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 - ljudd@sportsleader.org

Friday, April 30, 2010

After Game 7 loss, Capitals' Laich fixes tire for stranded family

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/After-Game-7-loss-Capitals-Laich-fixes-tire-fo?urn=nhl,237745

After Game 7 loss, Capitals' Laich fixes tire for stranded family
By Greg Wyshynski

Two weeks ago, Mary Ann Wangemann ordered a Washington Capitals jersey for her hockey-crazed 14-year-old daughter Lorraine: Forward Brooks Laich, No. 21, whose blue-collar approach to the game has made him a fan favorite.


The same Brooks Laich who was emotionally devastated on Wednesday night, after the Capitals were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a Game 7 loss at home to the Montreal Canadiens. Washington was the NHL's best regular-season team, and failed to advance after blowing a 3-1 series lead. It's been called the worst series defeat in franchise history.

Laich, so often the team's unofficial locker room spokesman, didn't speak to reporters after the game.

The same Brooks Laich who, on the night his season ended prematurely, stopped when he saw Wangemann and her daughter stranded alone on Washington D.C.'s Roosevelt Bridge and then fixed a flat tire on their 2008 Acura while cars sped past him.

"You know how some athletes can strike you as real jerks? I think [the Capitals] are genuinely good people. He could have driven by like everyone else did, and he didn't," said Wangemann, who was headed home to Ashburn, Va. after watching the Capitals fall in Game 7.

"I was so touched by what he did. I was praying. I was that worried [about our safety]. The fact that he came up out of nowhere ... he was like an angel that night."

It was a scene reminiscent of when New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi stopped to help a motorist who crashed her car into a wall on the Cross Country Parkway in suburban Westchester County -- hours after the Yankees has won the World Series in Oct. 2009.

As first reported by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, Wangemann and her daughter were driving back from the game when their car hit a pot hole and the tire went flat:

So Mary Ann pulled over to the side of the bridge, and called Triple A. They said they had a heavy volume of calls, and that they weren't sure how long it would take to send help. Mary Ann and Lorraine, still wearing their Caps gear, got out of the car and watched the traffic whiz by.

"We were getting a little spooked," she told me. "You feel pretty vulnerable right there."

Finally, an SUV slowed down ahead of them and pulled over. And then Brooks Laich got out and asked if he could help.

Wangemann was eager to share her story about Laich after Game 7's undeniable depression.

"I felt like there was such negative news about the Caps that I just wanted people to know what the real players were like. It was such a nice thing for him to do," she said. "Here's a player that wasn't having the best of days. He could have driven by like everyone else did, and he didn't."

Laich emerged from his car wearing an expensive-looking suit and walked over to the mother and daughter, both having donned Capitals sweatshirts on a chilly evening. Lorraine had become a Caps fan two-and-a-half years ago; her mother began following the team last year, the first time she had ever taken an interest in sports fandom.

They both recognized Laich. "The first words out of his mouth were, 'I'm sorry we lost.' And he stayed with us for an hour," said Wangemann.
Wangemann simply wanted him to stay with them until help arrived, but Laich asked if they had a spare tire. He got down on the ground and began working on the car.

The bridge carries I-66 and U.S. Highway 50 over the Potomac River to D.C. Wangemann said changing the flat there was "putting his life at risk."
He kept calling the ground "the ice," she said; as in, "We have to get this tire off the ice." Her car also had a special widget on the tire that made removing it difficult. She said Laich exclaimed at one point, "'Wow, it really protects your tire here but it's a pain in the neck to get off.'" At another point, the car fell off the jack, and Laich placed it back on.

After about 40 minutes, the tire was changed and Laich offered some parting advice to take it slow and stop to call AAA if anything rattled.
Wangemann's last words to Laich: "Can I hug you?"

The NHL player hugged Wangemann, and then hugged her daughter, who immediately updated her Facebook status with "he hugged me."
They expect they'll see Laich again at one of the many fan functions the Capitals hold during the season and into the offseason. Wangemann is considering asking for a specific autograph.

"Next time I'll bring the tire. He'll know who we are."

The Race… Finish Strong!

