CIU Men’s Soccer Develops a Pyramid of Success

March 22, 2013

James Whitaker believes you should have a philosophy for what you do. And that includes soccer. That’s why Whitaker, the Columbia International University men’s soccer coach, has used the off-season to brainstorm with his team and develop a Pyramid of Success – building blocks of character traits and core values formed in a triangle, that keep the team as he puts it, “an, elite, effective, highly-functioning, God-honoring soccer family.” 

In addition, Whitaker says the pyramid keeps “everyone is on the same page and heading in the same direction.”

“I really wanted for us as a team to come up with these ideas together and take ownership of them instead of me as a coach forcing these ideas on the players,” Whitaker added.

The Pyramid of Success for the CIU Rams soccer team is modeled after the pyramid created by legendary college basketball coach John Wooden who won 10 NCAA national championships as head coach at UCLA.  

While CIU’s pyramid may reflect Wooden’s in some basic character qualities, CIU’s Pyramid of Success is based on CIU’s biblical foundations.

For instance, at the bottom center of CIU’s pyramid, representing the pyramid’s foundation is the block titled, “Christ-Focused.” Inside the block is its definition: “We submit our love of the sport of soccer, our pride and ambition to the cross. Christ is the Center of everything we do.” At the very top of the pyramid is “Excellence.”

“Excellence at the top is the result of the other core values below it,” Whitaker explains. “This pyramid is the basis for everything we do in the soccer program here. These are the things we want to be about.  This will serve to provide direction and guide us as we move forward.”

Whitaker says new players will be expected to memorize the pyramid when they come into the program, and agree to uphold all it represents. He also says it will serve as a corrective device.

“If anyone deviates from it, it’s up to the coaches, captains, and upperclassmen to hold them to that standard,” Whitaker said. “This prevents the strain and struggles that go along with the process of creating a highly functioning team.”

And Whitaker guarantees the Pyramid of Success will not collect dust – but is a blueprint for the future.  

“The pyramid will be sent to prospective players,” Whitaker said. “This is one way to make sure that the guys coming in know what we’re about.”     

For more on CIU athletics, visit: Also, see The Greenville News website and check out why Luke Brooks of Eastside High School in Taylors, S.C. chose to play soccer at CIU: