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Friday, October 29, 2010

Thoughts on a New Knighthood

Coach Paul Passafiume shared this with me. An outstanding article that truly deserves your time and reflection. Reverend Charles Chaput is the Archbishop of Denver.

Thoughts on a New Knighthood
Archbishop Chaput delivered the following remarks to Catholic cadets at the United States Air Force Academyin Colorado Springs on Monday, Oct. 25, 2010.
None of you wants to sit through another classroom lecture. So my comments will be brief. Then we can get to some questions and answers. I'm also going to skip telling you how talented you are. You already know that. You wouldn't be here if you weren't. What you'll discover as you get older is that the world has plenty of very talented failures – people who either didn't live up to their abilities; or who did, but did it in a way that diminished their humanity and their character.

God made you to be better than that. And your nation and your Church need you to be better than that. Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10). Wisdom – not merely the knowledge of facts or a mastery of skills, but wisdom about ourselves, other people and the terrain of human life – this is the mark of a whole person. We already have too many clever leaders. We need wise leaders. And the wisest leaders ground themselves in humility before God and the demands of God’s justice.

I want to offer you just four quick points tonight. Here's the first. Military service is a vocation, not simply a profession. 

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word vocare, which means to call. In Christian belief, God created each of us for a purpose. He calls each of us by name to some form of service. No higher purpose exists than protecting other people, especially the weak and defenseless. This is why the Church, despite her historic resistance to war and armed violence, has held for many centuries that military service is not just “acceptable.” It can also be much more than that. When lived with a spirit of integrity, restraint and justice, military service is virtuous. It's ennobling because – at its best – military service expresses the greatest of all virtues: charity; a sacrificial love for people and things outside and more important than oneself. It flows from something unique in the human heart: a willingness to place one's own life in harm's way for the sake of others.

The great Russian Christian writer Vladimir Solovyov once said that to defend peaceful men, “the guardian angels of humanity mixed the clay [of the earth] with copper and iron and created the soldier.”    And until the spirit of malice brought into the world by Cain disappears from human hearts, the soldier “will be a good and not an evil.” (i) He expressed in a poetic way what the Church teaches and believes. And you should strive to embody this vision in your own service.

Here's my second point. Protect the moral character you build here, and remember the leadership you learn here. You’ll need both when the day comes to return to civilian life.

I think it's unwise for people my age to judge the world too critically. The reason is pretty simple. The older we get, the more clearly we see – or think we see -- what's wrong with the world. It also gets harder to admit our own role in making it that way. Over my lifetime I've had the privilege of working with many good religious men and women, and many good lay Christian friends. Many of them have been heroic in their generosity, faith and service. Many have helped to make our country a better place.

And yet I think it's true – I know it's true – that my generation has, in some ways, been among the most foolish in American history. We’ve been absorbed in our appetites, naïve about the consequences of our actions, overconfident in our power, and unwilling to submit ourselves to the obligations that come with the greatest ideals of our own heritage.

Most generations of Americans have inherited a nation different in degree from the generations that preceded them. You will inherit an America that is different in kind  – a nation different from anything in our past in its attitudes toward sexuality, family, religion, law and the nature of the human person; in other words, different and more troubling in the basic things that define a society. My generation created this new kind of America. Soon we will leave the consequences to you.

And this brings us back to my second point: Where the leadership and moral character of my generation failed, you need to succeed. The task of Christian moral leadership that will occupy much of your lives in the future will not be easy. It will place heavy demands on people like you who learned discipline and integrity in places like this.

Here's my third point. Guarantees of religious freedom are only as strong as the social consensus that supports them. 

Americans have always taken their religious freedom for granted. Religious faith has always played a major role in our public life, including debate about public policy and law. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly guarantees this freedom. But that guarantee and its application are subject to lawmakers and the interpretation of courts. And lawmakers and courts increasingly attack religious liberty, undermine rights of conscience, and force references to God out of our public square. This shift in our culture is made worse by mass media that, in general, have little understanding of religious faith and are often openly hostile. As religious practice softens in the United States over the next few decades, the consensus for religious freedom may easily decline. And that has very big implications for the life of faithful Catholics in this country.

