SportsLeader is a virtue-based mentoring and motivation program for coaches. This blog shares stories from coaches all over the country transforming lives. For more information contact Lou Judd -

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Don't My Players Ever Listen to Me?!?!

Dear Coaches and Supporters of SportsLeader,

Sacrifice!  Brotherhood!  Commitment!  Focus!  Discipline!  Honor!

Great words, coaches, words to live by, for sure.  At SportsLeader we are consistently urging coaches to make these words a part of your team's everyday vocabulary. Stories, quotes, song lyrics, stories again, quotes again song lyrics again and again.....and again.....and again!  Many of you are skeptical at best, as to  the power or effectiveness of the SL approach-creating a culture of excellence for your team-through virtue.

I know one coach that was skeptical.  However, he is a skeptic no more.  Below is a senior captain's testimony to his team's motto.  Who would believe that the simple words of Brotherhood, Sacrifice, and Humility would impact this young man the way they did!  Please, take the time to read the following college entrance essay he wrote.  Even though your players may not appear to be taking in your stories, words of wisdom, and mentoring: they ARE having an impact. You still are skeptical?  Read below:

Fridays are different now.  I sob alone in silence. 

We are all taught a hidden curriculum:  brotherhood, sacrifice, humility.  We glean, throughout our learning, these abstract attributes that separate good people from great people.  Ironically, what I thought these words meant were not what these words mean.

I thought that brotherhood meant being close to my friends that I played football with.  Brotherhood was this fraternity of young men who stuck-up for each other at school and was a place you could go when the pressures of being a teenaged boy were too much – and you just needed to be a boy again.  I realized after my season-ending injury that brotherhood meant TRULY being happy for my brother as HE carried the ball across the line when it should have been me.

I thought that sacrifice meant giving-up my time to practice six days a week rather than screw-off with my buddies.  It though that sacrifice was that determination that I had when I forced my broken body out of bed on Saturday mornings to go watch film and listen to my animated coach chew-up and spit-out pieces of that broken body.  That, I learned, is not sacrifice.  Sacrifice is dragging myself up from the self-wallowing hole that this injury threw me into because my team still needed its captain.  I became the parent – the twin sophomores, who looked to me…looked to ME….for comfort in the training room when it became apparent that I was done, were my concern.  I needed them to see that I was strong and that I was still their leader.  I eased their sympathetic pain by assuring them that I was going to be ok – much like a parent does when he or she is sick.  The child’s emotional needs supersede the parent’s emotional or physical state - always.  I was becoming a man, right there on that gurney, as I wept into my broken future.

I thought that humility meant not “show boating” after one of my many touchdowns.  I thought that humility was giving credit to my linemen during an interview, praising their part in “allowing” me to score four touchdowns in a game.  Coach required humility, and I thought I was humble. My humble moment came when the state champion 4x400 sprinter lay on the thirty-yard line after a quick cut forced my knee to decide which way to go.  The decision was too quick for this knee that has carried me to glory for 12 years.  This knee that has stabilized me in a many a huddle to listen to countless victory speeches had forsaken me.  This knee that could sacrifice no more for me selfishly abandoned me on August 31, 2012.  It is, nonetheless, MY knee and this foe will be with me always – both to remind me of my greatness and to remind me that I am human – a human being with limits.

My knee and I will – together – go back into the weight room this winter to rediscover each other.  I will be the parent, patient and impatient.  My knee will be the child in need of nurturing and tolerance.  Together, we will strengthen ourselves and persevere through our little bump in the road.  We will be back stronger than ever - and with a few life lessons under our belt.

Be the difference you want to see in the world!

Questions/comments send to


Suicide is one of the most tragic elements of human existence. The causes are too numerous to count and a "one size fits all" solution is not possible.

But three things that I believe can HELP are purpose, mentoring and virtue ... and these are the strengths of SportsLeader and coaching.

1. Purpose - the motto of your team, the goals (daily, weekly, season), the speeches ... all speak to THE PURPOSE of your team and the PURPOSE of each individual on that team. Reason and passion for being-living.

2. Mentoring - talking to a player, listening, understanding, showing that you care, helping them improve and focus.

3. Virtue - interior strength, positive qualities that make you a better person, traits that help you serve others around you.

Of the statistics below, the one that surprised me the most was the age group with the highest rate of suicide: Men ages 45-54.

That age group is where a lot of us on this email list fall - male coaches between the ages of 45-54.

Let's all take this seriously. There are true LIVES depending on us. If we can give purpose, mentoring and virtue to every one of our fellow coaches and players, we will help lower these horrific numbers described in more detail below.

Virtue = Strength,
Lou Judd

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From 1993 - 2009 there have been between 29,199 and 36,909 suicides every year.

Every 14.2 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide. Think about that - during a typical 2-hour practice, 8 people commit suicide.

In 2009: 36,909 total suicides
29,089 men
7,820 women

Age Group       Number of Suicides    Population          Rate
5-14                        265                          40,583,198          0.7
15-24                     4,371                       43,077,396         10.1
25-34                     5,320                       41,566,322         12.8
35-44                     6,677                       41,529,956         16.1
45-54                     8,598                       44,592,483         19.3
55-64                     5,808                       34,786,949         16.7
65-74                     2,917                       20,792,067         14.0
75-84                     2,063                       13,147,862         15.7
85+                         878                            5,630,661         15.6

Suicide is the cause of more deaths than car crashes, according to an alarming new study.

The number of people who commit suicide in the U.S. has drastically increased while deaths from car accidents have dropped, making suicide the leading cause of injury death.

The results were compiled using National Center for Health Statistics data gathered from 2000 to 2009.

Army suicides hit a new single-month record in July, when 38 active-duty and reserve soldiers took their own lives, according to official figures released Thursday.

The toll, up from 24 in June, prompted a wave of renewed anger and frustration among Pentagon leaders and veterans advocates. Army officials said 187 active-duty and reserve soldiers have committed suicide so far in 2012. Last year’s total was 283.

Gen. Lloyd Austin, the Army’s current vice chief, said the military is focused on trying to reduce the stigma associated with asking for help and address the mental health issues facing U.S. troops after more than a decade of war.

“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” Austin said. “And, it’s an enemy that’s killing not just soldiers, but tens of thousands of Americans every year.”

“That said, I do believe suicide is preventable,” he said. “To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills. As we prepare for Suicide Prevention Month in September, we also recognize that we must continue to address the stigma associated with behavioral health. Ultimately, we want the mind-set across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness.”


Some coaches are afraid that SportsLeader won't "work" with their players ... that they won't like it or even worse they will ridicule it.

Ayden Opfer of Sandusky St Mary Central Catholic, OH,  is an example of a young man who is the opposite. He has embraced the virtue program and is doing everything he can to help his teammates do the same. He recently started making a poster for the virtue of the week. Last week his football team was working on dependable. No one asked him to do. He chose to do it.

To view the poster click on the link:

Also, here is another testimony from Dave Simon, Linebackers Coach at Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas, OH.

Virtue = Strength,
Lou Judd

Iron-will. What is it? How does it feel? Where do you find it? When does it show up? All questions people ask whether about themselves or another person they hear or see about.  If you want a definition to read about iron-will, well iron-will is sheer, powerful determination in one self. Iron-will really can’t be written down or even defined.  Iron-will can be raised through the love of another, it can be raised upon spite for critics in one’s life, or iron-will can be set off by an unsubstantial amount of determination to fight for a purpose in one’s life. Iron-will is something that you can’t teach; it can be something that is inspired upon in one person’s soul. Iron-will is almost the fight or flight we all have inside of us that makes us accomplish something in life so great that it’s almost unexplainable.  It’s the passion inside of us that makes us rise up to the occasion. What occasion am I talking about you might ask? Whatever it is, that pins you up in the corner and has you against the ropes. The one thing that smacks you right in the face, and in that moment something arises inside of us to fight back and make that corner bigger and bigger until your not in it anymore or against the ropes.  Iron-will is that soul riser that brings strength to overcome whatever life throws you.

Kyle Maynard was a gentleman we read about for our virtue of the week. Kyle Maynard was born March 24, 1986 with a condition known as congenital amputation (no arms or legs). Kyle’s athletic journey began as an 11-year-old that wanted to wrestle and a coach gave him an opportunity to try. After losing every single match his first year and most his second year, Maynard, with his iron will and parents who wouldn’t let him give up on himself, found a way to win 36 varsity matches his senior year; defeating several state place finishers and state champions during his final season. Kyle later became a motivational speaker about his disability traveling all around the country. He said in an ESPN special, “ for about 45 minutes that I was speaking I was happy and felt good because I was inspiring young people to achieve their dreams and goals but right after my speech would end, I would become depressed, and alone. It was like I needed to find a purpose in my life.” I sat there hearing this and saying to myself, wow! A purpose? This man has already accomplished so much, what else can he accomplish?

