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Philadelphia Soul Head Coach, Doug Plank, From Blitzes to Burgers

Doug started his career as one of the premier defensive backs in Ohio State history. He was then selected by the Chicago Bears in the 1975 NFL draft and was regarded as one of the hardest hitting safeties in NFL history. The famed 46 defense created by Buddy Ryan was named after Dougʼs Jersey number. Plank then went on to become head coach with the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League in Atlanta, GA. He was named two-time AFL coach of the year, 2005- 2007. Coach Plank was then elevated as Assistant Coach with the NY Jets and Atlanta Falcons. He has an extensive background as a radio and TV analyst for Fox Sports and Westward One including the AFL, NCAA and NFL football games. Doug was recently appointed as the head coach of the arena football Philadelphia Soul in Pennsylvania.

What college or university did you attend?
I attended Ohio State University and graduated in 4 years.

What college sport did you play?
I played football for 4 years.

What are the most important lessons you learned through sports?
Playing sports has taught me a great deal about life. When you are on a team, it allows you to work with other individuals. I have played with people across the USA. These players become not only your teammates, but, much more. While in competition, a trust is formed between teammates that lasts a lifetime. I learned to never give up. It is not how you start, but, how you finish. Most people quit just before the realize their goal. Sports teach you that anything is possible if you don’t quit. Give yourself a chance to win in every situation with determination. Every game has something that will go against you or your team. I learned to fight thru adversity with renewed concentration and effort. Your attitude will determine your success in life. It has an effect on every action you do. What the mind perceives, the body can achieve. Every game I ever played, I first visualized the game in my mind the night before. It is those powerful positive thoughts that resulted in my success. A desire to win and a desire to prepare to win are important ingredients of a winning attitude. You can apply a positve attitude to any venture and have it magnify your results.

What did you learn through sports that your “formal” education did not teach you?
Formal education will teach you information, procedures, and facts. Sports teach you how to interact when under fire and to maintain focus on the objective. Sports will light your competitive instincts and make you a better employee or entrepreneur. Life is a competition for thoughts, ideas, and actions. Sports teach individuals to think fast and react to existing conditions.

How is business like sports?
Business has competitors just like sports teams. In sports, a team scouts and evaluates the competition continually. Most businesses do not know how their competitors operate, deal with the public, produce their product, or treat their employees. In sports, everything is transparent and easy to see on and off the field. Businesses need to start playing the game of business. Instead of an annual report, businesses need to think in shorter terms just like sports teams. Athletes have that mentality and want to achieve success in a shorter periods of time. Athletes in business change the culture of the company.

How have sports helped you become successful in your field?
For 20 years, I was a Burger King franchisee. I operated the restaurants like I was operating a sports teams. Individuals were rewarded immediately for daily activities. Employees lose interest in delayed compensation for long term projects. I would huddle with the crew after every lunch and review the performance for the day. We learned to fix problems fast just like a sports team. Our score board was how many customers could we serve with quality, service, and cleanliness

What advice do you have for student-athletes?
Student athletes have the advantage of attending college and playing a sport that they love. It is expensive to attend school without any aid. By playing sports, you have the opportunity to obtain financial aid or scholarship. Obtaining financial aid will eliminate a financial burden on your parents or self induced debt. Sports will give you the chance to learn life lessons on the field while you are obtaining your college degree.


If you’re an athlete interested in following in Doug’s footsteps and succeeding in life by playing collegiate sports, then click here or call 866-579-6272 for a free evaluation with an NCSA Collegiate Scout

About the author
Aaron Sorenson