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, June 30, 2010

Strengthening the Soul

You never know how you are going to impact a kid. 

At one of our camps I was talking with a player entering his senior year of HS. He had never been to a bonfire, never slept in a tent, never held a fishing pole much less catch a fish, never swam in a pond, never heard of a smore, never saw the big dipper ... watching this kid experience camp was like watching my little kids on Christmas morning.

Well on his third cast he brings in the biggest bass I've seen caught in our little pond in 6 years. There are no coincidences! 

The most important quote from him ... "I feel like I belong on this team. I've never had this. I mean ... I feel .. you know ... loved I guess."

We have a physical challenge called "Don't Quit". All the teams had finished, they had done an awesome job, they finished strong. One Senior yelled out, "This is for everybody who doesn't get this" and he kept going by himself. His teammates were welling up watching this guy. They were all exhausted but he was giving more. I had never seen that before. It was one proud moment. The look on Coach's face was worth the "sleepless" night on the cot.

Another one of his teammates at the commitment ceremony with tears in his eyes... "I'm going to commit to sacrificing anything for the good of this team. I mean, Coach, you just tell me, and I'll try my best, whatever ... I'll sacrifice."

Then there is the young man who is asked to speak in front of his team ... I think he would choose surgery first (smile). He had to go up 3 different times. I was so proud. His improvement was staggering. Give the kid some constructive criticism in a positive spirit, encourage and challenge him - they RISE to the occasion. 

Another young man had the talent of always sounding so genuine when he spoke, that his heart was so vested in every word. We praised him for this. You could see his self-worth go through the roof. More beautiful? You could see his teammates loving the fact that his self-worth went through the roof.

A young man running up "The Hill" (quarter of a mile straight up) reaching the top totally spent and then turning around to help 2 of his teammates.

The power of a man speaking words of affirmation and genuine praise to a young man 1 on 1 looking at him square in the eye for something they know is real ... is worth more than any of us will truly realize.

I have a friend named Tim Gronotte who almost always helps out at the camps. A more generous man you will not find. Well he loves to fish. I think God has taken note. We wake up early one morning, we're greeted with an inspiring mist coming off the pond and a little while later Tim brings in "Dixie". What a morning - praying doesn't get any easier than this - the cool morning, the quiet, the mist, the beauty of nature.

We need these experiences. Food for the soul.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Virtue Camp Testimony

The Xenia virtue camp was a wonderful confirmation of what SportsLeader is striving to do. Here is the testimony of their head coach:

     As a 23 year veteran coach,  I have personally witnessed the change in our parenting culture and seen the effects it has had on our young men.  Our young men are getting less parenting than any time in my career.  I have looked for ways to add virtue teachings that I am sure that the kids are not getting. 

     In our program,  we teach a class on leadership every thursday evening from January through June.  We have character lessons on Thursdays during the season at the churches where our kids are fed.   I can honestly say that what we did with our players this past weekend was as impactful as all of the other stuff we do combined.  Our kids were taught virtues by experiences as they happened. 

     Our kids were exposed to a whole new world in so many ways.  They were challenged physically,  emotionally,  spritually, and they were fed the whole time the pure,  the powerful and the positive.  The experience will never leave those kids and virtue camp will not leave our program.  I intend to make this a yearly pilgrimage for our players. 

     Watching our players describe the experience to the rest of the players in our weight room this morning was awesome.  Our players used the public speaking skills they learned and practiced at camp.  One player stated that, "You guys will never understand what it is like until you earn the right to go".  I challenge coaches to hear what he is saying.  Bob

Bob DeLong
Head Football Coach
Xenia High School

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leadership Camp - Covington Catholic

I was blessed to be a part of 2 different leadership camps last week. The first was the biggest one ever, Covington Catholic High School - 70, and the second was the smallest ever, Xenia High School - 8.

Both were unique and extraordinary. 

Having been with over 12 schools and 1 college from 3 different states I can flat out declare - Coach, you NEED to do this with your team. Kids are longing to feel a part of a brotherhood that goes beyond their sport, a brotherhood that affirms them as a united group, an opportunity to experience that "they are good enough", that their coaches care for them ...

Covington Catholic - what an awesome football staff. A united and humble group of men who really care about building great men and great football players. Head Coach Dave Wirth had rosaries made in their colors to help his players appreciate their faith and show them that our Blessed Mother was important to him as a man. 

