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 -

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Family Hockey Night

The Northern KY Conquest Family Hockey Night 2011 was a lot of fun. Our Cincinnati Cyclones beat the South Carolina Stingrays 4-1. We had excellent seats: center left rows 4-7.

We were able to go down as a group to the Zamboni tunnel and watch as the Cyclones warmed up shooting goals. Quite a few came "right at us" and you could readily appreciate why the plexi-glass is so scratched. The boys loved it.

Also a small group of boys got to form a fan tunnel on the ice as the Cyclones took the ice. 

It was Military Appreciation Night so the Cyclones wore special Camo uniforms which were really cool.

We highly recommend a family activity like this for your group/team. It is a great team building-fun-social event.

For more info on Conquest click on the link

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Unforgettable Memory

I was blessed to be a part of another Father-Son Wrestling Singlet night at Moeller High School last night.

Very similar to our Father-Son Jersey night, the idea is to invite the dads of your players to a special evening where they can publicly affirm and praise their sons.

We have a little talk with the dads where we encourage them to say three things to their sons:

1. "Son, I love you."
2. "Son, I'm proud of you because of X,Y and Z"
3. "Son, you're great at X, Y and Z"

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful a simple event like this can be.

Last night was especially poignant because one of the wrestlers had lost his Dad just a few weeks ago. I cannot adequately describe what this was like, you just simply had to be there. But the coaches and a particular Math teacher at Moeller did an AMAZING job speaking encouragement into the heart and soul of this admirable young man. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Each Dad was so different, each father-son relationship was so unique and yet all of them so edifying, inspiring and similar at the same time. 

Coach Jeff Gaier does something extremely special (not every coach does this) ... he gets a new, personalized wrestling singlet for each of these young men. So after the Dad is done speaking he hands his son this brand new uniform that is his to keep forever and they share a hug. 

I would bet that some of those hugs were the best, most meaningful and powerful of their lives.

Some men feel very uncomfortable when they first hear of a tradition like this, that it is too "mushy" or too awkward but once you experience it personally, you wish you would have done it sooner. 

One assistant coach was very kind last night. He approached me as he was leaving and he said, "That was the most powerful thing he had ever been a part of in sports."

As I was driving home last night, I thanked God for this grace and asked Him to help me spread this to every team possible. I pray He hears that prayer.

If you would like more information or encouragement to do this with your team, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tough Question

This should sting a little ... Let's be part of the solution not part of the problem.

By Randy Traeger
Head Football Coach Mt Angel Oregon Kennedy High School

If you are a coach this might make you uncomfortable. I do not apologize for that discomfort.

So I am looking over the "Schedule of Speakers" for a popular football coaches clinic and I notice that of the 54 scheduled sessions, 51 of them are about "x's and o's" and only 3 of them are about developing the character and spirits of our players. Here we are, in the middle of a "youth character crisis" in our society, we coaches having the greatest redemptive moral reponsibility in the history of American culture, and we are talking about "boot packages off the counter trey".

We can do better than this.

As coaches and teachers, most of us have 50-100 attentive eyes staring back at us every day. We have a moral responsibility to use that attention for a greater good. To help these kids rebuild their moral characters. That should be job one, and our coaching clinics and professional development programs should reflect that.

We can either speak up about this, or like many take the easy way out. Rather than acting on our beliefs and convictions, we choose the action or non-action that will not "rock the boat" and cause the least amount of trouble. Rather than speaking up and intervening in a situation, we wash our hands of it and allow events to play themselves out without our own active input.


Possible solutions:

1. February 5th Character Building Clinic in Cincinnati
2. Host a Character Building Clinic at your school and invite all area youth and middle school coaches.
3. Offer to speak at coaches clinics about character and/or virtue ...