Here's my fourth and final point. Given everything I've just said, how do we live faithfully as Catholics going forward in a culture that’s skeptical, and even hostile, toward what we believe?

Knighthood is an institution with very deep roots in the memory of the Church.  Nearly 900 years ago, one of the great monastic reformers of the Church, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, described the ideal Christian knights as Godly men who “shun every excess in clothing and food.  They live as brothers in joyful and sober company (with) one heart and one soul. … There is no distinction of persons among them, and deference is shown to merit rather than to noble blood.  They rival one another in mutual consideration, and they carry one another’s burdens, thus fulfilling the law of Christ.” (ii)

Bernard had few illusions about human nature. And he was anything but naïve.  Writing at the dawn of the crusading era, in the early 12th century, he was well aware of the greed, vanity, ambition and violence that too often motivated Europe’s warrior class, even in the name of religious faith.

Most of the men who took up the cause of aiding eastern Christians and liberating the Holy Land in the early decades of crusading did so out of genuine zeal for the Cross.  But Bernard also knew that many others had mixed or even corrupt and evil motives.  In his great essay “In Praise of the New Knighthood” (c. 1136), he outlined the virtues that should shape the vocation of every truly “Christian” knight: humility, austerity, justice, obedience, unselfishness and a single-minded zeal for Jesus Christ in defending the poor, the weak, the Church and persecuted Christians. (iii)

Our life today may seem very different from life in the 12th century. The Church today asks us to seek mutual respect with people of other religious traditions, and to build common ground for cooperation wherever possible. 
But human nature -- our basic hopes, dreams, anxieties and sufferings -- hasn’t really changed.  The basic Christian vocation remains the same: to follow Jesus Christ faithfully, and in following Jesus, to defend Christ’s Church and to serve her people zealously, unselfishly and with all our skill.  As St. Ignatius Loyola wrote in his “Spiritual Exercises” -- and remember that Ignatius himself was a former soldier -- each of us must choose between two battle standards: the standard of Jesus Christ, humanity’s true King, or the standard of his impostor, the Prince of This World.

There is no neutral ground. C.S. Lewis once said that Christianity is a “fighting religion.” He meant that Christian discipleship has always been -- and remains -- a struggle against the evil within and outside ourselves. This is why the early Church Fathers described Christian life as “spiritual combat.” It’s why they called faithful Christians the “Church Militant” and “soldiers of Christ” in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The Church needs men and women of courage and Godliness today more than at any time in her history. So does this extraordinary country we call home in this world; a nation that still has an immense reservoir of virtue, decency and people of good will. This is why the Catholic ideal of knighthood, with its demands of radical discipleship, is still alive and still needed.  The essence of Christian knighthood remains the same:sacrificial service rooted in a living Catholic faith.

A new “spirit of knighthood” is what we need now -- unselfish, tireless, devoted disciples willing to face derision and persecution for Jesus Christ. We serve our nation best by serving God first, and by proving our faith with the example of our lives. 

(i) Vladimir Solovyov, The Justification of the Good: An Essay on Moral Philosophy; translated by Nathalie Duddington; edited and annotated by Boris Jakim (Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005) 349; original Russian text published in 1897
(ii) Bernard of Clairvaux, “In Praise of the New Knighthood,” The Works of Bernard of Clairvaux, V. 7 (Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI, 1977) 127-167
(iii) Note that Bernard, who preached the Second Crusade, wrote his essay specifically as an apologia for the founding of the first military-religious order, the “knights of the Temple” or the Knights Templar. The Templars took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, lived in common and dedicated themselves to the defense of Christians in the Holy Land. But as R.J. Zwi Werblowsky writes in his introduction to Bernard’s essay in The Works noted above, Bernard was also concerned with “the theology of a reformed and sanctified knighthood” in contrast to the frivolity and vanity of worldly chivalry.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Greatest Strength

The virtue of Charity - Love - is the most important virtue. It is the greatest strength a human being can have. It is often overlooked in sports. Lexington Head Basketball Coach Greg Williams gives an outstanding perspective here below.