It was inspiring to see men who coach at a Catholic school who are not afraid to show their players what they believe in. There are too many men in this country who lift up their chests when it comes to their State rings but when it comes to their faith, they run and hide in the corner. I was inspired to see this.

After handing out the rosaries the team prayed one mystery.

After some physical and mental challenges that teach the boys that leadership is more than rah-rah we had "Story Time" by the campfire where their coaches told the guys about moments that helped define them as men. There is something special about men, a full moon, the stars, smores and a good blaze going. It creates a memory.

Coaches, consider doing something special for your team. Maybe you can't do the whole team - then with your team leaders. If it is too late ... maybe a coaching staff camp - "The Calm before the Storm of the Season". Priorities men!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Invisibles

By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach Oregon

     It’s natural for every coach to focus on the kids who are exciting, involved, athletically talented and engaged. These are the kids you coach for right?  Then there are those kids that are the “invisibles”.  They add to your team numbers, and sometimes contribute on scout teams, but, let’s face it, they don’t bring much to the table and usually get lost in the excitement of game week. These are the kids that everyone says “They need football more than football needs them.”   Is your football program the kind of place where “invisibles” can feel safe, nurtured, and challenged to grow?
     The “invisibles” are usually the social outcasts.  Why did they turn out for football? Who knows, maybe Mom or Dad talked them into it, maybe an administrator or a teacher asked coach to take them under their wings, or maybe a few friends brought them to practice kicking and screaming. In any event, they have turned out for the team and now you have the opportunity to change the course of their entire life….or you can ignore them like most coaches. 
     These kids typically have been force fed a steady diet of bullying, taunting, and exclusion from their peer group. Many of them lack healthy adult relationships and healthy peer relationships.  They have become loners who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere.  They feel like “nonpersons”.  Quite often, these outcasts have bonded with negative peers who are the only people who ever offered them what they crave most…acceptance.  They don’t think they could ever fit in with the “cool” people. They feel trapped and hopeless.
     What can your program do to help the “invisibles” become “visible”?
  1. Make sure the door is always wide open for these kinds of kids to join your program. Talk with teachers, administrators, and parents and let them know that you are actively looking to help these kinds of kids. Invite new kids to team preseason and early season events.  Usually there is a small time window to join a team, work extra hard with these kids to make sure they don’t miss it. 
  2. Make them feel welcome. Have team members invite these kids to turn out and make sure they tell them about how your program takes great care of its players.
  3. Make your program a place of unconditional love (we don’t care how much athletic talent you have) and a safe environment for the outcasts and the weak. Remember…challenge the strong, save the weak from discouragement.
  4. Have “Zero” tolerance for hazing or bullying on your team. Monitor Pre-practice and post practice locker rooms.  Make sure your team leaders enforce this policy with vigilant positive peer pressure. 
  5. Teach the team about the philosophy’s “A team is only as strong as its weakest link.” and “The first will be last and the last will be first.”
  6. Don’t underestimate the impact that caring for weaker players will have on your more talented stars. When your stars see you loving and taking care of less talented players, it motivates them to even greater heights of achievement, because they know that coach loves them beyond the yards they gain or the tackles they make. 
  7. Make sure your more talented players look out for your weaker team members in school.  When a weaker player who has been ignored and excluded nearly every day at school for years suddenly feels welcome as a member of your team, it’s a powerful thing. A simple act of acceptance can change these kid’s whole lives for the good.
  8. Give the “invisibles” opportunities to contribute in real ways to the team. No kid likes to feel like he is some kind of charity project. These kids are constantly asking themselves “What is it that I am contributing to this team?”  “Am I relevant?” “What’s my role?” If you don’t give them a relevant role that they can take pride in, they won’t stay with the team. This role could be as simple as maintaining the footballs, but if you sell it right to the player and the team (critical to wins and losses), it takes on a new importance.  Perception is reality.
     It has been quoted by many historic figures, “A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members.”  How will your program be judged on the treatment of its weakest members………your invisibles?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Twin H Virtues

By Fritz Knapp
Lacrosse Coach and Author
I can honestly say that of all the virtues, “honesty” is at the same time my favorite and the one on which I have to pray and work the hardest. Part of the problem is we live in an age of brutal honesty, where it’s in vogue for someone to tell another exactly what’s on their mind. Actually, many would consider brutal honesty the virtue, and merely being truthful without the harangue and drama merely artificial meekness. So the dilemma for me is how to be truly transparent without thinking of those who may be brutally honest making a mockery of simple truth. Honesty is a virtue that self-consciousness can and should not dictate.
The athletic arena is full of tell-it-like-it-is pundits, coaches and players. The trick is to tune them out, and practice simplicity of truth in action. Let your actions speak for themselves, and live graciously, accepting of others’ weaknesses.
Honesty is learning to apologize when we have been the brutally honest, and moving on without closing ourselves off to the greater community. Honesty is assessing your shortcomings without beating yourself up over them. It’s sharing your gifts with others without needing to boast. Honesty is a stillness in your heart that need not be disturbed by the affairs of the world, sports or otherwise. I’m still learning.