So, he goes on talking about sitting in an airport one day, waiting to board his flight to another city, and he comes across two soldiers badly burnt from Iraq. They recognize him and walk up to meet him and say how much his story inspired them because they had made a suicide pact when they returned home. What stopped these two men from ending their life, was Kyle, his story. He then decided in that moment, his life would change even more.

Kyle found his purpose finally and decided that he would do the impossible. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Kyle spent hours and days across this treacherous and dangerous terrain where at times he felt as though he was so exhausted and tired he might just give up. But, Kyle did not, he felt his iron-will and purpose and reach the summit of the mountain to where he would spread the remains of one of the fallen soldiers that was in the same platoon of the two men he met in the airport. Kyle found his purpose, he accomplished his mission, the mission of impossible is nothing and iron-will defeats all in its way.

After reading and watching about this story I tried to relate iron-will to my own life and the people I’m surrounded by. I try and do this to help my player’s better get a perspective of my life and something they can relate to maybe. I choose to talk about the people in my life because it helps my players get a more in depth look at who Coach Simon really is. Iron-will really struck me with three people I know. When the word iron-will came up as I read the definition to my players, these same three faces stuck right inside my head and really my heart. These three people are my nana, papa, and step-dad. These three have shown so much iron-will throughout their lives that I am proud to say they are my family. Iron-will has made these people go beyond their calling in life and truly inspire other people and keep the harsh critics still wondering.  These people have shown that iron-will is something so extraordinary, that it overcomes all obstacles and shines light upon any situation.

My nana and papa, yes I say nana and papa, not grandparents because they are different, they chose not to be grandma or grandpa, because they truly are special and not ordinary. I don’t say this because they are my family but because of the people they truly are. Special, selfless, determined, compassionate, and inspirational are just some of the qualities they share with everyone they meet. My nana and papa have had some iron-will in their life living the life they have, to be the people they are today. My nana and papa have raised four children. Two boys and two girls. One of their children has intellectual disability (sometimes called cognitive disabilities or mental retardation). My nana and papa both were very hard working people trying to provide for their family as well as a child with a disability. Pretty hard if you ask me and ask my aunt and uncle as well as my mom. You could say a lot of words come to mind with how they lived their lives as I described my nana and papa above, but iron-will really strikes me because these two made major sacrifices. Not just then, but they still are even as I speak. My uncle is in his mid 50’s and my nana and papa still are helping take care of him today.  My papa is retired as well as my nana today, but these two worked not just one job but sometimes two , coached, took care of their children, paid the bills, put food on the table, helped with homework, and still made time to be great parents and especially great grandparents to us grandchildren. The iron-will that pushed these two through just everyday life not just to get by, but achieve what they have now is absolutely mind blowing to me. These two had the iron-will to create a life for all of us that is never repayable.

The other person I mentioned before, my step-dad, is another person that has shown a lot of iron-will throughout his life. My step-dad went through hell and back and took on responsibilities later on in his life that not a lot of men do, but great men like him step up to the occasion and rise above. My step-dad was a single father of three children. Three boys to be exact. He was not of a background with a college degree, but he strived every day to become a better person and man by working his way up in the company that he has been working for, for over 25 years. He took on the responsibility of adopting my older brother and raising him as his own. He took on the responsibility of raising two more boys, my younger brothers, and not just being a dad every day, but a coach, teacher, mom, mentor, friend, etc.  He would later take on the responsibility of being a man in my sister’s and my life as well, when he married my mom. He has shown iron-will with juggling job, house chores, bills paid, being a loving husband, and ultimately a great dad and man to us children. Iron-will has helped reflect to us children never missing a day of work, being a hard worker, being a good listener, and yes, putting up with all the mishaps we children have caused to create gray hair. But, the iron-will that has helped him rise to occasion on many levels in his life has made me not just respect and love him, but be amazed in what he has accomplished in life so far.

The one player I talked about iron-will with in my one on one session was absolutely lifting and rewarding for me. Now, this player is a special young man. He’s a great young man. With that being said, I think most of the time he puts too much pressure on himself and doesn’t get to enjoy the game of football and life. We talked about iron-will and how he needed to use it in his life to just enjoy the simple things. I told him, make sure you take time to take a deep breath and savor the moment, whatever it is. Being an average height and weight at his position, puts him in a category of college recruits that push a stack of paper s on their desk aside, or even highlight tapes. I tell other coaches all the time, one program, one coach, is going to take a chance on this young man and not be disappointed.  The sheer, powerful determination that this young man shows not just on the field but off as well, is so impressive for any 17 year old I’ve ever met. I’m not only honored to be able to coach him, but be his mentor as well. His parents have done one heck of a job raising one of the most humbling young men a mom and dad could ask for. His iron-will that he has will overcome any obstacle that is thrown his way and I can’t wait for the day that he has his moment in the light and turns around to others who doubt him now, because he is going to open eyes and inspire others that are around him. He’s a leader; he’s a student of the game and a student of life as well. His iron-will he brings to the table inspires me every day I’m around him. Words really can’t describe this young man, but I tell you this, he is already making a name for himself and he doesn’t even realize it.

Iron-will- sheer, powerful determination in one self. Iron-will is that spiritual lifting inside us all to rise to the occasion, whatever the occasion may be, a disabled young man climbing a mountain finding his purpose, a husband and wife raising a son with intellectual disability along with three other children, a man raising three boys by himself and taking two more children in like his own, or a young man who fights his way to get noticed. All of these stories have one common denominator, iron-will.

So, I ask you coaches, what iron-will in your life will rise up and inspire others or what iron-will, will inspire you? We are all surrounded by iron-will every day, but its something that can’t be taught, it really is something so deep inside of us all, that when it happens, nothing, I mean nothing, can stop us from reaching our goals and aspirations. Iron-will is something burnt inside us all that says stand up and fight, push your way out of the corner, and over come the adversity we all face. Our critics, our fears, our failures. Iron-will is simply this….impossible is nothing. Nothing is impossible and everything is accomplished through sheer, powerful determination, with the help of a great support system in our families and friends, and the support of our religious beliefs too. I’ll leave you with this…

Life has no smooth road for any of us; and in the bracing atmosphere of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps, till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself.
W. C. Doane

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Here is a testimony from a current College Freshman ... looking back on his football - SportsLeader experience.

Please think about at least 1 other coach at another school you could forward this to. Our world needs more virtuous young men like Tyler and SportsLeader can help.

Virtue = Strength,
Lou Judd


Sportsleader was introduced to my high school, Theodore Roosevelt, about a year ago when it was brought to my football team. Now as the season and graduation have passed, the lessons have remained. My name is Tyler Hamilton and I am currently attending the prestigious Case Western Reserve University. Here I am a freshman on the Spartan football team and am starting my study of aerospace engineering. In high school I graduated number nine in my class and was named male athlete of the year for playing three varsity sports (football, basketball, track), but football was where my passion was. The fans, the team, the brotherhood all meant more to me than anyone could imagine. As a senior I was named a team captain, which I took pride in, just like my fellow captains. The 2011 season was much anticipated for the residents of Wyandotte. The senior class was the biggest, strongest, and most successful class that has come through the program. As the first practice drew near, players were invited to the first annual Virtue Camp for the Wyandotte Bears football team. No one really knew what to expect, but what we learned from that 24 hours together will last a lifetime.

As a 4.0 (Grade Point Average) student, community leader, and well respected student, I did not expect the virtue program to teach me anything more than what my parents and coaches have taught me over the years. “Treat others as you want to be treated,” I thought would be the main message. Something that most players would look past and just say “Yeah, we know,” As the day started we all realized it was much more. Three moments that have remained in my mind from the virtue camp would have to be the father-son night, the emotions throughout the camp, and the team bonding.

Although father-son jersey night was not until after the camp, it was still a moment I cannot forget. This night was designed for the dads of each player to tell their son why he loves them and to present the varsity jersey to him for the season. As the players came that night they expected it to be a silly night with their dad’s but quickly it turned into the greatest night I have ever had with my father. As my dad stood up in front of his peers, my friends, and a room filled with 100 plus men, he looked at me and with a tear in his eye told me he is proud of all the work I have put into school. Proud of how I go through life and that he loved me. Realizing what it takes to tell your son that made me appreciate everything my dad has taught me over the years.

Also the emotions not only occurred on that night but during the camp as well. As young men who play the tough game of football, we are viewed as tough, strong, mean players who don’t cry, don’t love, don’t fear, but as that day went on, I remember coaches and players alike sharing their fears, their stories, and their struggles. As a player myself I saw every type of person discuss feelings they never had before. You had kids who were shy, who were “too tough”, who seemed like they didn’t care but they ALL contributed to this camp. From players who lost a loved one to players going through financial struggles, many issues were discussed and this in turn made our team that much closer and helped many young men move on in life.

