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 -

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

That simple but profound joy in life and sports

To: The Sportsleader Family
From: Steve Frommeyer, Principal and Head Football Coach Eminence High School - Eminence, KY
First, I would like to thank Lou Judd for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts with the Sportsleader Family on a regular basis. SportsLeader and Lou have both been a tremendous asset to our program, myself personally, and most importantly to our players.
As Spring (really Winter) practice finished this past week, it gave me time to reflect again on our priorities. Being a very small school with many of our players in baseball or other activities, we only had 12 players at practice each day. As a competitive coach, my first instinct is to get frustrated with all the things we were not able to get done. However, I remembered a story about (basketball game) Jim Valvano’s father. He would ask his sons after every practice or game two simple questions: 1) Did you learn anything? and 2) Did you have fun? It was his yardstick for success.
Using that measure, we had a very successful Spring practice. With small numbers, our players were able to get individual attention and thus learned a lot of football and also got to deepen their personal relationships with the coaches and each other. Moreover, they had fun. We had some beautiful days and we tried hard to make the drills helpful but also fun to do. The reality is most boys love to compete, and we tried to build off that fact with our practice routines.
Finally, I had to remind myself that God says we cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless we again become child-like in our trust of him and our unconditional love for his people. The sheer joy of “playing” and sharing with each other and trusting that God will use our efforts for his glory is at the core of what sports and life are all about!
I hope none of you ever lose that simple but profound joy in life and sports!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coaches Wedding Renewal

Over the weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to attend one of the most inspiring SportsLeader events ever - The Coaches Marriage Renewal. It was beautiful to be able to attend something with my wife. 

We were 7 couples, 1 Priest and 1 young man who is giving a year as a volunteer. 5 couples were from the Covington (KY) Catholic High School football program, 1 from Cincinnati Winton Woods Wrestling and us.

I cannot encourage you all to organize something like this for you and your program strongly enough. You NEED to do this!

We had out event at The Montgomery Inn - which is a famous Cincinnati restaurant known for ribs ... Our schedule was as follows:

6:00 Social
6:25 Order food and sit
Father Matthew give talk about beauty of marriage and how much we should appreciate our wives
Eat dinner
Each coach stands to affirm his wife, tell her how much he appreciates her, that he loves her and give her a rose
Renewal of vows/ Exchange of rings
Wedding Cake

One wife's email sums it all up:
THANK YOU for getting these pictures out and for organizing the entire evening.  It was simply beautiful!  I am very grateful and have a renewed sense of thanksgiving for the awesome man God made just for me - thanks again!

If you need help with this just let me know. We have the renewal format and everything ready for you.

If you would like to listen to most of Father Matthew's awesome talk, it is here. Maybe you and your wife can listen to this together.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coaches Wedding Renewal Father Matthew Talk

Speak it into Existence

By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach Oregon

Speak it into Existence
I had been coaching about 10 years and our teams had had moderate success.  We were average, ever looking for the secret formula that would propel our program to the next level. 

A state contender.

Then one day, it dawned on us. While we all were harboring secret thoughts of playing for a state championship, we never ever expressed that verbally. We never “spoke the words”.  So the next day, we started “speaking the words”.  We said, “Let’s win a state championship”.  The coaches said it, the players said it, and managers said it. Pretty soon, the teachers, parents, and even our fans starting talking about winning a state championship.  Nothing was really different other than the fact that we starting talking about winning a state championship. Two years later, we played for the state championship. We literally had spoken it into existence.

What had happened reinforced the school of thought that some things can be “spoken into existence”.  For instance, if you tell a player that they are fast, you help them become fast.  If you tell them they are intelligent, you help them get better grades.  

Speak “virtuous behavior” into existence on your team. Say the words. 

Tell your players all the things you want them to be: courageous, loyal, faithful, perseverant, honest, strong, noble, compassionate, intelligent, kind.  Tell them to be men of virtue.  Tell them what virtue is.  You would be surprised at how many of your players are simply unfamiliar with many virtuous concepts.  Our society has filled their heads with facts, but failed to fill their hearts with virtue. Teach them about virtue. If you constantly remind them of virtuous qualities, you help instill virtue in their hearts.  When your players exhibit virtuous behaviors, be sure to publicly praise them. Make a big deal out of even the smallest act of virtue.  

Young men have a way of becoming what we encourage them to be. 

Looking for a good place to start coaching virtue in your program? 

