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 -

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Legend of the Starfish

Here is 1 minute video from Coach Trent Todd that illustrates this point perfectly 

I'm sure there are times that you, like me, experience something very similar ...

Let's have the attitude of the boy.

The Legend of the Starfish

A vacationing businessman was walking along a beach when he saw a young boy. 

Along the shore were many starfish that had been washed up by the tide and were sure to die before the tide returned. 

The boy walked slowly along the shore and occasionally reached down and tossed the beached starfish back into the ocean. 

The businessman, hoping to teach the boy a little lesson in common sense, walked up to the boy and said, "I have been watching what you are doing, son. 

You have a good heart, and I know you mean well, but do you realize how many beaches there are around here and how many starfish are dying on every beach every day. Surely such an industrious and kind hearted boy such as yourself could find something better to do with your time. 

Do you really think that what you are doing is going to make a difference?" 

The boy looked up at the man, and then he looked down at a starfish by his feet. 

He picked up the starfish, and as he gently tossed it back into the ocean, he said, "It makes a difference to that one”.

-Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Parasite of Passivity

This may sting a little bit but I believe there is a ton of truth here. Every single one of us, myself included, needs to battle the parasite of passivity ... the slow weakening into becoming a "spectator" in life.

Please take this as an encouragement ... a challenge to step up just a bit more and help others to do the same.

By Chris Willertz

One of the biggest hurdles in trying to build a wrestling program at Winton Woods has been trying to take spectators and turn them into wrestlers.  

More and more young men are devoted to entertainment and being entertained.  Watching sports, watching movies, playing video games, texting friends, listening to music, "shooting around", being a spectator as life passes them by (which they don't have a clue really is happening) is the norm.

The boys at Winton Woods, all boys nation wide, are all participating in this new phenomenon.  And I would say us adults, especially adult men are to blame.  We have turned into spectators. We have become fat and lazy, complaining that our wealth is not enough although we have more, much more than our parents, who had much more than their parents. 

We want more, worse yet, we EXPECT more.  Even worse, we have forgotten the JOY of working hard, of suffering for a cause greater than ourselves. 

For example:

-When is the last time you have worked so hard you were sore the next day? (and loved that feeling!)  
-The last time you sacrificed for a loved one so much that it hurt? (especially financially) 
-Wrestled with a moral decision, to do the right thing? (What a great feeling to take a stand!)  
-Ticked somebody off because you stated your beliefs and weren't afraid to offend? (What a great feeling it is to take a stand!..again!) 
-The last time you spent time with your family because you wanted to lead them and help them? (Why are you a dad anyways?) 

We are missing out on true manhood, dying to ourselves and discovering the great joy this provides.

We are the reason why more kids don't wrestle.  We are the reason why wrestling programs are being eliminated around the country.  We are the reason why authentic manhood is becoming a thing of the past.  

We know how to be an active, suffering man looking to do great things for our society, we just aren't doing it. The problem is too big we complain, if we complain at all. I know absentee dads are a huge problem, but this is nothing new. What is worse are the boys who have dads at home but are not "present" for their boys.  They aren't celebrating their boys, teaching their boys, forcing their boys to "MAN-UP".  They exist and that's it.  And we AREN'T PICKING UP THE SLACK!  We have to fill in the gap, for our sakes, our daughter's sakes, society's sake.

I am going to step up my efforts to change the spectator boy into the wrestling boy.  I hope you do the same.
Love and admiration,
Coach Willertz

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Character Building Clinic April 30 and A Video Lesson

What if our players treated us like we treat them? Here is a 30 second video that is pretty funny and packs a powerful lesson.

SportsLeader Character Building Clinic

Date:  April 30, 2011
Time: 1:00-5:00 pm Dinner/Refreshments will be provided
Location:  TBD Terre Haute, Indiana
Cost will be broken down based on the number of schools involved
All coaches in your system can participate (youth-high school) for one cost.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Fruits of Your Work Exposed

I can assure you that my ESPN Final Four bracket is no threat to you. My current rank is 1,397,692. 

I have no teams left. Apparently I am not alone.

Thanks to a Final Four with no No. 1 or 2 seeds, plus an 8-seed in Butler and an 11-seed in VCU, just two out of 5.9 million-plus brackets in Tournament Challenge correctly predicted the entire Final Four. In fact, only 6.9 percent of brackets picked those four teams to win in the "second" round (the former first round).

But here Coach Duddy has some better news for us.

