In many High School sports programs the Freshmen don't get quite as much attention as the Varsity players do when it comes to mentoring and virtue.
But at Providence Catholic near Chicago, IL this is not the case. They have an outstanding coach, who is also a great friend of mine, who goes out of his way to make sure his players grow as men.
I did a phone interview with Mike. I hope you find it helpful.
Assistant Football Coach
Providence Catholic High School
New Lennox, IL
9 Time IHSA State Champions: ’87, ’91, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’01, ’02, 04
3 Time IHSA State Runner-Up: '98, '00, '09
When I mentor the kids I ask them the same questions. The topics are: School, Family, Faith and Football. Each session would be 5-6 minutes. I would mentor during practice. I coached the defensive backs. Whenever the DBs were not really involved I would mentor. It was easy.
* How are you doing in school? What classes you are struggling in?
This year most were struggling with the same class because the teacher is very demanding. In many other classes the kids could get by without "too much sweat" but in his class - you needed to study and study hard or you would bomb. Just doing homework would get you a D. They needed to rise to the occasion and quit being lazy.
* How are things at home? What can you do to help your mom/dad on the weekend?
Kids are dialed in to video games or TV, especially on weekends. During the week, for most it is get home, eat, homework and crash - pretty simple. But the weekends are a different story. Come the weekend they want to "check out".
I would encourage them to serve. "Mom, what can I do to help?" Most of the time Mom would ask "what do you want? - favor in return ... because they would catch her off guard.
They would clean the garage, clean their rooms, help with dishes ... By the end of the season most were developing the habit of "looking for ways to help without being asked."
* How are you doing praying - are you going to Church? (I coach at a Catholic School)
Of the players I was mentoring about half were going to Church. The kids not going I would challenge them to ask their parents, find a way to go ...by the end of the season 99% of the kids made the effort to go to Church. I would just talk about why I personally go to Church, why I love Christ in the Eucharist, why I love the peace of Adoration.
NONE of them had ever had a man talk to them about their personal experiences of faith. They loved it. They wanted to hear why my faith was important to me.
I would tell them that they need to ask God for help, 85% of kids were Catholic ...
The other coaches on my staff would not talk about their faith ... they were not as comfortable but they still did a great job about talking to them about the other issues.
* How are they doing on the field?
This of course is the easiest.
Virtue Themes of the Week?
Every Monday after practice, right there on the field, we would have a 5 minute huddle session where we introduced the virtue-theme of the week. I would give the group talk and then send them off to their mentor groups where their coaches would go over the virtue story sheets with them. They kids loved this. It gave them a chance to talk about how things went last week, what their goals were for the upcoming week, vent a little. It was easier for them because it was a small group of about 10 and only 1 coach instead of trying to say something in front everybody. The small group session would last about 10 minutes.
It is also important to note that this is extremely helpful for Freshmen. These guys are "the bottom of the totem pole" and they know it, so they feel as if they are not important, they few people care about them, etc.
Wrap-up and Movie Clip
On Fridays after practice I would give a 6 minute talk and then show a movie clip about the theme of the week. This was also very popular with the guys. This kind of wrapped everything up and got us ready for our game.