“Speak it into existence”.
God Bless

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Get Your Game Face On

By Rebecca Dussault
Skiing and Triathlon World Class Athlete

Everyone has felt the dread of competition upon themselves be it for a spot in the school play, a game or race, a job opportunity, a chance to head a committee or even to be the victor at the end of the board game.  We want the good feeling of having won and loathe the process through which we must go to get there.  Trial by fire as it were has never, is never, and will never be a comfortable thing.  Yet, we must submit to the challenge.
How do you prepare for these events of life?  Are you confident trusting in the Lord and your experiences from the past? Do you make adequate preparations for what you’re undertaking?  Do you cower and compare yourself to others until you’ve mentally belittled all of your accomplishments and reduced yourself to a place where grace cannot fully work in you?  We’ve all ridden the seesaw of courage and doubt, of confidence and  discouragement.  We all want success, it is natural.  What’s our method of getting there?
What I add when I experience these times, be they small or large, is the patient acceptance which comes from the Lord.  “All things work together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)  Some races I win and believe I’ve done most everything right and others I loose which helps me learn a lesson and be better prepared for the next one.
In the end it is peace in knowing that the Lord is King of victory and defeat.  See if in your next competition you can have a peace knowing HE will supply the grace and the result, when left up to Him, will be perfect for our human growth and learning.  

Friday, March 26, 2010

The evolution of our virtue program over the past four years

By Dan Duddy
Head Football Coach NJ

We have been doing “Virtue” for four years now and I thought I would reflect on the growth and evolution of it.
I am entering my 5th season as head coach at a Catholic school in NJ. I was head coach at Central Regional High School, a public high school just down the road for 13 years previously.
At Central I prayed with my team before and after games. It was illegal to do so. We were one of the most respected programs in the Shore, 43 high schools.
I left Central because I was personally unfulfilled for some unknown reason. 
I visited our Perpetual Adoration chapel constantly because I was miserable. The Lord called me to this High School and I got the head coaching job there.
 My first season.
 I wanted to make the statement that spirituality was going to be emphasized to our team. We prayed every day after every team get-together, practice, games and meetings. I was enjoying the freedom to do so, and was called to do more.
Our record was 0-10, not even close to winning any game.
I continued the Perpetual Adoration for at least one hour per week, every week.
        I went to my very first retreat, met a priest who knew I was a coach and indirectly I met Lou Judd, then somehow I flew to his home near Cincinnati airport and learned how to integrate spirituality much more deeply into my program through SportsLeader.
I came to know then, now fulfilled, why I felt unfulfilled at Central.
 My second season. 
Now with Lou’s friendship, we began to mentor our players in the areas of Charity, Humility and Courage. My goal was to become a team of action and become relationship-based between staff and team. I wanted to begin to have our athletes to understand and value the manliness of all the men of the New Testament. We began to study the bible together.
We won four games – we were 4-6. Great season for our school.

My third season:
We added Virtue camp. We would get every single coach involved. We became very aggressive in getting the saints in front of our players; we would close our eyes and “Relate”, not to compare. Our biggest award at the banquet was the “Virtue Award”, a standing ovation. We continued to evolve in man-to-man mentoring.
We won five games, should have won 6. We were 5-5. Only the second time in a decade that they did not have a losing season. We won games in over time or late in the fourth quarter.
My fourth season:
We took on the personalities of the masculine saints, those who we studied for their masculine virtues. We took on the identity of the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, The sons of Zebedee. Our Lord gave them this nickname for their feistiness, so we took it too. Our mentoring became theme based week to week. Lou gave me an incredible curriculum of 21 themes and film clips along with pertinent bible verses.
We continued all of our traditions, but our bible and mentoring sessions were so deep and meaningful. Our whole staff took resolutions to action in their lives as well.
We won 6 games should have won 7. We were 6-4.

We avenged losses from the previous year and finished with the number one offense in the shore conference of 43 high schools.
This 5th season is right now:
We have started a football team-led community based group to promote young men of action for the Catholic Church. The church is suffering and we are taking action.
We are returning to church on a regular basis, recruiting others, attending confessions, becoming a presence at Abortion Mills and Porn shops and Strip joints to invite men to be more virtuous and abandon these habits of weakness and vice.
I will let you know our record, but that will take care of itself. When it became secondary to me, it got better on its own.

If you would like to hear Dan give a talk to his team here below are 2 links:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Do a Senior Send-Off?