By Dan Duddy

I had the honor recently to MC a youth track for an annual Men’s rally in New Jersey. It is perhaps among the premier spiritual events in the state of New Jersey as it attracts close to 400 men at times in its history of 16 years. The youth track was presented this year for the first time.
An important component in the rally is “giving witness”. Gregg Schiano of Rutgers football gave witness last year for example. It’s truly a sign of manliness to stand in front of other men boldly and inspire others with the exposition of your otherwise untold truths. It’s not an easy thing to do. Its courage unfolded.
Among the 50 young student athletes in attendance for our separate session, 8 were from my football program, young men that have developed through our virtue and man-to-man mentoring program for 2-4 years depending on their grade. Two grads came from college to witness as well.
These young men stood and gave witness without any hesitation while others watched. They boldly stood and told their stories about what they stand for. They talked about their strengths and non-strengths. They told their truths.
When others, although very few, did flex their courage and talk, a most touching moment, there was a distinct difference in the evolution of their self-knowledge and comfort level “in their own skin”. My players spoke with ease, excitement, and thirst for more wisdom. They couldn’t hold themselves back and I was proud of them.
It told the story of what can happen through the smallest of daily efforts in mentoring and resolutions to specific actions that take a player just slightly “out of his comfort zone”, and the “status quo” in situations where those simple efforts are unfortunately not initiated…yet.
How would your players respond in this situation? 

Friday, March 25, 2011

2 Experiences and a Great Quote

I had 2 interesting experiences this week.

1. I was at Wal-Mart doing some late night food shopping earlier in the week and there were very few lanes open to check out. I was "blessed" to be behind 2 men ... They had filled up 3 shopping carts worth of food, mostly Coke actually ... Their bill came to $388. They paid in $1's and an occasional $5. I think it took them longer to pay than to do the actual shopping. 

Now I am not a very patient person but at the moment I was blessed to not be in a rush ... Otherwise I may not be here to write this (smile)

2. I got my 2 year old daughter some flowers on Wednesday. No special occasion. When she realized the flowers were for her ... the look on her face ... I hope and pray that I never forget it. Beautiful! If you have not given your daughter flowers lately - I recommend the experience

And here is a great quote I found inspiring:

"You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within." - Bob Nelson

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A lesson from Coach Mike Krzyzewski

I know many people have a love-hate relationship with Duke basketball. Please put that aside for a second (smile - if you can)

Working with SportsLeader for the past 7 years one of the most common things I hear from coaches when I am trying to maybe suggest an idea to help them with their character programs is: "We do that already ... We do a lot of that already ..."

Then we look at Coach K ... 64 years old, head coach for 36 years, 900 wins, 4 National Championships ...

And he is trying to learn from everyone all the time ... taking notes, asking questions ...

If anyone could be saying "we do that already" it is him. But he is the one taking the notes and trying to learn more.

Let's encourage one another to emulate this humble attitude that Coach K is living. Yes, you probably do this already ... but do it better, do it with more passion, improve ... maybe reach out and help another coach and his program.

If a guy with 900 wins can take notes with a thirst to grow and learn ... so should we!


By Mark Dolejs, US Presswire
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is just two wins away from tying Bob Knight for the most wins among Division I coaches.

In 36 years as a head coach, Krzyzewski has amassed 900 college victories. By Saturday night he could tie his mentor, Bob Knight, who left the game in 2008 with 902 wins, first in Division I men's basketball.

At 64, Krzyzewski says he's still learning. During the satellite radio show he hosts, he takes copious notes whether interviewing football Hall of Famer John Madden or a fellow college coach. "I love those conversations," he says. "Sometimes you pick up the way somebody says something. I find that with my staff. They might be more current. They'll use a word or an expression, and it's better than what I had.

All-America guard Nolan Smith says the coach rarely puts down his notepad. "He's not too great yet to get better, and that's crazy that he still wants to be better," Smith says.

Team building is strength

Mike Dunleavy, who played at Duke from 2000 to 2002, thinks Krzyzewski could thrive coaching any sport. "It's the team-building stuff," he says. "That was probably his greatest strength. The way he communicated with every single player on the team. … It didn't matter if you were the leading scorer or a walk-on. … Nobody was left out. That's how you build a team, bringing together the collective parts."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Game Day Traditions to Help Build Unity

I had a great conversation with Coach Frank DiCocco a few days ago. He is an assistant coach at Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

He told me about some traditions they have in their program.

Please write down 1 or 2 traditions that you have in your program with a brief explanation and email them to me so we can all learn from one another - regardless of the sport you coach.

This is the great benefit of SportsLeader - being a part of a great community.

Game Day Traditions to Help Build Unity
A few great traditions that help bring us together as a football family... perhaps you may like to make them a part of your own program as well.

Tradition One – “Brothers In Arms” – A Pre-Game Tradition and Symbol of Unity 
We will stand on the sidelines with arms locked, while the game captains go out to midfield for the coin toss. We will be “brothers in arms,” literally and figuratively. This will be a symbolic gesture, and one that unifies us prior to taking the field for the start of the game. We will do everything as brothers. And we will be as close as we possibly can be: we will be for each other. It will all start before the opening kickoff.

Tradition Two – Everybody Touches the Game Ball: A Family-Building Tradition 
Many teams have a post-victory tradition of awarding game balls to the team’s most valuable member or best performer during a game. Rather than singling any one person out—after all, no one individual is responsible for the team’s success; it is a team game, and every member of the team matters: every person counts and everyone contributes—we instead pass the game ball around the locker room. Each and every person in the room gets the chance to touch the game ball—student-athletes, coaches, managers, trainers, and water personnel. This reinforces the theme that every member of our team is important as a person, and that every individual is an important member of the team as well, and therefore, plays a valuable role in the team’s success.

