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 -

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Life-Changing VICTORY in the midst of a "loss"

Below is the point of view from the team trainer on a difficult yet also inspiring night - the State Championship Semi-Final for Mt Angel Oregon Kennedy HS.

A Life-Changing VICTORY in the midst of a "loss".  This is the True Glory of sports.

With our virtue being thankfulness last week, I wanted to share a story that significantly impacted my life as an adoptive father of a mentally ill son who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It was difficult for me to watch our team lose last night, but I was able to hold it together through the numerous injuries we experienced during the second half of the football game. However, it hit me really hard when I saw my son have a PTSD attack in the bleachers because his Trojans were losing the game.  I remember looking in the stands and seeing my son not only grieve the loss of the game but also re-live his past trauma, abuse and neglect.

I walked over to the bleachers to remind him that I loved him and will always love him forever and always.   Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to share that message entirely with him because I was called out on to the field for another injury.  Since I had to leave the field and help an athlete with his injury, I missed what happened in the last 30 seconds of the game.  Hunter Hill, who I had just set his dislocated shoulder in place several minutes beforehand, picked my son up over the handrail and took him out on to the field and together they gave each football player on the opposing team a high five and then he carried him over to the end zone to listen to Coach Traeger.

I later heard that Hunter and my son cried together in the end zone as they heard Coach Traeger address the team and then they walked together to the locker room, where I then met up with them.  As I left the locker room, Coach Traeger talked individually to my son and let him know that he didn’t need to be sad about the loss.  He reminded him that some of the older guys were sad that they had finished playing football, but that he had at least six years left of playing football.  He also told him that he was proud of his team for trying their best and how it is important to show honor in defeat.

The most remarkable aspect of this entire story is that my son never disassociated or “left” his pain.  Usually during his PTSD attacks, you can visibly see him check out as a coping mechanism so he can escape his pain.  However, with the loving care of those around him, especially Rodney Hill—Hunter’s dad, he remained emotionally present during the entire grieving process.

Some only see games from the win-loss perspective but as a father of an adopted and traumatized child, a selfless act by one of my athletes and my head coach had a significant impact in the life of my son that night.  He saw firsthand how to exhibit honor in defeat and process his grief in a healthy manner.

At that moment, I realized that sports was going to be the major mechanism that would help facilitate my son's recovery in dealing with his grief and PTSD. Despite all of the therapy, medications and behavior plans we have implemented in the past year, I could not underestimate  the power of an athlete and coach emulating a life of virtue in helping my son heal from his past scars and wounds.  I am blessed to work with an amazing group of coaches that have taught these young men to becoming winners in life—not just on the scoreboard, and my son was blessed by having these young men demonstrate what it means to them in living a life of virtue.

My wife and I have a very difficult road ahead of us with our son, but I also know that Hunter and Randy played a significant role in his recovery that night. Something special definitely occurred on the Tuesday afternoons during those virtue talks, and my family has been blessed because of it.

Coach Traeger, I am thankful for you, your coaching staff, and for the young men on your football team.  You all have been a huge blessing to my son and as well as I, as his father.

Thank you- 
Jeff C.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Witnessing Greatness

I was blessed to witness an extraordinary event last night. The Lloyd Memorial Basketball team father/son jersey night. I have been to numerous events like this but each one is unique.

Last night I was able to watch a father tell his son that he loved him for the very first time. It was moving. The man could barely speak. He tried to express that he grew up in a family that "taught" him that men don't "say any of these things ... that emotion is weakness ... that you just go about your business"

At this point, I had never seen this before, his son began openly weeping. The father continued explaining but then could no longer go on ... he tried to compose himself but then just said it, "I love you Son."

His son immediately hugged him for what seemed like 5 minutes ... You could tell that the young man had been waiting and hoping to hear this from his Dad his whole life.

The next gentleman to go was standing in for a young man who does not have a father in his life. The player had called him and invited him to "represent" him. This man's words were extraordinary. To sum it up - "Coach Key, I thank God for you. I thank God for this event this evening. In my 25 years of being around the sport of basketball as a player, coach and ref ... this is by far the most important and the most special. I've never been a part of anything like this. Thank you for doing this for our boys. Basketball is much, much more than putting a round ball through a tiny hoop. Now tonight ... this is basketball."

Coaches, I know some of you have been nervous to do this event. It does not cost money and it gives a priceless memory your players will never forget.

I encourage you to give it a try. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Have So Much To Be Thankful For


I had another powerful learning experience this week. It was another wake up call that I - we have so much to be thankful for. At times we do not even realize just how much we have to be thankful for.

At a virtue camp with a high school basketball team ... we had a discussion about family-forgiveness-charity. It was moving. The kids immediately opened up. It was one of the more difficult discussions I've ever been a part of because there was hardly room to get a word in ... the guys had so much to unload. Below is a sample of what was said and the young man with the most troubled past - family situation was silent throughout ...

"How do you forgive someone who keeps letting you down? When they say they'll pick you and your little brother up to play ball ... but they never show up ... when that is the 3rd time this year they do that to you?

"I've never met my Dad. I dream about him coming though the front door and ..." (broke down)

"I wish my Dad would come to one of my games ... come sober that is."