As Mother Nature works her magic once again this spring, the flowers bloom, the birds sing, and the warm weather returns.  The change of seasons and the impending finish of the school year will bring many of us to visions of a warm beach, days at the pool, or a morning to sleep in.  The joy that summer will soon bring is met with great anticipation, and in many cases, rightfully so.  
Adults look forward to a change of pace as do our student-athletes.  As a history teacher and football coach it is difficult not to recognize the shifting attitudes many young people have at this time of the year.  My grave concern is that many of our kids are wishing their lives away. 
With age comes wisdom.  The older we grow, the more we come to appreciate the life we have been given and the precious few opportunities it affords.  Many of us are familiar with the following quote… “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, so live in the present.”  
Some have come to call each new day the “Precious Present” because it truly is a gift.  As coaches we have a responsibility to model great behavior and share the Good News.  Our days are not given to be wasted, but rather as a gift to be lived to the fullest! 
If we spend our days consistently asking questions like… Is it the end of the year yet?  When will Friday get here?  How much longer do I have to deal with this?  What message will our athletes receive?  
The following is a familiar and appropriate scripture passage that addresses this concern… “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” (1Corinthians 9:24)  
So are you running to win?  Are you running at all?  Are you even in the race?  An attitude of determination, gratitude, and enthusiasm will have a positive impact on those around you.  
Take time this day to send the message that the lethargy and lack of self-discipline this world promotes is not one that will help your athletes reach their earthly goals, much less their eternal ones. May each of us take advantage of our blessings by giving our very best this day!  
Today presents an outstanding opportunity to improve yourself as well as your student-athletes.   Don’t look now, but summer will soon be here, and each of us should be better men for it.
God Bless,
Todd Naumann
History Teacher – Moeller High School
Associate Head Football Coach/Defensive Coordinator – Covington Catholic High School

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pope John Paul II and Sports

By Rebecca Dussault
Professional Skier
One of the greatest symbols of sport is beheld within the Catholic Church itself and it’s the late, (Great!) Holy Father John Paul II.  Through the many years of his episcopate and papacy he made a lasting impression on the minds and hearts of athletes and sports enthusiasts everywhere as to what is the proper place and function of sports for humankind.  
Himself a very devoted athlete, he is able to speak from the side of truth and integrate it so wondrously with the practice of being an athlete.  We find in his writings a great testament to the fusion of both faithfulness and fitness.
The Pope himself loved athletics like they were his breath.  He was know to frequently summit mountains, alpine ski, bike, swim, play soccer or volleyball and he even found time to enter an international kayaking competition in 1955 just five years before being ordained a bishop!  He was known since the beginning of his papacy as the “athlete Pope.”  
His words are of great encouragement to those who desire to combine the discipline and motivation of athletics with the spiritual practices of prayer and meditation.  The whole purpose of athletics is in fact to aid the mind in the search and communication of Truth.
The pope had this to say in 2004, “St. Paul the Apostle proposed the image of the athlete to the Christians of Corinth in order to illustrate Christian life and as an example of effort and constancy (1 Cor. 9:24-25).  Indeed the correct practice of sport must be accompanied by moderation and training in self-discipline.  The Christian can find sports helpful for developing the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance in the race for the wreath that is “imperishable,” as St. Paul writes.”
He encouraged a sporting mindset and culture that will promote “doing sport” which will help people rediscover the full truth about the human person.  He put for the notion that sports played within a Christian outlook will become a generative principle of profound human  relations and the building of a more serene and supportive world.  
Do not be fooled by the commercialization of sport which can stifle its real value, but instead see it as a language understood by all, which expresses man’s physical abilities and spiritual capacity.
Let us remember Our Holy Father’s great example of sanctifying sport and practice it in a way which brings us closer to Christ.   
“If you are what you are meant to be then you will set the world on fire.” St. Catherine of Siena


Pope Celebrates Mass for Athletes
Pope John Paul II arrives at Rome's Olympic stadium October 29, 2000 to celebrate a mass for the athletes'' Jubilee. The pope held a mass at the stadium to celebrate the athletes'' Jubilee for the Holy Year and later watched a friendly soccer match between the Italian national team and a selection of foreign players in Italy.
Photo: Marco Rosi
Oct 29, 2000
Lou Judd - I was blessed to be able to attend this Mass with the Pope. It was a great soccer game.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Philip Ryan - Miracles

It is amazing the wonderful people I come into contact with almost on a daily basis. Philip Ryan is another example. An outstanding soccer player, a great student ... a phenomenal young man from a great family.

He loves to share his story of how God did something pretty special in his life. About 10 years ago some doctors told him he had an  ... "inoperable, infiltrative, malignant brain tumor" ...

He was not supposed to go back to school, to ever play sports again ... etc. Here he is - inspiring thousands.

Believe!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coach Of Uncommon Strength and His Inspiring Principal


The SportsLeader Coach Of Uncommon Strength award is a national award given once annually to a coach who goes well beyond the call of duty in mentoring and serving his players. We chose this award because it symbolizes one of the most extraordinary, uncommon and STRONG acts of all time: Jesus washing the feet of his apostles ... Jesus serving his apostles ... in humility, charity, courage and pretty much every other virtue you can think of.

Randy Traeger's high school Principal contacted me a few weeks back ... he wanted to personally fly to OH from Oregon (the state) to witness his head football coach receiving this award. He wanted to present to tell his coach, "I love you and We're proud of you."

