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 -

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Dad's Perspective on SportsLeader


I received this letter from a parent. Aweome!

Dear Lou

I am actually the husband of Erin ... She has been writing you in regards to our son's team and the inspiration they have brought out of us the last several months. I know she has given them much due respect and admiration. Yet, I feel it is my duty and honor to share a perspective of my own below.
I was brought up to believe and condition in my mind that anyone other than myself was considered competition and that I had to beat/defeat the individual(s) in order for me to succeed and be “good” at whatever I did. No matter who it was, I had to find a way to overcome, defeat, and many times own the competition. This was not only athletically; it was also academically, in friendships and in relationships. Every coach I ever had (yes, everyone) would continually tell me everything I did wrong on a daily basis as their means of inspiration. I could often hear my HS basketball coach tell me that “I couldn’t even guard my own shadow” and that even though I was unstoppable on offense, my defense was horrific. I had a baseball coach in HS also that never once showed me how to hit, field, or even slide for that matter. It was the most non-motivating environment I was ever in. To say the least it was frustrating.
I can remember being fortunate enough to earn a full basketball scholarship to a smaller Division II university in IL. It was something I worked very hard for with thousands of hours of playing probably the best competition in the U.S. (Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Antoine Walker, Donavan Mcnabb, Tom Kleinschmidt, Jerry Gee, Anthony Parker, and etc..) These were not just people I played against; they were people I competed against. Yet, I always had bitterness towards them because they went on and I didn’t. It was a feeling of failure for me in many ways that I ended up as a Division I transfer to a small Division II school. The feelings must have been mutual among all the players on my team as we never had any collaberativeness or “team spirit” in the 4 years I attended this small university. We were all “egos” doing our own thing for ourselves with little concern for anyone. There was an empty space deep inside of me as it almost seemed everything I had worked for was now lost and even forgotten. It was as if there was no reason I went through what I did and felt like it was a wasted effort.
I decided to then walk on in Baseball. The odds were stacked against me as there was no history at this university of anyone playing both sports full time. In addition, this team was nationally ranked each year for the past 15 years, so for a walk on to make it, was extremely challenging. I gave it a go. I would watch the best hitters on our team and notice the little things they did that made a difference. My coach was a former Minor League pitcher and unfortunately did not have the knowledge one needed to really exceed at hitting with technique. So, I took it upon myself to study the best hitters I saw and model their patterns and behaviors. I made the Varsity team as a sophomore and traveled with them during the NCAA playoffs. I went into pinch hit on occasion, but more importantly felt I had succeeded as a walk on while others had laughed from day one. Midway through my Junior year, I earned and won a starting position which I kept throughout my senior year. I led that team in homeruns my senior year with 16. the most I had ever hit before was 2. This all happened with little instruction and meaningful guidance. Somehow, I created my success in spite of many set backs. It felt like an accomplishment.
As most competitive people do, they take this aspect of their life and conditioned thinking with them. As an employee, it seemed when I sold appliances/electronics, mortgages, and other services, I had to be “making money”. I had to beat out others and be ahead of the “competition”. It was often a toss up as to whether it was for the best interest of the people/consumer as opposed to the best interest of my pay check (and supporting my family/bills). I felt like I was in it for developing and helping others grow, yet I think I wanted others to grow so it made me look better and I could grow. I wanted to be on top, and that was my motivation.