"My mom left me when I was little. I live with my Dad. My mom has a new family now. I go over there sometimes and it is so hard. I feel so out of place. What do I do ... I don't want to feel like that ..."

"I wish my mom would look at me when I talk to her ..."

"I love this basketball team because it is the only REAL family I have." (broke down)

"I know money doesn't bring happiness but I wish we could buy something ..." (broke down)


We did the best we could addressing these statements. I felt completely inadequate ... I prayed and prayed and asked God to step in.

As we finished I walked over to the coaches and said, "This reminds me of just how inconsequential basketball (whatever the sport) is. These kids have NEEDS so far beyond basketball. They all nodded ...

The following morning we watched some movie clips that was absolutely perfect for the situation. Most of the questions the kids had - the movie nailed to a T. God answers prayers. I could sense a peace in the young men as we left that session.

As I was getting ready to leave the young man with the MOST troubled past - family situation ... came up to me. "Mr Judd, thank you for doing things like this. There are lots of people who need it. Thank you."

God bless, Lou

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Scoreboard Will Take Care of Itself

If you would like some feedback questions to ask your players just let me know. Thanks Doc for tallying all of this.

Here is a video of a former Chicago Nazareth football player

Player feedback is important for coaches to evaluate their success especially when the scoreboard doesn't go their way. As you know this is our second season with the SportsLeader program at Nazareth Academy. After a 2-0 start, we lost our next 6 games. To make matters worse, our week 8 loss was on the last play of the game. Talk about humility! The next day God put everything into perspective. A former player and 2008 Nazareth graduate, Phil Kaiser, died from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 21. This was a very difficult week for our school community as you can imagine. But as Phil would have wanted, we attempted to carry on with business as usual especially our preparation for our final game which was to be played in is honor.
One of my final week projects was to collect feedback from the players before they headed off to their next sport.

We had the following responses from a group of 120 players (45 varsity,29 soph. and 46 freshmen)

• On a scale of 1-10, the players were asked to score the SportsLeader program and its impact on the football team this season. The team average was 7.30.
• 83% felt mentoring helped them perform better as a football player.
• 79% responded that mentoring helped them perform better in the classroom.
• 83% felt that mentoring was helpful in their personal relationships with their parents, siblings, and friends.
• 86% felt the movie clips and virtue sheets added something special to the team.
• 37% were attending Sunday Mass / Church before the season.
• 71% thought that mentoring helped them appreciate God and their faith more personally.
• 90% responded that SportsLeader should be a necessary part of the varsity football program.

These results were supported by a record low detention rate, few players becoming academically ineligible, and one of the highest  team GPA. There was also several athletes who renewed their faith. Unfortunately these successes are often overlooked during the heat of football competition with the focus on the scoreboard.

That was not the case for us on Friday, October 22. Our humble Nazareth football team proceeded to Phil's wake to pay our respects and support the Kaiser family. Afterwards, the coaching staff was somewhat concerned about the team's ability to redirect their focus on our final football contest later that night. (After all when you dedicate a game it is preferable to win especially when you are playing a strong 8A opponent who is playoff bound and your confidence has been shaken by a some tough losses.) Our message to our players was that the scoreboard will take care of itself. If we gave the same effort and played with the same intensity for 48 minutes like the week before, we would put ourselves in a good position to win.

God willing that is precisely what happened. We finished the first half up 3-0 after kicking a 40 yard field goal. (Several players and coaches commented about the irony of Phil Kaiser wearing #3.) With 2:30 left in the game, we overcame a  21-11 deficit scoring twice and won in dramatic fashion to end our season. As the fans and players stormed the field, I tried to comprehend the significance of what just occurred. I realized that several players that struggled both on and off the football field all season long, actually were the key players on the last two scoring drives. All of the time and effort put forth in mentoring and the SportsLeader program does pay off. You simply have to be patient and persevere.

God Bless
Doc Nelson

Monday, November 22, 2010

"The Most Fun "I've Ever Had"

I was privileged to be a part of another life-changing event over the weekend: A virtue camp with the Cincinnati Winton Woods High School wrestling team. 14 young men and 3 coaches. Most of them had never been camping before, never had a smore, never been fishing ...

They had been a part of a grueling scrimmage earlier in the day so they arrived pretty tired but still "full of life". We started off with building the bonfire that we would later enjoy once the temps got below 40 degrees. Then we showed some movie clips about virtues, played some dodgeball and talked to the boys about the journey of becoming a man. This is a special group of young men in that they still have that innocence of just having fun in whatever they do ... It was inspiring.

The campfire is always one of my favorite moments. We break out the smores and have story time. Helping a young man make his very first smore is a neat thing. These young men still have the humility to ask for help. As we get crusty and old us men think/want to do everything by ourselves and don't really like to ask for help ... not these young men. That was inspiring as well. After the smores the coaches and other men there share stories about their life.

At 6:15 AM Coach Willertz got them up for a good workout while Tim Gronotte and the 2 assistant coaches put the worms on the hooks for fishing afterwards. 30 minutes of jumping heavy rope and leg lifts will get the blood flowing ...