Passing the game ball around is symbolic of awarding the game ball to each and every member of the team. Each individual shares in the wins and losses, and so, when we achieve victory, we share the feeling of accomplishment and we share the recognition for the achievement. Passing the game ball around is our way of acknowledging and showing our appreciation for every member of the team. It is our way of letting everyone know that he is valued and important—both as a human being and as a member of our football family.

When we win, we win as a team. Everyone plays an important role in the team’s success. Every person counts, and everyone contributes. When we win, there is plenty of recognition to go around; we make sure that it gets passed around with the game ball.

One soul. One goal. One heartbeat. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Selflessly Spreading the Word

This past Friday evening a few teams came together in Chicago to discuss how SportsLeader has made an impact within their programs.

Nazareth Academy hosted Naperville Central, Providence Catholic, Aurora Central Catholic, Montini Catholic and some youth coaches as well.

Naperville Central Head Football Coach Mike Stine, who was featured in Kenney Chesney's Boys of Fall video, gave a personal testimony of his journey with the SportsLeader program ... how he was reluctant at first, how some personal issues moved him deeply and how he decided to give it a try ... with great success.

It was 2 hours very well spent. It gave the staffs who have run the program an opportunity to share what they have done and the coaches to learn a little more about the program to see if they would like to give it a shot.

One of the more impactful moments was when a player gave his personal testimony sharing how mentoring, virtue and his goal sheet has helped him go through some painful family stresses, as well as inspire him to apply to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Our country desperately needs virtue being taught and sports is a phenomenal way to get this done.

I'd like to personally thank Mike Cemeno, Tom Nelson and Bob Lyman ... three good friends of mine, who are selflessly promoting SportsLeader in the Chicago area. They are changing lives on a daily basis.

Please consider hosting some local teams close to you to expose more teams to this opportunity.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Born with 1 Leg - Anthony Robles Wins National Championship

... And now he wants to be a motivational speaker. We need more young men like Anthony in our world. 

By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY

Arizona State's Anthony Robles hopped off the mat at the NCAA wrestling tournament after a perfect season. 

Born with one leg, Robles took the 125-pound title Saturday night with a 7-1 win over defending champion Matt McDonough of Iowa. Robles' three-day performance here earned him the Outstanding Wrestler award.

For Robles, it was the finish to a 36-0 senior season and a journey begun when he took up wrestling as a high school freshman in Mesa, Ariz. He was anything but a dominator at the start.

"I was a terrible wrestler, only about 90 pounds, but my mom told me God made me for a reason, and I believe that reason was for wrestling," says Robles, who was given a standing ovation on the podium by a sellout crowd of 17,687 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The finals were held on a mat rolled out on an elevated platform on the floor of the arena. Before his match, Robles moved briskly up the platform stairs on his crutches. Then he placed the crutches down near his coaches' seats and hopped to center mat.

He took control in the first period, jumping out to a 7-0 lead with a two-point takedown and two turns that exposed McDonough's shoulders to the mat for five more points. Robles uses his gripping power on those turns.

"My tilting is due because I have such a strong grip, and that's because of my crutches," he said.

Robles said that a few weeks ago he took inspiration from re-reading letters he had received from an elementary school in Georgia.

"I wrestle because I love wrestling," he said. "But it inspires me when I get kids, even adults, who write me on Facebook or send me letters in the mail saying that I've inspired them, and they look up to me, and they're motivated to do things that other people wouldn't have thought possible."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Coach Jeff Gaier Testimonial

I had the chance to sit down with Jeff Gaier, Head Wrestling Coach at Cincinnati Moeller High School - and good friend of mine, to talk about wrestling and SportsLeader.

He has been coaching for 29 years having the opportunity to impact thousands of kids, parents, families.

He shares his experiences in this video

Thanks for all you do, Coaches.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Senior Send-Off Opportunity April 8-9

April 8-9, 2011 Coach Chris Willertz is doing his annual Senior Send-Off. It is a special trip with all of his graduating Seniors to the Smoky Mountains in TN.

They will drive from Cincinnati, OH to TN (about 4-5 hours) on Friday April 8th and spend the night. Saturday April 9th they will hike all day and then drive back either that night or Sunday morning.

It would be awesome if some of you would like to join him with your Seniors ... team up and live the experience together.

I remember watching the movie Friday Night Lights ... one of the last scenes is the head coach taking all of his Senior names from their magnets and throwing them one by one in the garbage ... what a way to end the movie. What a way to "end" your coaching experience with those young men.

If you would like to read more about this great idea click on the link:

If you would like more information drop me a line -
Don't let another year pass by ...

Here is the description of his experience from last year:

Senior Send-Off March 2010

This is our senior trip to Mt. Leconte in the Smoky Mts.  5 of the 6 senior wrestlers attended along with my son and my good friend Randy Morris.  We drove down Friday night, arriving at 11:00PM, got to bed by 1:00AM, woke up at 6:30AM and were climbing by 8:06AM.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park are among the tallest mountains in the Appalachian chain. The tallest mountain in the East, but not the highest, Mount Le Conte towers to 6,593 feet.