1 Corinthians 13 for Coaches and Spouses
1 If I could understand and communicate all the plays in all the play books but didn't love my players or communicate love to my spouse, I would only be meaninglessly coaching with a loud megaphone or a shrill whistle.
2 If I had the gift of understanding the whole of the game, and if I knew all the subtleties of my own team and all others and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, especially my spouse what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to any issue or problem and resolve it with a WIN, without love I would be no good to anyone.
3 If I modeled the ultimate discipline and sacrificed my body for the good of the team, sure, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no real lasting value to anyone. 
4 Love is patient and kind even when my team doesn’t win and my players aren’t “getting it” as quickly as I think they should or my spouse isn’t as passionate about the sport as I am. Love is not jealous of other teams, coaches or successes nor is it boastful or proud of my own.
5 It is certainly not rude toward anyone - refs, umpires, opposing coaches, teams, schools and especially not to my spouse or children - after a hard fought loss (or win). Love does not demand its own way but finds a way to encourage the best in others in every situation. Love is not irritable when others don’t feel as great as I do after a victory or as low as I do after a loss.  It doesn’t keep score when others wrong me, whether the wrong is their fault or mine.
6 It never feels good or is excited about wrong even when it may work in my favor but rejoices whenever the Truth wins out.  When Truth and Love win it is always the greatest of victories.
7 Love never quits and never loses faith (talk about discipline and perseverance required for success), is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance because it is not based on ups and downs or wins and losses but rather on commitment to the best in all others, first and foremost our spouse and children, regardless of the talent, situation or score.
8 Love will last forever, but playbooks and coaching tapes from the greatest coaches of all time will all disappear.
9 Now we know only a little, although many of us are caught up in our successes and what we know and even continued successes adds a little more to what we know and our influence!
10 But when it’s all said and done, all the victories, all the losses, all the buzzer beaters and last second heroics will disappear.
11 So here’s how it really is: When I was young and immature as a coach, spouse, parent, I spoke and thought and reasoned immaturely. But as I’ve grown, I put away my immature thoughts and actions (whether in competition, marriage, parenting or whatever) based in my flesh and immediate gratification and recognition for me.
12 Now though we can only see things partially or vaguely, but when the last whistle blows, the last buzzer sounds and the last horn goes off,  we will see everything with perfect clarity.  You see, right now I only see things partially or incompletely, but when it’s all over,  I will finally have the capacity to see and understand it all, just as God knows me now.  Why? Because…
13 There are three things that will last – not trophies, Hall of Fame honors or championships – no, what will last is faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.
What/Who are you truly committed to (Love)?  Is it in line with the right priorities?  Is it really going to last?  
Don’t ever forget who/what God has placed in your life and what it’s really all about!!!
Learn the power, toughness, compassion and gentleness of real Love and watch it transform your life, your marriage, your spouse, your children, your teams, your influence, yours and other’s Eternity!
By Greg Williams

1 Corinthians Chapter 13

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Coach's Prayer / Some Great Caddy Replies

Prayer and humor are two great ways to lift up those around you.

From: Steve Frommeyer, Eminence High School principal and Head Football Coach

The Jabez Prayer: “Oh, that you would bless me, indeed, and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me and that you would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

I pray this prayer every day because I believe it embodies what every coach and teacher/educator wants from their efforts. By impacting young people in a positive way, we enlarge our own territory/area of influence much as the ripple in the pond. We can only do this properly with the Lord’s help. We are helpless on our own. Finally, even though we often have to discipline young people, this temporary “pain” is much better than the permanent pain of an undisciplined life.

When we ask properly, God does provide! He always wants to give us good gifts! This is a request worth asking for!


Some Great Caddy Replies

Golfer: "I'd move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course."
Caddy: "Try heaven, you've already moved most of the earth."

Golfer: "Do you think my game is improving?"
Caddy: "Yes sir, you miss the ball much closer now."

Golfer: "Do you think I can get there with a 5 iron?"
Caddy: "Eventually."
Golfer: "Please stop checking your watch all the time. It's too much of a distraction."
Caddy: "It's not a watch - it's a compass."

Golfer: "How do you like my game?"
Caddy: "Very good sir, but personally, I prefer golf."

Golfer: "Do you think it's a sin to play on Sunday?"
Caddy: "The way you play, sir, it's a sin on any day."

