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 -

Friday, April 29, 2011

Are You a Carrot or a Tea Bag?

Dean Hood, Head Football Coach at Eastern Kentucky University, told me a story once that really struck me ... a story that I think every coach and every parent should share with their kids ... better than share ... physically demonstrate with this simple experiment that creates a pretty instant visual ...

Dean tells this story to his players every year. We have "adopted" it in our coaches manual as well.

When Coach Hood was the defensive coordinator at Wake Forrest Alphonso Smith was one of his cornerbacks. In 2009 he was drafted in the 2nd round (37th pick) by the Denver Broncos ... he now plays for the Detroit Lions.

On draft day, Alphonso called Coach Hood ... "Coach, tell me the story of the carrot and the tea bag again. I'm feeling the boiling water here at the draft coach ... the league and all ... I know the story, I just want to hear you tell it again."

We all remember a good story.

Take two boiling pots of water.

Into one drop a carrot and then into the other drop a tea bag.

The carrot goes in straight and sturdy; it has been well raised. But over time, after it hits the heat and pressure of the boiling water, it becomes soft and pliable and will bend in any direction you choose to bend it. Or it just becomes mush.

The tea bag is totally different from the carrot. When it hits the water it almost immediately changes the water. By adding heat and pressure, the tea bag changes the environment into something much better.
The boiling water represents the environment we are placed in ... 

Do we let the environment change us in a negative way? (Carrot)
Do we change the environment around us in a positive way? (Tea Bag)

So I ask you:

Which do you want to be? A Carrot or a Tea Bag?

Being a Tea Bag takes sacrifice. The tea bag must “give of itself” in order to change the water.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NFL Prizes Leadership and Character in Draft

Character plays such a huge role in the draft because we have young 20 year olds coming into 3 windfalls all at the same time:

1. Instant large sum of money
2. Instant and constant fame
3. Considerable amount of free time

Unless you have developed the personal conviction to stay true to your principles AND you have surrounded yourself with good men who mentor you ... things can go downhill very, very fast.

Do you value character as much as the Chiefs GM?
Chiefs prize leadership and character in draft

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - If there was an NFL record for acquiring the most leadership in the shortest time, it probably would belong to Kansas City.

A year ago, six of the seven players Scott Pioli selected in his second draft as Chiefs general manager were college team captains. From safety Eric Berry in round one to linebacker Cameron Sheffield in round five, Pioli focused on athletes whose on-the-field achievements were heavily garnished with loyalty, character and class.

Berry, the Tennessee All-American and No. 5 pick overall, used to stay late after practice to help clean helmets. Third-round guard Jon Asamoah won the Big Ten's medal of honor for being both a scholar and an athlete.

Impressed but a bit skeptical, many fans wondered if Pioli had gone a bit overboard. Sure, character's key if you're collecting Boy Scout merit badges or helping old ladies cross the street.

But could these choir boys play?

The answer, at least last season, was yes. Except for Sheffield, who had a season-ending injury in August, every one of Pioli's reputable rookies played a significant role in a franchise-record six-game improvement that included an AFC West title.

Pioli is certain that wasn't a coincidence. He may value player character as much as any GM in the NFL.

Most observers agree the Chiefs, with the 21st overall pick Thursday night, probably will be looking at wide receivers, offensive linemen and linebackers. A nose tackle is also on their wish list.

And so is character.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Common Coaching Errors and How To Avoid Them

Lots of wise advice here. I put some of my favorites in red.

Feel free to reply with any other coaching errors you have "learned from". 

Let's help one another improve. That is the beauty of the SportsLeader Character Coaches Association.

Virtue = Strength, Lou

Upcoming Clinics:
April 30: Terre Haute, IN
May 1: Rushville, IL
May 20: Wyandotte, MI
May 22: Flint, MI

By: Bud Wilkinson (Winner of 47 straight games & several National Championships at Oklahoma in the 1950’s)

The best coach is the one who makes the fewest mistakes; the one who does the best teaching job; the one who is the best organizer. Writing the X’s & O’s is not the most important thing. There are 22 variables in a football game. Coach must be a salesman to the extent that when his team loses, they don’t blame him or the offensive and/or defensive system, but rather themselves.