For a point of reference of tallest mountains in the USA, the mountain coming in 180th place is 12,050 ft. Mt. Leconte is 10.6 miles up and down hiking.  We reached the top by 11:45AM, although it got pretty scary....there was so much snow that we didn't expect.

On the top of the mountain, I presented the guys with "Wild at Heart" by John Eldridge.  Officially their lives are now different, they are expected to act like men, to start working on a mission.  If not.........this season has been a waste.  Let's grow up and embrace MANHOOD!

The trip down was tough at least thru the tricky part due to the snow ... Once we cleared it, the sun came out and it was gorgeous!!  God had answered our prayers, he helped us through the storm and boy was it beautiful!  Iel, Pryde, Lonzi and Darrius sprinted down the rest of the way in a little more than two hours!  The old man(me) and Rashawn took our time and made it down before 4:00PM.

We had a nice discussion once we finished (although I was cramping pretty good!) and I think we are on our way.  The guys had a once in a lifetime experience-but I think they took even more from is about pushing yourself, you are more than you think you are, you have more in your tank....and the only way you can discover yourself is by pushing yourself.  Is it scary?  You bet!  But it is worth it.

Thanks for making this happen, people.  And if you want to experience a lifetime experience we're doing it again next year.  You are always invited!

Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling
"Where we seperate the men from the boys!"  "Our mission is to train warrior boys into championship wrestlers and championship men!" 

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Sportsmanship Day Essay

National Sportsmanship Day is March 1, 2011. For the past two decades, USA TODAY and the Institute for International Sport have co-sponsored an annual essay contest in support of this sportsmanship initiative. Students from elementary school to college were invited to write essays of 500 words or fewer on the theme of their choosing.

There were 4 winners this year according to age group: College, High School, Middle School and Elementary School.

The one that impressed me the most was the Middle School winner.

Would our players write this about us?
Keith Mahler, eighth grade, Gulf Stream School, Gulf Streams, Fla.

Since the age of three, I have been playing sports and seen many displays of sportsmanship. For some however, sportsmanship is not just a concept, it is a way a of life, as exemplified by Coach Chuck.

When I was in fourth grade, I was introduced to the game of lacrosse. My older brother, who had been playing for his middle school team, convinced me to play. At first, the thought of running around in the hot sun coated in heavy pads while wearing a helmet seemed ludicrous; I wondered why people talked about it like it was such an amazing sport, but when the summer began I joined a travel team, I figured out why. I walked up to the tryout, not knowing what to expect, and immediately I was approached by a man who introduced himself as Coach Chuck.

The first thing that really made him stand out was that he was the only coach to greet me with a smile. I would later figure out that he had coached my brother in previous years, and being known for giving nicknames, gave him the nickname "Taco". By the end of the tryout, he had given me the nickname of "Burrito". There was something about him that indicated that he really cared. I ended up making the team that summer, excited to be able to play alongside many of my friends, but by the end of the summer, my friends would not be the main reason I loved lacrosse.

Practice after practice the other coaches would critique us on our game, whether it was shooting, dodging, ground balls, or defense, they always would think of some way to improve our game. Coach Chuck, being a standout player at The University of Maryland helped us with our game as well, but what was different about Coach Chuck was that he was the only coach concerned with our attitude.

If you missed a shot and a bad word slipped out, he would have a talk with you and explain that cussing is not appropriate; other coaches would just ignore it. If you checked someone illegally out of anger, he would explain that you should release your anger when you have the ball, running and shooting faster, instead of taking your anger out on someone else, effecting both you and the team.

Every day I would come to practice ready to soak up Coach Chuck's moral knowledge as well as his athletic skills like a sponge, and when the season ended, I could hardly contain myself for the following summer.

In fourteen years, I have seen varied ethics of sportsmanship, but none like that of Coach Chuck. In the future, I hope to coach and impart the same ideals bestowed upon me by Coach Chuck in my attempt to help motivate younger players to try their hardest, and to play with as much respect and honor for the game and themselves.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What’s the biggest problem we’re facing in America today?

Tony Dungy hits it pretty dead on here.

What we can do to help is mentoring. If every head and assistant coach takes mentoring seriously on their teams, we can make a huge difference. We can teach all these young men that being a faithful husband and father is the happiest and most fulfilling way to live - not the lies they too often see ...

I volunteer with a boys club and we have a boy on our team with no dad at home. He is a real handful but he is also a tremendously talented young man with a huge heart and I see him growing week to week by all of the great examples of the fathers who also volunteer. You can see that this is making an impact on him and you can see how happy he is to be a part of the group.

Here is the testimony of a coach who want to be part of the solution:


I had the privilege of attending the Sports Leader clinic hosted in February. We have been a participant in the Sports Leader program for going on 3 years, and believed that we were maximizing the programs potential. After attending the clinic, I realized we had only scratched the surface of Sports Leader. The lineup of presenters did a great job of bringing this to my attention, and inspiring me to take it to the next level. We have begun to implement some of the ideas we brought home from the clinic, and look forward to better serving our kids with the help of Sports Leader.  