Golfer: "This is the worst course I've ever played on."
Caddy: "This isn't the golf course. We left that an hour ago."

Golfer: "That can't be my ball, it's too old."
Caddy: "It's been a long time since we teed off, sir."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Philip Rivers: Standing Up To Temptation/ Jamie Dixon: Good Samaritan

2 great examples - a player and a coach living virtue and helping others. Please share this with all of your players, coaches, parents and staff. 

For more great videos from Philip Rivers and Jason Evert click here
University of Pittsburg head basketball coach Jamie Dixon did what some other drivers did not do on a busy stretch of interstate on Saturday night -- he pulled over to help trapped passengers in a car that had turned over against a guardrail. The vehicle had flipped over while going on I-279 North near the McKnight Road exit in Pittsburgh and was on its side when Dixon, who was driving on the same highway, pulled over to help.

Pennsylvania state trooper Erik Fisher said, "He was a Good Samaritan," ... "That's the way people are supposed to be. By all accounts he did exactly what a decent person should do. It's an interstate freeway and I'm sure countless other cars drove right past. He was one of the very few who pulled over."

By Andy Katz of ESPN

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perspective and How to deal with the agony of defeat

Here are two pieces I found to be helpfully related. Sometimes having a different perspective on things can change your life.

By Randy Traeger


So you have a bad practice and you walk away thinking that your team is not prepared, you could lose on friday night,and you have failed as a coach. That's the devil whispering in your ear! Instead of looking at the "temporal",look at the "eternal". Remember, we get what we need, not what we want. Maybe that bad practice was supposed to teach our guys about laziness, being prepared, and perseverence in adversity. These lessons are more important than the game. How can I, as coach and mentor of men, justify spending time worrying about our preparedness for a game when I should be ministering to young men who:

1. Physically assaulted a family member and face prosecution and or a life on the street.
2. Didnt show up to practice because they were up all night listening to their divorced father fighting with his girlfriend, both under the heavy influence of alcohol.
3. Are emotional distraught because their mother and father are tearing their family apart with constant arguments and fights over money. 
4. Miss practice because they had no transporation to town having spent the night with a grandparent because his parents just got a restraining order against each other.

These are real situations that we have dealt with in the last couple days.....and I am concerned about winning a football game on friday night? 

We should be more worried about easing the pain in these kids souls....dont you think?


By Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated
In the agony of defeat, perspective -- and advice of a 5-year-old -- helps

Have you ever been able to appreciate -- or even to celebrate -- the team that just beat yours? Last June, when Ghana's Asamoah Gyan scored in extra time to eliminate the U.S. from the World Cup, my 5-year-old turned to me and said: "At least the people in Ghana are happy."

"The People in Ghana Are Happy" has since become a household catchphrase, a reminder, when one of our teams loses, that somebody else is celebrating. 

Compassion and empathy are anathema to sports. 

Having said that, there are four possible emotions after witnessing your team play:
1. Happiness that your team won.
2. Anger (or sadness) that your team lost.
3. Happiness that the other team lost.
The fourth permutation almost never arises, but it does exist, at least in our house, and it is by far the hardest one to master:
4. Happiness that the other team won.
Number four, in other words, means this: The People in Ghana Are Happy. It's a healthy attitude, when taken in small doses. Surely a nation of 23 million people, for whom soccer is the most popular sport by far, has a greater stake in the U.S.-Ghana match than America does. (Or so my daughter and I persuaded ourselves as the whistle blew on extra time.)

Oscar Wilde once said: "Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success."

And when it comes to the success of an enemy, an archrival -- the other team -- it will take a finer nature still.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence - when we hear those words it sounds like a problem way, way out of our hands.

A simple thing you can do as a coach or a staff to help this issue is to have your wife and children visit you at practices and games - even if it is only for one minute. You go over and give them a hug/kiss, smile chat for a minute and back to work. Your actions will speak quite loudly.

Maybe you could organize it so that different families are stopping by on a regular basis - so your players can have a constant example of how to treat women respectfully.

This is a powerful, real testimony that will help your players see how a man treats a woman with respect. Maybe if he does get in an argument with a woman in the future he will remember you hugging your wife at practice - and he will choose to act virtuously.