FIRST = FOOTBALL BEGINS WITH MORALE! Once you get morale, it is easy to maintain. How to get it is a problem.
SECOND = HOW TO LOSE MORALE. Do what you said you’re going to do. Don’t say we’re going to practice 1 ½ hours and go 2 ½ hours. Training rules – if you’re not going to enforce them, don’t have them.
FOURTH = TREAT PLAYERS AS A PERSON. If he feels you are interested in him only as a football player, he won’t go all out for you. If you are interested in his academics, his personal problems, etc. and he knows this, he’ll go all out for you. Convince him that football is good for his future.
FIFTH = One year, Knute Rockne had 2 QB’s. Under great athlete, team failed; under mediocre QB, team succeeded. Why? Captain’s reply – “the great athlete is trying to show how good HE is. The TEAM is trying to make the average guy look good”.

FIRST = RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER FACULTY MEMBERS. The environment that exists has a lot to do with winning or losing. If they are with you, your job is easier. If they are against you, you’re in trouble. Work on a program of how to win friends and influence faculty members.
SECOND = ORGANIZE A MOTHER’S CLUB. Get mother on your side by pointing out to her what he can get out of football besides winning games.
THIRD = PRESS, TV, AND RADIO. Straight up fact of life that the great majority of people get their impression of you from what they read in the paper, see on TV, or hear on radio. Their jobs depend on info. Get it to them to make their jobs easier. Get these people on your side. Let them know what you’re doing. They will interpret what you’re doing in the way you want it interpreted if they are with you.

FIRST = FAILURE TO USE TIME EFFICIENTLY. Failure to recognize the time factor available to get the job done. Planning makes for valuable use of time. Too long on any one thing produces boredom. When boredom comes in, learning goes out. Football players have a short attention span. Hold to time schedule.
SECOND = FAILURE TO EXPLAIN THE PURPOSE OF THE DRILL. Tell the boy WHY he is doing what he is trying to accomplish and he will do a better job. Explain WHY, then show HOW.
THIRD = IMPROPER TEACHING PROGRESSION. You can’t teach a boy how to block until he has learned stance. If he hasn’t learned stance, he doesn’t know how to step out of the stance into the block.
FOURTH = TOO MUCH VERBAL INSTRUCTION ON THE FIELD. How much can boy learn from your verbal instruction with his helmet on, he’s breathing hard, he aches, he’s stunned, etc. Do WHO and WHY in chalk talk. Teach assignments before hitting the field. Correct on the field. Teach – no! (HOW is taught on the field – not WHO & WHY). 
FIFTH = TOO MUCH DEMONSTRATION BY COACH. How much you know is not important. How much player knows is.
SIXTH = BEING ON THE FIELD TOO LONG. Better to have a team eager to play rather than physically tired. How long to practice is a judgment factor. Cut down as season goes along – not going to change mechanical ability late in season. Only one rule never violated at Oklahoma. If one coach on staff feels practice too long, we must cut it down. More boys play poorly because they practiced too long than boys playing poorly because they didn’t practice long enough.

FIRST = TACTICS AND VICTORY. You get very few victories on tactics. Victories come if you can out block, out tackle, out fundamental your opponent. Red Sanders quote: “Intimidate them physically”! Outmaneuver – no. Defeat – yes.
SECOND = CLEAR CUT PHILOSOPHY A MUST. Decide on an offense and defense that will suit your personnel then stick to it. Depth of morale can be determined by a kid’s reaction to a loss. If morale deep, they’ll blame themselves. If morale shallow, they’ll blame you.
THIRD = TOO MANY PLAYS AND DEFENSES. Subtract the number of different plays used in the game from the total number of plays you practiced. If this number is too large you better get rid of some plays. It is difficult enough to know when to run off- tackle, but if you have four ways to run off-tackle, you will never get the right play. Beauty of Split-T was it’s very limited number of plays
FIRST = BE REALISTIC ABOUT PLAYER’S ABILITY. Don’t just put an X or an O on the board. Put up the boy’s name. Immediately his limitations affect the offense or defense you put up. Whale of a lot of difference between thingyButkus and Humpty Dumpty.
SECOND = WHEN CHIPS ARE DOWN, BEST PLAYERS ARE IN THE GAME. It is a mistake to be able to play blue chippers only one way. Say best kid you have can only go on offense. Say opponent has ball for 45 minutes. These are 45 minutes he cannot help you.