With the day of intense feeling behind us, it was time for some fun. The virtue camp had many activities going on and all the players were to spend the night on the field. The pickup basketball games, the table tennis tournaments, and the bon fire on the practice field. All of it was the greatest team bonding experience we could have gotten. It was a great way to reflect and just be together as a family. Sleeping on the field just brought us closer to our “home” and our “brothers.”

The Virtue Camp that was held by SportsLeader will always be in my memories. It was one of the best high school experiences I had and helped me grow as a man.  Every day I dedicate myself to the virtue and the principles that were taught to me during my virtue camp. Just last week I was offered a job at a children’s museum and one of the main reasons I was hired was the fact that during the interview I brought up the virtue camp. They said that any man who is willing to improve himself everyday should have a place on our staff. SportsLeader’s program works!!! Thank you Sportsleader. Thank you for the new life I live every day. Thank you for making this world a better place.

Monday, September 24, 2012


The key difference between a value and a virtue is that a value is knowing something is right and a virtue is doing it.

Service projects are excellent ways to help our athletes put the virtue of the week into action.

Victory Day is a virtue-service project started by SportsLeader Coach Aaron Segedi of Trenton High School in Trenton, Michigan. It gives children with physical and mental disabilities the opportunity to enjoy being a football player or cheerleader for the day. High School football players and cheerleaders from over 10 schools came to serve and help these young people.

Many of these schools are from the same conference and had played each other the night before. What a great testimony!

It was a very moving experience to see so much happiness, so much innocence, so much virtue!

Coach Segedi shared with me: "The Monday following Victory Day is one of my favorite days to talk to the kids. They shared so many stories about their child that they were with all day.  Our players really understood the more we share, the more we gain.  Giving back to others makes us feel kid told me.  Another one said that they are fortunate to be able to play football or do "common" things so easily.  Another player said he enjoyed getting to know several players for other league teams....saw them in a different light and not just the opponent.  Very cool."

Former Head Football Coach from the University of Michigan Lloyd Carr came for a second year. You can hear his 3 minute intro speech inside the video link below.

This should be the service project of choice of all SportsLeader football teams.

We need to spread Victory Day to every State. If you would like to host a Victory Day at your school please let me know.

To watch videos on Victory Day click on the link:


Chris Tracy, Head Football Coach at Franklin County HS in KY, has recently started a new tradition where each Friday a different coach writes a letter to the team letting them know how much Franklin County football means to them.

The coach writes the letter and then reads it aloud to the team before they take the field.

Imagine ... keeping all these letters year after year in a binder ... a legacy, a history of the team and what it has meant to all these men.

Definitely give this a try with your staff. Here below is one of the letters.

Lou Judd

Dear Flyer Football Team,

This football program has and will always hold a special place in my heart.  Over the last ten years football has completely changed the course of my life. This spectacular game has brought me to where I am today and has given me my closest friends and some of my fondest memories along the way. Through football I have learned many valuable lessons that I carry in my everyday life. These lessons are mainly centered in Courage, Discipline and honor.  Without this football program my life would be very different and I can almost assure you I wouldn’t be standing in front of you today.

The last day of my sophomore year I got into an argument with a principal and ended up in handcuffs in the front office. The result was a suspension for the first 5 days of my junior year. With that came being banned from school property for the ENTIRE summer. If it had not been for Coach Ledford and Coach Walker I would have been off the team and probably headed to the school that I work at today. These great men stepped in at a tough time in my life and gave me a crutch to stand on. This crutch has put me in the place I am today and for that I can never thank them enough. Their attitude and belief in me gave me the courage to get back up when I was down and fight for the things I wanted in life.  

As a player I was never all state or even very good, but I cherished going to war with my brothers on Friday Nights. To me there was nothing like running out of that tunnel next to my brothers. The time spent with those guys and the relationships we built are irreplaceable and hold strong to this day. I only wish that I had taken time to cherish those moments. Looking back I was having the time of my life but was never able to enjoy it because I was too young to understand what the game meant to me. Live in the moment and cherish every second because it can all be taken from you in an instant. Enjoy your time here because four years is a small chunk of time in the big picture. It will have come and gone before you know it.

This team will always be special in my heart. Some of you guys have been with me since you were 6th graders and others I have met along the way who are equally important. Each of you is unique and special in your own way. This team has the ability to do anything you want as long as you set your mind to it. I ask from this day forward that you commit yourself to this team 110%. Go the extra mile at practice, spend the extra time watching film or studying your scouting report, buy in to your coaches and do more than what’s asked of you. These things will take you and team to the next level and let you capture your dreams.

Never forget, this program is bigger than you will ever understand.  There are 80 year old men who can barely walk that believe in you. There are handicapped kids who will never play a snap that love Flyer football. These are the people you play for. Always do right by those that have worn that flyer jersey before you and remember there is always a kid in the stands who wants to be you. Make them proud of what you represent.

In Closing, I want to leave you with this. The KHSAA 5A State Championship game is NOV 30th at 7:00. That is just a short 77 days away. You are not guaranteed the right to play in that game. It is an honor that only few will ever earn. This team has the “potential” to be there but “potential” is a dangerous thing. Darrell Royal the Hall of Fame Texas Longhorns coach summed it up best when he said “Potential means you ain’t done it yet.” At the end of the day potential is nothing unless you find a way to unlock it and turn it into success. The only way you are going to turn potential into success and go to Bowling Green is through blood, sweat and tears every day that you put on your helmet as a Franklin County Flyer. I love every one of you guys and look forward to seeing you achieve your dreams over the next 11 weeks.

Coach James

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Sometimes we get to see some "light", some "fruit" of our labor. Other times not so much.

Here is an example of some light.
Lou Judd
I found this note on my desk today from a player of mine who I've been coaching and mentoring throughout the season.  As a coach it's always our hope that we are making a difference in a young athlete's life.  I wanted to share what this player wrote:

To Coach DeJoy
I love you as a coach and you are the reason why I am wearing green and gold in high school.  On the back page he shared some of his goals:

2012 Sycamore "I Will"

I am a champion
Will not make excuses
Loyalty to the team, and soon to be a legend.

Mentoring works!  Please continue to work and build these players into good men!  They need us!  Finally, embrace being a role model!  This is the reason why we do what we do!

Jim DeJoy
8th Grade Football
Sycamore Jr High School

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Many Assistant Coaches are hesitant to dive in 100% to the SportsLeader program - especially the mentoring. Here below is a testimony from an Assistant Coach, Dave Simon from Cincinnati McNicholas HS, who wanted to encourage all the assistant coaches out there ...

Well worth your time. Please forward this on to all your coaches. I highlighted some parts that I found really powerful.

Lou Judd

Football can not just be a demanding and stressful game as a player, but for a coach as well. In today’s society, many young men choose the path of football not knowing the life lessons they may learn and how they can be guided to become better young men when they’re finished. Many adult males get into the coaching field due to competitive nature and missing the game they grew to love.

As coaches, we have the most opportune time in a young man’s life, to not just make an impact, but inspire and help young men be able to achieve their dreams and goals in life. Whether coaching in a program with little resources or coaching in a program with unlimited resources, all of our players face life struggles. Some kids come from great backgrounds and supportive families and some kids come from a struggling house with little to no resources at all to fall on.

No matter the circumstances, we as coaches have a duty each day we are around these players on and off the field. Not just teaching the X’s and O’s but teaching the lessons of life to help create strong, determined, iron-willed, outstanding young men. Young men who become leaders, not followers. Young men who people look to and know they can rely upon.

I had the privilege to meet a head coach during a coaching clinic years ago. This man did not only inspire me to be a better coach on the field, but be a better coach off the field to all my players that I am blessed to spend each season with.  This man read statistics about how many student athletes come from a broken home. This same coach made one statement of a stat that can’t be measured on paper. This stat was so astonishing, that while I sat there, I understood now the importance of my job.

I say “job” because yeah, we as coaches are paid upon our duties, but not enough to live on, we don’t coach for that reason. We all heard the same calling in our lives at one point. The statement I talked about earlier, the one that the head coach of this college program talked about, “Who is the most influential person in your life?” The answer……..High School Football Coach. He said 90% of all college players that he has coached answered that single question with High School Football Coach. Pretty powerful response? Makes you sit back for a second and understand how important your “calling” is. Makes you realize the impact we have as coaches not just for one young mans life, but for an entire team. The coach I referred to earlier is Dean Hood. Head Coach of Eastern Kentucky University Football Program.  Now, Coach Hood was a former Defensive Coordinator at Wake Forest University where he used the same character development program that he still uses today.

This year, our HC decided that something had to change with our football program, not just a systematic or scheme to use for on the field but a system that would reach deep inside a young man’s life and a coach’s as well. He wanted these young men by the time they were done with their four years of high school football, not just to be proud of their on field accomplishments, but their off field success as well. He wanted these young boys to become great young men. Someone that people looked to and knew that this was not just an ordinary young man, but a special young man. We as assistant coaches were introduced to this program this off-season.