Honesty and Humility: The twin “H” virtues can’t do without each other. Truth loves company.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Justice, Perseverance, and a little help from Mary

As a soccer player for over fifty years and collegiate coach of 35 years, you can imagine the joy I had watching the US score the winning goal over Algeria in the final game of the World Cup group bracket play.  With all the hype about the “winning” goal in their previous game against Slovenia, that was disallowed by the referee, the US was in a must win position against Algeria if England would win against Slovenia. 
The US game began  with a couple of defensive mistakes that gave Algeria a great chance to score, but fortunately, Algeria was not able to capitalize on their early chances. For the remainder of the first half, the US team played as well as I have seen them play in any world cup competition, creating numerous scoring chances and very exciting attacking play. With England scoring an early goal against Slovenia, the US need for a victory was painfully apparent. As expected, the tension and anxiety for fans was building, the US created a tremendous chance midway through the first half when Clint Dempsey scored a well placed cross into the back of the net for the go ahead goal. And then it happened again. The referee disallowed the goal with an off-sides call. To be honest, I initially thought it was a correct call until the replay showed that Dempsey was not off-sides and the goal should have counted. Such bad luck for the US, again.
The game of soccer can be very unforgiving when critical, game changing calls do not go your way. For the second game in a row, the US was the victim of an “incorrect” game changing officiating decision. Although the announcers were making much of the “bad” call, our “boys” remained focused on playing well and staying with the game plan. Watching the US coach, Bob Bradley, it’s no wonder that the US players remained focused and with a “next play” mentality. Coach Bradley is a model of composure, professionalism and belief in his team.
The second half began much like the first half with the US putting tremendous pressure on the Algerian side. Algeria needed a win with a 2 goal margin to advance into the “sweet” 16. The game was wide open with both teams playing up and down the field, but it was the US creating the dangerous scoring chances. Clint Dempsey was thwarted by the post on a great scoring chance and then again by the Algerian goalkeeper on two other close range shots. US’s star striker Jose Altidore, had a point blank header that literally “hit” the keeper, and in my mind and heart, I began to think, you can’t miss these opportunities and expect to win. In my many years of coaching, I, all to well, know the pain, disappointment and frustration of having my teams play really well, yet, not get the deserved result because of bad officiating or missed chances. I don’t know of another sport, where you can play so well and put such pressure on your opponent, and yet not win.
Here’s where Mary, the mother of our Lord comes to the aid of the US team. Not that I think the Lord or Mary, was pulling for the US, but hard work and perseverance is rewarded with “grace” and an internal “can do” mentality. So, with 20 minutes remaining in the game, my son, seminarian, Brother Gabriel Lewis, LC, called from rural Georgia, where he was helping conduct a “faith formation” youth camp with 20 young men and a couple of fathers. Without TV and internet, he was calling to find out what the score was. I told him the US’s predicament and he said since he could not watch the game, he and the boys would pray the rosary for a “just” outcome.
The next 20 minutes of the game were nerve racking, with the US knocking on the door and nothing to show for their great efforts. My heart was heavy as it became more evident that the US was not going to be able to pull out the victory they so deserved. 90 minutes elapsed and the referee allowed another 4 minutes of stoppage time. One of the announcers made the comment, this is enough time for the US to get a result, and I thought, no, not today. My mouth was uttering, “we can do it”, but my heart believed this would be the end of our run to advance. But then, US Goalkeeper, Tim Howard, played a great ball to US star, Landon Donovan. He took the ball down the flank, you could see the play developing. Donovan played a perfect ball to forward, Jose Altidore who then centered the ball to Dempsey. Dempsey shot, again, the keeper made the save, but the ball rebounded off the keeper, and an accurate shot by Donovan to the open corner was not to be denied, not this time. The US players went wild with joy and celebration. They stayed the course, they would not be denied, they overcame all adversity, bad calls and missed chances, nasty fouls, all of it. Justice prevailed!
My daughter, Emily, a huge soccer fan and I were hugging each other and high fives where shared. And then, my phone rang again. It was Brother Gabriel, he said, “we just finished the rosary, what’s the score?”  Tears came to my eyes, not because we won, but how we won. I was so proud of the US Men’s soccer team and how they played. 
I can’t help but think that Mother Mary was enjoying it as well.
Bud Lewis
Wilmington College Men’s Soccer Coach

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are you teaching fundamental skills to your athletes?