I cannot express how moved I was. So many Principals do not give you the time of day ... this man, Troy Stoops, crosses the country. Troy, I cannot thank you enough.

This filled me with such HOPE. There are administrators out there with a backbone, with a fire and a dedication to truly transform their young people.

Here below is a note Randy sent to what I believe were all the teachers and other personnel at his high school.


We (Coach Rylan Traeger and I ) got back in about 1:00 AM this morning from Cincinnati, Ohio where we attended the SportsLeader Clinic and accepted the SportsLeader Coach of the Year " Coach of Uncommon Strength" award.  I accept the award for every player, coach, parent, teacher, administrator, and supporter of our program. Its not mine....its yours.  Right now, I am a little tired but more humbled than anything else. I am humbled that God and the Holy Sprit would use me as an instrument to do his work. What work? If you dont see how the spirit is at work in our community...you are blind to the truth. I am humbled by the ways that so many of you have been inspired in your own way to support our mission of coaching virtue to the young men in our schools. 

Those of you who know me well, know that I am not easily shaken by suprise events. I guess the years I spent responding to emergencies in the Fire Department
taught me not to get rattled. I tell you what...I was shaken to my core on Saturday morning when sitting at the clinic in Ohio (thousands of miles from Mt. Angel),
someone put their hand on my shoulder from behind, I turned and standing there was Troy Stoops, our highschool principal. 

I was speechless. I still cant believe what he did. Without my knowledge, he catches a red eye friday night, then a cab, and arrives at the SportLeader clinic to introduce and thank me prior to the award
presentation, grabs another cab, then hops back on a plane and flies back to Oregon. 

Living heroically?  I'm telling you,  what other principal in the country would do this for a football coach? Troy's actions speak so loudly I cant hear his words.

Like Mother Teresas prayer.."by the catching force, the sympathetic influence if what we do... Troy has shown his love for me and our program.

I am humbled by this act of love. I am inspired by this act of love. Fired up ?  I'll tell you, if Troy asked me to join him on a full frontal assault on the gates of hell, I would be right beside him.

I hope this act inspires the other players, coaches, parents, teachers, adminstrators, and supporters in our entire community, as much as it has inspired me.

Whats next?  As far as I am concerned, our work has only begun. There is so much more that we can do. Other sports in our school, girls athletics, community collaboration, other schools, other programs, but always with one thing in mind, never forgetting that one player, that one student whom I need to help right now, to serve right now, I pray I always have the time to stop and give him that small amount of time that means so much.

Thanks and God Bless all of you.
 Coach Traeger

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reaching All Our Athletes

By: Steve Frommeyer, Principal and Head Football Coach, Eminence High School, Eminence, KY
Someone from a public school said to me recently that they did not need Sportsleader because their school had FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). We have FCA at Eminence and Sportsleader and the programs compliment each other extremely well, so I was somewhat surprised by the comment. In my usual feebleness, I stammered something dumb, I’m sure, and went on. (Actually, I have also heard Christian schools make a similar claim). Since then, however, the question has gnawed at me enough to make me sit down and more clearly articulate a response.
First, for public schools, approaches such as Sportsleader give coaches an opportunity to reach every single player and not just those that voluntarily agree to show up at an FCA meeting. All our kids hear too many negative and immoral messages and not enough positive ones that build virtue and character. Getting to everyone is huge.
Moreover, the virtues espoused by Sportsleader are the foundation and basis for a good Christian life. Certainly, my desire is that Sportsleader programs would naturally result in many more young men/women going to church, etc. That would help them to grow in their knowledge and love of their Creator and Savior. Jesus and his disciples encouraged the development of many virtues. 
Sportsleader moves that process of virtue and character development forward in a day and time that it is often ignored and in a world (sports) where it can have profound influence. However, from my Christian perspective Sportsleader alone is not enough. At some point all of us must come to terms with our Savior and Creator. However, I have seen in my years of coaching, many young men develop discipline, teamwork, respect, perseverance, etc. and as a result grow closer and stronger in their faith and Christian walk.
I certainly hope that by putting sports in the true perspective of personal development, that participation in churches, family life, and community involvement would increase dramatically. We need all the programs working together to meet our kids’ eternal needs! 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Congratulating Coach Randy Traeger