I found this also to be a conditioned way of thinking with my relationships. Now, I want to be certain that we understand that I have remained faithful to my wife. Yet, there was always this “flirtatious way” about me that wanted to prove that I could sweet talk and “Be the Man” around other women. It was almost like it was a challenge for them to say how great, cute, and wonderful I was. I have even told my wife that there were times that I looked outside our marriage for happiness. As if it would be better with someone else. This is not something I am proud of, yet it was an experience I participated in. As you can see from my history, getting to the next level with anything was a big goal of mine. Being happy in the present and enjoying what I have, was not something really considered. It was always “What will be my next win?” What do I need to get/obtain next? There were many other experiences in many other aspects of my life. However, it would take too long to write in this one simple letter.
My experience, my knowledge, and my identity have all recently shifted. And, this is where your program comes in. We were asked to have one parent at this event called “Sports Leader” back in March. After the presentation, we all felt moved in some way. Half jokingly, all the dads and coaches stood up and said “I love you” as the lights went back on. We all laughed and enjoyed the moment, yet I did not really know where this would all lead and how drastically my life would change based on this simple statement/feeling. As time went on, we had sent emails that ended in “I love you”. We would hug after every game, practice, and social gathering. At no point did any parent ever question where there kid was playing or why. Every play was a “great attempt”. Every parent voraciously cheered for every kid. There was no me or I. There was only “Us/We”. After every awards ceremony, while other players were given trophies from their coaches and a hand shake with congratulations, our coaches hugged everyone of our players and the reward they received was far more than a piece of hardware. It was the love, admiration, and respect they all deserved. And, that is why all of those amazing kids played with everything they had. They knew they were all loved. Not one more than any other. It was collective as a team and as a family.
I can go on and on about the three most amazing and incredible coaches we have had the pleasure of being a family with. I can also write on for a while about your program sports leader. Along with some divine intervention, my life and the way I look at it has changed forever. It especially has dramatically transformed with my son. Even when I get on him to hustle, at the end of the day we always hug/kiss and say I love you. The fact that he knows what he means to me is far more important than any accomplishment have ever had on a field or a court. And because of this, he works that much harder and performs that much better. It is my true hope that teams around the world can have wonderful coaches, players, and families that we have experienced this year alone. It is now more clear than ever to me that if I truly would want something to change, then I have to change and others will not only notice the change, but will change in addition. In the 10 months we have been together as a team, my life has dramatically shifted from Selfishness to Selflessness. My wife almost fell over one day when I went up directly to her and apologized for being “selfish” and that I was going to change the things I said and did going forward. All it took was a shift in Identity, Attitude, and Perspective. Now, I can’t even imagine what it was like to be the way I was. It is also clearer to me more than ever that when you have individuals that show the selfless love and respect that these three individuals have, it can change a game, a team, a state, a country, and even a world. It all starts with an individual. Thank you for your program. I have often said that I was going to write a book one day, yet I wasn’t quite sure how, when, or why. I can tell you that the book is on its way and it will probably involve the experiences of this team and how it transformed my life and hopefully others. You know, I guess when the Beatles sang “All you need is Love”, they must have really known something.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Coach, Soup Kitchen and Mass