God bless,

Tim Murphy
Director of Football St. Michael Parish 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Personal Accountability

Accountability has been a theme all over the sports news landscape as of late.

Here is a refreshing case of personal accountability on the part of a coach who owned up to his actions ... Coach Trent Todd.

Trent's first day of the pre-transplant evaluation went well. He passed the test that he needed to pass and failed the test that he needed to fail - so this is good news.

Have you owned up to your mistakes with your team?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Competitive Greatness - State Wrestling Title

Joey Ward of Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller High School won the 2011 125 pound Ohio Division 1 State Championship March 5th. He faced a very talented wrestler who had beaten him 3 times earlier in the season. The match went into Triple OT  ...

Joey and all of his teammates came on a Team Virtue Camp at the beginning of the wrestling season to grow closer together and establish some goals. Joey shares some of his experience here in this video:

Moeller brought 8 wrestlers to the State Tournament with 5 placing.

If you would like to watch his State Championship match it is here below courtesy of Flowrestling:

Watch more video of OHSAA State Tournament 2011 on

Joey with his Head Coach Jeff Gaier
alongside his State Championship Wrestling Bracket

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Girl Keeps New Year's Resolution: One Good Deed Per Day

I was inspired by this example of virtuous service and leadership. 

In our new Strength for Life Manual we have a daily resolution suggestion to help our young people do what this inspiring young lady is doing. Imagine if you had ten young people like this on your team ... in your class ... in your school.

Let's encourage!

Girl Keeps New Year's Resolution: One Good Deed Per Day
Iowa Teenager Keeps Promise To Help Others Daily

By KETV NewsWatch 7
OMAHA,Neb. -- Remember that New Year’s resolution you made to yourself three months ago? Did you promise to stop smoking, lose 20 pounds and hit the gym three times a week?

An Atlantic, Iowa, teenager made a different kind of resolution, one she said really doesn’t involve her at all.

“It’s just about helping other people. You’re not really involved in this. It’s not about you,” said 14-year-old Maren McNess.

Since Jan. 1, McNess has made a daily effort to do at least good deed each day for someone who needs help. She didn’t want attention or recognition for her effort and had to be coaxed into sharing her resolution story with KETV Newswatch 7.

McNess often holds doors for people, cleans, shares kind words and shovels snow.

“Just a random person like me, going up to them and helping them out,” said McNess, as she folded linens at a Council Bluffs homeless shelter with her church youth group.

The teen put together bundles of new bed linens to give to shelter clients as they move into homes after leaving the shelter.

“I start remembering all the stuff I have at home, all the sheets in my closet I never use that could really come in handy, “ she said.

The teens volunteered to organize and clean the storage room at Micah house recently. 

McNess said a few weeks ago, she spent an entire day removing piles of law books from the attic of a 98-year-old woman. “She really appreciated it, because the ceiling was starting to cave in,” said McNess.

Adults around her are proud of the teenager and said she sets a good example for everyone to follow.

“Teenagers her age don’t usually think of others,” said Pam Aurbach, a youth group leader.

Micah house in Council Bluffs relies on volunteers and donations to take care of 75 individuals living in the shelter.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Coach of the Year - For Virtue

Patrick McCaskey, co-owner of the NFL Chicago Bears, and Sports Faith International presented the Coach of the Year - Virtues of St Paul Award to Coach Dan Duddy on February 27, 2011.

Dan is the head football coach at Monsignor Donovan High School in Toms River NJ and a member of the SportsLeader Character Coaches Association.

Dan coaches at a Catholic School and he does an amazing job of blending virtue, mentoring, toughness, faith and spirituality into his coaching. He involves his entire staff in the mentoring and virtue in a way that is simply inspiring.

We are so proud of Dan, his staff, his team ad the great work they are all doing. Congrats Coach!

On the award it reads:
Coach Duddy is a Catholic role model who exemplifies his Christian life by living the Virtues of St. Paul. By Building APOSTLES through self-reflection the following are experienced by his players: Discipline, Concentration, Respect for School Rules, Excellence in effort of competition, Leadership, Confidence, Fair Play, Teamwork, Sacrifice, Determination, Resilience and Respect for Others.

It is great to see coaches being rewarded for building character and virtue on and off the field.

Friday, March 4, 2011

College Football and Crime

This story is an amazingly sad contrast to yesterdays. 

The below numbers do not include players that were dismissed from the team the previous season or even minor charges. The 7% is serious crime, many of it violent.

The root of the problem - No Dads or lack of a real relationship with a Dad or other man. SportsLeader can help provide the real relationship with a man - his coach ...

We simply are not doing enough nationwide to create REAL solutions to this growing epidemic. We need more coaches to take mentoring seriously. If all of these football players had a REAL, positive mentor in his life the numbers would be different.