The program is called SportsLeader. Our HC introduced us to Lou Judd and his program and the vast majority it had to offer. At first, I was very hesitant on what this program was about. But, as I sat one Saturday morning at Moeller High School, I quickly learned what Sports Leader had to offer. I learned from coaches all across the country and the neat ideas that were being incorporated in their program. I soon was absolutely amazed at what it had to offer. So, after witnessing this opportunity, our HC decided to take it further and have Lou explain to us a more in depth perception of what this program had to offer. Call it an all access pass if you may. Lou talked with our entire staff and we decided that we would incorporate some ideas and roll with them.

We chose doing a virtue of the week and having one on one session with the players we drafted to be in our mentor group, father-son jersey night, and letter to mom night. The mentor group was the only thing at first I was very hesitant on. Lou explained that we would draft players of six or seven depending on the number of players we had in our program, sophomore to senior, and go over the virtue of the week chosen by the HC for the week and talk about it maybe before or after practice. Basically you become not a coach, but a big brother. As I sat there and heard the details of what the Mentoring brought upon us coaches, I said to myself, “Hold up! I’m supposed to mentor these guys? What am I going to say? How am I going to make a difference?

I am a 27 year old young man who had made a lot of mistakes so far, how am I supposed to be a mentor, when sometimes I may not make the right choices. So, I sat back and reevaluated how I was going to approach this whole program. I kept an open mind. I first started by asking myself what makes a man a man? I mean a guy can be 40 years old and still not be a man just as a guy can be 19 and be a man. A man isn’t defined by giving shelter, food, and water to his family is it? Then, I thought about all the coaches I have had the pleasure of being able to stand next to and coach throughout my young 8 year career so far, and thought about them as men. I have been with three different staffs and learned from each staff what it means to be a man.

These guys are the same guys that I had the pleasure of seeing off the field in their environments at home and around their families. The staff I’m with this year I will use as an example because it’s fresher for me to refer to, but these coaches all reflect what it means to be a man. These guys are the same guys that are very competitive and determined to win, but at the same time are the guys that you see with their children and wives engaged in life and understanding what it means to be appreciative of the gifts they are given in their life. The same guys that you look at and see a great father and husband, or great son and brother. Guys who just don’t provide food, shelter, and water for their families, but unconditional love and laughter to their families as well.

The love that is greater than money can support, the love that builds a house and a family. The love that helps siblings out and be a role model. Men, who I look up to. Men that I have a huge found respect for. I say this because being raised by a single mother and helping raise a younger sibling you never know if you’re a man or not. Not saying that you can’t be a man being raised by a single mom because you can, my mom is a saint in my eyes and honestly my biggest hero and inspiration in what I do today. But, seeing these coaches I am blessed to coach next to, it just elevated my perception of what a man is. So, as I referred to these guys while thinking of how to be a good mentor, I found my way of being a great young man as I teach my players to be great young men as well.

My first week of mentoring was a little hectic with our new stadium opening up for our first varsity home game ever in the schools history, so emotions were high as a former alum and the focus was a little stray at times with the virtue of the week and the one on one session with my players. No excuses, so I made sure the next week would go as I wanted this process to go. The virtue of the week was “consistency.” I talked with my players about consistency and how they were going to be consistent in not just football but life in general as well. There was one player that really shocked me while having our one on one session. If I wouldn’t have been a part of this program, I probably wouldn’t have known about his situation nor would have ever been.

It’s not that I don’t talk to my players and interact, but this program allows an open door policy for a player and coach to talk and not make a coach feel as though he’s crossing the line on asking a question or getting more involved in the players’ life. This helps the awkwardness that may occur in the beginning to allow a more in depth perception of each other. Players look at Coaches as guys who are perfect or on this realm that they make no mistakes in life. But, the mentoring program allows the player to see that the coach is human just like him. It allows the player to see and hear a side that they might not have heard before. We as coaches make the misperception that we get involved in our players life and we know our players so well, but do we?

This mentoring program made me reflect as a coach on how I have constructed myself. Made me become a better coach in fact. While having my one on one session with this player, I said to myself I am glad I got to talk to him, I’m glad he got to open up to me about his problem and I was able to help in some form or fashion. I just told the young man that we all make mistakes in our lives, and people are easy to criticize on others, but the only opinion that matters is on the inside of us as people and how we perceive ourselves. And yes, the big man upstairs opinion on how we live our lives as well is judged in the end. But, he knows us as humans are susceptible to mistakes, and how we learn and change from them is ultimately what shapes us as human beings and young men.

As the session ended, I gave the young man a huge hug and told him no matter what, if it’s his assigned day to talk to me or not, and he needs to talk, to come and talk to me. I told him that I make mistakes too; all the time, but I try and learn form them to become a better young man and person every day. I told him that I cared about him and not just as a football player but as a person as well. I didn’t want him to just succeed on the field but off the field as well. I told him we all have obstacles on our journey’s, but its just like a tree fallen on our path, we can turn around and go back from where we came from, cut the tree out of the way or move it to the side and keep moving forward to where our goal is at the end.

The mentoring session hasn’t just helped my players in our conversations and stories we read that relate to the virtue of the week, but has helped shaped me to become a better man each day and lead by example for not just the virtue of the week, but a man as well, just as the men I stand next to on the sideline every Friday Night or Saturday Afternoon coaching along side.

So I challenge you coaches each day you have the opportunity to talk to your players, DO! You answered your calling for a purpose. Don’t be hesitant, we all make mistakes, I know that one best. But, for a young man to admit his mistakes and learn from them and pass the knowledge around to another, well that makes a man, and that ultimately makes a great coach.

Remember the question that college football players answered earlier in our conversation, Who is the most influential person in your life?......High School Football Coach. Make the impact, make the difference, be the men in their lives and be the inspiration that make these young men, GREAT MEN.

Dave Simon
Linebackers Coach Archbishop McNicholas High School, Cincinnati, OH

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


An important aspect of creating a structured environment to our Mentoring-Virtue Program is really using your team motto.

You need to find creative ways to get your motto constantly "in front" of your players ... in breakdowns, one-on-one sessions, team talks, posters ... helmet stickers.

Archbishop McNicholas High School Football in Cincinnati has chosen to use the school motto for their team motto -"To Attain Full Stature in Christ"

So to re-inforce that, they created a helmet sticker to remind everyone ... Maybe you can do something similar with your motto.


Another great aspect of being a part of the SportsLeader program is sharing new ideas with everyone else.

Coach Ryan Wikel of Sandusky St Mary's Central Catholic in Sandusky OH came up with a great reminder for the Dads for Father-Son Jersey Night. He created a laminated business card to help the Dads remember the key phrases to tell their son. What is awesome about this is that it is small, fits in your wallet and can be a constant reminder to the Dad that he should be saying these things more often. Maybe a few months go by, looks through his wallet one day, re-finds that card and he gets inspired to communicate something meaningful to his son.


If you have an idea or a nuance ... please share it with us, just email me at


I'd also like to share another athlete testimony. This is from Makenna Myers, a tennis player from Sandusky St Mary's Central Catholic HS. I hope these testimonies inspire you to keep mentoring.

Hello, I’m Makenna. I am currently a senior at Saint Mary Central Catholic where I am the co-captain of our tennis team. I have been playing tennis for SMCC since I was a freshman, which I think was the best decision I ever made.

Going into any high school sport was very overwhelming for me, just the idea of playing with people older than myself made me extremely nervous. When I told my parents that I thought I wanted to play tennis they were thrilled. The first practice we had I was literally shaking because I was so nervous. I didn’t know any of these girls except for my friend, Giselle, and I was scared. As soon as I got out of the car all of the girls came up and introduced themselves, and they were so happy that we wanted to be on the team. Each tennis season from that point on has been very memorable.

Last year the seniors started the tradition of inspirational notecards. These notecards were made before every match and were given to each girl as we took to the courts. The notecard had a personal message that the senior shared with the girl she was writing to, and always ended with a bible quote that would focus on an uplifting message. It would only take a few moments to read these cards, but the messages would help me to focus on the way I played. Whenever I got down on myself during a match I would read my card and think of how special I was to have teammates who wanted to encourage me to go on, to work through the rough point, and who cared so much about me. Knowing how much this made a positive impact on me and the way I played, I promised myself that this year I would make every single card meaningful and unique. Now that it is my turn to write cards, I look for inspirational quotes that are specific to my teammate that I write for, I draw funny pictures, and I take the time to write a quick prayer for each of the notecards.