Below is an email I just received from an Assistant Football Coach at Nazareth Academy in Chicago. Tom is the linebackers coach for the Sophomore team and he is writing it to Mike Cemeno, one of the men who has been key in getting SL off the ground in Chicago.

God bless, Lou

Thanks for leading us through the SL program here at Nazareth Academy. We understand the impact it will make on these young men, but I wanted to share a story about its positive influence on our head soph coach in its early implementation. Part of our work on charity includes work at a local soup kitchen. Last Saturday, this coach decided to attend with his son and nephew who are on the soph team. He was so moved by this experience, he decided to attend Sunday Mass with his son which was the first time in over 10 years. You can imagine the significance this spiritual growth will have on he and his family. He is a great leader on the football field but now I realize that he is a great leader in is home as well. I am blessed to have witnessed this and invite you to share this with others as well. I can't wait to see the impact on the rest of the team once we really get this off the ground.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tebow a combination of unique traits


I recommend making copies of this for all your players ...

God bless, Lou

Tebow a combination of unique traits
By Ivan Maisel

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It is July on the Florida campus, which means by the time you walk from your car to the football building you need a towel and a sweet tea. The word "languid" comes to mind. Coach Urban Meyer's office is dark, its occupant stealing the last moments of summer on a coach's calendar.

And then Tim Tebow bounds up the stairs after a noontime workout. It is July on the Florida campus, but the word "languid" never applies to Tebow. He is wearing a black Gators T-shirt, shorts, blue and orange Crocs and a summer beard.

Not that the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Tebow ever resembled a fuzzy-cheeked boy, but the beard is a subtle visual cue that one of the (already) memorable careers in the history of the game has begun its final year.

"It's gone by fast," Tebow said. "It's been a fun ride down here."

A fun ride? Two national championships wrapped around a 2007 Heisman Trophy is a hero sandwich, Gators-style. He has evolved from relief pitcher for Chris Leak to one-man backfield (32 touchdowns passing, 23 touchdowns rushing in 2007) to the more polished passer of last season. He has helped one mentor get an SEC head coaching job (Dan Mullen at Mississippi State) and welcomed another (Scot Loeffler, who recruited him to Michigan).

Tebow's value as a player -- he has passed and run for 8,427 yards and 110 touchdowns -- is surpassed only by his value as a leader. The time will come when his postgame speech after the Ole Miss loss last season will be recited daily by Florida schoolchildren.

That leadership has been needed since the Gators left Dolphin Stadium last January, crystal football in hand. Coaches who have won a national championship learn to dread the Year After and the sense of entitlement that pervades the locker room like a staph infection. Gators, have no fear. Dr. Tebow will see you now.

"When a team wins," Tebow said, "I think they get complacent." His speech raced and the pitch of his voice rose. "I think the great thing about our team is we haven't gotten complacent. We've worked so much harder than we did last year leading up to it, because we know what it takes to get there and we want to get there again. … You hear guys looking forward to two-a-days! You never hear that."

Great players can be found at the intersection of Talent and Passion. But that is an incomplete address for the Florida quarterback. He has what few 21-year-old athletes possess. He has what few 21-year-old anythings possess. Tebow has perspective.

"He's a vicious competitor, OK?" Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. "But yet his compassion is endless. How many times have you seen that?"

Through his family's evangelism, Tebow has seen the Third World. Through his own outreach, he speaks at prisons in Central Florida. He visits local hospitals.

"I think more so than playing football and being a competitor and trying to win," Tebow said, "compassion and love for helping people is so much more important than any of those other qualities can ever amount to being."

"Compassion" is not a word often heard in football, unless it's the fourth quarter and Florida is pummeling Charleston Southern. It is not a trait the sport prizes. Tebow has all the traits football prizes: toughness, competitiveness, desire. None of them is first on his list.

"Just helping, being someone who, when someone needs something, you're there for them; if it's a teammate, if it's a Make-a-Wish kid, if it's someone in the hospital," Tebow said. "And not just someone who does it here and there, now and then. That's my life. That's what I want it to be. When I'm done playing football, my life isn't over."

One of a quarterback's greatest talents is the ability to see the whole field. A month before he turns 22, a month before practice begins for his final college football season, Tebow sounded as if he is able to see the whole field -- in uniform or out. "I think a good way of explaining it is football is what I do but it's not who I am," he said. "So many people get caught up in 'This is who I am. I'm a football player.' No, that's what I do. I play football and I love playing football. … I'm so much more outside of that.

"I don't want to be labeled as a football player. I want to be labeled as someone who, when someone needed something, or when someone asked me to do something, I was there for them. I was there to support them. I wanted to help them genuinely, not because it looked good or not because someone was going to write about it, but because I genuinely cared about helping someone else."

All of which led to the question: If Tebow had never played football, what would be his normal life?

"I don't really think about normal," Tebow said. "I think normal is something I never wanted to be."

There was never any danger of that. No danger at all.

Friday, July 10, 2009

'Victory' in baseball -- on & off field

'Victory' in baseball -- on & off field

July 6, 2009

When Jonathan Voss started Victory Baseball, he wanted more than just a travel baseball program. He wanted kids to learn about more than just the game of baseball.