By Troy Stoops
Principal, John F. Kennedy High School - Mt. Angel, Oregon


It is an understatement to say that working with youth in today’s society is less than challenging.  Public schools continue to assume increasing responsibility for preparing students for a successful and productive future.  Most would agree that this responsibility in our schools has extended far beyond academics.  Schools now struggle with student nutrition, getting kids to school on time, mental health issues, and basic behavioral expectations.  
I am completing my 10th year as a principal in public schools.  Though my teaching experience was at the high school level, prior to arriving at Kennedy High School (Mt. Angel, Oregon),   I had only been in elementary and K-8 buildings.  I have always felt that most high school athletic programs focused more on wins and losses than the academic priorities of high school.  Upon arriving at Kennedy, Coach Traeger shared his “Lessons for Men” plan and how he implemented it into his daily practice.  By occasionally stopping by his practices I quickly learned his intent and the compassion in which he approached his players and coaches.  I now believe.  
In just two short years, Kennedy High School has seen immeasurable personal growth in our young men, both on and off the field.  This growth can be seen in the classrooms, hallways, the community, and ultimately on the field.  Today’s youth having an increasing need for guidance from adults with clear expectations, the ability to follow through, and a sincere respect for others.  
Coach Traeger is truly that adult that is making a difference in the lives of our youth on a daily basis.  I hope to see Coach Traeger’ lessons reach out to the coaches of other sports at Kennedy High School.  I encourage principals who are being challenged by the youth in their buildings to consider Virtue over Victory.  Having a Sports Leader in my community has proved to change the lives of all who accept the challenge.  
John F. Kennedy High School and the entire Mt. Angel community would like to congratulate Coach Traeger for receiving the national honor of “Coach of Uncommon Strength”.  
Below are testimonials from coaches and students:
...
“Coach Traeger is one in a million. We have been lucky to have such a caring, loving man to coach our football team. He has brought so much success to our team on and off the field. I am glad he is getting the recognition he deserves. One of the virtues he has taught me is service. His program gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to Peru to help a needy family with his Huts to Homes project.  On that trip I learned to appreciate all the blessings of my life, and I want to thank Coach Traeger for that.  One of the many things that I appreciate about coach is his messages that he sends all of the players every day.  Each message has such positive encouragement for us to better ourselves as men.  I will always remember Coach Traeger for the virtues he has taught me, and I am forever grateful that he has been a part of my life.” Will Bochsler
“Sunday mornings are the days we practice to prepare for Friday nights.  On Sundays we usually arrive with anticipation to get practice over with and leave; we still have bumps and bruises from the game two days ago and it makes practice even more difficult for our bodies.  We pull sleds for a while at practice, but before we do all this Coach gives us a speech about virtue and how we can become better men.  When Coach delivers these speeches, he makes me want to practice even harder to become a better player.  He motivates me with his words and makes me want to excel.  He is a man of wisdom, a man of knowledge, a man that I can go to when I am struggling.  Coach has been there for me many times even though he may not know it, and I want to thank him for everything he has done to make me a better man, and for giving me an opportunity to play football, and for a trip of a lifetime to Lima, Peru.” Alan Venegas
“When you talk about Coach Traeger and the SportsLeader program it is easy to see how it has helped out the football program in terms of wins and losses.  But something a lot of people don’t realize is how it helps the athletes off the field.  It helps the kids think “am I doing the right thing?”, or “is it virtuous?”.  I truly believe that the program helps our young men become better sons, friends, siblings, and eventually better fathers, and overall better men!  Coach Traeger runs a class act program and I am very proud to be a part of it.”
Coach Joe Panuke
“Coach Traeger has influenced me as a coach in several ways.  First of all he has shown me that it's not all about x's and o's and what you know, it's about developing traits in a player and when those traits are developed good things are going to happen both on and off the field.  He truly is more interested in making a better person, not necessarily the player, and the kids are responding to that.  His influence on the kids will be for the long term, not the few years he spends with them.  Secondly, he makes me think.  I think now more than ever before about doing (or trying to do) the right thing.  Trying to put others before myself and wanting to be a better person.”
Coach Jeff Seiler 
“In your life you meet many people.  Some of the have little or no impact on your life, while others change your life forever.  In every young man’s epic journey through life he needs a positive role model.  Now, there are men and there are great men.  Coach Traeger falls under the latter.  He is the unblemished role model for any young man.  He leads by example, inspiring his players to go out of their way to make the world a better place.  Before every practice and game he would give us a life lesson, teaching virtues through everyday situations.  He told us the benefits of living a virtuous life.  We have never met a man so grounded in good morals and virtues.  We are truly blessed to have had him as our coach for all four years of our high school career.” 
Joe Schmidt, Nick Theimer, Derek Barth

Friday, April 23, 2010

Roncalli Softball: Compassion and Competition


Here is a letter from the Indianapolis Roncalli High School girls softball team. This is a great example of recognizing that compassion and competition can mix well. Congrats to all of their coaches and players. What a tremendous example!


In my 5 years at Roncalli I have been very blessed to see the amazing power of God time and time again in my students and players. I have always felt like one of the luckiest people on earth that I get to spend day after day with these students. In all of that time I have never felt more blessed than I did April 14th 2010.