In the photo: Chris Tracy, head football coach at Franklin County High School (KY), with his two daughters before a Friday night game. As his beautiful little girls ran on to the field I watched as ALL of his players turned to look.

Remember * Your actions speak louder than your words *


The Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women joins advocates, survivors , and communities around the country to observe October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a moment to elevate the conversation so the majority of Americans will understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable.

Violence against women is the seed to so many other forms of violence. This shift in our conversation must happen because violence against women continues to have devastating effects on entire communities. When children witness violence in the home, those children are impacted by what they have seen and often experienced themselves. If we want to tackle violence in our country, in our communities, then we must address the violence that occurs in so many homes. And all members of the community must be engaged to end the violence.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sport as Soul-Shaping

I've had the honor of meeting and talking with many extraordinary people over the past few years. People who are giving their lives to serve and help others. Dr Tom Neal is one of those people. His piece here below is well worth your time and reflection - thanks Tom!

I have been thinking about the link between Theology of the Body and Sports Leader.

In many ways, I think the link is clear between virtue and the life of the body as an essential dimension of the human person. Theology of the Body is far more than sexual ethics, though it is that. It includes all ethics, as all ethical life is lived in a bodily way. 

Theology of the Body is really theological anthropology, a read of human identity and destiny in light of divine revelation. And as Sports Leader is all about the link between ethics (virtue) and the athletic discipline of the body, it is already a Theology of the Body.

The most fruitful link between Theology of the Body and sports is the link with the ascetical tradition that sees the discipline of the body as intimately connected with the life of virtue. We normally think of fasting or bodily mortification when we think of asceticism, but ascetical life was at heart seen by the Fathers of the Church as a form of play; a kind of ritualized/playful performance of martyrdom, which was itself seen to be the highest expression of Christian virtue.

Askesis, the Greek etymological root of our word asceticism, is closely linked with the other Greek word(s)  for an athletic contest. In many ways this is analogous to how we classically viewed sport in Western culture: a playful performance of real life, where we could rehearse the panoply of virtues required to successfully navigate life’s many trials and challenges. And, as in St Benedict’s well-known ‘ora et labora’ motto, the 'work' dimension of sport was seen as an integral bodily discipline that helped to keep in check the passions and cultivate the virtues needed to grow one’s spiritual life.

The medieval games of the knights were closely aligned with a highly stylized and ritualized culture of honoring ‘the woman’; and was seen as a via to tame eros and refine it into a higher level capable of preserving chastity and of showing honor to the beauty of the feminine. The medieval allegory, Romance of the Rose, stands as one of the highest literary expressions of this ‘courtly love’ tradition that links knightly virtue, sport and the struggle to conserve chaste love.

The missing element in contemporary sport is the absence of a core ethical meaning in sports. Here I don’t mean ‘sports ethics,’ but rather the notion that sport is the youthful rehearsal of an adult life well-lived; and inasmuch as it is a rehearsal, it is also the
very act of cultivating who we are and who we want to be as an adult. We might call this theology the Theology of the Athletic Body, or Sport as Soul-Shaping.

Incidentally, I recommend,
The Human Person: According to John Paul II, by J. Brian Bransfield. It offers a broader read of Theology of the Body that allows a wider field of influence.  Read this interview for a taste.

Thomas Neal, Ph.D.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Father-Daughter Jersey Night

Some people still have the impression that SportsLeader is just for boys. Not so. We have a program for girls as well.

I had the honor of attending a beautiful event last week - a father daughter jersey night at Louisville Holy Angels. The dads came after practice and presented their daughters with their jerseys and a rose and then told her how much he loved her, how proud he was of her, how beautiful she is and bragged on some of her talents as well.

Each Dad did an amazing job and you could tell by the looks on their faces that the girls really appreciated it.

Sports are a tremendous platform to build in traditions like this. I'm sure the dads and the girls will never forget this experience.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Run Up ... or Not To Run Up

Your example matters! You influence others. Period. Coaches all over the country have forgotten that running the score up is poor sportsmanship, that beating a team by 50 or more is not "their problem" etc. 