Food for thought. God bless, Lou
More info on Feb 5th Clinic at the right side of page.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nominate an outstanding High School Athlete, Coach or Team who is an exemplary role model

SportsLeader teams up with Sports Faith International in search for outstanding Athletes, Coaches and Teams …

Do you know an outstanding High School Athlete, Coach or Team who is an exemplary role model both on and off the field? 

Nominate them for the 2011 All Star Catholic High School Sports Faith Hall of Fame. 

Place your nomination now by visiting

In addition to the Athlete, Coach and Team of the Year awards, The Ave Maria Rising Star Award will be presented to an outstanding freshman, sophomore or junior athlete. And there is even an award for someone active in the pro life movement.

Winners will be inducted at the Chicago Bears Halas Hall on February 27th. Winners be joined by Chicago Bears Patrick McCaskey, members of the famed Rooney family of the Pittsburgh Steelers  Philadelphia Phillies Inductee  Jamie Moyer,   and the Pirates Rich Donnelly,

And while you are on line purchase tickets for the special    Meet and Greet Luncheon Reception just prior to the event  at Country Squire Restaurant, sponsored by Ave Maria University and Franciscan University of Steubenville  Additional sponsors include Catholic Athletes for Christ, Catholic Financial Life, Relevant Radio, Lighthouse Catholic Media,  and  NCSA.

The deadline for applications is February 10th 2011. Anyone can nominate, apply, or attend.

 Call 847. 331. 6994. Or visit  today!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Paralyzed Player - Please Write an Email to Encourage

Please remember in your prayers a high school football player who was paralyzed from the shoulders down last June. 

I would also like to ask a favor - Would you please consider writing an email to Brian to encourage him and to let him know that he is not alone or forgotten? You can send the email to and address it to Brian and I will make sure he gets it. 

Maybe you could ask your players to sign something and we could mail it to him or scan it and email ...

Here below is a recent note from his Coach:

He is struggling.  He came back to school for a few days but each time he did he got pneumonia and had to go back to the hospital.  His mom is not letting him try school again until the spring.  He is having a tough time.  As the “glamour” of a heinous injury wears off and people stop coming around it gets tough to accept that his life is not going to get better.  

I fear that he does not have much time left.  It is heartbreaking and difficult to comprehend.  Prayer is greatly appreciated and the only thing that can help him.He is still on the ventilator and has had some difficulty breathing a lot.  I hate to see him struggle and just fear that the difficult breathing coupled with sickness will be more than he can handle.  It is a tragedy.

When you have a player go through this it puts things in perspective very quickly.

Thank you so much and may God bless, Lou


Urgent Prayer Need: SportsLeader Player Paralyzed

Brian Diefenderfer, a 15 year old star offensive and defensive lineman from Eastern Hancock High School in Indiana, was in a tragic car accident Saturday night. No one else was critically injured in the crash.

He is in critical condition. At present they have him in an induced coma and on a breathing machine. He has a broken back and a broken neck. They did a short preliminary surgery but saw that things were so bad that they needed to stabilize him a bit before moving forward.

Unless a miracle happens, and we all believe in them, Brian will be left paralyzed from at least the chest down. But at present he is still in very critical condition.

Making matters that much more devastating is the fact that his father died in a motorcycle accident 20 months ago. He has his mom and one older sister.

I was just on a team camp with Brian and all of his teammates. He is one of the most beloved, trusted and popular guys on the team.

His teammates and coaches have responded admirably and have gone as a group to visit him and his family even though he is still in a coma ... they are going again tonight. I hope to join them.

Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Life is short, take nothing for granted and don't waste the moments we have. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mentoring May Change YOUR Life

Part 2 in a series of multiple video messages:

A coach and a great friend of mine, Trent Todd, has been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

In short, Trent needs a miracle and/or a double lung transplant ...