It never occurred to me that my teammates would ever save these little paper cards. I always thought they were read once, and then thrown into their tennis bag eventually to be found at the end of the season when the bags had to be returned. But one day before a match I saw my teammate reach deep into a side pocket and reread the card that I had given her a few games prior. She had a somewhat rough day at school and had taken the card out to read again.  After reading the notecard she gave me a hug. I never realized that I could have that kind of impact on a person. Through this experience I have learned that even small acts of kindness can make a difference.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Never underestimate the importance you have as a coach. You can never replace a young person's father but you can be a leader and a role model who steers them in the right direction.

You are desperately NEEDED!

Embrace mentoring!

Sam Becker shares his third testimony below.

Virtue=Strength, Lou Judd


Wade Horn, Ph.D., President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, had an intriguing article entitled “Of Elephants and Men” in a recent issue of  Fatherhood Today magazine. I found Dr. Horn’s story about young elephants to be simply fascinating, and you will too.

Some years ago, officials at the Kruger National Park and game reserve in South Africa were faced with a growing elephant problem. The population of African elephants, once  endangered, had grown larger than the park could sustain. So measures had to be taken to thin the ranks. A plan was devised to relocate some of the elephants to other African game reserves. Being enormous creatures, elephants are not easily transported.  So a special harness was created to air-lift the elephants and fly them out of the park using helicopters.

The helicopters were up to the task, but, as it turned out, the harness wasn’t. It could handle the juvenile and adult female elephants, but not the huge African bull elephants. A quick solution had to be found, so a decision was made to leave the much larger bulls at Kruger and relocate only some of the female elephants and juvenile males.

The problem was solved. The herd was thinned out, and all was well at Kruger National Park. Sometime later, however, a strange problem surfaced at South Africa’s other game reserve, Pilanesburg National Park, the younger elephants’ new home.

Rangers at Pilanesburg began finding the dead bodies of endangered white rhinoceros. At  first, poachers were suspected, but the huge rhinos had not died of gunshot wounds, and their precious horns were left intact. The rhinos appeared to be killed violently, with deep puncture wounds. Not much in the wild can kill a rhino, so rangers set up hidden cameras throughout the park.

The result was shocking. The culprits turned out to be marauding bands of aggressive juvenile male elephants, the very elephants relocated from Kruger National Park a few years earlier. The young males were caught on camera chasing down the rhinos, knocking them over, and stomping and goring them to death with their tusks. The juvenile elephants were terrorizing other animals in the park as well. Such behavior was very rare among elephants. Something had gone terribly wrong.

Some of the park rangers settled on a theory. What had been missing from the relocated herd was the presence of the large dominant bulls that remained at Kruger. In natural circumstances, the adult bulls provide modeling behaviors for younger elephants, keeping them in line.

Juvenile male elephants, Dr. Horn pointed out, experience “musth,” a state of frenzy triggered by mating season and increases in testosterone. Normally, dominant bulls manage and contain the testosterone-induced frenzy in the younger males. Left without elephant modeling, the rangers theorized, the younger elephants were missing the civilizing influence of their elders as nature and pachyderm protocol intended.

To test the theory, the rangers constructed a bigger and stronger harness, then flew in some of the older bulls left behind at Kruger. Within weeks, the bizarre and violent behavior of the juvenile elephants stopped completely. The older bulls let them know that their behaviors were not elephant-like at all. In a short time, the younger elephants were following the older and more dominant bulls around while learning how to be elephants.

When Prisons Replace Families

Once in prison, this system is very hard to leave behind.

The New Hampshire prison system just released a dismal report two weeks ago.

Of 1,095 prisoners released in 2007, over 500 were back in prison by 2010.

Clearly, the loss of freedom does not compensate for the loss of fathers in managing the behavior of young men.

At least Eighty percent of the young men in prison grew up in homes without fathers. The problem seems clear. When prisons and police replace fathers, chaos reigns, and promising young lives are sacrificed.


I hope all of you enjoyed reading about my experience on my school’s retreat. Now that I have had time to relax and school has officially started I can focused on school and of course, football.
This year my high school football team, the McNicholas Rockets, have been blessed to have the mentor system started by Mr. Lou Judd. From what I have seen the mentoring by our coaches has been working wonders for the team. We all seem to getting along better and finding out what we really want to accomplish this season.
I was selected to be in Coach Paul Romulo’s mentoring group. Every Thursday we meet together and talk one on one about how life is going, how I think the team is doing, and how can I better accomplish the virtue of the week. Coach Romolo and I have a great relationship. He is one of the younger coaches and teachers I have so it’s easy to relate with him. Sometimes we will randomly start quoting movie lines together. Most importantly, he is always more concerned about you as a person than as a football player.

The virtue of the week for week 1 was SELFLESSNESS. Being a team manager in my position is a very selfless job. Some of my coaches and teammates including coach Romolo told me I was an example of this virtue for the whole team. I know what I do is selfless, but I still wanted to try and be more selfless for my team and school. I wanted to find one or two ways I could accomplish being more selfless but I didn’t know how at first…..

Leading up to this past Saturday’s game was a very emotional week. Knowing that I couldn’t be out on the field with my teammates in our school’s first ever game in our new stadium did hurt me. On top of that we had Father-Son jersey night on Thursday. We ate pizza and hung out as with our dads or whoever was representing us. At the end of the dinner each senior father/father figure went up in front of the team with his son, said a speech about how proud of them they were, (many which were very emotional resulting in a few tears shed) and handed them their jersey….

I did not plan on wearing a jersey again this year. I thought it would be too hard to bear knowing I couldn’t wear my number out on the field with pads underneath competing with my teammates. I only wore #18 last year in honor of my cousin who was in coma at the beginning of the season due to a fall at his college house. 18 was and still is his number in college. I know I am as important as any other play on the team, but to me wearing a jersey was an emotional obstacle for me.

….As the fathers were giving their speeches to my teammates I said to my dad, “You don’t have to do this, you tell me all the time how proud of me you are, and I am not wearing jersey anyway.” He just responded OK. It turns out as I expected, the coaches noticed I was the only senior not to go up in front of the team. Head Coach Mike Orlando looks at me and says “So Sam, you thought we forgot about you?” I responded, “I was hoping that was the case.”

My dad and I walked up to the microphone. Right when he started talking about everything I have overcome and how I was hero I started to cry. It was hard enough having the jerseys being handed out to all my teammates, and this being thrown on top of it was over whelming. At the conclusion of his short speech, my dad handed me one of the jerseys on the table, but I refused to put it on. I walked back to my chair with tears my eyes listening to my teammates and their fathers give me a standing ovation. Some of my teammates met me with hugs shedding the same tears I had in my eyes….

The next day we met in the locker room before school started to be surprised with our new gray, green, and gold Adidas Tech-Fit jerseys which we spent all off season fundraising for. I walked in to return the jersey I was given the night before, while the rest of the team was going to wear theirs to school like we do every Friday. Coach Romolo told me to put on my jersey like the rest of the guys, I respectfully declined. After receiving a weird look from him, I told him we would talk about it later. So as my teammates walked out to school in our old green jerseys I was in my regular school uniform. I was still on the fence about whether I should wear one for the game Saturday or not. Throughout the day my teammates asked me why didn’t have a jersey on and if I would wear a new one for the game. I still had no idea. Before our team mass after school I explained to Coach Romolo why didn’t wear a jersey that day and how difficult it was for me during jersey night. He completely understood and told me it was my decision, but that I deserved to wear one just as much as the rest of the team.

After thinking about it that day at practice I found out how to better achieve the virtue of the week: SELFNESS. I decided to wear a jersey at the game this past Saturday not only for my coaches and teammates who wanted me to, but for my father. I know how much it means to him that I wear jersey. He was a big football star back in high school breaking all of his school rushing records. He asked me many times during the off-season what number I would wear this year. I just told him I wasn’t planning on wearing one. But as I thought about it being selflessness is also about allowing others to enjoy your accomplishments and stepping outside of your comfort zone for them.

This week the team was told repeatedly to find someone to play for. In addition to play all of the past players who never got to play at our new stadium. To play for the guys who wore your jersey years ago. As was in the equipment room picking out my jersey I decided to wear #32. It was wore by Austin Ernst’s (who I referred to in my last article) older brother Eric, 2 years ago. I wanted to wear it so Eric, my ex-teammate, would be represented. Another way I tried to improve my selflessness.

Throughout practice and before the game on Saturday some of my senior teammates told me that they were playing for me. They expressed  how bad they wanted me out there with them. I didn’t find out until after the game that many of them wrote my initials on there cleats so that in some way I was on field with them. This gesture meant the world to me. It was the ultimate act of selflessness. I felt honored.

Saturday ended up being a perfect day for the McNicholas community. Austin, as our quarterback, lead the team down the field for a touchdown caught by junior Matt Curran with 43 seconds left in the game. Right after the score Austinran over to me and said that was for me, that I was on his mind every play of the drive. The game was sealed by sack from senior Todd Gula and a few nice defensive plays by our secondary.