On that day I was at the softball field after practice helping get our field ready for a freshman softball game. We were playing against Marshall High School which is an IPS magnet only in its second year re-forming as a High School. Their team was about to play their first game as a school. They arrived to the field with a set of mis-matched catchers gear, a bag of extremely overly used gloves with no padding, 2 bats, 5 balls, 2 coaches who had never played softball one of which had never seen a softball game, and 11 of the most determined young ladies who I have ever had the privilege to be around. These 11 girls showed up with no cleats, no sliders, no sliding shorts, no long socks, no gloves of their own, no batting helmets, and no experience playing softball among the 11 of them. They had only had 1 week of practice on a field that has trees growing in the outfield.

Upon their arrival and after speaking with their coaches I asked if I could help out in their dugout which they were more than willing. I spent pieces of that time answering questions such as "which one is first base?" and "how do I hold this (bat)". While also showing the coaches where the coaching boxes were, how to fill out a lineup card, etc. What I encountered though were 11 girls who had joined a team that they had no experience for because they wanted to be a part of something. Marshall High School was featured in the paper 2 days before as one of the extreme underperforming schools in the city. I cannot imagine how with the quality of student that I met.

After an inning and a half of girls not knowing where to stand in the box and their pitchers walking 9 batters I had a discussion with their coaches and athletic director. We decided to call the game as a forfeit at that time to get the umpires off of the field. The purpose was to spend some time that I and our coaches might be able to work with them. Their coaches talked to the Marshall players about this, during this time I was fielding requests from half the JV team at Roncalli to come into the dugout and work with their girls on stance and hitting. It was amazing. The Marshall players did NOT want to quit, they were willing to loose 100 to 0 if it meant they finished their first game. The Roncalli coaches were willing to forfeit and take the loss and with that offer the Marshall girls realized that they should do it.

The story does not end here. At this time the Roncalli freshman team came over, introduced themselves and with the Holy Spirit active in their hearts took the field with the Marshall girls to show them positions, how to field a ground ball, how to throw, how to catch, where to stand, what an out was. The pitchers from Roncalli worked with the Pitchers from Marshall showing them technique and release points. Our coaches were teaching their coaches how to soft toss and different drills they can use.

After about 20-30 minutes each Roncalli Girl matched up one on one with the Marshall Players and taught them how to hit. I will forever remember the image of 11 sets of players spread out in our outfield soft tossing and hitting off tees, one at a time the Marshall girls would come in to hit off of the pitchers and one at a time I could see determination and a desire to just be better. As they hit the ball their faces LIT UP! They were high fiving and hugging the girls from Roncalli, thanking them for teaching to them the game.

Almost as emotional was the look of pure love on the faces of the Roncalli girls. I knew that one wrong attitude, one babying approach from our players would shut down the Marshall team who already were down for thinking they were quitters but our girls made me as proud as I have ever been to be a Rebel because they knew they could do something small to make a large difference!

If you are still reading you may be teary eyed as I was and am right now. I tell all of you this story not only out of pride but out of a sense that we can do more. The budget for this program is 0. In witnessing what I did I was reminded of how fortunate we have it. When I see half of the teams in the county and surrounding areas, including reigning state champs, not fielding freshmen teams because they don't want to deal with it, it absolutely warms my heart to think of the Marshall Patriots.

I have some ideas of some great things we can do for these kids, I think everyone of them deserves to have their own bats, gloves, cleats, sliders, batting gloves, helmets, all of it. Why would they not.

At this point I look to all of you. I am looking for gently used bats, Gloves, and helmets. I am looking for money to buy new cleats, batting gloves, sliders, sliding shorts, Socks and maybe get some team shirts and stuff made for them. But I am also looking for help. If there is anyone, or group of anyones, who would be willing to help me establish this relationship, collect/buy these items I would love to hear from you. The last thing is if you know of someone who is a retired coach, or a fan of the game with time on their hands, I am sure that the Marshall Coaches could use some help and guidance as well.

Phillipians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" This quote has never seemed more prudent to me because after Last night through the example of the Roncalli Rebels and the Marshall Patriots, I feel that the presence of Christ on that softball field could have moved mountains.

Thank you for your time and commitment to what we do here.

Peace and Thanks,

Jeff Traylor

Roncalli High School
Theology Department
J.V. Softball Coach
Junior Class Moderator
Contact @ 317-340-0534

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tragedy strikes everyday in the lives of teenage boys

A few weeks ago a local high school athlete died in a Spring Break accident.  He was a great athlete, fine student, well-liked friend and son and he had earned a college athletic scholarship.  So many people could not believe the news. How could such a thing happen?  I was one of those mourners.  What a tragedy!

