I want to share a great moment despite a difficult situation involving our Nazareth Academy football program this past spring. There was an unsupervised party with alcohol present. As you can imagine nothing good usually comes out of these situations.
As you are aware, last season we completed our first year of the SportsLeader program. The implementation focus was on the freshman and sophomore levels due to adversity on the varsity level. Under the direction of our head sophomore coach, Joe Reynolds, extensive time and energy went into mentoring and teaching these young men about the core virtues and development of complete manhood.
There were 5 Sophomore football players at the party who had the courage to leave. Coach Reynolds and I felt their actions should be rewarded, so they were taken out to dinner to show them how proud we were of their great leadership. What we learned at this celebration was that they felt their SportsLeader experience was the main reason for their virtuous decision. Two of them sent me their comments from the night:
A major factor in persuading me to leave that party was that through sportsleaders I was taught to have the courage not to just stick in and do something wrong because it was what others were doing. I felt guilty going because i knew that staying wasn't the right thing to do. Also the program gave me more self-confidence, nothing was making me go ... but i had the strength to go. David D.
The SportsLeader program helped me make the right decision. I remembered the commitment I made to my team and my coaches after accepting the lanyard during doubles last summer. I would have felt like a hypocrite if I didn't make the right choice and stayed at the party. I would have disrespected the team and everything it stands for. Ryan M.
I also want to share the experience and insight from Coach Joe Reynolds:
After this event had taken place, I personally talked to each of the players who decided to leave the party, I wanted to learn why they made the decision to leave. In talking to one of the players, one of those mentoring moments happened. The player shared this information with me, that he knew what he should do, it was not easy to leave the party but in his heart he knew what needed to be done, when he and his friends left, he felt relieved and proud, but that feeling quickly went away, in the end he still got in trouble with his parents, and at school he was subject to inquiry and suspect of doing wrong just by his presence at the party, a tear came to his eye, his voice shaking. I gave him a bear hug and told him that I love him and that I was so proud of him and his action, that together we would travel this path together. In a few days, he and the other players, received the all clear from school and things were fine at home as well.
What I learned is that our boys need our love, they need it when they make a mistake, they need it when they do the right thing, but they need to hear that we love them, they need to know that we have their backs, with that knowledge of our support and love they will become better men.
The take home message is that through mentoring amazing bonds are developed between players and coaches. It is sad to think of all of the opportunities missed to support, encourage love these young men in past years. Thankfully we are off to a good start this season.
L-R: Coach Tom Nelson, Mike Williams (former player), Coach Joe Reynolds