I believe we were a great example I selfless team. We not only played for each other, but for our school, alumni, and most importantly God. As we take on New Richmond high school next week I know we will approach this game with the same selflessness we showed this week.

I encourage all of you to do something selfless for someone else each day. You don’t even have to know them. Give back to those who have given everything for you whether it is a coach, parent, or friend. Write to you soon
God Bless,
Sam Becker

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home for Dinner

ESPN did an interesting article on Urban Meyer, the President of the SportsLeader Coaches Association. The link below has the whole article.

I wanted to highlight one portion of it.

Urban Meyer signed two agreements when he was hired by Ohio State: one with the school that demands performance and another with his family, which demands much more.

Framed above his desk hung the contract he signed with his kids, written on pink notebook paper.

1. My family will always come first.

2. I will take care of myself and maintain good health.

3. I will go on a trip once a year with Nicki -- MINIMUM.

4. I will not go more than nine hours a day at the office.

5. I will sleep with my cellphone on silent.

6. I will continue to communicate daily with my kids.

7. I will trust God's plan and not be overanxious.

8. I will keep the lake house.

9. I will find a way to watch Nicki and Gigi play volleyball.

10. I will eat three meals a day.

Some people may read that, snicker and say, "He'll never fulfill that."

But - have you and I written out a contract like that to fulfill with regard to our personal family?

Do you go home after 9 hours?

Maybe this can be an encouragement so for all of us, myself included, so that we too always keep our priorities in order.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Miracles Do Happen

There are 24,000,000 young people in the USA living without a father in the home. This is a catastrophic tragedy that too many sweep under the rug.

The teams that have been courageous enough to step up and work together with SportsLeader are doing something real, concrete and powerful to counteract that tragedy.

Many of you know about it, have participated in it and lead them with your own teams.

I wanted to share a few photos from different teams in the mid-west who have had these amazing ceremonies. The teams in the photos are Sycamore 8th grade, Mason HS, Xenia HS, Milford HS, Franklin County HS, McNicholas HS.

You can see the photos on our web site at this link

I was blessed to attend a number of them, Chris Willertz others, and there were miracles at each one. 

What has moved me the most this year is the number of players - the young men - who have been so emotional during the experience ... Seniors who are welling up even before the first Dad steps up to the microphone. You can tell that this means so much to them.

Last night in particular, a young man wet with tears, comes up to me and gives me one of the biggest bear hugs I have ever received saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this. This meant so much to me. I'll never forget it."

I am truly proud of each coach who has made these happen with their teams.

Please help us spread the word!

Also, I'd like to share Sam Becker's second article - a testimony from his experience leading a retreat at his school.
Lou Judd

I hope all of you enjoyed my last article. It should’ve given you a basic background of who I am, where I’ve been, and where I plan to go. Over the next few months I have been given the opportunity to write weekly about how the McNicholas Rockets quest for their first state championship is going,  my insights,  future plans in athletics, and life.

This summer I was selected to lead 39 members of senior class on our summer Kairos retreat. It was an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. I went on my own Kairos back in March so knew leading would be very different. I was blessed to lead with 7 of my friends, including my teammate, Josh Jubak.

The most nerve racking part of the retreat for me turned out to be my favorite and most rewarding experience of the week. Each leader, teacher and student, is required to give a 20 minute talk on a subject chosen for them. The teachers decide this by pray.   I was chosen to give the talk “Leaders.” (Ironically) I have always considered myself as a leader but not a great public speaker. I knew the pressure was on me to deliver an impactful talk to classmates because not only was it one of the last talks of the retreat, but it has been known to be one of the more emotional talks of the retreat.

From April to July I spent hours working on my talk, trying to find words to inspire, interest, and open the hearts of my 39 friends.  When I finished writing my talk in late July the two people who I let read it first, my Freshman basketball coach and teacher Jack Kaneicki and my best friend/teammate Austin Ernst. Both enjoyed it greatly and said everyone would enjoy it. They gave me the confidence to know I had something special and impactful to share with my class in this 20 minute speech.

Throughout the first two days on Kairos I could barely contain my emotions about my upcoming talk on the third day. At times I would even tear because  my nervousness and excitement was over whelming. Many of my friends and teammates would walk up to me and tell me how excited they were to hear my speech. I prayed that I could meet the expectations so many of the people had set for me.

The night before my talk everyone on the retreat, including the leaders, received letters from parents, loved ones, and friends, telling us how much we mean to them. I was in my room reading a very well written and emotion letter fromAustin. He told me how proud of me he was that was a leading this Kairos and that he knew everyone would be blown away from my talk. He said I was meant to give the “Leaders” talk Being not only my best friend, but an unquestioned leader on our football team, (who just recently committed to Ohio Dominican to play Quarterback) it meant a lot to me to hear that he looked up to me and thought that highly of me. Right when I finished the letter one of the teacher walked into my room asking if I was ok. He then told me my classmates needed to hear my talk. It was necessary for them to get most out this life changing retreat and said I would be able to get them to that point. I knew the pressure was on me to impact my classmates, and to be honest it made me feel less nervous. It felt like I was about to play a big game and all of my teammates and coaches were relying on me….

As I gave the “Leaders” talk the next day I shared with them how my CP and examples such Coach Steve Klonne, (now at Moeller) my friend Logan Shannon with Muscular Dystrophy, and my older brother Max shaped me into the leader I am today. I emphasized on service and setting a Christ-like example for all people who see and hear of you. You can imagine how emotional this was say. I didn’t know how my 39 classmates would respond. They saw the tears in my eyes during the 20 minutes, and by the time I said my last line and the closing song  came on I looked around the room and saw that many of my classmates, fellow leaders, teachers, and teammates were in tears. Nothing was more emotional for me than when a good friend of mine Danny Poole, whose promising athletic career ended when suffering a tore ACL 3 times, gave me hug crying right after I finished. Seeing how my talk hit home to a person in a very similar situation as I am made me realize how good of a job I did at delivering my message to them. It was like a dream situation, the talk couldn’t have gone any better. It felt like my coaches put the ball in my hand to hit the game winning shot and made I it as time expired.  After hearing about my talk, many of my friends and teammates who did not go on that Kairos, asked to read it. The responses have been incredible. I never knew I could impact people through my 8 ½ page paper. Words cannot describe how humbling it is.

The first game for McNicholas Rockets is this Saturday 1 P.M. at our home field, Penn Station Stadium versus Newport Central Catholic. Everyone in the McNick community is enthusiastic about the opening game. We have finally a field and stadium to call home for a full season. Despite our 2-8 season last year I am confident we will set the standard for what McNick Football should be for years to come. As we strive to make the playoffs and ultimately the State Championship, I will continue to lead by example in serving my teammates and my school. Whether I am recognized or not for my efforts, the only thing that matters to me is if the team as a whole succeeds not only on the field but off it as well. If this happens I know I did job right. As athletes we compete for the glory of God. I look at as a way to thank God for the talents He gave us.  If we all buy into this I know we will have a successful season.

I was privileged God gave me the opportunity to inspire my class, like I said it was extremely humbling. What I learned from this experience is that all of us, young and old, are called to help, serve, and lead others. No matter our struggles in life we all must set the example that Christ calls to. Everyone we meet is placed in front of us for a reason, it is our duty to lead and encourage them on the right path. You never know whose life you may change. We all have the capabilities to inspire and be a hero for someone else. Cherish the little things in life. Remember: Nothing is impossible with God; you just have to meet him halfway.

I look forward to writing again next week. Thank you

God Bless,
Sam Becker

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is Every Player on Your Team a Coach?

I have had the privilege of working with the Eminence (KY) High School football team for many years now. Head football coach Steve Frommeyer is truly one of the most humble and dedicated men I've ever met.

It is a very small school, about 60 boys in the whole high school. This year they started with 25 boys on the Varsity FB team. They don't have a Freshman or JV team ... if you're a Frosh you may be starting ... Lot's of playing time (smile).

Their motto for this year is "ALL IN" and it has been a constant reminder and a great source of inspiration.

We did a virtue camp with them a few weeks back and I was impressed with many things but one in particular was the whole team's ability to communicate without fear with one another. At Eminence every kid is a coach and a player.

I had never seen this so strongly before.

On many teams, when a kid does not know a play, which gap to cover ... they only look to their coaches ... or they guess preferring to get it from Coach instead of "looking stupid" in front of teammates and asking.

This culture is created by upperclassmen who make fun of the younger kids, complain or put them down when they do ask a question ... so within 1 or 2 days of practice no player dares open his mouth again.

It is here that boys and young men "learn" that communication = weakness in our warped culture.

How much better would your team be if the fear of communication did not exist?

Now Eminence has some talented players but ... by their first game last week: one player had quit because he prefers basketball and did not want to get hurt (guess he wasn't ALL IN), their best OL/DL player was out, their best RB/LB was out ... along with 4 other players injured. So they are playing a varsity game with 20 players, starting Freshmen ...