By Chris Willertz
Head Wrestling Coach, Cincinnati OH
  • Why invite a group of senior boys (wrestlers in my case) on a 5 hour trip to climb a mountain??
  • What does this have to do with wrestling?
  • We do our “senior week” at the end of our season on campus.
  • How much did it cost?!
  • You gave up a weekend with your family to do what?
  • Are you crazy?  You are too old to try to climb a mountain!
These are all valid arguments. To me, climbing a mountain and inviting my boys to Mt. Leconte in the Smokey Mountains outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee the weekend of March 19th-20th just made too much sense. For one, it is strenuous, very strenuous, climbing over 6000 feet, traveling over 10 miles up and down the mountain for a 6-8 hours was what I wanted.  
Secondly, it was WILD, not too wild but wild.  There are parts of the trail that are risky, you are hiking right next to the cliff wall and the drop off is far, just three or four feet of you.  If you are afraid of heights, a mountain takes the cake!  There is the danger of wild animals ….animals you’ve only read about or seen in zoos; bears, snakes, spiders, wolves, etc..  There is the wildness of bad weather, snow, rain, extreme cold that makes the experience uncomfortable and adventurous.
Thirdly, climbing a mountain is an incredible accomplishment, sadly these days a rare accomplishment of teenage boys, who don’t leave the comforts of their video games, i-pods and cell phones.  How many of YOU have ever climbed a mountain?  
But the biggest reason I wanted to climb a mountain was because I wanted to invite my wrestlers to hear the voice of God.  I firmly believe (especially after reading John Eldridge’s Wild at Heart back in the winter of 2003) that God is everywhere, but He is especially present “out in the wilderness”.  The boys needed to hear what God wants to say to them.  
They didn’t hear it on the way to Gatlinburg. They were listening to their I-pods and texting the whole trip.  They don’t hear it every day at school or at home because they are constantly talking, goofing off, listening to their I-pods or texting.  They don’t hear it at church because most don’t go to church and the ones that do don’t want to be there; they’ve turned off God even before they walk in the door.  
So maybe it doesn’t have to be a mountain, but it HAS to be SOMEWHERE in nature away from their comfort zone.  They have to enter an alien world, a world where they don’t fit in, a world where they have to listen, to pay attention, to focus, to feel their environment.  Once their senses are heightened, they are ripe to hear God’s call. (Of course the boys were not allowed to bring I-pods or cell phones on the hike and I even patted them down to make sure!)
I want to invite my wrestlers to experience God.  Maybe you disagree.  Maybe you think your job is to teach your sport, period.  Maybe you do more, like emphasize character and virtue (hard work, courage, etc.)  Maybe you think you should win and that’s your focus.  Or getting your kids into college is your goal.  There are many reasons why coaches coach.  I want my wrestlers to be great wrestlers, I want my wrestlers to be virtuous, I want my wrestlers to win and I want them to go to college.  But what I REALLY want, is for them to meet God. They have to make that choice, but it is one I hope for.
We are living in a culture that is becoming more and more godless, every day.  There is no place for God.  We can get by without God, heck we can thrive without God.  This is a hoax, it’s a lie.  It’s my job to expose my wrestlers to this lie.  Don’t believe it!  God is real and what is more, He created you, He loves you and He has a mission for you.  
Once this message is realized (as I am sure you can attest) your life takes on a whole new meaning.  You are a new man, you have a spirit and a joy that can’t be explained.  Don’t you want your athletes to have this type of joy?  If you could play a part in giving this to your guys, wouldn’t you do it??  
There is a crisis in our culture today, many men do not know who they are, or who they are supposed to be.  They don’t know where they are at or where they are supposed to go.  They don’t know what they are supposed to do or how to do what they are supposed to do.  We are a culture with a huge portion of of wimpy and directionless men. And we know it but we don’t know what to do about it.
BUT NOT MY WRESTLERS! I want my wrestlers to know what their mission is and to truly get after it -without whining, without coming up with every possible excuse, without blaming everyone else ... I want my wrestlers to be MEN.
Knowing God and knowing your mission does not mean you will be sinless, that you won’t fall and make mistakes.  Just ask Peter.  They may not realize their mission until they are on their deathbed.  Some may tragically never realize their mission.  I’m wise enough to know this.  But that’s not the point.  I did what I felt called to do.  I took them to climb a mountain, so God could speak to their hearts.  I don’t know what God said to them individually.  But I know He spoke to them.  And I know He spoke to me as well.  He said, “Well done, my true and faithful servant……I am proud of you!”  That is enough for me to do it again and again and again and again.
Think about what you want to do for your athletes.  What is special about your program, what is special about you, what will be special about your guys?  You need to figure this out, you need to figure out why you are coaching and what you want to transmit to your kids.  If you are unsure…………try climbing a mountain……it worked for me.  
God Bless and get it done!
Coach Willertz

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Senior Send-Off

Have you ever done something special with your Seniors (or 8th graders) as kind of a send-off? I remember watching the movie Friday Night Lights ... one of the last scenes is the head coach taking all of his Senior names from their magnets and throwing them one by one in the garbage ... what a way to end the movie. What a way to "end" your coaching experience with those young men.