From: Steve Frommeyer – Eminence High School Football Coach and principal
In Tony Dungy’s first book, he quoted Chuck Noll of the 4 time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers stating, “Football is not our life’s work”. 
To most, that seems like an odd statement coming from a full-time professional football coach. However, it actually is totally correct if we have the game in proper perspective. 
Our players can live happy, fulfilled lives even if they do not ever totally master the “3” technique, run a post pattern correctly, or pass block to mastery. 
Sports and learning all the skills are a great, fun tool to teach young people the more important life skills of hard work, dedication, commitment, teamwork, etc. 
In reality, being so focused on the techniques and success and forgetting the bigger picture’s virtues that are able to be developed, is missing the whole point. 
In life, humility and self-sacrifice will serve them much better than the ability to execute zone and man coverages!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Empathy: College students don't have as much as they used to

I was reading an article last night about the virtue of empathy and college students. You can read the article below.

The dictionary defines empathy as: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

One of the ways SportsLeader tries to encourage the living of the virtues is to have coaches tell stories about men and women who have lived the virtue you are focusing on.

Are you telling your athletes these stories?

As you can see our country desperately needs it!


From the University of Michigan News Service

Today's college students are not as empathetic as college students of the 1980s and '90s, a University of Michigan study shows.

The study, presented in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analyzes data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."

Konrath conducted the meta-analysis, combining the results of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009, with U-M graduate student Edward O'Brien and undergraduate student Courtney Hsing.

Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective" and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

In a related but separate analysis, Konrath found that nationally representative samples of Americans see changes in other people's kindness and helpfulness over a similar time period.

"Many people see the current group of college students—sometimes called 'Generation Me'—as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history," said Konrath, who is also affiliated with the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry.

"It's not surprising that this growing emphasis on the self is accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of others," O'Brien said.

Why is empathy declining among young adults?

Konrath and O'Brien suggest there could be several reasons, which they hope to explore in future research.

"The increase in exposure to media during this time period could be one factor," Konrath said. "Compared to 30 years ago, the average American now is exposed to three times as much nonwork-related information. In terms of media content, this generation of college students grew up with video games, and a growing body of research, including work done by my colleagues at Michigan, is establishing that exposure to violent media numbs people to the pain of others."

The recent rise of social media may also play a role in the drop in empathy, suggests O'Brien.

"The ease of having 'friends' online might make people more likely to just tune out when they don't feel like responding to others' problems, a behavior that could carry over offline," he said.

Add in the hypercompetitive atmosphere and inflated expectations of success, borne of celebrity "reality shows," and you have a social environment that works against slowing down and listening to someone who needs a bit of sympathy, he says.

"College students today may be so busy worrying about themselves and their own issues that they don't have time to spend empathizing with others, or at least perceive such time to be limited," O'Brien said.

The American Association of University Women provided support for the analysis.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You Can't Give What You Don't Have

A great way for young people to grow in the understanding that virtue is important for life is by service and speaking opportunities.

When you're getting ready to get up in front of a group of people it helps you wake up to the idea that "You Can't Give What You Don't Have."

A few weeks ago, I was honored to have Coach Jim Stofko (Tight Ends Coach) and 5 of his football players from Thomas More College in Northern KY come speak to the Conquest boys club that I am a part of. 

They spoke about the virtue of Loyalty from the points of view of team, family, friends and God. They also organized a football game with the little guys which went over huge ...

If you are wanting to see your players grow in leadership, consider getting them in front of some younger kids ...

We will have a number of athletes giving testimonies at our Character Building Clinic on Feb 5th.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Key to Being a Good Fireman

Ron Allen, a retired Fireman and Assistant Football Coach at Louisville Manual High School, shares a fascinating story of how he helped rescue a girl from a train-car wreck years ago.

He comments on the virtue of perseverance and the need to build a relationship with the person you are trying to save. I thought these were excellent tools to teach the young men and women we coach ...

He is speaking to a group of Dads, young men and boys who belong to a Conquest Club in Northern KY. He generously drove up from Louisville.