FIRST = DON’T COPY! Note clinicians and their personalities. ALL different ways of being successful. Plan carefully in the off season. Can’t take golf lessons between the 8th green and 9th tee.

The man who is best organized and does the best teaching job, is the best coach.

Monday, April 25, 2011

College Football Player - Hospitality Hero

Here's an example of of an athlete putting virtue into action. I'm sure the people he helped will never be the same. Let's form more young men like this so our country will be a better place.

Virtue = Strength, Lou
Do you have a virtue program in place? 

By: Eric Adelson

Faced with an emergency, a lot of us run away. But some of us run towards. That's what LaMichael Howell did this week when a tornado tore up his college campus.

Howell, a three-year captain of the Shaw University football team in Raleigh, N.C., was planning dinner with friends in his off-campus apartment last Monday when the power went out. Moments later, the lights came back on and the news came in: a tornado had blown through the area and done catastrophic damage.

Howell decided to drive to campus to see for himself. And he'll never forget what he encountered.

"The student union was a wreck," says the 23-year-old senior. "Power lines were down. I couldn't see. Every turn you made, you had to turn back around. Trees everywhere. Dumpsters turned upside down."

No one at the school was seriously hurt, but several dormitories were left uninhabitable. Many of the 2,300 students enrolled in the school, which is the oldest historically Black university in the South, had no place to sleep. Even the field goal post on the practice field was twisted into a pretzel, with the crossbar bent 90 degrees into a vertical position. Classes were eventually canceled for the rest of the semester.

"It hurts," Howell says. "I've been there for four years. It really did something to me."

What it did to him was turn him into an action hero. Howell went from dorm to dorm, picking up friends and strangers alike and ferrying them to his tiny apartment. Back and forth he went in his gray Crown Victoria, asking who needed help.

"Hey!" he yelled from his window, through the wind and wet, "you need a place to stay?"

Howell piled students into his car and navigated the dangerous streets back to his place.

"I spent three years with these people," he says. "I gotta look out for them. I told them, 'I won't leave you out to dry.' "

By the time it got dark and impossible to drive, Howell had 12 people at his place -- several of which he had never met before.

He hosted them for two days, until they could figure out a way to get home. Howell shared his bed, sleeping head-to-toe with a teammate. He gave up his pillow and an extra mattress, which he put on the floor. He started a loop of his favorite movies. And when everyone woke up the next day, he cooked bacon, eggs and biscuits for 13.

And Howell isn't some third-stringer. He's a regular BMOC at the Division II school, starting all four years at cornerback and leading the Bears to three conference titles. In 2010, during an undefeated 7-0 conference run, Howell had 35 tackles, 18 assists, an interception and nine pass breakups.

But he will likely be best remembered for something he did after his final game. Wednesday night, he helped the last of his guests move out of his apartment and got ready to head back to his hometown of Mobile, Ala. He'll be back one more time as a student, on May 7, when he graduates.

"To end my senior year this way is bad," Howell says. "Shaw means everything to me. It's my school. It's me. I'm a part of the university."

Friday, April 22, 2011

As Mentors We Have To Get Coached Ourselves

A great Good Friday message. Take it to heart!
It is obvious we have to teach our young men (and young women!) virtue.  Character, doing right, virtue, Godliness, whatever you want to call it, it still boils down to trying to get young people to discover what really is important, what life really is about, what true joy on this earth really consists of.  Words like honesty, integrity, perseverance, respect, love, hope, self-discipline, responsibility, etc.., etc.., etc.. have to be taught to young athletes, more so today than ever;  so many kids aren't getting ANYTHING from adults outside the playing field.  If you don't have a virtue program in place in your sport or are working on one, you are doing a great diservice to your kids.