Careful here - I'm not saying you should lose or roll over and play dead or anything like that. We play to win - virtuously, with respect and empathy. 

Because of poor examples in college and HS - now we have 2nd grade teams passing the ball striving to score again with 19 seconds left winning 30-0. That really happened - not an exaggeration.

If you show empathy - maybe a coach in the stands watching your game will decide to show some when his team takes the field.

Here is a great example from a team in North Chicago:

Bob Lyman introduced me to your awesome program. I have been teaching it to my lacrosse and football teams. I am a head coach for the featherweights (ages 8-11) in the Mundelein Junior Football League. We played a team this week that was down on their luck and had not won a game all year.

We scored on the first play and the second. We quickly realized that the other team had already given up by then.

I talked with my kids and told them to respect the other team and put yourselves in their shoes. I began subbing players and calling plays that would be more difficult to score on ...

A parent came down from the stands and yelled that I'm not teaching them the right lesson. Explained we must get ready for a playoff push and keep the starters on the field. Then other parents agreed. 

I then put the starters back in. My son ran 31 trap and was gone. He took a knee on the twenty. Came to the sidelines and said, "Dad you raised me better, take me out. I have nothing to prove." Then he handed the ball to the ref. 

Some parents wanted my head. Then suddenly the scoreboard went out and started to go off and on. We all looked at each other. Next the sun came out and shined on the scoreboard so brightly that you couldn't see the numbers. 

A mom who was getting a coffee from the opposing team walked over to me and said, "looks like God approves, Coach. I do too and I admire you."

My team and I walked across the field after the game. The coach stopped and hugged me. (Two grown men) He said your class shines brighter then any scoreboard. If you miss the playoffs you still made them in God's eyes! 

After the game one of the parents from my team who was screaming at me for doing "the wrong thing" came up to me to apologize and congratulated me for doing the right thing.

Amen, my friend, amen

Play like a champion, God Bless! 
Jim Lasky

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Helping our Players Communicate

2 pieces today. Keep Striving!

In an email from Ohio State Head Football Coach to Joe Lukens:

We are evolving a little more to supplementing our Winners Manual work with texts + e-mails … is the way they read and communicate for sure ….Go Bucks !!  jt


A week before our last game I had my players write two letters, one to a teacher in our building, and a second to their moms.  The response was fantastic as three teachers approached me and mentioned how touched they were that a student would take the time and send such a positive and sincere letter of thanks to them.

As for the moms, they loved it.  I had 5-6 of them talk and thank me for encouraging their sons to write a letter saying how much they loved and appreciated them.  One mom said, "my son has never said those words to me and I was very happy and surprised."  We did have one player write to his single parent dad.  The father was very grateful that time was taken away from practice in order to write these letters.

SportsLeader has been so good for our school.  We've seen many positive changes in our athletes and as a coach and teacher it is fun to sit back and watch all of this take place.  As we speak our school is in the process of applying for the State of Ohio School of Character Award.  We are using references from the SportLeader Program in hopes of winning this award.

It is difficult when a player disappoints you but I've learned if you continue to mentor and build up this young man, great things will happen.  Thank you SportsLeader, the program is a true blessing!
Jim DeJoy
Head Football Coach
Cincinnati Sycamore 7th Grade

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Coach Changes His Attitude

Here is a testimony from Coach Henry Hunt of Louisville St Agnes. He has been coaching for many years and has a ton of experience. If you'd like to check out his web site visit

Thank you Coach Hunt!

For me, SportsLeader has been more about the coaches then the players.  I knew the X's and O's.  I had always challenged the players to grow more as young men then just players.  But as I reached limits and individual players and teams presented new personal challenges, I found myself without the skills to succeed.

I hit the wall.  Every sport, every profession, every endeavor, every life has it.  The wall.  You push hard like before, but just can’t get the same results.  You are stuck and can't get out.

The kids and families with "bad attitudes", "lack of effort', "lack of focus", "wrong priorities" and "lack of stick to it" were increasing.  The teams with little talent and drive were increasing each season.

It came to a head one year when I had a winless football and championship basketball team.  When we were conducting our final practices to play in the city basketball championship and I couldn't stand the players nor wait for the season to end.  I called a number of coaches, who as it turns out, had the same attitude toward these players in various sports.  Their best advice was that it would be over in 48 hours. During half time of the championship game, which was tied, I wanted to walk out.