The morning was perfect ... cold, clear, mist coming off the lake, the fresh autumn scent ... the boys were loving it. By the time I clicked off this first fishing photo Tahji had caught his first fish on his fist cast. I don't think the worm was in the water for 10 seconds. It is truly difficult to describe that moment - the look on his face, the other guys screaming ...

Of course bringing 14 new "fishermen" has its more trying moments like when your cast ends up in a tree ...

We later went for a hike through the woods and down a dry creek to visit the Camp River Ridge office. 

What summed it up pretty well for me was when I was at breakfast and Devon tells me, "Coach Judd this is the most fun I've ever had. Thank you."

Afterwards I was reflecting on what a gift it is to be a part of a young man's "funnest moment". Thank you, Lord. To You be the Glory.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In-Kyung Kim wins LPGA event, donates entire winnings to charity

A wonderful testimony of charity, generosity ... Virtue = Strength.

In-Kyung Kim wins LPGA event, donates entire winnings to charity
By Shane Bacon

You know how people complain that there is never any good news anymore?

Well, I'm going to let you take a break from that, and it's all because of a 22-year-old LPGA star that decided something else was bigger than her.

See, In-Kyung Kim shot a final-round 64 on Sunday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, good enough to leapfrog the leaders and win by three shots, her third career LPGA win. Instead of celebrating like crazy or boasting about how good she is at such a young age, Kim did something spectacular: She donated all of her winnings from the week to charity.

Half of the $220,000 she won went to Lorena's charity, which funds educational programs for Mexican youth, and the other half is headed towards a charity in the United States. From AHN:

"I went to Lorena’s party and I saw the kids and how she is helping kids with her foundation. I decided if I win, I will be giving all the money to people who need help," Kim said of her generous decision.

You might think that a pro golfer donating winnings isn't a big deal, but you have to understand, the LPGA isn't like the PGA Tour. Golfers don't dive in their vault of gold coins on the LPGA Tour, and this amount is nearly 20 percent of her entire earnings for the season.

It also gives us an opportunity to see a young person doing something extraordinary. Kim could have donated half her winnings to a charity and it would have been amazing. Honestly, she could have donated $50,000 to something good and people would have patted her on her back. 

But she went out, shot the round of her life to win, and turned right back around and gave back.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You're Beautiful

When was the last time you told your wife, daughter, girlfriend ... she was beautiful? 

Here is a song that I personally found very moving and served as a reminder that I need to do this more often. Consider emailing this link to her, buying the song ... whatever you need to do ... Telling her is more important but I don't think this will hurt (smile).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Medal of Honor - First Living Recipient since 1976

I was inspired to read the comments on CNN's news page ... So many mention the virtues of Charity, Humility, Courage, Sacrifice ... Indeed Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta is a virtuous hero we should all be proud of - especially our brothers in the great state of Iowa.

Washington (CNN) -- A 25-year-old Army staff sergeant from Iowa will be the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since three service members from the Vietnam War were honored in 1976.

President Obama will award the nation's highest medal of valor to Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta on Tuesday. Giunta was a specialist serving with the Airborne 503rd Infantry Regiment on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when his unit was attacked on the night of October 25, 2007.

According to Defense Department documents, Giunta and his fellow soldiers were walking back to base along the top of a mountain ridge when the enemy attacked from their front and their left. Taliban fighters barraged the Americans with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and Soviet-era large machine guns.

Giunta saw several of his fellow soldiers go down. He ran forward, throwing grenades and returning enemy fire, to help one soldier who had been shot but was still fighting, the documents say. Then he noticed one of the wounded soldiers was missing.

Searching for his wounded friend Sgt. Josh Brennan, Giunta ran over a hill where moments before Taliban fighters had been shooting at him. Now he was alone, out of sight of his fellow soldiers, in an area that the Taliban had controlled just moments before.

Giunta saw two Taliban fighters dragging Brennan away. He ran after them, killing one and wounding the other, who ran off.

Giunta instantly started providing first aid to Brennan, who had been shot at least six times, the documents say. Eventually a medic arrived and a helicopter was called in to take Brennan to a hospital, but he later died of his wounds.

Giunta's action, however, meant that Brennan was not at the mercy of the Taliban, and his parents would be able to give him a proper burial instead of wondering what became of him.

Giunta's quick response to the Taliban attack also helped his unit repulse the enemy fighters before they could cause more casualties, the Defense Department documents note.

Giunta was shot twice, with one round hitting his body armor and the second destroying a weapon slung over his back. He was not seriously hurt.

According to the White House, the Medal of Honor is awarded to "a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty ... The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life."

Giunta has said he is determined to make the medal, at least symbolically, belong to others.

"It is a great thing," Giunta said after learning he would receive the medal. "But it is a great thing that has come at a personal loss to myself and so many other families."

Giunta said when he first learned he would receive the Medal of Honor, "I felt lost. I felt kind of angry ... just because, you know, this is so big. This is, it came at such a price. It came at the price of a good buddy of mine, not just Brennan. But Mendoza. Mendoza died that night as well."

The squadron's medic, Hugo Mendoza of El Paso, Texas, was caught with the rest of the group.