I'm discovering the new phenomenon that kids don't even want to play sports in high school.  It's not like there aren't enough kids around or they are working a job or helping out the family either.  So many of our boys are just hanging out, playing video games, talking, watching TV, etc..  And wrestling, running, practicing, is HARD WORK!! They aren't used to being pushed, physically, mentally and spiritually.  We've become so soft! Heck, we can't even watch TV anymore unless we have a remote control!'s too much work getting up and changing the channels!  

Wow!  I know George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt are just turning over in their graves.  And there are so few good men, pushing the boys in their daily lives that playing a sport these days is just too tough.  Another factor we must not overlook is, I know there is a lot of fear. Teens are so afraid of looking bad, losing, being made fun of,that so many of my potential wrestlers(and your athletes too, I'm sure), don't come out.  The singlet ... wrestling ...? I ain't going to get slammed, it's too much time, I don't know what I'm doing....are all excuses for I'M AFRAID!

We have to keep this in mind when we are dealing with young people.  And they have a right to be afraid, nobody has ever shown them a skill, or how to lose gracefully, or the real reason we play's not about winning or losing the's just about the FIGHT!  Playing sports, wrestling is about the fight, the struggle. We know this as adults and veterans.  We forget so often this fact though because WE want to win so bad, we embarrass them when they lose. 

But think about it, if we can get them out, once we get them out, then we can make them virtuous, but we have to get them out, FIRST.  This is a HUGE TASK in this day and age.  But it's a task that is a job description for the modern day coach. We have to be the man to help them overcome their fears, to talk to them, encourage them, lift them love them, to get them out and to keep them out.

To get boys to overcome their fears, to talk to boys seriously, to encourage them, to lift them up, to discipline love them involves a tremendous effort.  Quite honestly, it can only be done by God.  We can't lead boys to virtue, to strength, to courage, to God unless God is aiding us.  There are too many traps put in our way to believe we can do it alone.  We have to turn to God for guidance, for strategy, for perseverance when that kid skips practice for the 10th time, for patience when that boy give you terrible effort in practice, for love when that immature boy acts like an immature boy. 

As mentors we have to get coached...ourselves. God is that coach. You know it and I know it, we are all too stupid to do it alone. And this is the coolest thing about this whole experience, that by coaching young people efficiently, by sacrificing for young people to become great people, we the coaches/mentors are sanctified! We need God to help us get boys to need God. The boys are brought to God, us the coaches are brought to God, our families are brought to God.  Everybody wins!  Isn't this just mind boggling?!  Isn't this so cool?!  

I'm so jacked right now, thinking about it.  For me to get to heaven, I have to coach.  I have to coach well. I have to coach with everything I have. I have to coach virtue. And this is ok, because......I love to coach!  I love to coach well, I love to coach with everything I have, I love to coach virtue!

Do not turn down this opportunity for sanctification!  Do not turn down this opportunity to love!  Do not turn down this opportunity to love God!  The mission is our life......when are you going to start living?

Happy Good Friday, Happy Easter!
Love and admiration,
Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling-Faith-Focus-Fight!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Definition of Sport

This is a great little piece worth committing to memory. Have a competition amongst all your players and coaches to see who can memorize it first.

"Sport, properly directed,
develops character
makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor;
it refines the senses,
gives intellectual penetration
and steels the will to endurance.

It is not merely a physical development then.

Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, 
and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, 
it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth
and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, 
the service and praise of his creator."

Pope Pius XII

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Intentional, Structured and Disciplined

I had lunch with a successful college football coach this week. He had a lot of insight into the lives of young men both the pros and the cons.

One of the cons that really struck me was this.

"Lou, I have 110 kids in my football program. They come from 100 different high schools. Out of all those kids ... I would say somewhere between 8-10 know how to lead. I know some of this falls on me as well because my Seniors are not much better."

I asked him what he thought the root cause was and he used a word that another coach wrote about recently ... "Passivity."

"These boys arrive on campus and we almost literally have to hold their hand to do everything. They simply won't take the initiative. We all need to do a better job, myself included, of teaching these boys to become men. At 18 a boy should be a man ..."

