Faces of InSideOut: Barney Ehrmann

Barney Ehrmann is the InSideOut Initiative’s Movement Leader and Trainer, and is responsible to provide strategic leadership and oversight necessary to fulfill the Initiative’s mission, growth, and sustainability. He was a 2012 graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with a major in Management, where he was a Team Captain and three-time All American. Today, Barney coaches Varsity Lacrosse at Lucy Beckham Highschool in South Carolina.  Here is some insight into why he coaches.

Barney Ehrmann Interview answering the four questions of InSideOut Coaching

“I coach to develop secure relations where every student-athlete is seen, safe, and supported.” Barney Ehrmann’s Transformational Coaching Purpose.


I coach because I love sports, I love competition, and most of all I LOVE meeting the social-emotional and developmental needs of my student-athletes. I meet these needs by providing a secure coach-player relationship, in a culture of belonging, for my students’ human growth and development.

Overall, I had amazing experiences in youth, high school, college, and professional sports. The transformational coaches I had the privilege to play for demonstrated the power and possibility of coaching to change the arc of my life and my teammates lives. Transformational coaches taught me that you can win with humility and lose with honor. Yes, I did also play for a few transactional coaches along the way but my dad, Joe Ehrmann, always helped me through those challenging experiences.


I will start with Biff Poggi (currently Assistant Head Football Coach at University of Michigan) and my dad. Biff and my dad developed a high school football program called ‘Building Men for Others’ when I was in elementary school. I grew up spending my summers at two-a-days with my little brother and Biff’s 3 boys. It was an idyllic setting for boys who loved sports. My high school basketball coach Tony Jordan was another transformational coach I had the opportunity to play for.  Coach Jordan loved me, and always made me feel secure, seen, safe, and supported.

So why do I coach the way I do? It is a direct reflection of the coaches who impacted me the most. Biff and my dad provided me with an overwhelming sense of belonging that wasn’t based on my athletic ability or contribution to a winning team but instead just because I was. They made every person on our team feel like they belonged and had something special to contribute to the team’s purpose and goals. Biff Poggi taught me that every student-athlete (never player) has a unique contribution to make for the betterment of the team, regardless of playing time or the role they have. I remember the feeling of value, wholeness, and belonging so much so that I, too, want to ensure every student-athlete I coach feels the same.  If you want a deeper glimpse into my experience, read the NY Times Best Seller:  A Season of Life: A Football Star, A Ball Boy, and a Journey into Manhood. The author Jeffrey Marx captures a football season with my dad and Biff coaching from preseason to the final game.


What a powerful and important question to reflect upon and answer.  Coaches have an incredible opportunity to respond empathically to the student-athletes they coach or to judge them, to support or disrespect.  Reflecting on how I show up to the student-athletes who play for me, and being able to remember and connect to all they are going though developmentally, is the first step to responding with empathy and understanding.  The InSideOut Principle is Be the Coach You Needed Then—NOW!  

All of my transformational coaches gave me an overwhelming sense of Security to show up as myself. Hidden under my large frame, strong legs, and a professional football family pedigree was a shy, insecure, sweet boy who just wanted to be loved. Every day that I walked onto the football field, Biff made me feel loved.  He ensured I felt secure, seen, safe and supported.  He greeted me with a warm smile, eye contact, an embrace, and a genuine happiness that communicated he was glad that I showed up on that day. My transformational coaches also gave me a sense of SAFETY. Physical safety is required if the result is going to be a positive student experience.  And safety also includes being safe from verbal, and emotional abuse. I want every student-athlete I coach to feel secure in their relationship with me, seen holistically not just athletically, safe from all abuse, and supported academically, athletically, and emotionally.  This is the job of every transformational coach.


My Definition of Success flows out of my Transformational Coaching Purpose: I coach to develop secure relationships where every student-athlete feels seen, safe, and supported. I measure this at every practice and at every game by allowing my student-athletes and fellow coaches to be honest in their response to these questions; Did I create an environment tonight where you felt secure, seen, safe and supported?  Their honesty with me is a direct result of the Culture of Belonging I have created. This type of culture doesn’t mean I am not competitive!  I like to win and I work hard to help my student-athletes win every game they play, however, if I do not stay centered on and aware of my purpose then winning becomes the purpose and often at all cost.

My job as a transformational coach is to coach out of my purpose and to ensure my success is measured by more than the score at the end of the game.  My success is defined and measured by creating secure relationships where every student-athlete is seen, safe and supported.