They won 22-0.

I'm guessing their strength of communication is pretty important at this juncture.

After the game, Coach Frommeyer, said the Father-Son Jersey night had as much to do with the win as anything else.

He has numerous players on his team with "difficult" family situations ... and the Dads stepped up. Hearing their Dads tell them they loved them, they were proud of them and that they believed in them filled their hearts, minds and souls with confidence and strength.

He also has a player on the team, a Senior, who just became a Father. This young man has never met his own father, has no idea who he is and whether or not he is alive.

He is struggling but he is constantly motivated "to not be a dead-beat Dad." He is going to school, working, playing football ... and all the while receiving no support from his Mom ...

His teammates are holding him accountable and are constantly reminding him that he needs to be 'ALL IN". No pity parties are accepted ... and he is making the effort.

It is safe to say that Coach Frommeyer and his staff ARE his life support right now along with his teammates.

So if you still think that communication is a weakness ... you need to wake up!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Making Virtue Go Viral

Here is an example of a HS football captain living and transmitting this virtue - making virtue go viral.

Minnesota teen, Kevin Curwick, got fed up with cyber bullying at his school and decided to do something about it.

The Osseo High School senior Football Captain started the Twitter account
@OsseoNiceThings and proceeded to spread kind and uplifting messages about his classmates. The account has over 2,300 followers by now ... and growing.

Kevin calls out individual students and tweets about their great qualities and what they do to make Osseo High a better place.

We love what Kevin is doing and hope more young people follow his wonderful example!

Charity - the strength to do good for others, is one of our core virtues.

Maybe you can encourage your players to create a Twitter account like this for your school to make virtue go viral in your community.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Power of a Motto

An important aspect of the SportsLeader program is establishing a team motto. It is a simple way to galvanize your philosophy, goals and hopes into a short phrase that everyone can bring to mind, heart and soul in an instant.

It also establishes the - "What our team is about" - that inspires unity in your program.

Here below is an awesome story about an olympic athlete and how his motto helped him in an extremely difficult moment in the heat of competition. There was no time to reflect, consider or devise a plan.

The plan-motto was already in his heart, mind and soul ... and it proved essential!

What is your team's motto?
Can every player tell it to you immediately?


Lou Judd

Runner finishes on broken leg
Associated Press

LONDON -- Manteo Mitchell heard the POP! and knew it wasn't good. "It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half," he said.

The American sprinter had 200 meters to go in the first leg of the 4x400-meter relay preliminaries Thursday and a decision to make: keep running or stop and lose the race. To him, it was never much of a choice.

He finished the lap and limped to the side to watch the Americans finish the race and qualify easily for the final. A few hours later, doctors confirmed what he suspected: He had run the last half-lap with a broken left fibula.

"I heard it and I felt it," Mitchell told The Associated Press. "But I figured it's what almost any person would've done in that situation."

Mitchell finished his heat in a more-than-respectable 46.1 seconds, and the United States tied the Bahamas in the second heat in 2 minutes, 58.87 seconds -- the fastest time ever run in the first round of the relay at the Olympics.

The 25-year-old sprinter from Cullowhee, N.C., said he was diagnosed with a complete break of the left fibula -- but it was not a compound fracture and the bone is expected to heal on its own in four to six weeks.

He knew what the stakes were when he lined up to run the first leg of his first Olympics. The Americans have won gold in the last eight long relays they've entered at the Olympics.

"Even though track is an individual sport, you've got three guys depending on you, the whole world watching you," Mitchell said. "You don't want to let anyone down."

He said he slipped on the stairs a few days ago in the athletes village but didn't think much of it. Training went well and he felt good when he lined up to kick things off for the Americans. He said he was feeling great, as well, when he looked at the clock while approaching the 200-meter mark, somewhere in the high-20 or low-21-second range.

"I was doing my job," Mitchell said. "But probably at 201 meters, I heard it and I felt it."

He credited something more than simple adrenaline for pushing him the rest of the way around the track.

"Faith, focus, finish. Faith, focus, finish. That's the only thing I could say to myself," he said.

Mitchell was a promising high school football player at Crest High School in Shelby, N.C., when another broken bone altered his career. He broke his left arm, and his coaches -- seeing the natural talent -- pushed him over to the track.

Western Carolina coach Danny Williamson saw Mitchell finish second several times to a future Olympian, Travis Padgett, and offered a scholarship.

"He was a team person here," said Williamson, who received the first call from Mitchell after he got off the track Thursday. "As soon as he came to Western Carolina, no matter what the situation, he'd do anything we asked of him."

On the world's biggest stage, Mitchell took the team-first thing to a whole new level.

He is the 2012 version of Jack Youngblood, the Rams linebacker who played the Super Bowl on a broken leg. Or Tiger Woods, who won the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg. Or, maybe most appropriately, Kerri Strug, whose vault on a sprained ankle sealed the first-ever Olympic team gymnastics gold for U.S. women at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"I don't know how you write this, but I'd like to believe the only way he would have stopped is if the leg had fallen off," Williamson said.

Mitchell will spend the rest of the Olympics, and beyond, in a walking boot and on crutches. He'll be at the stadium to watch Friday's final.

The United States is no shoo-in to win a medal this time, because LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner -- Olympic gold medalists in 2004 and 2008 -- are also both out with injuries. But the medals ceremony is Saturday, and if the U.S. finishes in the top three, Mitchell would get one, too, since he ran in the preliminaries.

Forgive him if he doesn't leap onto the podium, though.

"I pretty much figured it was broken, because every step I took, it got more painful," he said. "But I was out there already. I just wanted to finish and do what I was called in to do."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

Thursday, August 9, 2012


As I had mentioned in a previous email, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people in coaching and sports. Sam Becker is one of them.

He has agreed, with his parents permission, to blog with us about his experiences of life as a manager, a sports fan, a young person taking part in the SportsLeader program, what it is like having a coach as a mentor ...

My hope is that his perspective inspires you and your coaching staff, to embrace this mission of transforming lives with greater passion and enthusiasm.


Hello everyone my name is Sam Becker. I am a 17 year old senior at Archbishop McNicholas high school in Cincinnati, Ohio where I work as the football and basketball manager. My life hasn’t been easy growing up with Cerebral Palsy; through all the trials and tribulations, ups and downs, I have learned two things.

• God has a plan for me
• My Cerebral Palsy is not a disability it is a gift given to me to accomplish great things.

I was enjoying another day at afternoon practice last Friday when I met Mr. Lou Judd. After talking with him for a few minutes in between my water shifts, Lou asked me to write and try to inspire some of his readers. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Before I go any further, I would like to thank Lou for giving me this opportunity and to tell you how much I am honored to have a chance to share my story with you, I am truly bless.

I was born 10 weeks before my due date in Lynbrook, New York, a year and a half later my family was devastated to learn that I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The doctors seemed to have predicted many things that day. A few them were: I would never be able to walk , if I could walk, I would either need a cane, crutches, or walker, By the time I would be leaving for college I would need a wheel chair or scooter because my body wouldn’t be able to make it across campus.

You better believe that every time I step on an empty court at 5:30 A.M. to play basketball or walk into the gym to lift these prognosis’ are on my mind. Not a single one of their predictions came true. To most people I look, act, walk, and talk like a normal 17 year old. This is because I am. Throughout 13 years of physical therapy, 100s of doctor appointments, and 2 life changing surgeries, I overcame the impossible odds of some of the more debilitating results of  Cerebral Palsy……

But my life isn’t all sunshine and roses. I think this is because I love sports, they are like my drug. I can’t live without them. I love to compete. Sadly, I will never be the athlete I dreamed of, much less the athletes that are sprinkled throughout my family. As a little kid I looked up to my dad who played college lacrosse at national powerhouses Syracuse University and Cornell University. Along with my father, my uncles, cousins, and even my brother (who is only 13 months older than me) have enjoyed successful college athletic careers.

A lot to live up to right? As a kid my parents couldn’t tear me away from sports, no matter how much my body took a beating, no matter how much they saw me struggle. I can now admit that I was never the most talented kid by any stretch of the imagination. But the one thing I did accomplish was being the hardest worker on the court or field each game.

By the time I got to high school the game had changed. Everyone got taller while my growth was stunted. I may have been stronger in the upper body but my lower body was lacking to say the least. I couldn’t keep up, the emotional and physical pain was too much and I knew the fall of my sophomore year that I had to hang up my dreams of playing high school varsity sports. Naturally, it was difficult for me to handle. I worked day in and day out for hours on end to maybe have an opportunity to step on the basketball court or gridiron. I was given the chance to be a team manager for the basketball and football teams. This was far from what I wanted, but like I said, sports is the drug I can’t live without. I hated the fact I couldn’t play, I hated giving water to my friends, and most of all, I hated going to every practice which I would do anything to participate in.  It took me three very emotional seasons of basketball and one season of football to really realize the blessing God and my coaches have given me.