In the days that followed, my wife and I constantly talked about the incident. (My wife and I are in this together, trying to build fine young men and fine young women, what a great woman!)  Suddenly, it dawned on us that this type of tragedy is not an isolated incident.  I don’t mean there are even more Spring Break accidents, where teenagers get injured or even killed. 

But instead, I mean that far more teenagers are dying every day.  These teenagers are often not the celebrated teen who apparently has it all together.  They are the neglected teens, the sons of divorced parents or absent fathers, they are the neglected teens who live in poverty-stricken areas full of hopelessness, they are the orphans who are in gangs, shooting at each other every day, the teens that buy, sell and use drugs for the money and the high.

At the high school where I teach history and coach wrestling, teens are dying.  Probably not the violent, tragic death mentioned above but a slow, quiet death, nonetheless.  My boys’ senses are being dulled every day, watching hours of TV and movies every day. (I think the national average is over 6 hours a day!)  They play hours of video games each day.  They listen to their Ipods ALL DAY LONG!  On top of this, they are constantly texting WHILE they listen to their Ipods!  The pornography that is available to them is overwhelming.  Most are in a stupor, a trance.  They are of the world and in the world and they think this is what life is all about.

At Winton Woods, we are trying to save our boys through the wrestling team.  The mission includes building a championship caliber wrestling team, one that is competitive against the finest teams in the state; actively contributing to the welfare of our community through community service; and forming virtuous young men through an involved, mentoring-oriented character program.  It is hard work!!  Chasing young men down every day, chiding them to do the right thing in the classroom, in the wrestling room, at home and in the community when so many voices are telling them to live selfishly is a constant up-hill battle.  But it can be done….and we are going to do it…we ARE doing it.  So many people have helped, saving young men from death at our school.  Donors have given money, and resources.  People have volunteered their time.  Prayers have been said on our behalf.  God is in charge and He wants this to happen.  He has shown us how in the past and He will continue to show us in the future what to do to save these boys lives.

Winton Woods is not the only place where God wants this to happen.  Communities across the country are filled with thousands of teenage boys that are dying a slow death.  You as a coach can do something about it.  You as a parent can do something about it.  You as a store manager can do something about it.  You as an American citizen can do something about it.  You as an adult can do something about it;  Get involved, support a program, give some of your time, share a skill, whatever.  BUT DO SOMETHING!  The battle for our youth is on, the question is,  have you joined the battle?

Sincerely,
Chris Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling

 “For we do not wrestle against flesh alone but against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.”
 Ephesians 6-12

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SportsLeader Coach and 3 Players on TV Show



Coach Dan Duddy was featured on a local TV show talking about SportsLeader along with 3 of his players Kevin, Jake and Angelo. The show is called The Catholic Corner with Monsignor Nolan. It is a 29 minute program. The young men open up quite a bit ... This is well worth your time. Some coaches like Dan really care this much.


Building Men of Resolve and Action
By Dan Duddy
Head Football Coach NJ



Most coaches have strength and conditioning programs in the off-season to help their players grow bigger, faster and stronger. We do as well. But how about doing something to also build up their souls?


We have a small core group, intentionally so for start-up purposes, in order that this “founding group” will have taken a full possession of the definition, mission and direction so that incoming “recruits” will feel an established integrity and energy of his peers at his first meeting.

Name: The Sword and Thunder. Derived from Saint Peter’s sword, a symbol of humility and boldness. “Thunder” comes from James and John, the “Sons of Thunder”, our Lord gave them that nickname for their feistiness, energy, and passion.

Mission: 

The mission of real men is to challenge and empower other men, with the cooperation of God’s grace, to a resolve to action in their lives. Operating under the premise of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”, the Sword and Thunder is a brotherhood based group for young men that will facilitate personal growth and formation in the area of “masculinity” and beyond. It encourages leadership and boldness in strengthening the Catholic Church and taking initiatives in specific actions regarding current worldly and moral issues that are a challenge to the church herself today. 

WHEN: We meet every Tuesday evening at 6 pm, starting with a pizza. The in-season athletes will be with their teams until then. The timeframe is a 60-90 minute meeting

FORMAT:
5 minutes – opening prayer from “The Wartime Prayer book”, Bishop Fulton Sheen.this weeks prayer will be chosen by Francis.
15 minutes – Bible reading and reflection- each week a verse pertaining to boldness in  action, accepted by Sean this week.
10 - minutes – presentation of a Saint expressing “resolve to action” – Keenan
15 – present and discuss current local, national and world issues that are a challenge to the church – Group.
20 – personal witness – “my story” and reflection by group – Angelo
20 – “Resolve to Action” – a specific activity will be laid down. e.g, meet as a group at the abortion clinic, invite all local youths to 9 a.m. mass and pancake breakfast, begin a petition against local porn shop, etc.
5 – Closing prayer – Lord’s prayer, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be…

At times the “Issues” and “Witness” segments will be offered to a guest speaker ( e.g a priest, father of a member, a local athlete).

