use later in life, and they remember you taught them."
Adrian Cardenas has been with Sam’s Club for 16 years and is the Co-Manager at a club in Sacramento, California. For Adrian, it’s all about a love for the sport and for his community. He's the head coach of a football team for six-year olds that his twin sons play for.
"When I was approached with the opportunity to be able to teach and train young kids the fundamentals of the game of football, I couldn't say no," Arian said. "My twin boys are the reason I started coaching. They showed interest in football on their own, and I love knowing that my boys and I can connect on a different level besides father and son."
But the best part of coaching, for Adrian, is seeing the development and progress of the team.
"It is not an easy sport to learn or play so the look on these young players' eyes when they make their first tackle, first block, score their first touchdown or win their first game is priceless," Adrian said.
Shane Haynie has been with Sam’s Club for 25 years and is the Club Manager in North Canton, Ohio. He’s been a coach in a lot of sports – youth flag football, baseball, basketball and softball. He loves showing people how to achieve what they never thought they could.
"There is no better feeling than seeing a child score their first touchdown or pulling their first flag," he explained. "It is so similar to being a leader in the club, watching associates do more than they ever imagined they can do."
For Shane, some of the best moments of being a coach don’t even have to do with the game itself. "When one of the players come to practice and they tell you what happened at school, how they did on their test or what they did over the weekend," he said is the best part of coaching, adding coaching is second nature. "People sometimes ask me how I do it, and I always answer, how don’t you do it."
Reginald DeGray has been with Sam’s Club nearly two years and is a Club Manager in Houston, Texas. Reginald is a former college basketball player and coach, but ultimately went down a different path, leading an entire club. But since he has a passion for athletics, he coaches his son’s flag football team now.
"I coach because I want kids to have fun and not place pressure on them like they are getting drafted out of the 3rd or 4th grade," he said. "So, to pursue my passion and give back, I coach my son and other kids, and I am devoted to them having a great time and being better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning."
It’s not a secret Reginald is a competitor in everything he does. He uses that fire to fuel him while operating a club but also helping develop kids.
"Seeing children recognize their potential and growth by working hard and doing things the right way," he explained is the best part of being a coach. "It also allows me to have a connection with my son and something to talk about as we build together. We have only had one losing season out of seven seasons and have won five championships."
Jeffrey (Scott) Richey
And then there’s Jeffrey (Scott) Richey. Scott has been with Sam's Club for 24 years and is currently the Tire & Battery Center Team Lead in Rome, Georgia. We saved Scott for last because he’s not a coach. He’s a ref. You can stop booing, Scott’s a good one.
"A ref must have thick skin, because even if you are right, one of the coaches is going to think you are wrong," he explained. "The parents you just learn to tune them out and focus on the game one play at a time."
Scott likes working with his hands and has worked with cars his whole life, which is why he loves working with different people and different personalities in the Tire & Battery Center. And he explains that translates really well to being a ref. He’s actually been a high school football ref for 18 years and was able to referee a state championship game this past season.
"The championship game was one of the best experiences I have had as a ref. All the hard work we put in during the off season, studying rules and trying to stay in decent shape to be able to run with these kids pays off," he said, adding that motivation he has on the field is what drives him in the club as well.
So, as you are watching the Big Game, yelling at the TV you bought at Sam’s Club, eating our Member’s Mark Sliders, remember Anthony, Adrian, Shane, Reginald and yes, even our favorite ref, Scott. It’s special people like them who have helped shape the lives of everyone of the players, coaches and refs you see on the world’s biggest stage.