Most coaches were brought up believing that the key to success in any sport is fundamentals.  We as coaches must teach fundamental skills, whether it be blocking and tackling in football, fielding and pitching in baseball or take downs in wrestling.  When things begin to get complicated with equipment, hiring quality assistants, dealing with parents, creating a team budget, knowing First Aid and CPR(and getting your yearly certification!), having a system for offense and defense, etc.., etc…., etc…., we always are reminded that if you really want to be successful you must be able to teach your kids the basic skills.  You will always have a chance to win if your kids know and can do the basics.
At Team Jordan last week, I was reminded again of this basic concept.  Put in a basic system and rep the basic skills over and over and over.  Be deliberate, drill, drill, drill(and drill some more), wrestle live to have the kids put into practice what they have learned, go over common mistakes in basic technique and drill, drill and drill.  Make it tough, push them, give them a sense of pride in their accomplishments….but most importantly give them a chance to be successful.  And the only way to give them that chance is by skill training.
I think skill training in our culture today is a forgotten art.  For sure it’s a forgotten art in sports.  So many coaches want to call the plays and be important on the sidelines these days.  The humble position coach that teaches technique tirelessly day after day, going unnoticed in the newspaper write-ups is becoming less and less common;  but that was the coach I always wanted to be, the coach most of us wanted to be I think.  At Michigan State, when I played, the o-line coach was a man named Buck Nystrom and he was that type of guy.  The players loved him!  He was relentless, berating the o-line, teaching them, hugging them, correcting them…all for the sake of perfect technical o-line play.
But I think skill training is a forgotten art in all aspects of a young man’s life.  Think about it, what are our boys really good at when they graduate from high school?  Playing video games?  Hanging out?  Texting?  Listening to their I-pods?  And even if they are skilled in the sport you have taught them, will that earn them a living to raise a family on?  I doubt it….at least the percentages are not in their favor.  
There was a time when young people served as apprentices.  They learned a trade, a craft, a skill from a master.  The work was hard, obedience was a priority.  Heck, the apprentice often lived with the master for three, four, five or more years!  But after the service was complete, the youngster (young men and women alike served as apprentices) had a viable skill he could call his own, a skill he could use to make money and support himself and family.  For whatever reason this system fell to the wayside, probably because of the Industrial Revolution when master craftsman were no longer needed.
Skill training needs to be a rediscovered art. (maybe not to the extreme of having these “apprentices” living in your house.  I don’t know if my wife would go for that!)  And you as a coach need to be the master teacher.  Sure you have to teach your fundamental sports skills but there is so much more you must impart.  What skills are you teaching to ensure your athletes will be successful in life?  Do your kids know HOW to work hard?  Do your kids know HOW to control themselves in the face of temptation?  Do your kids know HOW to sacrifice their own desires for the good of a loved one?  Do your kids know HOW  to shake hands?  Do your kids know HOW to look somebody in the eye when talking to them?  Do your kids KNOW not to interrupt somebody in the middle of a conversation?  Do your kids know HOW to set goals, work a plan, and problem solve when their plans go awry?  Do your kids know HOW to talk to girls, HOW to treat girls with respect?  Do your kids know HOW to talk to God, HOW to pray, HOW to believe in something bigger than them?  If the answer is no, you better get to work coaches.  Because knowing how to block is great for winning a football game, knowing how to field a ground ball is great for winning the regional baseball championship, knowing how to hit a head inside single-drive up to your feet-finish with a dump is great for winning a state championship….. but none of these will really arm you to fight the really big fights of your adult life.
In, Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, Navy SEAL Luttrell survives an incredible confrontation with the enemy in Afghanistan, in my opinion, because of two basic reasons.  First, his training that he received to become a Navy Seal in the first place, trained him to deal with anything and everything.  He was taught how to survive, through incredibly brutal training at the hands of his “coaches”.  He had skills.  Secondly, God came to Luttrell’s aid.  But Luttrell had to have the humility and faith to believe that God loved him and would help him.  Luttrell also had to have the humility and faith to ask God to help him in the first place.  I don’t know where he got this “training”, probably from a host of people throughout his life.  Still, he had the basic skill of faith.  In any event, I hope that when my athletes are dealing with the enemies of life long after wrestling, they will have faith that they will overcome, not only because the skills I taught them but also because of the knowledge that God will always be there for them and will never  abandon them.   May you have the same grace.
Coach Willertz-Winton Woods Wrestling- “WILL SKILL DRILL"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Charity in Action