"These two men on that day made the biggest sacrifice anyone can ever make. And it's not for a paycheck."


The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on members of the United States armed forces who distinguish themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." Due to the nature of its criteria, it is often awarded posthumously (more than half have been since 1941.

Members of all branches of the U.S. military are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three versions (one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard). The Medal of Honor is often presented personally to the recipient or, in the case of posthumous awards, to next of kin, by the President of the United States. Due to its honored status, the medal is afforded special protection under U.S. law.

The Medal of Honor is one of two military neck order awards issued by the United States, but is the sole neck order awarded to the US armed forces. The other is the Commander's Degree of the Legion of Merit, which is only authorized for issue to foreign dignitaries.

As the award citation includes the phrase "in the name of Congress", it is sometimes called the Congressional Medal of Honor; however, the official title is the Medal of Honor.

In total, 3,470 medals have been awarded to 3,451 different people. Nineteen men received a second award: 14 of these received two separate medals for two separate actions, and five received both the Navy and the Army Medals of Honor for the same action. For actions since the beginning of World War II, 855 Medals of Honor have been awarded, 527 (or 62%) posthumously. In total, 624 of the medals have been awarded posthumously.

By branch of service
Air Force18
Coast Guard1

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What If Our Kids Acted Like Us

Pope Benedict XVI: Sport a School of Values

The Pope knows the importance of sports and the value of your testimony as coaches ...


Receives Delegation of Ski Instructors

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2010 ( Sport can become a school of "human and Christian values," Benedict XVI said today upon receiving in audience a delegation of Italian ski instructors.

The Pope reflected in his comments to the delegation that "sport, practiced with passion and ethical sense, in addition to exercising a healthy competitive spirit, becomes a school to learn and deepen human and Christian values."

"Through sporting activity, the person understands better that his body cannot be considered an object, but that, through corporeity, expresses itself and enters into relationship with others," he continued.

"In this way, the balance between the physical and spiritual dimension leads not to idolizing the body, but to respect it, not to make it an instrument to develop at all costs, using perhaps means that are not even licit," the Pontiff added.

In particular, Benedict XVI said, skiing allows us "to ask ourselves about the meaning of creation, to look on high, to open ourselves to the Creator" and reminds man of his responsibility "in conserving and cultivating the work of God" with "gratitude and recognition."

Because, he added, if on one hand "progress in the scientific and technological realm gives man the possibility to intervene and manipulate nature," on the other there is always the risk "of wanting to substitute the Creator and to reduce creation virtually to a product to be used and consumed."

Hence, addressing the ski instructors, the Pope reminded them of their role directed to "a healthy sports formation" and to "education in respect of the environment," "to act not in an isolated way, but in agreement with the families, especially when your pupils are minors, and in collaboration with the school and the other educational realities."

"Important also is your testimony of faithful laymen," the Holy Father concluded, "that even in the context of sports activity, are able to give the right centrality to fundamental moments for the life of faith, especially to the sanctification of Sunday as day of the Lord."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Day Off - Team Service Project

Doing a team service project is an integral part of SportsLeader.

Here is an awesome example of what can be done on a day off from school during the season. Putting the virtue of the week into action.

Thank you Coach Randy Traeger and the Mt Angel Oregon Kennedy High School Trojans.


I spent the weekend trying to figure out why our first round playoff win against Bonanza felt so anticlimactic to me. It wasn't the score, it was what our team had accomplished the day before. 

The "Virtue of the Week" was CHARITY and we had planned a spur of the moment food drive for Thursday as there was no school on Veterans Day. That morning our whole team canvassed the town and collected nearly 1,000 lbs of canned food and almost $600 in cash donations (or more, some still coming). 

The team then joined the elderly residents at Mt. Angel Towers for lunch. Beforehand, we talked with our players about how our society has had a tendency to ignore both ends of the age spectrum: the young (them) and the elderly (like the towers residents) and how it would be good to get the two of them together and talk. Our guys did a fantastic job socializing with the residents. We are so proud of them! 

Then after lunch, we delivered the canned food and cash donations to Mission Benedict and St. Josephs Shelter. What a great day!

Anticlimactic?  I'll get over it. What I wont get over is how amazing it is to watch our guys know good, love good, and do good. Are they angels? Are they without fault? No....but on Thursday November 11th they made a difference.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Experiencing More From Your Sport

I had a great experience this past weekend with the Cincinnati Moeller High School wrestling team at Virtue Camp. 50 young men, Freshmen-Seniors ... some with 13 years under their belts -some with 1 practice (the day before) ... plus 7 coaches and 4 Dads.

Things started off a little rocky as the bus got a flat tire on the highway 11 miles from camp. We lost some time but we made up for it.

It was the first weekend of deer hunting season so we made sure to tell the kids not to be walking in the woods with any antler hats on ... (just a precaution)

One of the things I was most impressed with was the coaching staff. They were all present, very engaged and you could tell that the kids knew their coaches cared about them on a personal level. The sport of wrestling itself lends to that but still these coaches are special.

The focus of the weekend was Charity-Humility-Courage as the core virtues of the season but we broke it down a bit further to mirror Coach John Wooden's pyramid of success. Together it made for a great season-long plan to integrate the lessons learned at camp throughout the next 4 months.