Our Symbol: The young men have developed a symbol that involves Saint Peter’s sword, and Thunder (lightning bolt). This will go on a T-shirt.

Group leaders: we keep it simple, Angelo is the “facilitator”, keeping the meeting on task and moving. Keenan is our notes/journal writer.

Group Pledge – to be determined over next meetings.

Group scope – There are no boundaries, fathers will be encouraged once the founders are more formed.

Direction – the group evolves in the accordance to the direction of the Holy Spirit

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Entitlement: Generation “Me”: What to do about it.



By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach Oregon

As a coach, you are on the front lines, so it’s probably no news to you that today’s kids act more “entitled” than they used to.  Isn’t it nice when scientific study backs up what’s happening in real life.  A new study by San Diego State professor Jean Twenge (author of: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement) finds that self centeredness and narcissism in our youth has steadily increased over the last decade. It seems as though all that time that our educational system spent with our kids teaching them “I’m okay…your okay” and constantly building up their precious little “relative” egos, with no character foundation underneath that ego, has backfired. 
Many of today’s youth feel entitled. Society owes them, a good grade, a starting position on your team, a car, a college education, a good job, a nice home,…you get the picture. They think what they see on MTV is how they should live.  Problem is, they lack the discipline to put in the work necessary to obtain these nice things, or they flat out lack the talent to deserve them.
Do you have a Little Prince on your team who feels entitled to position and privilege?  If so, you are not alone. Most coaches feel that they are coaching kids that are selfish. Kids that only care about me. Generation Me. They want things their way, they put their needs ahead of others, and they don’t care about other peoples feelings.  They want you to believe that their needs are more important than the needs of others. 
Our program conducts a multi faceted attack on this “Team Killing Disease”, by coaching the virtues of charity, selflessness, generosity, empathy, kindness, and service. Here are few specific examples of activities that will squelch those selfish attitudes in your program.
  1. What’s our job? To love us.  What’s your job? To love each other. We ask our team this every day.
  2. Speak in the “third person”. We never use the words I, me, or my.  
  3. Openly talk with each player and their parents about their role on the team. Go to great lengths to openly and honestly talk about the player’s abilities, goals, and personal contribution to the team.  Everyone on the team can have an important role.  “I am the best PAT left guard in the league.” “I get water out to our players during a time out faster than anyone else in the league.”  Get parents on the same page. 
  4. Zero tolerance of selfish attitudes by the coaching staff and players. 
  5. Educate the team about “empathy”. Talk about it, practice it, live it.
  6. Zero tolerance for “temper tantrums” on the field. Stop kidding yourself, as head coach, you see these behaviors at practice and on the playing field, but you choose to overlook them because the kid is one of your best players and you might lose the game if you pull him. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by leaving the kid out there. In fact, you are doing the kid a tremendous disservice by not correcting the behavior. That 12 year old “jerk” is going to grow into a 24 year old “jerk” if somebody doesn’t correct them. How about you?
  7. Share all successes with the entire team. Okay, Johnny scored 4 touchdowns, but he didn’t do it alone. Put all the praise on the team. Johnny will be okay.
  8. Make a big deal out of selfless acts by team members. Put them and their deeds on a pedestal.
  9. Actively engage your team in community service projects. Serve others. 
  10. Elevate team members who generally play support roles. Praise the scout team. Buy them special t-shirts.  Call the linemen the “Omnipotent Ones”, and let them always eat first. Make everyone on the team personally thank the water-boy.  Build up the servant roles to super star status. 
  11. Coaches should set a “servant” role example.  Head coach, take care of the water. Assistant coaches, help pick up the gear after practice, help pick up the towels after the game. Serve. Set an example.
Your actions will speak so loud, you won’t need to say any words.
Its not easy killing that “Narcissistic Beast”, but you will be doing the kids and your team a big favor, and I promise you, it will pay off, both on the scoreboard and in the adult lives of those you serve. The players. 
God Bless

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Priorities - A $60 million HS football stadium?


The past few days we have talked about priorities. This particular school district is an example of losing sight of what education and sports are really about.

Texas school set to begin work on $60M stadium
Dallas Jackson, Rivals High Senior Analyst

Just in case you forgot how important high school football is in Texas, the residents of Allen will soon have a $59.6 million stadium that will leave no doubt.

Next month in the booming north Dallas suburb, ground will be broken on a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat facility that will feature two decks, a video scoreboard, four concession stands and 12 restrooms. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.


...

I'm not a building contractor but I'm pretty sure you can build an extremely high class football stadium for less than $30 million dollars. If they need to build a new stadium by all means go for it ... but think about what you could do with an "extra $30 million."