The situation needed to change and it needed to start with me.  My attitude, effort, focus, and priorities needed to be different.  I wasn't a bad person, but I had to be different.  I needed more God, I needed more Virtue and stronger pursuit of both God and Virtue.  Pursuit of a good thing is incredibly energizing.

Yes, I do this for the kids, but SportsLeader directly affects me.  With better tools and a new game plan, the coach can help the kids and team move forward.  We are over the wall and running in the open field baby.

Thanks for all that you do.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coach Apologizes to Team

I heard of a great example recently from a coach. At one point in a game he blew up at the refs for what was "an obvious no call on a late hit".

He went ballistic and almost got himself thrown out of the game.

As the next play began, he realized what an awful example he just set for his whole team.

At the end of the game, when the team was all together taking a knee he apologized to his team. "Guys, I just want to apologize for my reaction after that one play. That is not how a man should react when faced with adversity. Will you guys forgive me?" The team responded, "Yes, Sir"

As he was leaving the field, a player came up from behind, "Coach, thanks for apologizing like that ... it was very humble of you to do that. I want you to know that I respect you more now than I did before the game."

The next day, an assistant coach came up to him, "Coach, thanks for setting a great example by apologizing. I never would have done that, too embarrassed. Now I will when I am sorry for doing something stupid."

You never know how you will impact others. Humility is a great strength.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Athletes - Bullying - Suicides

There was an article published today about bullying and teen suicides. There is a link with athletics which is being unfortunately ignored.

"It was the fourth time in little more than two years that a bullied high school student in this small Cleveland suburb on Lake Erie died at his or her own hand — three suicides, one overdose of antidepressants."

"Some students say the problem is the culture of conformity in this city of about 50,000 people: If you're not an athlete or cheerleader, you're not cool. And if you're not cool, you're a prime target for the bullies."


In other words - athletes and cheerleaders are doing a lot of the bullying - because they are not virtuous.

It is not about being anti-bully ... we should be Pro-Virtue. Especially the virtues of charity and respect ... striving to think and speak WELL of others, encourage them, praise them, thank them ... 

The logical conclusion: the more coaches we have mentoring their athletes in the virtue of charity = less bullying, fewer suicides. Sounds pretty important.

Let's help our schools be Pro-Virtue.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Struggling with Commitment?

Ed Kuhn, Head football coach at Parkway High School, had all of his coaches share stories about how they became men throughout their lives. They all shared a lot of very personal experiences. Later that evening they had their commitment ceremony. Coach was concerned about a number of players, wondering whether they would take the leap and truly commit.

The fact that the coaches opened up really helped the players because we commit to others as people stronger than we commit to some idea ... so the closer the players are to each other and the closer the players are to the coaches and the coaches with one another - that is where a real team bond delivers commitment of heart, mind and soul.

If you're having a tough season - things could be worse ... as Pat Forde describes:

This weekend we will have the Land of Disenchantment Bowl: Winless New Mexico at winless New Mexico State. Bad football rarely gets this bad. There is serious potential here.

The Lobos have been outscored by an average of 40.4 points per game. The Aggies have been outscored by an average of 34.3 points per game.

Of the 17 major statistical categories kept by the NCAA, New Mexico ranks worse than 100th (in the 120-team FBS) in 15 of them. In a remarkable display of well-rounded futility, the Lobos' defense is last in the nation in points allowed (52 per game) and their offense is last in the nation in yards per play (3.7).

But New Mexico State is down to the challenge.

The Aggies rank worse than 100th in 13 of 17 stat categories. They are last in the nation in total defense, sacks and tackles for loss. In fact, they have not yet recorded a sack in 2010.

Believe it or not, tickets are available. But at least somebody is going to win a game.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Awesome Trip to Nashville

I had an awesome visit to Nashville, TN Monday-Tuesday for a SportsLeader seminar at St Henry's. I was so impressed with their school, church, faculty, coaches ... everyone. Talk about a school that is full steam ahead to building up young men and women of virtue - inspiring.