We had some team building exercises, competitions to see who could name everyone on the team, learning things no one knew about anyone else. It was inspiring to see the Seniors genuinely interested in the Freshmen. They wanted to created a tight brotherhood, they wanted to assure the inexperienced wrestlers that they were there to help, to push them - but to help them get better.

Some movie clips got the discussions kicked off, they got into small groups and made resolution-posters on how they were going to live the virtues the rest of the season. Each team received a few "words" they were in charge of leading the team for a few weeks to make sure the ideas became actions. These posters will be placed in the locker room to be a constant reminder.

A staple at almost all virtue camps is the sport of dodgeball - there is just something so bonding as young men pelting each other with foam balls in organized chaos.

I had the "pleasure" of sleeping in the gym with a number of Dads/Coaches. I felt like Goldilocks and the 3 bears at one point at about 3 in the morning as 3 good men seemed to be competing with one another to see whose snore could reverberate loudest throughout the gym. It was only amusing for so long ...

Rise and Shine came at 6:30. The Freshmen who "carried on a bit too long" the night before instantly became a source of regret (smile). Coaches led them through a pretty grueling strength workout ... all in all not one complaint, not even a whimper ... I was impressed. These young men meant business even though some of them were not even awake yet.

I guess what I love most about these camps is the fact that it gives the men and the boys an opportunity to experience "more" from their sport ... that the season is about much more than just the skills and drills, the games, etc. It is about building memories that help shape them into the leaders of tomorrow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

They Are Listening

I had a great conversation with a coach this morning.

This past Sunday he was at the 9:30 AM Mass with his family and in walk 8 of his HS football players in shirt and tie together and sit down right next to him.

He knew nothing about this. One of his players organized it. He did the inviting, the calling, the reminding.

As they are all saying "Good Morning, Coach" he realized that some of them had not seen the inside of a Church in quite a while.

"Lou, it was one of the best experiences of my whole life. Sometimes you wonder if the kids are listening."

Not only are they listening - they are showing up in shirt and tie. "Tiny miracles".

Never underestimate your influence as a coach.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

There is Always Enough Time in the Day


Getting our young men to write down their thoughts is a tough task ... but it brings a lot of fruits. Consider encouraging your players to write blogs to encourage others to practice the virtues you are talking about as a team.

It might change their life. "It is in giving that we receive."

By: Mike Cook
Senior Defensive Lineman and Wrestler at Monsignor Donovan High School, Toms River NJ

The simple expression “there isn’t enough time in a day” is thrown around a lot. Well, that may be true if your looking to catch a movie, go out to dinner, etc. Although when it comes to something that only takes about thirty seconds- two minutes, that simple expression is not true. 

Taking time to “hit a prayer” or just kneel beside your bed and pray takes up less time in your day than going to the bathroom does. I use to make up more excuses than a kid who didn’t do his homework. After finding my organizing principle and discovering my faith, I have made more than enough time for my prayers. 

If you are a person who has trouble fitting things in throughout your day, start making a schedule of each day. Write it in somewhere that you need to take two minutes to say a prayer, or reflect on your faith. Every human being is able to set two minutes aside everyday. 

I can personally tell you that taking these two minutes a day is more than worth it. Saying a prayer as little as once a day makes you feel like a better man or woman. It had turned my life in the right direction and may easily do the same to yours. There are many positive outcomes that occur if you can consistently make time for praying. I promise you will feel like a better man or women. 

At first I use to think faith was a joke. Now, I try to promote faith every day in my life. Why not? Just try it, make time in your day to say a prayer.


I received this email here below this morning. This could be one of your players in a few years:

On the morning of Nov, 11 2010 i came across your website and it was like a shear sign from God and a complete confirmation of what me and a friend of mine had been discussing over the weekend. 

We both had received full rides to play division 1 football in college and he had the oppurtunity to play for the chicago bears. Plagued by bad decisions we made we ended up falling short of our lifelong goals and dreams. 

We saw that once we got out into the real world that was life was very hard and we both felt as though we should be somewhere else doing something else. So one thing led to another and God had us run into each other and we began talking about our situations and struggles. 

God began speaking to each of us challenging us to do something we have a passion for and we both realized that our passion is to work with young athletes and help them make good decisions on and off the field and to keep from taking the path that we did. 

In conclusion, we both have a strong passion and desire to work with these young men and athletes of today because we understand what goes on when your in the sports limelight and how easy it is to fall and make bad decisions, but most of all we would like to teach them how to be successful men and what life has to offer after football. 

The reason why I am writing to you is I would like to know the direction we should take on doing this as a career. Any help is much appreciated, Thank you 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Random Act of Culture

Part of the mission of SportsLeader is to transform the culture of sports. Here is an event that has little to do with athletics but is an awesome example of thinking outside the box to serve others ...

Imagine being in Macy's shopping for a shirt when all of a sudden the guy standing next to you starts belting out "Hallelujah" ... he scares you to death ... you look around and there is a lady at Makeup doing the same, a young man at Shoes, a young lady at Sportswear ... little by little more people are singing ... you start humming ... and by the end of the song you are belting it out too ...