2 examples:

* University of Louisville Papa John's Stadium, capacity 42,000 cost $63 million ...

* The $33 million Dallas Independent School District complex serves 12 high schools in south Dallas and encompasses a 12,000-seat stadium, a 7,500-seat fieldhouse, and shared parking. While it has a high-tech scoreboard, press box, and the newest FieldTurf, it also consolidates support functions such as locker rooms and training facilities.


Maybe we can use this "example" to examine our own priorities with the use of our money. For example, maybe our team needs new jerseys and we budgeted $150 per jersey ... well maybe we can get very quality, very classy jerseys for $80 a piece ... we can save some $ and spend that on something else.

Maybe spend it on something that will help build up the souls of our players!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What Would You Do For A Mass?

By Rebecca Dussault
Ever traveled with your team or family for sport and had to miss mass on Sunday?  Did you feel as though perhaps you’re priorities were twisted?  This is an experience I had when traveling in Europe as a teenager with the U.S. Ski Team.  I always longed to greet Our Lord at Mass and to receive Him in word and sacrament, but as I soon discovered, it was going to take a total effort on my part to make it happen when I was away from home.
I was always alone in this quest as I was the only Christian or Catholic on the ski team.  Furthermore, there was always a lot of pressure to miss mass because at least one of the races would be held on Sunday morning.  This frustrated me making me realize early on, that no day was sacred any longer not even Sunday.  Praise the Lord that there are Saturday vigil masses in the Catholic Faith and churches the world over.
To not fall victim to missing mass, I researched where the nearest church was and plotted my plan for getting there.  After morning training I would head to the grocery store and pick up some food to be consumed later.  Luckily, in many small towns in Europe, the tallest building in the main part of town was the Catholic Church making it easy to find as I looked for a market.  Then, I would ask my coaches permission to leave our accommodations later that evening.  Come time for the team dinner on Saturday evening I would put on my long wool skirt and head out, missing the meal which of course was at the exact same time as the Mass.  
This surely turned the heads of teammates.  In this way, I went and got the REAL MEAL, the one by which I’d have eternal life.  This was not something I expected my teammates to understand as they saw me miss dinner the night before an international race, but when I bested them in the race the next day after eating bread, oranges and cheese for dinner, then I hope they thought about my sacrifice for my faith and my priorities as a Catholic athlete.  In the end it comes down to you and your commitment to the Lord and not what others think.  Be emboldened by doing what the Church asks of us.  Obedience bears the fruit of righteousness.
James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Priorities - Our Marriage


Our marriage should be one of our top priorities. Strengthening and renewing our love for our spouse should be something we do often. The marriage renewal is an opportunity to do just that. The Roncalli High School football staff made this a priority, not all of the coaches could attend but those who did found it enriching. Numerous coaches from around the country are now planning an event like this.




Father Jim Wilmoth, pastor of St Roch parish in Indianapolis, generously hosted the event and gave some opening words.




Thursday, April 15, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Project Spring Break

From: Steve Frommeyer, Principal and Head Football Coach, Eminence High School, Eminence, KY
It is that time of year again! Spring! Easter was absolutely beautiful! Spring break, spring sports, prom season, and graduation are all happening very quickly. Summer is right around the corner. It is a wonderful time of year! However, it can also be one of the most challenging times for educators and coaches.
My experience over the last 31 years has been that many students lose focus on their priorities at this time. They are tired of school; they are ready to get outside and do something different. There is a restlessness that most teachers and coaches will attest to experiencing from students. As a result, student-athletes often make bad choices, especially “partying” in all its many different formats (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.).
To overcome this restlessness, adults need to help young people channel that energy into more meaningful and safe opportunities instead of the dangerous activities they often engage in with their peers. 
Many schools and communities, for example, have successfully developed “Project Prom” and/or “Project Graduation” programs that give kids safe, fun choices for those special days instead of the often adult sponsored, alcohol invested parties. It may be time to develop “Project Spring Break” programs as well. 
This is needed across the country to counterbalance the insane mind-set of traveling to someplace warm to get “wasted” for a week. Most kids just want to have fun and do something different. I refer to it as the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time 90% of the people will make good choices given “quality” opportunities. There will always be some that will make the wrong choice no matter what the support. 
Remember, God gives us all a free will. However, I have found that if adults model and provide quality opportunities for young people, they almost always come aboard.
The insanity that goes on at spring breaks all across the country is not as much a kid issue as it is an adult one. Too much of what gets kids in trouble is either condoned or supported or modeled by “significant” adults in their lives. Interestingly, kids will also model our best qualities if we would just have the courage to put those qualities forward and stop trying to be “cool” with our kids or just like all our other adult peers.