I now go about my job with grace. I try to set an example for my teammates. Although I can’t physically lead them on to the field, emotionally I do my best to inspire them to be great and let nothing hold them back. Being a manager has not affected my work ethic. I work just as hard at serving the team as I would playing with them. I know the true privilege that comes with playing a high school sport. I would do anything to wear a jersey and run out of that tunnel knowing I was getting ready to go to battle with my teammates…who by now have become like brothers to me. Despite all the obstacles, I will never stop encouraging my teammates and I will never let them quit because they can achieve greatness no matter how much it hurts me to stand on the sidelines.  I am blessed to share my last year of high school with them. The obstacles I have over come made my vision  clear…..

My goal going into my senior year and for the rest of my life is to inspire people and help others. I find it extremely important to help all of those kids with CP especially those who face greater challeges than I. I know that although I can’t play high school, college, or pro sports like I dreamed of, I am thankful and grateful. I have out worked my disability and I now feel the need to help others. Not only have I been blessed with great doctors from Dr. Nuzzo in New Jersey, every doctor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and  every physical therapist, trainer, or coach that I have helped me reach my potential, but I have also been blessed with 3 great heroes: Jason McElwain the autistic basketball manger who scored 20 points in three minutes, Anthony Robles the one legged NCAA Wrestling National Champion, and Eric LeGrand the Rutgers football player who was paralyzed in his season opener and now spends everyday trying to walk. These 3 people have inspired me to push myself to the limit to accomplish all my goals in every aspect of my life.

I want to be that role model, that hero for the hundreds of children  with CP I have shared a waiting room and who may face far greater challenges  than I. For those millions of kids and families who feel hopeless and no one to look up too because of CP, I am now in the process of starting the Sam Becker Foundation For Cerebral Palsy. All the proceeds will go to the Cerebral Palsy unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the United Cerebral Palsy (stay tuned and more to come). Knowing that I have been blessed to be in the situation I am, I feel called to help and inspire people throughout the world. I have finally learned that my CP has only enhanced the possibilities I have in front of me, not limited them.

I plan on pursuing a manager position on a Division I college program for either basketball or football. Before I get too far ahead of myself, I am focused on helping the McNicholas  Rockets football team bring back their first State Championship to Cincinnati. We may have our doubters, but the one hope I have been  taught is that not matter how great the odds, nothing is impossible with God, hard work, and heart.

I look forward to writing to all of you regularly throughout this season. If you have any questions/comments about my journey, future plans, or anything else please email me at:

God bless,
Sam Becker

Friday, August 3, 2012



Please take a moment to read this letter from Urban Meyer. I know it will inspire you to continue doing what you are doing building up our young people.

Lou Judd

Dear Coach,

The challenges that all of us face in living today are daunting and energy draining.  To many young people just making every day decisions are mind blowing and for many the wrong decisions are often the answer.   The social connections of today’s world present a difficult challenge and without a road map navigation is very difficult.

My adult life has been a complex juggling between pursuing my professional growth and my family.  I have made numerous moves around the country to further my professional goals.  Every move has been difficult but it has been very difficult for my family.  Shelley and I were married in Ohio; my daughters were born in Colorado, my son in Indiana.  My parents lived in Ohio and I was making career moves every three to four years.  My daughter Nicki made 4 moves in 5 years and experienced some issues along the way. She was making some decisions and choosing to be around kids that would have had a negative impact on her future.

Then something magical happened. We moved to Gainesville, Florida and she's in 7th grade and we're starting to make the decisions where she is going to go to school and obviously I'm the second boss in that household. My wife says, "There's this high school volleyball coach named Jeff Reavis down in Gainesville. He has some collegiate experience, he was a great player, he's a great coach, he's really tough on kids and I want her to play for him."

It was Buchholz High School, a school of 2,800 kids, and I wasn't a big fan of that. I've recruited a lot of places, and a lot of times a school with 2,800 kids  is huge and not really what I wanted for my kid. I wanted my daughter to go to some private school with 10 kids so we knew what was going on in her life.

Well I lost that battle and it was the greatest decision we ever made. The same little girl who was starting to get difficult started to grow up. Well, who knows what I would have been dealing with today if this high school coach didn't enter her life.

So all these years of coaching and mentoring and getting involved in kids' lives finally came full circle for me. All of a sudden my daughter, mine, not yours, mine ... was going through some stuff and we get the perfect situation. We put her in this high school and this volleyball program and she's up at 6 AM with a passion for living.

And this coach is inside out, upside down on her. If she misses something, she's going to wish she hadn't and all of a sudden, overnight, I see this same kid being very respectful. She's getting up early and I'm driving her to these early workouts. I would sneak in and watch and I'm watching this coach and the way he's pushing these kids and the way he is treating these kids the same way, exactly the same way I coach.

Steadily, I see this little girl having a sense of team, of selflessness, of respect and I wish I could stand in front of you and say I taught her that ... I tried, I tried but sometimes they don't look at coach the same way they look at Dad. I'm just that coach. I'm that guy that moved them to all these different places ...

And because of that, my daughter just made Academic All-ACC at Georgia Tech; she's a 3.85 student; she's a very virtuous girl; she's one of the most respectful persons I've ever been around and by the way she's still my best friend.


Because this coach had a very positive impact on my little girl as she grew. Once again, with all due respect, not your little girl, my little girl and that's when things really started to change.

So that really started a change in me. I started to take a different approach to recruiting now and what we try to do for our players. I'm a living testimony of someone whose child was impacted by a coach who changed her life and I am forever grateful to this coach. If you've ever been through something like that, it's not a little overwhelming, it's very overwhelming.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?

Because I believe as coaches we can all grow stronger in how we coach and mentor the young people under our care and tutelage. There is an organization called SportsLeader that is helping coaches across the country by using a very practical coaches manual, in-person staff training, and an inspirational web site that can help impact the lives of your players more intentionally through a virtue program that can be used by public and private schools alike.

SportsLeader is an organization that encompasses the leadership components that are applicable to coaches at all levels.  I spent part of last year working with my son’s youth football team.  Coaches at every level of athletics have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives by living and teaching leadership, character and integrity.  As coaches give of themselves by actions and words, their sharing of their virtues becomes evident as selfishness goes out the window.  Young people can learn that being humble and living life the right way can be much more satisfying than being in the news for doing the wrong thing.

A life-long friend of mine, Dean Hood, Head Football Coach at Eastern Kentucky University has developed a great relationship with these men over the past few years now, does a Senior Virtue Camp weekend with them and his recommendation was enough for me to want to meet with them and work with them.

Please take some time to visit their web site at

A representative from SportsLeader will contact you to see if you would like to get involved.

I wish all Teachers and Coaches the strength, courage and wisdom to accept the position of Leadership and to positively impact the future of the young men and women we work with. They need you!

Urban Meyer

* These are my personal views and are not an endorsement of SportsLeader by The Ohio State University

Friday, July 27, 2012


I was blessed to be a part of the Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas High school football practice yesterday. They have their mentoring groups all set up and they are getting it all started next week.

As I was making my rounds I had two amazing conversations with young men that really confirmed for me the power of mentoring.

Mind you, these young men had never seen me before and did not know me from Adam. So if they open up to me this quickly, imagine how much good their coaches can and will do ...

The first young man approaches me, Sam, and we get to talking. Sam is the team manager and has cerebral palsy (CP).

He is one of the most inspiring young men I have had the honor to speak with.

Sam taught me more than I could ever hope to share with him. There was a fire in his eyes, a desire to help, a need to be a part of the team, a passion to learn about virtue and the program.

He spoke of his CP as a blessing, as an opportunity to help others. He spoke about his hope to create an organization to inspire greater awareness for CP but most of all he wants to talk with kids who have CP and give them hope, give them a smile.

McNicholas HS is truly blessed to have Sam on their team. Sam struggles to walk at times but there he is walking around the field brining water, bringing cold towels ... all with a smile.

I was moved.

How often are we moping around because it's too hot, or too cold, or too this ...

The lesson in all this - that if we didn't take the time to listen to Sam, we might miss all this.

There are so many players who get overlooked on our teams. And maybe WE are the ones missing out the most. Maybe WE are the ones who would benefit the most by speaking with them. Maybe THEY have more to teach us - than us them.

After my conversation with Sam, I commented on the "Spider-Man" like hands of a particular player as he made a pretty cool one-handed catch. This was Pat, the team kicker-punter.

Pat is a great student and is striving for an academic scholarship. Another inspiring young man in his right.

The team manager and the kicker ... two players that might not be on the top of anyone's list.

Let's change that. Let's make sure every player gets mentored every week this season.

You will NOT regret it!