They promoted the seminar heavily and it worked. We had about 55 coaches from St Henry's, plus Overbrook, Christ the King and Father Ryan High School. They are looking to implement the program in all sports - at all levels. They have high standards for coaches there. You just don't sign up - you need to apply and be accepted and SportsLeader is now going to be a part of this.

They are a great example of a bold school that wants the best. They don't settle for good. Good is not enough.

I also had the opportunity to speak to Coach Tommy Hagey's football team about humility - the virtue they are working on this week. Great football team!

Tommy was kind enough to allow me to stay at his home with his beautiful family. Being that my oldest child is 7 - I learned a lot watching the interactions of his high school age kids ... I have a lot to learn.

Before he dropped me back off at the airport, he treated me to breakfast at a "must see" establishment in Nashville - Loveless Cafe. Country Ham, Biscuits, Grits ... some restaurants are hard to leave ... If you are ever in Nashville - you need to stop in. From all the photos on the walls apparently everyone "famous" does (smile).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Caught Myself ...

I had an opportunity to travel to Nashville, TN yesterday. More on that tomorrow. Here is something a coach from Nashville recently went through ... 

Here is an e-mail that I sent to my parents two weeks ago after a tough loss .  It was a humbling experience that showed me my own weakness and that made me realize my own internal struggles with an old school coaching background vs. a virtuous style of coaching.    I am far from where I need to be but it has given me (luckily) somewhat of a filter that thank goodness kicked in at the last minute.  

What I wanted my parents to know from this is that I can get as keyed up as anyone when it comes to wanting to win, or perceived bad calls, bad coaching etc. and that’s why Sports Leader is every bit needed for us Coaches and us parents as much as it’s for our children if for no other reason than to be a filter.  See below.
I want to share a quick thought about this past weekend’s game as it was intense.  I am a believer (or at least am working hard at believing) that when the final buzzer sounds in a game that chapter is done.  Move on I tell myself.  It really is such a small part of our lives and the players lives and is very insignificant in the scheme of things- and hopefully we are teaching our children that.  

This weekend I learned a little about myself and my own struggle with the clash of doing the right thing, competition and competing, and tolerating what I perceive as not doing the right thing.  

We all know how the game went and towards the end we emptied the bench of all our 5th graders.  Without getting into it,  after that, the touchdown was scored and what I perceived as an onside kick after that sent me through the roof.  In fact I almost shot out of my shoes and yelled (facing the field) “are you kidding me… onside kick!!!!!!!!!!! (we were down by 2 touch downs with seconds left on the clock) With every intention of having the other coaches hear it. Directly after that I heard one of the coaches from the other team say something and I just looked over at him with that look that projects the bad thoughts that are going through your head.  

I caught myself right then and the internal battle began.  Sports Leader and the virtues that we talk to our players about was flooding my mind as well as a disgust for the way I perceived the other coaching staff handled things.  

The game ends and we go to shake hands.  As you know we always invite the other team to say a prayer together at the end of the game.  It’s a way to let all the boys know that for an hour or so we may battle but when that horn sounds in the eyes of God we are all brothers, Catholic Brothers in our Catholic Family we call the Diocese.  Well, this time the thought of not asking him to pray with us is rushing through my head a mile a minute and is really dominating my thoughts. (what a weak mind).  

Thank goodness I got to high five their players first as I realized this isn’t about me or football, it’s about these kids and what we are teaching them.  It’s about being an example for these boys to help them grow up to be virtuous men and to be able to handle adversity and for me it’s about my own journey to be a virtuous man and the struggles to do that. 

We prayed with the St. Es players and coaches and I was grateful we did.  I still had a bitter taste in my mouth for most of the day but all was good after generous parents like Mr. Crist and a few friends came over later that night to console me by playing cards and filling my pockets with their chips………………but I digress,  that’s another story for another day. 
What I learned is this tool called Sports Leader that helps us teach virtuous attitude and behavior to our players is as much for us coaches (and parents) as it is for our kids. May we all be blessed with the ability to practice what we preach.
Let’s have a great week, at home, in school and on the playing field.  We will be taking it to CKS this weekend!!
Tommy Hagey
Executive Director
Camp Marymount, Inc