The Lakota Stallions are an amazing youth football organization in Cincinnati. A few years ago they were featured on the local TV news network for some charity in action. This is a good reminder for us.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


As more and more coaches are having a profound impact on their players, the players are wanting to share and help more as well. Ryan Mossakowski, left in the photo, and Ed Berry are two of those young men. They are both football players at the University of Kentucky. Ryan is a QB and Ed a WR and they have become great friends. 

Here is Ryan's first post. We need our young men reaching out to give - because it is in giving that we receive.

God bless, Lou

When I recently went home to Texas for a couple of weeks to see my family and friends one of my coaches from high school asked me to help out with FCA one week, and I was pumped to do it! 

The topic was its NEVER TOO LATE for anything! That stuck with me just because there are so many ways you can talk about that maybe reading the bible, doing extra sprints after practice, learning your sport more and more, and working on your realtionship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

Its never NEVER too late for anything.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Tim Racki, Head Football Coach at Nazareth High School near Chicago, talks to his team about Leadership on and off the field. Around 1:38 of the video he speaks about his Dad and Father's Day. This is great food for thought.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Everlasting Impact

Interesting how the theme of Heroism has come from 2 different coaches, from opposite sides of the country, so close to Father's Day. Inspiration maybe?  Lou

"That's what it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exists a right and wrong, that decency will somehow triumph in the end".  Lise Hand

       We are called to "heroism" as coaches. Our young athletes are in deep need for heroes in their lives. They are no longer "OK" when they leave you to go home after practice unless we have made an everlasting impact on them while we have them in our hands. No matter how "functional" you deem their families to be, they need a whole lot more from us than just "coaching the game".

       "It takes a village to raise a child" and you're the most powerful villager of them all. As the quote above says, there is an innate innocence about us all, but it gets tugged at constantly. There is a Rightand a Wrong. Teach your athletes to fight for Decency. Teach them to be the leaders of the future. Extract from them the Hero that lives inside.

       Hand that "ball of decency" off to each of them, coaching the fundamentals of holding it "high and tight" and close to their hearts, and they will, with heads on a swivel,  search for conquests and opportunities to become heroes for others, as you have for them.

By Dan Duddy
Head Football Coach New Jersey

Friday, June 18, 2010

Modern Day Heroes

     We have a crisis in America. According to statistics collected by the Children’s Defense Fund, every day in America: 
    • 5 children or teens commit suicide. 
    • 8 children or teens are killed by firearms.
    • 1,154 babies are born to teen mothers. 
    • 2,467 high school students drop out. 
    • 2,421 children are confirmed as abused or neglected. 
    • 3,477 children are arrested, 451 of them for violent crimes or drug abuse. 
     Never before in the history of western civilization has a generation of children been subjected to such an avalanche of vulgarity, violence, drug use, alcohol abuse, and sexual promiscuity.  Every day our kids are feeding their minds out of post modern media’s “garbage can” of content. No wonder so many of them are sick. Our kids are losing the battle to maintain what little moral character they have left.
     For most people, this is a messy, uncomfortable problem that they would prefer someone else deal with.  But that in itself is a big part of how we got to where we are at today, apathy.  Every parent, teacher, coach, pastor, and politician in this country knows that this is happening. Some stick their heads in the sand. Others want to help, but don’t know how. Our schools, government and churches throw millions of dollars at this problem, but it’s not money that will end this crisis, its “Modern Day Heroes”. 
     Who are these “Modern Day Heroes”?  Coaches, teachers, school administrators, pastors, government, and business people who devotedly sacrifice their time, talent, and treasure for kids.
     Modern Day Heroes usually aren't on the front page of the news or in People magazine. Modern Day Heroes don't care about fame, fortune, or a place in history. Modern Day Heroes are real, ordinary people that have an extraordinary effect on the lives of young people. 
     Our virtue starved kids need heroes. They need to see ordinary people living virtuous lives. They need to see adults taking the “high road” and setting an example. Heroics through virtue. 
     Modern Day Heroes provide kids with hope. Many of our kids have had bad experiences with adults. Broken homes, abusive parents, drug and alcohol addictions form the modern family landscape. Heroes show kids that adults are not all bad. Maybe they've never really been loved. By serving and caring for them in the proper manner, Heroes give kids the hope that love is more than just an idea, but rather something real they can experience. Heroes enable kids to have hope for themselves and their future. Heroes keep the glimmer in the eyes and the smiles on the faces of young people from fading as they get older.
     Have you been called to be a “Modern Day Hero”? Have you been called to partner with thousands of other coaches, teachers, school administrators, pastors, government, and business people across America who are now re-dedicating their lives to being heroes in order to save our kids? Why sleep walk through this life as an average human being?  
     Be a Hero!
By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach, Mt Angel Oregon Kennedy High School 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What I had I gave, and what I saved I lost