In his effort to build kids both on and off the field, he brought in the Sportsleader program. Sportsleader, which is a program designed to build the kids' virtue, has taken Victory Baseball to the next level.

"Our goal is to develop kids more from a social and character side other than X's and O's of baseball," Voss said. "We instituted it in all of our programs this year and are teaching them to accept responsibility and lead courageously. Baseball is the byproduct of communication for it."

Sportsleader was started by former Ohio State football player Joe Lukens and Paul Passafiume. It is endorsed by Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and Chicago Bears co-owner Patrick McCaskey. It is used across the country and continues to spread. According to Voss, Providence Catholic instituted the program as well this year.

While Victory Baseball has been extremely successful with an overall winning percentage of .800, the program is more focused on building young men.

"The wins aren't important," Voss said. "Baseball won't determine who these young men are and will be in the future. Instead we are focused on getting good kids to be pillars in society. That is the legacy we are trying to lead."

Voss first heard of the program from Mike Cemeno, owner of Cemeno's Pizza. Voss and his coaches then attended character-building conferences in Cincinnati. Each coach went through a formal four-week training program.

"We have great coaches who realize they are in the mentoring-type role. It's their job to give the youth something more than just baseball," Voss said.

"We want to teach the kids how to not only be good baseball players, but more importantly good young men, adults, fathers, and sons," 12U coach Bart Pernai said.

There are three major aspects of Sportsleader that the coaches focus on -- charity, humility and courage. Pernai said the group is learning how to take ownership for their own game and own actions. The players have picked up on this aspect quickly.

"We work together and don't criticize each other if someone makes a mistake," catcher/infielder Drew Voss said.

"If someone gets down we always pick him up," Johnny Bylina added.

"We realize there's always another chance so just get it the next play," Brian Dusatka said.

The selflessness and charity have been evident. According to Brandon Kaminiski, the team volunteered at a Ronald McDonald House, where they served food. Also, Jim O'Brien and his 9U team have received national recognition for their jerseys. While most teams have the player's last name on the back of the jersey, the 9U team does not because they believe they are playing for the name on the front, not the back.

"We're just trying to be better people and set good examples," Drew Voss said.

Pernai's team has experienced some success on the field as well. The team is headed to Cooperstown this week to play against competition from across the nation. The winning could be a direct result of the Sportsleader lessons.

"It teaches the kids to give all you've got because you don't want to let your teammate down," Jonathan Voss said. "If the kids are able to do that, the winning takes care of itself. We say bust your tail for two hours and we will let the chips fall where they may."

Jonathan Voss has noticed not only a change with attitude on the field, but at home as well with his son, Drew.

"It's great to see his growth and maturity as he is being a good kid around the house, even if it's just taking out the garbage," he said. "He is taking a proactive role at home. I've seen all the kids bring that leadership they have off the field onto the field and it is raising their level of play."

For Voss, the biggest result from Sportsleader is the effect on family.

"The most important thing is the growth it brings as a family," he said. "Before the season we have dads hand out the jersey to their son and each dad told their son what he was proud of. It challenges the kids then to be leaders and take responsibility. This is the difference I want Victory Baseball to have on a young man's life, in any sport and in anything that they do."

Just because Victory Baseball won't be seen getting in another team's face or heard smack-talking, they should not be taken lightly.

"Some teams come in thinking we're soft, but I think our winning percentage speaks for itself," Voss said.

"We feel that anyone can go out and throw a baseball around and many teams are successful, but what matters is what the kids can do for the community and culture, and Sportsleader has taught us that. Not all professional athletes are positive so this is an opportunity for kids to get a positive impact. It's a process that we still need to get better, but it will only continue to grow."

Anyone interested in Victory Baseball should check out the team web site at For more information on Sportsleader, go to There you can find more information on how to take responsibility as well as teach it, as Voss has done.

"I feel it's my responsibility to give these kids more than just a typical program, and Victory Baseball does that," he said.

Another great article can be found by clicking on the link below