Conquest is a National network of leadership programs, clubs, and camps for boys and young men 5 - 16 years of age. Conquest trains boys to become self-disciplined and confident young men, Catholic leaders who possess moral integrity and are committed to improving the communities in which they live.

Friday, January 14, 2011

NFL Teams Making Competition Toxic

There has been some toxic rhetoric going back and forth this week in the NFL amongst "professional" football players.

Maybe you are a fan of one of these teams. I am not knocking any of the teams but I do want to address some of the verbiage.

Players and some coaches from the Jets, Patriots, Ravens ... maybe the rest of the playoff teams as well - have engaged in some media venting using words that are dangerous:

"Hate, enemy, insults, making it personal, taunting, cussing out opposing players and coaches ..."

Our culture is losing sight of what competition and a competitor are all about.

A competitor is there to make you better, to make you play your absolute best, to push you beyond ...

They are not your enemy. We should not hate them. You strive to win yes - but what does winning have to do with hate?

Once Pro athletes and coaches slouch to this level, it isn't long before we will see high school and youth athletes and coaches doing the same.

So coaches and parents, please consider talking to your teams/kids about this. Address this head on now before your player/child is on the nightly news telling your city how much he hates the opposing teams star player, etc.

To think this is just "playful banter" just adds fuel to the fire.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When the Doctor Gives You 5 Years to Live: Coach Trent Todd

A coach and a great friend of mine, Trent Todd, has been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

In short, Trent needs a miracle and/or a double lung transplant. His doctors gave him five years to live. That was a few years ago. At first, things did not seem so "bad". I confess I didn't even notice much of a change. He continued to work, continued to coach ...

But now things have taken a different turn and he needs an oxygen machine to help him breathe. Please pray for Trent, his wife Jill and his two young children Sophia and Bryce.

And yet, Trent wants to continue building SportsLeader. He wanted to record some short video messages to encourage others about what life, coaching and mentoring are truly about. My family and I had the opportunity to visit with Trent and his family and it was such a blessing. Being with a man who only thinks of others, who you know cares about everyone ... it is an inspiring experience and I could see that all of my children learned a great deal from him.

This short video clip is the first of a series we will create. 

Please take a moment to ask yourself: Why do I coach? If I were in Trent's shoes would my perspective be different?

Life is Short. I encourage you to dig deeper in your heart and consider making a change to have more of an impact on the young men's hearts and souls you are mentoring.

God bless you, Lou
Character Building Clinic Feb 5th


Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease marked by scarring in the lungs. Tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick, stiff and scarred. The scarring is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred, it interferes with a person's ability to breathe.

In some cases, the cause of pulmonary fibrosis can be found. But most cases of pulmonary fibrosis have no known cause. These cases are called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis can develop slowly or quickly. There is no cure. Many people with the disease live only about three to five years after diagnosis.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Citius, Altius, Fortius

*-After you press play expect a 10 second delay before it starts.

A friend of mine from Florida, Susan Kelly, sent me a great link yesterday. Thanks, Susan.

Michael Zelenka gave this presentation last year on "The Spirituality of Sports". I learned a lot from it. 

Toward the end he presented a new twist to the Olympic Motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius , which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger".

Faster, Higher, Stronger
Quicker to respond to those in need
Elevate our thoughts to a higher calling/purpose
Greater strength to build God's Kingdom here on Earth

2 Timothy 4:7
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith


The Olympic motto is the hendiatris Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger". 

A hendiatris is a figure of speech used for emphasis, in which three words are used to express one idea

The motto was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin on the creation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894. De Coubertin borrowed it from his friend Henri Didon, a Dominican priest who, amongst other things, was an athletics enthusiast. 

The motto was introduced in 1924 at the Olympic Games in Paris.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our character we take into eternity. Let’s not have an off-season!

Steve Frommeyer has the unique position of being a High School Principal and the Head Football Coach. This is a great reminder!

