Coach’s Corner: Bellarmine’s John Mican

Coach’s Corner: Bellarmine’s John Mican

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic is proud to sponsor the weekly “Coach’s Corner”, featuring a high school coach from women’s athletics in the local community. Since 1974 the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic has served the local area for orthopaedic problems and musculosketal issues. The sports medicine program has team physicians for local high schools which provide sports physicals and urgent care for athletes. Click here for details on SPORTS INJURY URGENT CARE.

This week’s “Coach’s Corner” feature is John Mican, head tennis coach at Bellarmine University. If there is a coach you’d like to read about, email suggestions to

Mican1)What is your history with athletics in your personal life? 

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago with enough children in the neighborhood that we could easily round up ten or more kids to play baseball, basketball, football or hockey on any given day, depending on what season it was.  All the kids would ride their bikes and meet up at the park, field, backyard or driveway. We would play sports until the streetlights came on.  In high school I played football, baseball and basketball.  During college, I became a competitive cyclist, but an accident sent me flying over the handlebars and cut my promising career short as I broke the fall with my face.  I still had a desire to compete and after a severely spraining [my] ankle playing recreational basketball,  I found tennis.  I figured I needed to play a sport where I wouldn’t have a chance to come down on someone else’s foot after grabbing a rebound.   I had a friend who showed me a few techniques and I was immediately hooked. Even though I have been playing for the last 35 years, I am still learning.

2) How did you obtain your current coaching position?  

Looking back now it seems like it was fate that brought me to Bellarmine University at just the right time.  I had been coaching at various high schools in Louisville.  I started the tennis program at the Brown School when my daughters went there and coached at Sacred Heart and Atherton.  Just out of curiosity, I went into the tennis center at Bellarmine and asked about the tennis program, only to be told that the previous women’s coach had just quit two days before.  The start of the season was about two weeks away and I was hired the next day.

3) Who do you look up to? 

My father.  He immigrated from Czechoslovakia at the age of 13.  He served in the army during World War II and saw action in the Battle of the Bulge.  He was a great athlete and was a clutch competitor in every sport he played – football, softball, basketball, bowling and especially golf – pretty much everything except tennis.  He couldn’t keep the ball inside the fence and never did learn the unique tennis scoring system.  He was the most mentally-tough athlete, even before people knew what mentally tough was.

4) What are two primary goals you have/had for your team this season? 

We need to be physically fit and give 100% effort.  I will have the tennis team prepared to compete and they will peak just as the conference matches start.  If we are able to do that, positive results will follow.

5) What is the hardest part of coaching for you?  

The hardest part is not being able to play all the athletes.  In almost all matches I have to play my strongest available lineup.  It’s not like other sports where if you have a big lead, you are able to sub out and get everyone playing time.

6) What qualities do you hope to instill in your players that they can take withthem to their families, careers, and society? 

I place a premium on being on time and arriving to practices and matches prepared.  I won’t except excuses or listen to complainers.  Staying positive through adversity, being a gracious winner, and not being a sore loser are other qualities that we work on.

7) How do you motivate your best athletes to work even harder? 

The best athletes have an inner drive that propels them to practice harder even when no one is watching.  I recruit tennis players that have a love of the game and would rather play tennis than just about anything.  My top players want to keep improving and, as a result, will push each other. I certainly use as much positive reinforcement as possible.  I also rely on team captains to help motivate and create a good team chemistry.

8) What is one mistake you’ve made in your coaching career, and what did you learn from it?  

I miscalculated the travel time to a school and we arrived to the opposing team’s courts ten minutes after we were supposed to begin the match.  Even without warm-ups we still managed to win, but whenever possible we stay the night before in a hotel close to the school we are playing to allow ample travel time.

9) How do you handle criticism from parents, athletic director, the media, and others? 

I listen and learn.

10) What is the greatest philosophy you live by? 

“People should know how much you care before they care how much you know. “   Theodore Roosevelt


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