Sports Illustrated
College Football and Crime
Story Highlights
A six-month SI/CBS News investigation ran criminal background checks on Top 25
Of 2,837 players, 7% had criminal records; 8.1% of scholarship players in trouble
Only two of Top 25 schools did background checks; none checked juvenile records

By Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian

The Top 25
The number of players on each team in the study who were found to have police records
School Players charged SI preseason rank
1. Pittsburgh 22 16
2. Iowa 18 6
2. Arkansas 18 23
4. Boise State 16 3
4. Penn State 16 19
6. Virginia Tech 13 10
7. Wisconsin 9 11
7. Oklahoma 9 12
7. Florida State         9 25
10. Miami         8 15
11. Ohio State         7 2
11. Florida 7 7
11. Oregon 7 8
11. USC 7 17
15. Alabama 5 1
15. North Carolina 5 13
15. Cincinnati         5 18
15. Utah 5 22
19. Nebraska 4 9
19. Georgia Tech 4 14
19. Oregon State 4 20
22. LSU 3 21
23. Texas         2 4
24. Stanford 1 24
25. TCU 0 5


 The results of the investigation include some striking revelations. Among them:

• Seven percent of the players in the preseason Top 25 -- 204 in all (1 of every 14) -- had been charged with or cited for a crime, including dozens of players with multiple arrests.

• Of the 277 incidents uncovered, nearly 40 percent involved serious offenses, including 56 violent crimes such as assault and battery (25 cases), domestic violence (6), aggravated assault (4), robbery (4) and sex offenses (3). In addition there were 41 charges for property crimes, including burglary and theft and larceny.

• There were more than 105 drug and alcohol offenses, including DUI, drug possession and intent to distribute cocaine.

• Race was not a major factor. In the overall sample, 48 percent of the players were black and 44.5 percent were white. Sixty percent of the players with a criminal history were black and 38 percent were white.

• In cases in which the outcome was known, players were guilty or paid some penalty in nearly 60 percent of the 277 total incidents.
Players who would have been on last year's rosters but had been charged and expelled from their teams before Sept. 1 -- and there were dozens -- were not counted in our sample. Nor did SI and CBS News have access to juvenile arrest records for roughly 80 percent of the players in the study.

"[It is] a set of facts that obviously should concern all of us," said new NCAA president Mark Emmert, when presented with these findings. "Seven percent, that's way too high. I think two percent is too high. You certainly don't want a large number of people with criminal backgrounds involved in activities that represent the NCAA."

Added Richard Lapchick, founder of the Center for Sport in Society and president and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports at the University of Central Florida: "This sounds an alarm bell that some new policies are going to have to be developed on individual campuses or at the national level to take a closer look at who we're recruiting to our campuses. I think it's almost incumbent on all those universities who play at this level to do criminal background checks on the people they're recruiting. Not only for the nature of the football program itself, but for public safety on campus."

The number of players with criminal histories turned up by the SI/CBS News investigation reinforces a pervasive assumption that college coaches are willing to recruit players with questionable pasts to win. More surprising, however, is just how little digging college coaches do into players' backgrounds before offering them a scholarship.

Among the 25 schools in the investigation, only two -- TCU and Oklahoma -- perform any type of regular criminal background searches on recruits. But even TCU and Oklahoma don't look at juvenile records. No school does, even though football and basketball players are among the most high-profile representatives of a university. (Of the 25 schools, only Virginia Tech did any type of background checks on admitted students, and admissions questionnaires at more than half the other universities ask applicants if they have ever been arrested.)

Yet it wouldn't take much for schools to access this information. Take Florida, for example. The Sunshine State is not only one of the nation's largest football hotbeds, it also has the nation's most open public records law. Through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, anyone can check a person's complete criminal history -- including many juvenile arrests -- for $24.

Using this service, SI and CBS News checked all 318 Florida-based players in our sample. Thirty-one players (9.5%) had a criminal record. Twenty-two of those players had a juvenile record. Their juvenile offenses included felonies such as armed robbery, assault, domestic violence and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Despite the easy access to this information, not a single school contacted by SI uses the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to check the criminal backgrounds of the players recruited from the state of Florida -- not even Florida, Florida State and Miami.

By failing to take this simple step, schools may miss players who may be high risk. One example is Antwan Darling, a Miami native and now a freshman linebacker at Cincinnati.

On March 22, 2010, Darling was arrested for burglarizing a residence in Miami. That day, 17-year-old Kimberly Lewis was home alone from school sick when she heard two men prowling around the outside of her house, locked herself in a room and called 911:
"He's at the back door ... he's trying to get in!"

The dispatcher tried to keep Lewis calm.

"They're in the house!" said Lewis. "I hear them in the kitchen."

Miami police responded quickly and Darling was arrested at gunpoint and charged with felony burglary of an occupied dwelling. He subsequently entered a pretrial intervention program and the charge was dropped, clearing the way for him to accept a scholarship to Cincinnati.

But the burglary wasn't Darling's first run-in with the law. In 2006 he was charged with a felony count of firing a weapon in Dade County (which was disposed in juvenile court) and in 2008 he pleaded no contest to possession of marijuana after being arrested by police in Orlando.