...To: Sportsleader Family
From: Steve Frommeyer, Eminence High School

The off-season – The 2011 High School Football Season seems a long time off, especially for young teenagers. However, what gets done during the winter and spring months often goes a long way in determining the team’s success this fall. 

The obvious off-season weight training and conditioning is crucial to player development. Spring practice is also a valuable time to bring along young players. 

However, what often gets forgotten is a player’s continual need for CHARACTER development. This is not just important in-season. 

Often, during these winter months players’ grades drop, trouble occurs with the extra free time, and many of the players are not getting those important reminders/discussions about their character development. 

There is no off-season for character and virtues. We are either becoming a better or worse person. There’s NO staying the same, especially for our young people. 

Our character we take into eternity. Let’s not have an off-season!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Off-Season Tradition: Marriage Renewal

SportsLeader has an off-season tradition called the Coaches Marriage Renewal evening ... the basic gist of it is:

1. Gather coaches and their spouses either at a restaurant or a private home
2. Dinner or coffee
3. Each coach gets up in front of the small group, grabs a rose and publicly brags on his wife. "Honey, I love you, I'm proud of you, you're beautiful, I appreciate  all the sacrifices you make for me, etc.
4. Each coach speaks for 5 or so minutes and then hands his wife the rose, a hug and then another coach goes.
5. After all have spoken bring out a wedding style cake ..

This is an opportunity. Many times in the coaching profession marriages suffer due to the time commitment, etc. The better husbands and fathers we are - the better coaches we will be.

If you would like some more information on this activity just let me know.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

That Which Is Not Given ... Is Lost

This is a memory that will never be forgotten. A life changing experience.


By Randy Traeger

Things were going real well for the Kennedy Trojan football team in 2010, right up until our State Championship semi-final game against Gold Beach.  Gold Beach did a great job of defending us, they were fired up to avenge an earlier season loss, and with a couple key injuries to our players, the perfect storm ended our 2010 campaign. I consoled our players, coaches, and fans, and then commenced a week long “pity party”. 

It wasn’t until our awards ceremony about a week later, that a couple of our players put the season back into proper perspective for me. 

