A 26-year coaching veteran in a high-profile collegiate sport is a rarity these days. Many get axed because of a poor season or two. Just as many burn out or lose their passion for the game. But somehow, Bob Seddon has managed to pull it off. It is with this background in mind that one can understand what has made Seddon the longest-running head coach at Penn, beginning his tenure as men's soccer coach two years before he took over the baseball program. He loves baseball not just for the sport of it, but for the camaraderie. He appreciates Penn as a school and as a community, as much as he does the six league championships he has won here. He feels as rewarded by the character of the players he works with year in and year out as he does by the All-Americans he has had an opportunity to coach. With that love for the simplicities of the game in mind, it is easy to understand why Seddon says he has as much enthusiasm for what he does right now as he did the day he started. "I get up each morning and go to my job, but I don't consider it a job," Seddon said. "Not too many people can say that, which is sad." The sheer pleasure he takes in what he does allows him to avoid the burnout that is seemingly an inherent part of the game. Ask Seddon to describe his coaching style and he replies with "easygoing." His players would certainly agree. He is a constant contender for the Ian Award, granted every season to the goofiest member of the team. Surely a coach can be too easygoing. Any sports team at any level needs to be instilled with a certain amount of discipline, or it will not succeed. A laid-back attitude will not translate into a great deal of fun if the team is losing. But for a number of years now Seddon has managed to achieve that happy medium between disciplinarian and pal. His style has helped the Quakers to a tremendous run of success of late. After winning the Ivy League last May, Penn arrived at the NCAA regionals as loose as ever and nearly shocked the pants off two clearly superior teams, Auburn and Indiana State. Early last season, when the Quakers were struggling to win league games, Seddon freely questioned the team's heart and will to win. Thus inspired, Penn won nine of its final 10 Ivy contests. But Seddon was not always able to walk that fine line. When he first started out he looked, he said, "like Steve Lappas on the bench," referring to the always-flustered Villanova men's basketball coach. Winning was what mattered most to Seddon, and not winning took its toll. Seddon's appreciation for the game itself, rather than for merely winning the game, has developed over his 26 years in the business. Now he does not mind if his players question some of his decisions. Now he makes it a point to kid around with the players sometimes, to not always remain aloof. "I've learned that it is possible to win and to care," Seddon said. "That's one of the biggest things I've learned in all the years I've been doing this." As a result, he is arguably better today at what he is doing than he has ever been. Too many times these days in coaching, as in most areas of the job market, those with the most experience are forced out of their jobs or into a lesser position because of age. Seddon, now in his sixties, is proof that sometimes older means wiser -- not more senile. And while the end may be approaching for the sure-fire future Penn Athletic Hall of Famer, it is not yet in sight. Seddon feels as energetic as he ever has and hates to think about not coaching, especially with the Quakers in excellent position to win the Ivy League once more this season. But all good things must come to an end at some point. All Seddon wants is a chance to make the decision to get out before it becomes too obvious that he has stayed past his own good. It would be a shame if he is ever forced out or pressured to resign, as seems to occur so frequently in coaching. After 28 years of service to this university, the least Bob Seddon deserves is the opportunity to go out on his terms.Comments powered by Disqus
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