We can do better. Here is what Coach Chris Willertz just did with his seniors. You still have time to do something. It could be as simple as having the guys over for pizza ...

God bless, Lou

This is our senior trip to Mt. Leconte in the Smoky Mts.  5 of the 6 senior wrestlers attended along with my son and my good friend Randy Morris.  We drove down Friday night, arriving at 11:00PM, got to bed by 1:00AM, woke up at 6:30AM and were climbing by 8:06AM.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park are among the tallest mountains in the Appalachian chain. The tallest mountain in the East, but not the highest, Mount Le Conte towers to 6,593 feet. 

For a point of reference of tallest mountains in the USA, the mountain coming in 180th place is 12,050 ft. Mt. Leconte is 10.6 miles up and down hiking.  We reached the top by 11:45AM, although it got pretty scary....there was so much snow that we didn't expect.

On the top of the mountain, I presented the guys with "Wild at Heart" by John Eldridge.  Officially their lives are now different, they are expected to act like men, to start working on a mission.  If not.........this season has been a waste.  Let's grow up and embrace MANHOOD!

The trip down was tough at least thru the tricky part due to the snow ... Once we cleared it, the sun came out and it was gorgeous!!  God had answered our prayers, he helped us through the storm and boy was it beautiful!  Iel, Pryde, Lonzi and Darrius sprinted down the rest of the way in a little more than two hours!  The old man(me) and Rashawn took our time and made it down before 4:00PM.

We had a nice discussion once we finished (although I was cramping pretty good!) and I think we are on our way.  The guys had a once in a lifetime experience-but I think they took even more from is about pushing yourself, you are more than you think you are, you have more in your tank....and the only way you can discover yourself is by pushing yourself.  Is it scary?  You bet!  But it is worth it.

Thanks for making this happen, people.  And if you want to experience a lifetime experience we're doing it again next year.  You are always invited!

Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling
"Where we seperate the men from the boys!"  "Our mission is to train warrior boys into championship wrestlers and championship men!" 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jimmy Valvano 1993 ESPY Speech

Valvano was diagnosed with bone cancer in June 1992. 
Shortly before his death, he spoke at the inaugural ESPY awards, presented by ESPN, on March 3, 1993. While accepting the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award, he announced the creation of the "Jimmy V Foundation", an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. One particularly poignant section of Valvano's speech is as follows:
To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.
Jim Valvano died less than two months after his famous ESPY speech and after a year-long battle with cancer. His tombstone reads: "Take time every day to laugh, to think, to cry."

Monday, March 22, 2010

SportsLeader for Girls Version / Coach Rod Huber Top 10 lessons

SportsLeader now has a girl's version as well. Head Football Coach and Principal Steve Frommeyer has been running SportsLeader at his public high school and middle school in Eminence, KY for a few years now and when he heard about the girls program he wanted to see if he would have any takers ... Well below you can see he did.

I would like to congratulate these excellent coaches who are the very first to strive to bring SportsLeader to all of their girls' sports teams.
Maybe you can spread the word at your school ...

Also here is a video by Coach Rod Huber, head coach of The College of Mt. St. Joseph football team in Cincinnati, OH Division 3, giving his top 10 lessons for coaches.

From left to right back row
Carter Martin HS Basketball, Dawn Welch MS Basketball, Jackie Hayes and Bill Covington HS Softball
Front row
Stephanie Meadows HS Volleyball and Melissa Raisor Cheerleading

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Germane Lindsey - First Div I Wrestling All American

Congrats to Head Coach Jeff Gaier.

Cincinnati Moeller High School and SportsLeader graduate Germane Lindsey became Moeller High School's first ever Division I College Wrestling All American over the weekend by finishing 6th in the NCAA National Tournament. The top 8 wrestlers in each weight class are awarded the distinction of All American.