I'd like to think that our virtuous testimony is similar ... we might scare others at first but little by little more and more people join in ... and are happier because of it.

My brother currently lives in Philadelphia ... I was trying to picture him being in the middle of this ...

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. 

Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers. 

This event is one of 1,000 "Random Acts of Culture" to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. 

The initiative transports the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into our communities to enrich our everyday lives. To learn more about this program and view more events, visit

The Opera Company thanks Macy's and the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ ( for their partnership, as well as Organ Music Director Peter Conte and Fred Haas, accompanists; OCP Chorus Master Elizabeth Braden, conductor; and Sound Engineer James R. Stemke. 

For a complete list of participating choirs and more information, visit This event was planned to coincide with the first day of National Opera Week.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stallions on Local Fox19 News

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Fights involving parents and coaches in youth sports seem like they are happening more often.
For that reason, Ron Jennings started the Lakota Youth Football League in West Chester. The league is based on four key principles: Faith, family, school, and then football - in that order.
"We have an epidemic going on across the country that is like that," said Jennings. "We forget that this is just youth football and basically it gets at a win at all cost and we'll do anything. We'll scream and yell. We'll attack the refs verbally. We'll attack the other coaches verbally and we have to stop that."
Dave Wood has been officiating youth sports for over 35 years. He says most of the time it's not the kids who show unsportsmanship, it's the parents and coaches.
"We have had a few instances where we have had to eject some parents," said Wood.
The Lakota Youth Football League's motto, "Developing young boys into men beyond the goal line," is focused on life lessons, rather than the final score. During practice, coaches sit down with players to talk about school, and a Bible lesson is given. 
"Which is kind of cool, just to take a break and have somebody else besides your parents talk about stuff other than football," said parent Lloyd Sova.
While the Stallions teach kids life lessons and good sportsmanship, there are also requirements for coaches and parents. They all must sign a contract.
"We have played a lot of organized youth sports and never have had anything like that before," said Sova.
"At first I kind of thought, 'well that's a little overboard to sign a contract for football,'" said Shawna Hudson, another parent. "I think it helps him to learn the importance of being there for other kids. Him and some other kids on the team will be the first to go other to another player and help them off the field."
The contract for coaches lists dozens of guidelines, including any coach that has a penalty flag thrown on him for unsportsmanship like conduct could receive an automatic one-week suspension from practice and the next game. If a coach receives a second flag in the season,  that coach could be fired.
And any parent that threatens, attacks, or shows any anger or aggression towards a referee, coach or other parent will be expelled from the program.
"We want to set up front that everybody knows that they can't talk to the ref, they can't yell to the ref. The coaches have to make sure they play everybody," said Jennings. "If somebody doesn't up hold to the contract, we try to minister to them first saying, 'this is what we need you to straighten away.' It has worked perfect for us."
The contract is to try and prevent arguments and fights before they happen. And parents say a league not focused solely on winning and losing is making a difference.
"We definitely want to teach them how to win, but it's not a win at all cost," said Jennings. "We feel like our kids are winners before they go on the field no matter what the score is."

Sportsleader Character Award


Please consider giving virtue award(s) at the end of your season. It shows all your parents and players that you truly value the intangibles of character and not just the on-field prowess ... Note the comments below from the parents.

Cincinnati Sycamore 7th grade football coach Jim DeJoy gave out the Sportsleader Character Award to a young man who practices everything we want in a young man and athlete, respect, humility, courage, and charity.  

Here is a note from Coach Jim DeJoy about this young man:

This was Nick's first year of playing organized football.  His parents were hesitant about him playing because two years ago Nick suffered a major head injury while playing basketball.  He was hospitalized for some time and missed many days of school that year.

With this being NIck's first season of football he dove right into the sport.  He asked the coaches questions and if he wasn't in the huddle NIck was near by listening to the play called and watching his position.  His father, who is a teacher and coach, made posters charting our offensive plays in order to help Nick pick up our system more quickly.

While all of this is going on I am hearing back from teachers saying how Nick is one of the most polite, hard working students they've ever had in class.  I can say this too as he is a student in my physical education class.  The virtues of respect, humility, charity, and courage come to mind when I think of Nick.  He is such an awesome person and he represents all that is right in this world.  Nick has touched mine and many other lives and I am very proud that I had the opportunity to coach him!

Here is a note from Nick's parents:


Cindy and I would like to thank you for taking the time to work with Nick.  Football was a real challenge for him both physically and mentally.  He really had to face his fears this season, because it was a new sport and the most physically demanding sport he had ever played.   We weren't sure he was going to be able to handle it, but with your help, he reached his goal of completing the season.

Jim, you have been an important factor in Nick's successful start at the junior high and as he heads into another challenge (basketball tryouts) you come to mind again.  Nick is a tenacious defender and will do whatever a coach asks of him, but I think the fact that a looming cut could be on the horizon, has caused him to question whether or not he wants to take the chance.  Yes being cut is possible, but I still want him to give his all.  The intangibles that Nick possesses, such as character and effort, don't often get recognized in a try-out with 40 or 50 kids, and my fear is he will be completely overlooked.  If you could find a way to give a few words of encouragement Monday, it would be greatly appreciated.  Coming from you will have a bigger impact than coming from me.

