This is a story from a few years ago but it continues to be one of my greatest "SportsLeader" memories. I remembered it having lunch with a coach-friend of mine yesterday, thanks Jim!
I was at a game with the Indianapolis Roncalli High School football team. They had lost their starting running back, a senior, to injury and the second string junior to injury as well. So for this game, starting at running back was a Sophomore.
Roncalli had instituted what we call "Senior Mentoring" where Seniors mentor a few Sophomores on the team.
Roncalli had an excellent and long drive at one point in the game, most of the yards coming on runs by this "3rd string" RB. He wasn't a big guy, maybe 5'8 175 more or less, but he had an enormous heart.
They were hard-earned runs ... gains of 4 here, 3 there ... and on every run this "little" RB was breaking at least 1 tackle.
I'm standing on the sidelines just outside of the "Roncalli box" watching the game and watching the 2 RB's who were hurt ... watching the game. It was truly moving.
These 2 upperclassmen were not sulking about injury or playing time - they were going crazy routing for this Sophomore whom they had come to love by mentoring him.
Then came one of the most amazing runs I've ever seen. Power toss coming right at me, RB breaks at least 4 tackles and carries 3 guys with him about 10 yards till they finally drag him out of bounds and still they didn't bring him down. He gets up and immediately points to the 2 upperclassmen RBs, tears are absolutely gushing ... the 2 upperclassmen, drenched in tears as well, are physically being held back by other teammates so they wouldn't run out of the box or on to the field ...
It was an absolute confirmation of what SportsLeader is about: LOVE. These kids loved one another and they were playing their hearts out for one another, leaving nothing on the field - whether they were injured or whether they were in the spotlight ... it was not about them individually. It was all about the relationships they had built up with one another.
If we as coaches can have this same passion, this same love at building relationships with our fellow coaches and our players by mentoring ... great things happen. Maybe you don't win State but you'll win something much much greater than that - a memory like this!
The Roncalli Team after "running the hill" at virtue camp. If you want to do a virtue camp with us email me.