When SI contacted Cincinnati for comment on Darling, a football spokesman said he was unaware of the player's arrest in the burglary case. Bearcats coach Butch Jones declined to comment specifically on Darling but said in a statement: "When recruiting a prospective student-athlete, we do our due diligence in exhausting all avenues looking into an individual's background."

Coaches contacted by SI/CBS News provided numerous reasons for not digging deeper. Some didn't know juvenile records were available in certain jurisdictions. Others said they trusted their ability to get to the bottom of a recruit's past without resorting to a records check. But most said they rely heavily on intelligence provided by players' high school coaches.

"We don't really go into anything outside of the school system," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. "Hopefully, through the school system we can find out just what we need."

It's an approach that makes sense on one level. After all, high school coaches often know more about their players than anyone. "I can tell you anything you want to know about my kids," said Bill McGregor, the coach at DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, which has had 10 or more players sign Division I football scholarships for 22 of the past 23 years. "We are zero tolerance on drug-related stuff or theft."

But there's a conflict when it comes to high school coaches passing this information along to recruiters. First, there are privacy laws that restrict what coaches can say about minors. Second, and more important, is that high school coaches are the biggest advocates for their players, making it difficult to share unflattering details that may derail a kid's chances of landing a coveted scholarship.

Consider the case of Viliseni Fauonuku, a 6-foot, 290-pound defensive lineman from Bingham High in West Jordan, Utah, and a University of Utah recruit. On March 31, 2010, Fauonuku carried a concealed weapon in his waistband when he and his 20-year-old cousin Sam Langi entered a detached garage, where a loose collection of five neighborhood teens and young adults were hanging out.

After a few minutes, according to police records Fauonuku's cousin inquired about buying some marijuana. That was a prearranged signal, Fauonuku later told police, for him to act. He pulled out what witnesses said looked like a 9-millimeter gun and pointed it directly at two 19-year-olds.

"I was shaking," one of the witnesses inside the garage told SI and CBS News. "All my friends were, too."

The boys complied while Fauonuku's cousin scooped up the marijuana and a wallet.

Before turning to leave, Fauonuku allegedly issued a chilling threat. "If I hear this on the news," one of the witnesses recalled him saying, "I'm going to come back and kill you."

In an interview conducted at his home in December, Fauonuku denied making the death threat, but admitted to brandishing a gun (he claimed it was a pellet gun) and committing a robbery.

"I was just like, 'All right, if we're gonna take the weed, then we're gonna take everything,'" he said. "I could tell they were really scared."
Police later arrested Fauonuku and his cousin, both of whom were arraigned in adult court on aggravated robbery charges. (Langi, who served 120 days in jail for the crime, could not be reached for comment.) But Fauonuku's case was transferred to juvenile court. It was a move that saved Fauonuku's football future.

The University of Utah has a policy against giving scholarships to felons. Although Fauonuku admitted to felony robbery in a juvenile proceeding on Nov. 4, 2010, the courts classify the incident as a "delinquent act," not a felony. That loophole paved the way last month for Fauonuku to sign a letter of intent to play football at Utah next fall.

Bingham coach Dave Peck didn't know the details of the crime, but was privy to tragic personal circumstances in Fauonuku's background. Initially Peck opted not to suspend him. Then midway way through the season he held Fauonuku out of two games after a local newspaper story mentioned that he'd been arrested. But the suspension, according to Fauonuku, was for violating the team's no-alcohol policy. "I knew there was an incident," Peck said. "I honestly didn't know a whole lot that happened at that point."

During the interview with SI and CBS News, Peck was handed a copy of the police report, detailing the robbery incident, which included the fact that Fauonuku pulled a gun on the victims. "I never heard anything like that," Peck said, after reading it.

Cincinnati wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has had many chances. A Miami resident, Thompkins grew up in Liberty City, a neighborhood considered one of Miami's most violent. Between age 15 and 18, Thompkins was arrested seven times for felonies ranging from battery to robbery, but most of his arrests were drug-related (some of the charges were later dropped). Thompkins was able to turn his life around after spending two trouble-free seasons at a junior college in California. Last year he signed with Cincinnati, where he redshirted this past season while earning a 3.9 GPA in his first academic term.

"He has come a long way in a short time," Bearcats coach Butch Jones told SI last year.

Thompkins could end up being a success story, an example of a high-stakes risk that paid off. That's why most college coaches are strongly opposed to a hard and fast policy that denies players an opportunity to earn a scholarship if they have a criminal record.

Former BYU coach LaVell Edwards worked with one of the strictest honor codes in the country during his 28 years in Provo. Still, he maintains that coaches must be free to accept troubled players on a case-by-case basis.

"My natural feeling is I really like to give a guy a break," said Edwards. "In my own mind I never draw a line. It has to be flexible. I don't like hard and fast rules."