Thanks for all you do,

Tom and Cindy

Monday, November 8, 2010

Giants coach Tom Coughlin - Great Act of Charity

Great example by Coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants. 

Have you ever visited or called a player/family from the opposing team after a serious injury? Or a player in your area who you hear about?

Something to consider. 

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is busy preparing his team for Sunday’s game in Seattle, but on Tuesday, he found time to make an important stop at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Coughlin visited with Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who has been at Hackensack since suffering a spinal cord injury in an Oct. 16 game against Army, an injury that has left him paralyzed.

“I was looking forward to getting to see Eric over the last two weeks and I told his mother [Karen] that,” Coughlin said Wednesday before heading out to the practice field. “She has done an incredible job. She’s so very positive and tough and so committed to making sure Eric understands that his spirits are always up and thinking about positive things.”

Coughlin, understandably hesitant to talk about his visit, opened up because the continued attention to LeGrand’s journey buoys the young man’s spirit as well as interest in the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund,” which was set up by Rutgers in the wake of the injury. Coughlin delivered a signed helmet and said LeGrand repeatedly thanked him for coming by.

“I got down close [to hear him]. He was thanking me most of the time and wanted to make sure everybody got introduced,” Coughlin said. As a longtime football coach, Coughlin is obviously affected by this story. As a father of four with 10 grandchildren, Coughlin feels it even more deeply.

“You come in knowing full well what you represent, what you want them to understand, that the Giants are here for you, we’re all here for you,” he said. “Then, if you let yourself, when you leave the room you begin to think as his mother thinks. She’s been an incredible, strong, strong human being.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Importance of Virtue

This week I have personally come to realize just how important virtue is to our society.

We need virtuous men and women in every walk of life, whether it be sports, medicine, law, education ... construction.

We needed some work done outside ... We hired someone recommended to us ...

Long story short - he broke his contract, did not finish work, lied, left blaming us and refuses to come back ... Why? When I ask he hangs up on me.

So if you are a coach or teacher - please realize how important your role is for society in general. We desperately need virtuous men and women who serve others.

Thank you for all you do. We NEED you!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Someone Is Always Watching

Lakota Stallions Coach Testimony

Lakota Stallions Parent Testimony


Here is a great example of "someone is always watching." The classy and virtuous behavior of a coach inspired a man to write this note to a youth football organization president ...

I thought I'd take a second and let you know about an incident at a game this past weekend that I thought showed a coach, Trent Todd, demonstrating great restraint.

It was 8-0. A Stallions player caught a pass and dove for the end zone extending the ball for what was signalled by the Line Judge as a TD. However, the Head Linesman over ruled the call and spotted the ball on the one yard line (I did see this). The referee signaled first down and the chains were moved. 

Trent requested an explanation from the officials and received one. At no time was he disrespectful towads the game authority. Meanwhile, various fans on the sideline were making their displeasure known in no uncertain terms. When the conference was over, Trent addresses the fans on the sideline and basically told them in a polite way to leave the refs alone.

I was amazed at the calmness and professional demeanor exhibited by Trent at all times. While disagreeing with the call and the way the officials communicated things, his behaviour was beyond reproach. It would have been very easy for a seasons worth of frustration to come boiling to the surface and let the game officials know exactly how he felt in a loud voice easily heard on the sidelines. 

In 17 years of officiating, I have never witnessed a coach exhibit such class and composure on the sidelines. Trent Todd is a great credit to the team, the organization, and his faith. In the face of adversity, he acted with the greatest of dignity.

In my mind, there has never been a greater coach of young men then Trent Todd.

-Bob Oswald

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teens Putting Virtue into Action

2 great examples of high school aged young men gettin' it done virtue-wise off the field. From NJ at Monsignor Donovan High School - thanks Coach Duddy for inspiring these guys!

Angelo, a Senior team captain, "quarterback sack artist" and a great wrestler
       We had football practice today and when I was walking up the stairs to leave I asked if anyone needed a ride home. One kid said he had a problem and needed a ride, so I asked him where he lived and he said Beachwood, which was in the exact opposite direction of my house. So than I took him home. This kid is a sophomore whom I have rarely talked to, but I still ended up having a great conversation with him. He asked me a couple questions which gave me a chance to help him. So a situation that I didn’t want to be in, turned into something really good and positive.

Ryan, a Sophomore football player
This Sunday I went to a walk for helping find the cure for diabetes. I went to support my friend Ryan's brother who is around 6 or 7 years old I think. I went and noticed a man who caught my attention. This man came to walk for a cure for this disease, yet he couldn't walk. This man was in a wheelchair and was missing one of his legs, which made me think. If I was that man who was in a wheelchair missing one leg, would I have gone to support my friend, or would I have I just used it as an excuse to not go. Not going would have been the easy way out, but he got there. I believe he portrayed some characteristics of a man. Even in his condition he got to boardwalk in Seaside and not being able to walk, went there to support somebody with diabetes. I saw many men there to support there children and friends, but this man was a different man.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Different Experience with a Ref

Recently I had a new experience. I went to a high school football game to cheer on a SportsLeader team and I realized that I personally knew one of the officials - the head ref for the game. This had never happened to me before. Never before did I go to a game and actually have prior personal experience with a ref.