Each day of our teaching and coaching lives we are challenged to “empty the tank”.  We are called by our vocation to give a full effort.  We are human, and therefore some days are inevitably a little better than others. We preach to our kids, and many of us believe, the Lord knows what is on our heart.  If we give our very best we glorify God and that is all that can be expected.  

I try to greet each new day with enthusiasm.  A day at the office will include the classroom, the weight room, the football field, and prayer.  Each of us typically runs from place to place with a sense of urgency, knowing that there is little time to waste.  Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, so live in the present… Each of us knows that time is truly precious.  After a busy day with our student-athletes, we look forward to a little rest and relaxation when we get home.

As the father of three young children, I have learned that it is essential to enter my home after work with the same energy and passion I had in the field.  There is an old saying… “What I had I gave, and what I saved I lost.”  It is important to give great effort during the day, but equally as important to give great effort at home.  As a father and a husband, I find myself “conserving” my energy with my family at times.  If I am to practice what I preach, I can’t save anything!

My family deserves the same concerted effort that I give the football team.  When you are tired, beat up, and worn out, remember that your family still needs you!  You are the “Hero” of the household and there are many days where you will need to put on a heroic performance.  Not only does your family deserve your effort, but the Lord expects it.  Luke 12:48 says, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”  

Over the last five years, I have come to appreciate the impact that the gift of fatherhood and being a husband can have not only on my own kids, but also on the young men I coach.  When our players see the love and service we give to our families, they can’t help but be positively impacted.  I find no greater joy than having my wife and kids meet me on the field after a football game.  I think this is also a great time for the team to put some perspective on the big win or the tough loss.  Your family will cherish sharing this time with you and your student-athletes gain much from witnessing the love you demonstrate regardless of the game’s outcome. 

Sports provide us with opportunities to model, in some small way, our Heavenly Father’s commitment to us.  Jesus Christ gave it all on the “Old Rugged Cross”, and we are called to do the same for our athletes and families alike.   
God Bless,
Todd Naumann  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Greatest Lesson I have Learned in Sports

By Fritz Knapp
Lacrosse Coach and Author

Compassion: “No greater love has man than this, that he lay down his  life for his friend.”
Each of us has an innate desire to win, and this is reinforced by our sports coaches starting at an early age. The best coaches bring out the fighter in us without belaboring the necessity of a positive outcome. Usually hard work produces good results, win, lose or draw. Stepping back from the contest to see how each player is contributing to a team effort, and how their attitudes towards each other make for a cohesive, unified team, is as important as teaching the skills.
As a young athlete, I was the most self-centered and least sportsmanlike of the bunch. I didn’t want to just win…..I wanted to humiliate my opponent. This attitude pervaded every contest, from back-yard football to gym class and organized little league. I was quickly becoming a braggart and a bully. Meanness defined me better than any other attribute. I wanted much too badly to be noticed for how good an athlete I was, and went to great lengths to prove myself. 
My father worked hard over the course of about two years to root-out this attitude, by monitoring my athletic behavior and pulling me aside or making me sit out when my selfish desire to win at all cost reared its ugly head. I now see that it was the best thing he could have done for me at that moment in time. Instead of becoming maniacal, I grew circumspect, aware of other players and their talents. I became more of a team player, for which I was known throughout my high school and collegiate athletic career. Caring for the needs of others, whether a fellow athlete or a person on the street, has been the greatest lesson I have learned in sports.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Visit to the Hospital

I was blessed to witness something very powerful last night. I drove to Indianapolis with my friend Fr Matthew to visit Brian D. who was hurt in a car accident over the weekend. The entire football program was present to visit with him, to console his mother and sister and show support in any way they could. 