The ceremony was well attended and filled with the usual season ending spirit that I have grown accustomed to over my 31 year coaching career. What I wasn’t prepared for however, was what happened to our two most coveted awards, the Most Inspirational and Most Valuable player awards.
The recipient of the Most Inspirational Player award, accepted the award, and then proceeded to give a short speech reciting back one of the main themes that we coaches had been preaching to the players all season long: “That which is not given…is lost”.  He then proceeded to give away his trophy to another senior player who pretty much ”rode the pines” his entire football career. As he gave the trophy away, he talked about how the other player’s selflessness had been an inspiration to the whole team. I know there were tears in a lot of eyes just then.
My lesson in humility wasn’t over yet. My own son, a senior on the team, was deservedly given the team’s Most Valuable Player award. He had amassed 1868 yards of offense and scored 194 points this season.  A few days later, I came to find out that he had given his trophy away to the young son of our Athletic Trainer. The boys name is Mintesnot and he has an amazing story. 
It had always been the family’s plan that they would adopt two children. They received a phone call from Adoption Advocates International (AAI) in February 2009 letting them know that arrangements had been approved to adopt a girl, Kalkidan (13) and a boy Mintesnot (8), both from Ethiopia.  Kalkidan had spent more than half of her life in an orphanage.  They had the opportunity to meet her biological mother, who was ill.  Since her mother was still alive, they were able to learn a lot about her medical and health history, so there were no surprises and she had very few emotional scars. However, Mintesnot had no file since he was considered abandoned and came from a very poor region in Ethiopia. They have recently discovered that Mintesnot had witnessed his sister being shot and killed, had his father abandon the family, and tried to wake his mother up one morning to later realize she was dead. Mintesnot literally means "What could God not do?" and it was the name assigned to him by the police officer who found him wandering the streets in Shashemene, Ethiopia.  Immediately after arriving in Ethiopia, they noticed that Mintesnot had endured significant trauma. He had severe burn scars on his head, the left side of his face and five different burn scars on his neck and shoulders that were more than four square inches in size.  There were also extensive cuts and knife marks on the back of his neck and down his legs.
In the safety of his new American home, Mintesnot let down his guard and began processing his grief. He has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attachment Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Life at their home has been very challenging because Mintesnot started re-living his trauma and lacks the emotional skills to describe his grief and struggles to remember the many aspects of his trauma. Many of his episodes have been quite violent and required physically restraining Mintesnot for up to 90 minutes at a time, happening about 2-3 times per month. Luckily, the family has been blessed with an amazing team of medical professionals and community organizations to help facilitate the healing process for Mintesnot.  Some of the most significant improvements in his healing process have been the direct result of the relationships he built this year with players on our Kennedy football team. A major turning point in Mintesnot’s emotional healing was our Gold Beach semifinal football loss. Several Kennedy football players and coaches helped Mintesnot  by sharing their grief with him that evening. They let him know that while the present was painful, that everything would be all right it we took care of each other like family.  It was the first time Mintesnot didn't disassociate from a loss and/or his grief and actually remained mentally present. This was a big step for him. Since that night they have only needed to restrain Mintesnot one time and it was a minor episode. 
This is the photo that our Athletic Trainer sent me of Mintesnot sleeping with the 2010 Kennedy Football Most Valuable Player trophy.  The rumor is that he sleeps with it every night. 
Now I have been coaching a long time and have given out literally hundreds of awards, but I have never been more emotionally moved than with what became of these two pieces of plastic and metal.  We all work so hard to get some “hardware”.  Team awards, league awards, all state awards, state championship trophies, what great significance we place on them!  These trophies pale in the light of spiritual achievements by your players, the actions of Virtue that happened every day on your team that go noticed or un-noticed. There is the award! Not some cheap piece of plastic and wood destined to collect dust on some forgotten shelf!
I am truly humbled by the act of these two young men on our football team. They have reminded me that being a man isn’t about money, athletic ability, fancy cars, or houses, the conquest of women……or trophies.  It’s about having great relationships and lovingly serving parents, family, friends, teammates, teachers, coaches,….and a little orphan boy from Ethiopia.
That which is not given….is lost. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Team is a Reflection of the Coach

Happy New Year!

Last week I saw a high school basketball game which I learned a lot from. I have heard from many different coaches that "the team is a reflection of the coach." 

This game was definitive proof.

I wasn't really rooting for either team ... the game was well officiated and it was very competitive. Both teams are loaded with talent and both teams play very well together - good starters and a deep bench.

Neither team led by more than 4 points the whole game. It was back and forth with ties and leads by 1 about 95% of the game.

All this changed with 1:49 left in the game.

Team A was up by 3 and they got a steal and was then fouled. 2 shots at the line. He missed both of them but a teammate got the rebound and quickly put it in.

The coach of team B had an absolute temper tantrum ... conniption ... not sure what to call it but he was screaming, spinning around, stomping his feet making his way to about mid-court before he finally called a 60 second timeout. 

I was sitting right behind their bench. The coach was so upset, so flustered that he spent the entire time out screaming and cussing at one particular player. He didn't give any instructions until about 9 seconds left in the timeout. 

The players were fried at this point. They didn't understand what he was saying, they started screaming at each other ... and the coach had to call another timeout before the ball went into play because the players were not lined up correctly. He spent most of that timeout screaming as well.

There was really no reason to panic like this because they were only down by 5. They have 2 players that are outstanding 3-point shooters, they play excellent defense ...

But the coach was never able to re-gain his composure ... nor did his team. They lost by 7.


If we want our players to exhibit virtue, poise, strength - WE HAVE TO PRACTICE IT FIRST.