The man in question is not a close friend but he does go to my church and I see him almost every week.

I admit that I can get emotional watching a game, maybe some of you can relate (smile), but I truly felt different at the start of the game, knowing that I was going to see that man in 2 days at church. 

During the game, as far as I could personally tell, there was only one somewhat questionable call (I could not tell whether the call was correct or not) but even then I think I usually would have reacted stronger in that moment - but since I knew the ref - I was more "forgiving" ... I was more respectful in my thoughts, etc.

It gave me a moment of pause ... "If I knew all the refs ... my reactions would be different ..."

We need to remember that refs are husbands, dads, friends, etc just like us. 

Maybe next time ask yourself ... "If the ref was a personal friend - how would I react?"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Letter from Coach

Did you ever receive a letter from one of your coaches? I never did but I would have loved it, and definitely would have kept it.

Coach Todd Naumann, defensive coordinator for Covington Catholic high school football, has an awesome tradition where he writes a letter to all of his "defense players" every week. Here below is the letter for week 10.

Maybe your season is over - consider writing a letter to all your players and giving it to them on awards night or something similar.
Maybe consider making this tradition your own next season.

I guarantee you your players would appreciate it and keep the letters.

October 30th, 2010
Colonel Defense,

Week #10… Senior week and we are playing the St. Xavier Tigers.  What an important time of the football season.  Teams are winding up the regular season and ramping up for the playoffs. Four years of hard work hang in the balance as seniors across the state of Kentucky near the end of their high school football careers.  CCH football celebrates the contributions of each senior class, recognizing the significant role you guys have played in this program, especially this year.  This is a part of the process that allows closure for the seniors and a passing of the torch to the underclassmen.  In successful programs… tradition never graduates.  This program is rich and vibrant because some 50 groups of seniors have cared enough to give their very best.  Many chapters have yet to be written, but the 2010 football seniors have added to the outstanding tradition of Covington Catholic football.

As you grow older you will come to realize that life is a series of beginnings and endings.  I really believe that much of this is to prepare us for some of life’s greatest challenges.  We need to taste the sweetness of new beginnings and the bitterness that sometimes comes with saying good bye.  We hopefully won’t say goodbye to our seniors for some five weeks, yet we use this time to prepare ourselves for the day that will inevitably come.  For each of us in life, we will one day say a final goodbye.  We watched a brother on our football team say goodbye to his mother this week.  Although senior week pales in comparison to the loss of a loved one… we need to practice saying good bye, for it is a part of life.  We also believe that God’s love is everlasting.  And we know that although we say goodbye, we will never be alone.  Seniors, you will leave us soon, but we will forever carry you in our hearts.

I wanted to use this letter to thank the guys that have meant so much to this program:  Travis Conner… for the courage and toughness of a young man twice your size (you have the heart of a lion), Alex Cosby… for the love of your teammates (no one genuinely cares more about others than you), Seth Grothaus… for your grace in the midst of little playing time (you are so unselfish and a total team player), Mark Jones… for your energy (you love the game and you truly appreciate the time you spend on the field with your teammates), Paul Ritter… for your physical sacrifice (you continue to lay your body on the line week in and week out, setting the tone for our defense), Joe Sizemore… for your guts (no one has come further this year, you have stayed the course and inspired each of us to continue to improve), Troy Timmerman… for your grace (in the face of high expectations and adversity, you have always put your teammates first and showed courageous leadership), Dan Gregory… for your perseverance (you have become one of the rocks of our defense and have done it through nothing but hard work), and Jake Neinaber… for your character (nobody better symbolizes the best of what this football program stands for than you).  

Seniors we honor you this week and also say that we will continue to need your leadership in this program.  Once a Colonel, always a Colonel!  There will be precious few weeks left, but there is still much work left to be done.  The example you continue to set both on and off the field is of the utmost importance.  If we are to become the best men we can be we will need to continue to challenge each other… None of us can do it alone!  We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.  Seniors, continue to push the envelope.  Continue to challenge each of us to be our very best so you can be your best.  Leave this program with no regrets!  When it’s all said and done there will still be five months of school left.  Finish the school year strong!  Set the right example academically, socially, and spiritually.  Be the man that you have been called to be.  This school and this program will be counting on you long after your playing days are over.

Finally, the game… this game will set the tone for the playoff run.  You need to prove to yourselves that you are ready to physically, mentally, and emotionally challenge the big boys.  You are well prepared and have done the work, now it’s time to play!  It is time to go play great defense.  Nothing on the field is ever more important than playing fast and physical.  Defense is about attitude, and it’s time to bring it.  No fears and no regrets!  Go all in!  Play like your hair is on fire!  Play with a passion and desire that is pleasing to the Lord.  He gave you his best and it’s now time to give him your best!  Always know the pride and love I carry for each of you in my heart.  I wouldn’t want to coach any other team in the world.  You guys are the best! 

Coach Naumann
Psalm 37:4    
Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart's desire.