Brian is still in a coma. I went in to visit with a player I got to know pretty well up at camp. I had never visited a person in the hospital before who was not cognizant - or at least visibly cognizant. It was so hard to fathom ... seeing Brian struggling up "The Hill" with his teammates a few weeks ago and now ... Just last Friday he was at a football camp at Bowling Green showing all the promise of a possible Division 1 scholarship coming his way in the future ... 

What was readily apparent though was the power of prayer. Every coach, player, parent that was there present BELIEVED in the power of prayer. I credit that in great part to their head coach Mark Reddy. I was edified. So many of you have responded to assure of your prayers ... I have forwarded those on to Coach Reddy. They are truly appreciated.

While we were waiting to be able to visit with Brian I saw this frame hanging by the elevators. I think you could quite readily change the word patient to the word athlete ...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Urgent Prayer Need: SportsLeader Player Paralyzed

Brian Diefenderfer, a 15 year old star offensive and defensive lineman from Eastern Hancock High School in Indiana, was in a tragic car accident Saturday night. No one else was critically injured in the crash.

He is in critical condition. At present they have him in an induced coma and on a breathing machine. He has a broken back and a broken neck. They did a short preliminary surgery but saw that things were so bad that they needed to stabilize him a bit before moving forward.

Unless a miracle happens, and we all believe in them, Brian will be left paralyzed from at least the chest down. But at present he is still in very critical condition.

Making matters that much more devastating is the fact that his father died in a motorcycle accident 20 months ago. He has his mom and one older sister.

I was just on a team camp with Brian and all of his teammates. He is one of the most beloved, trusted and popular guys on the team. 

His teammates and coaches have responded admirably and have gone as a group to visit him and his family even though he is still in a coma ... they are going again tonight. I hope to join them.

Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Life is short, take nothing for granted and don't waste the moments we have. God bless, Lou

Friday, June 11, 2010

The World Cup

Church on the Ball from CatholicStudio on Vimeo.

The World Cup Starts Today. I thought some general information would help.

This is the 19th World Cup. The first was in Uruguay in 1930. Since then only 7 Countries have won the Cup. 9 victories from Europe and 9 from South America.

Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
Italy (1934*, 1938, 1982, 2006)
Germany (1954, 1974*, 1990)
Argentina (1978*, 1986)
Uruguay (1930*, 1950)
France (1998*)
England (1966*)

List of qualified teams
The following 32 teams qualified for the final tournament.

  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Korea DPR
  • Korea Republic
  • New Zealand

  • Algeria
  • Cameroon
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa (hosts)

  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • United States

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

  • Denmark
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

Host Nation South Africa

This is the first time the continent of Africa has hosted the World Cup.

The Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. 

Lesotho is an independent country wholly surrounded by South African territory.

South Africa is ethnically diverse. About 79.5% of the South African population is of black African ancestry. There are 11 official languages recognised in the constitution.It also contains the largest European, Indian, and racially mixed communities in Africa. 

25% of the population is unemployed and lives on less than US $1.25 a day. (This equals about 12,500,000 people, approximately the population of Pennsylvania)

Population: 49,320,000 (approximately California and Ohio put together)

Size: 471,000 square miles (approximately the size of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona put together)

The month-long finals are actually the climax of a three-year competition which began in August 2007 when New Caledonia beat Tahiti 1-0. More than 200 FIFA member states -- it's an organization with more members than the United Nations -- have taken part, playing more than 850 qualifying matches.

The World Cup final is the closest thing the planet has to a collective viewing experience. Hundreds of millions will watch the final on July 11, while world governing body FIFA predicts a cumulative audience for the tournament of 26.29 billion viewers.

26.29 billion total viewers - interesting - knowing that the world population has less than 7 billion people.

As of 10 June 2010, the human population of the world is estimated by the United States Census Bureau to be 6,826,300,000.