Taking that same view, Wisconsin's Bret Bielema signed linebacker Kevin Claxton even though Claxton had been convicted in conjunction with a home burglary in November 2007. When he was 18, Claxton drove the getaway car after a small group of teenagers broke into a home near Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. He was a prized recruit at Boyd Anderson High at the time of his arrest, but his dream of playing in college seemed dashed after he was charged with felony burglary.

While Claxton was out on bail, his lawyer told the court that Claxton wouldn't receive a scholarship to Wisconsin should he be convicted of a felony. After spending weekends and spring break of his senior year in jail, Claxton was treated as a youthful offender and the charges were withheld from his record pending the completion of five years of probation, enabling him to keep his scholarship.

"We came to believe that this was one of those cases where an otherwise good kid made a mistake," Bielema says. "Since he's been here he has maintained the [grade-point average] that the court required and has done everything we have asked of him. He's been a great kid."

It's unclear how much Utah knew about Fauonuku's crime when the Utes recruited him and ultimately gave him a scholarship. But the fact is if Utah didn't take him some other school would.

The issue isn't that colleges should never accept a kid who has made a mistake; part of education is second chances. But too many football programs, out of a desire to win more games, either overlook a player's past or don't bother looking into it at all. That's a flaw in the system that has to change.

Emmert, the new NCAA president, has said that he's prepared to take up the issue. "Whether it's among student-athletes or the student body more generally, violent crime is something that we all need to address -- very seriously," Emmert said. "And if it involves student-athletes, then that's something that I as NCAA president want to work hard on."

It's unclear where this is headed, and reformers like Lapchick aren't sure the NCAA has the power to require athletic programs to conduct criminal background checks on recruits. But Lapchick and others are certain that the NCAA must act. Says Lapchick: "The new NCAA president could use this as a kind of bully pulpit to talk to the presidents of the universities around the country to ask them to do this on an individual school basis."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taking The Honor Code Seriously

Whether you agree with the BYU dismissal of Brandon Davies or not ... it is at least amazingly refreshing to see an institution who takes its honor code seriously.

Does your team have an honor code? 

Brandon Davies was dismissed from BYU's basketball team after he admitted to having sexual relations with his girlfriend, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.

Consider the situation: Key player on probably the best team in school history gets in trouble in the final week of a 27-2 season. With a Mountain West Conference title and a probable No. 1 NCAA tournament seed there for the taking, the school learns of an honor code violation on Monday, a violation that school officials said was not a criminal offense. On Tuesday, Davies is suspended for the rest of the season.

Davies had started 26 of 29 games and averaged 11.1 points and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds.

"Everybody who comes to BYU, every student if they're an athlete or not an athlete, they make a commitment when they come," Rose said of the school's honor code. "A lot of people try to judge if this is right or wrong, but it's a commitment they make. It's not about right or wrong. It's about commitment."

Pat Forde of ESPN.COM
What makes this such a powerful testament is the fact that so many schools have cravenly abandoned their standards at such a time as this, embracing athletic expediency over institutional principle. It happens so often that we don't even raise an eyebrow at it anymore.

Player arrests or other antisocial behaviors are minimized as youthful mistakes, with strenuous institutional effort put into counterspinning any negative publicity. Academic underachievement is dismissed as merely the price of being competitive in big-time athletics. "Indefinite" suspensions often last only as long as they're convenient -- timed to coincide with exhibition games or low-stress games against overmatched opponents.

That certainly didn't happen in this instance at BYU.

Brigham Young University Honor Code Statement
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Thirteenth Article of Faith).

As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will

Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

Specific policies embodied in the Honor Code include (1) the Academic Honesty Policy, (2) the Dress and Grooming Standards, (3) the Residential Living Standards, and (4) the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement. (Refer to institutional policies for more detailed information.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When Our Players Lift Us Up

I had an interesting conversation with a coach yesterday where he told me about a day where one of his players lifted him up.

One-on-One mentoring is an essential piece of coaching in SportsLeader. This particular coach had done an amazing job of dividing up his team amongst all his assistant coaches so each coach had a player for a "Walk-Out" and a "Walk-Back" ...

The "Walk-Out" is walking out from the locker room to the field for practice and the "Walk-Back" was the walk back to the locker room ... pretty complicated (smile). During the walk he would just talk with the young man to see how life was going and try to come to a resolution for him to work on in an area of his life to help him grow in virtue.

Well the young man in question was his "Tuesday Walk-Out". He had had a very difficult year due to circumstances within his family and he really opened up with coach over the course of the year. Coach saw him grow in confidence every week and he became a better football player because of it.

At the end of the season, this coach was hit with some pretty disappointing news and most of the school found out about it.

Coach would always arrive to school pretty early and to his surprise who was waiting for him that following morning? His "Tuesday Walk-Out".

"Coach, how are you doing? You helped me every week this season. I figured it was time to help you."

Coach talked, the young man listened ... in the process this young man lifted him up beyond words.

As we finished our phone call, Coach summed it up pretty well - "When I first started coaching, I never did the one-on-ones. I'm sure glad I do them now. They've changed MY life."


Do you have a similar story? Write it up so we can share it with other coaches to encourage them.