OMAHA, Neb.- Ohio Wrestling finished its weekend of competition at the 2010 NCAA Championships on Saturday, finishing tied for 35th place as a team. The Bobcat wrestlers finished with a record of 9-11 in their 20 total bouts throughout the three days of competition. Germane Lindsey headlined the impressive Ohio performances, finishing sixth place overall at 141 pounds to earn the Green and White’s 24th All-American honors in program history.

“Ohio University has a great history in wrestling and every guy in our room is trying to add to it,” said head coach Joel Greenlee. “We’re very proud of Germane. Sometimes this tournament isn’t necessarily about being the most talented guy or the best technician or anything like that…rather sometimes it just comes down to being a tough guy. I thought that’s how he wrestled all week. He wrestled hard for seven minutes every match and good things happened for him.”

As a reminder of what can be the result of years of hard work and dedication, Ohio Wrestling has emblazoned on a wall in its practice room the names of every Bobcat who has achieved All-American status or won a Mid-American Conference championship.

“It is definitely going to feel good to add his name to the wall,” added Greenlee.

Last year Germane Won Ohio team's Most Valuable Wrestler award and has won the team's Hardest Worker award the past two years.

HIGH SCHOOL: 155-26 career record at Moeller High School ... Two-time state placer ... Won state championship once ... First-team All-Conference and All-Region ... Graduated from Moeller as the No. 2 ranked wrestler at 141-pounds in the state of Ohio ... Ranked No. 11 in the nation ... Lettered in football and wrestling.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Dad's Perspective on SportsLeader

Tim Mackey of Cincinnati OH shares his experience. His son Chad recently won the SportsLeader award at Moeller High School.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Weak Willed

By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach, Oregon
One of the most powerful concepts that SportsLeader has given us is “The Challenge to be a Strong Man”. How the root of most evil is found in our own selfishness and laziness, and how we men must use our Intellect, Conscience, and WILL to overcome that selfishness and laziness.  Certainly Intellect and Conscience play key roles, but it seems as though our biggest battles involve the “WILL”.
We see players with strong wills and weak wills every day.  It’s generally the “weak willed” that have the most struggles.  Our post modern feel good “relative” media has conditioned our players to be consumers who are easily impressionable. Many of our kids are easily swayed by advertising hype, propaganda or emotional manipulation tactics.  They do not possess an adequate ability to discern the quality of an assertion, they have a lack of discipline, and or confused moral priorities. This “weak willed” state can manifest itself in many ways on our team:
  • Poor study habits which lead to academic problems.
  • Drug and alcohol use.
  • Violent self destructive behavior.
  • Discipline problems in school
  • Inappropriate sexual conduct. 
  • Poor relationships with family, adults, and peers. 
So how do we help our players develop stronger wills?
  1. Make sure the players are educated about man’s constant struggle against laziness and selfishness and how we use our intellect, conscience, and will (especially our will) to win the war. Many of our kids have never openly discussed these concepts. Simply understanding the concept helps them identify their own weaknesses.  Quite often when we ask players why they “screwed up” they simply respond that “ I was being lazy coach or I was being selfish coach”.  Enough said.
  2. We help players develop their own personal and moral priorities. Say them. Write them down. Refer back to them. They have got to have a “priority” compass in place to guide their will, otherwise it’s just “do what feels good.” Having clearly defined priorities helps them make better decisions.
  3. We talk to our players about how we all make mistakes and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves and get back up in the battle. This requires discipline. Most coaches remember that hot 80 degree day practice and the crusty old coach screaming at you to “Get Up” off the ground after your 60th grass drill. That required some will power. That required some discipline.  While today’s coaching dictates a kinder gentler approach, we don’t rob our players of the opportunity to learn discipline, and we have developed several unique drills to teach discipline (kindly and gently!). 
  4. We develop our player’s ability to make faster decisions by reinforcing their sound moral character qualities. For example, when we notice honesty in their conversation or behavior, we praise them for it. When we see their patience in a certain situation, we praise them for it. The qualities we praise are the ones they will show us. Now when they reach that decision of the will, it’s easier to pick the virtuous one because that’s the one that coach has reinforced every day. 
  5. Finally, we treat building the will just like weightlifting. You won’t get stronger unless you train. So let’s train our will through small acts of self deprivation. Lots of reps with the light weights!
  6. We use the concept of being a “slave” to your emotions or the “master” of your emotions. Most kids now days don’t like the idea of being a “slave”. Teach them how to be a “master”. 
God Bless.