Soccer World Cup prayer

Almighty God,
creator of all, as people from
every nation gather with excitement
and enthusiasm for the 2010 World Soccer
Cup may South Africans be good hosts, our
visitors welcomed guests and the players from
every team be blessed with good sportsmanship
and health. May your Spirit of fairness, justice and
peace prevail amongst players and all involved. May
each contribute in his own positive ways to prevent,
control and fight crime and corruption, hooliganism of
any kind and exploitation and abuse, especially of
those most vulnerable. May those far away from
home and those in their families find much joy
in this occasion to celebrate the beautiful
game of soccer and the beautiful
game of life according to Your
plan for the common good
of all. Amen

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Win, Lose, Learn

By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach Oregon

“Winning is a great deodorant. When you win, you smell great and everybody loves you. When you lose, you stink and people don’t want to be around you.”
     So you are probably going to go 0-9 this season? Sure, you are planning on keeping things positive for the kids and you have shined up your “it’s a building season” lines, but is there anything else you can do to ease the pain of a losing season?  Or, are you just going to sit back and become a victim of circumstances when your team is blessed with few players and little athletic talent?  
     Sports is not just about winning and losing.  We need to look at sports from a third angle. Learning.
You can win, you can lose, you can learn.   Let’s explore some ways that you can lose on the scoreboard week in and week out, and still come out winners at the end of the season by “learning”.
1. Educate your players, parents, administrators and fans that you are teaching these young men or women
    about being formed in the fire of affliction.  About how tribulations produce perseverance, and how 
    perseverance produces character. That everything you do this season will be towards the goal of using 
    the impending athletic struggle to build the character of your players.
2. Your team probably isn’t going to get their pictures in the paper for winning a lot of games. There are  
    other ways to get their picture in the paper. How about creating alternative success opportunities in the  
    community rather than on the athletic field ?  How about seeking news worthy “virtue” victories?
     a. Take on a really challenging community service or charitable works project. What if you spent more
         time working on the charity project than you did practicing? Heck, you are probably going to get
         butts handed to you on Friday night anyhow, why not spend some time doing some good for people
         instead of wasting time trying to turn a pigs ear into a silk purse!
     b. Have your players focus on doing deliberate acts of virtue and random acts of kindness throughout
         the school, at home, and in the community. Recognize and reward these behaviors by players. 
     c. Focus on your team’s scholastic achievement. Finish in the top ten scholastically in your  
         classification.  Hold study halls, give out weekly academic team awards to players. 
     d. Invite teachers to your weekly team awards ceremony and give teachers a small award to going 
         above and beyond the call of duty in helping a player with his academic studies. 
3.  Have coaches set a great example of how to handle losing. How do they act during and after a    
     humiliating loss? Remember, the kids are watching you closely to learn how to handle defeat.
4.  Don’t abandon your core values. Re-visit them often and hold your coaches and players accountable.
     Make sure that player behavior standards are held high, don’t let this slip out of control.
5.  Help your coaches and players control their emotions in the face of defeat.

6.  Stay positive and be energetic. Don’t let losing get you down. Remember, they are watching you.
7.  Adjust your goals. Set realistic game goals than can be met. Reward the team for making these goals.
     (i.e. hold the opponent to under 25 points, give up less than 200 yards rushing, no penalties, etc.)
8.  Take your communication with players, parents, and administrators to an all time high.  The more
     communication the better in a season full of losses.
9.  Use each loss as a learning opportunity. Analyze each defeat to make positive improvements to 
     individual and team play. Seize the teachable moments of each loss and capitalize on them.
10. Remember that with losing seasons, you will have some fair weather players quit. Don’t take this
     personally. Be prepared for it, and re-group quickly.
11. Do more team building outside activities than you normally would. Swimming, bowling, movies, 
      BBQ’s, you name it.  Spend time having fun together. Kids are going to remember bowling night
      10 years from now, more than they are going to remember that 49-0 defeat.
12. Start younger players of equal talent to Seniors. It will pay off in the long run. Yes, this is a political
      bomb, but try and diffuse the explosion by having the Senior mentor that younger player and take him
      on as a legacy to his position. Give the Senior another role and convince him that it is in his best
13. Make practices fun and engaging. Use “Fun Drills” every night to keep things light. 
     Finally, remember that during losing seasons, it is natural for coaches to want to communicate less than usual, retreat into their caves, surround themselves with loved ones, and avoid contact with parents, fans, and administrators. You have got to fight this urge. Don’t retreat, get more aggressive with
those “off the field” victories. You will earn a new level of respect from parents, teachers, fans, and 
administrators and your players will “win” in the long run.