Coaches, let's resolve to be more and more intentional, structured and disciplined in teaching our boys to conquer the parasite of passivity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

24,000,000 and Stadiums

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America -- one out of three -- live in biological father-absent homes.

That number is hard to fathom.

Consider it from this light. 

There are 2,083 major stadiums and indoor arenas (football, baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey) in the USA.

The total maximum capacity of those 2,083 stadiums is 19,240,796.

So we can fill up 2,083 stadiums with children from fatherless homes and still have 4,795,024 waiting in the parking lot for a seat.

** Let's remember how much good we can do as coaches to help these boys and girls grow into virtuous men and women. They NEED us!

There are approximately 213 stadiums in the USA that hold 20,000 or more. 
The total maximum capacity of that list is 10,695,304

There are approximately 398 indoor arenas in the USA. 
The total maximum capacity of that list 4,120,162.

There are approximately 101 other Division 1 FCS football stadiums with a capacity less than 20,000. 
The total maximum capacity of that list is 326,119.

There are 1,371 High School football stadiums in the state of Texas. 
The total maximum capacity of that list is 4,099,211

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wisdom From the World's Oldest Man

Last week the world's oldest man, Walter Breunig, died at 114 years of age in Great Falls, Montana.

The world's oldest person is Besse Copper of Monroe, GA. She was born 26 days before Walter.

A lot of wisdom in here ... Amazing - he was 76 - already a pretty long life - when I was born.

His secret to a long life offers some pretty insightful tips:

— Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face.  ("Every change is good.")
— Eat two meals a day  ("That's all you need.")
— Work as long as you can  ("That money's going to come in handy.")
— Help others  ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")

Then there's the hardest part. It's a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

"We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.

Breuning died of natural causes in a Great Falls hospital where he had been a patient for much of April with an undisclosed illness.
This reminded me of a great poem I read in a book by Lou Holtz - "A Teen's Gameplan for Life"

The Dash
by Alton Maiden (A Notre Dame Football player)

I Have  seen death staring me with my own eyes in a way many cannot know.
I’ve seen death take others but still leave me here below.
I’ve heard many mother cries but death has refused to hear.
in my life I have seen many faces filled with many, many tears. 

After death has come and gone, a tombstone sits for many To see.
But it serves no more than a symbol of a person’s memory.

Under the person’s name it reads the date of birth— and the Date the person passed.
But the more I think about the tombstone the only Important thing is the dash.

Yes, I see the name of the person, but that I might forget.
I also read the date of birth and death, but even that may not stick.
But thinking about the person, I can’t help but think to Remember the dash.
Because it represents a person’s life and that will always last. 

So when you begin to charter your life, make sure you are on A positive path.
Because people may forget your birth and death, but they will
never forget your dash. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

It Helps You Win!

I was looking back at some of the emails I had received from coaches over the past 7 years working with SportsLeader and I came across one that I'm not sure if I ever shared before.

It is a clear testament to the amazing impact of mentoring - how it changes lives most importantly 


Coaches, every week you are going to have at least one player who has something "big" happen in his or her life. It may not be this "big" but it will be big to them. If you and your staff don't have the AWARENESS and the RELATIONSHIPS to pick this up ... they'll still be in "the fog" come game time ...

"One week one of our starting outside linebackers named Mike was having an awful time at practice. He was sluggish, distracted, missing assignments … he just wasn’t playing well at all. 

He wasn’t a super player but he was first team and generally consistent and error-free for the most part. His typical stats were a few assisted tackles per game and he played his role pretty well.

Unfortunately, at the time, not all of the coaching staff had bought in to the mentoring. I was talking with as many guys as a I could but this linebacker wasn't in my group.

Most of the coaches were really getting on him and it obviously was not having a positive impact. It was rivalry week and the atmosphere at practice was tense to begin with ...

I approached him on the way back to the locker room after practice on Wednesday and asked him if something was bothering him. I said, "Mike, I know something is up. You aren't yourself."

Mike said, “Thanks so much for not screaming at me, coach. Coach, my grandfather moved in with us seven years ago. He became my best friend. Well on Sunday night he passed away and I just can’t get over it. I know I'm playing like trash, can't concentrate in school, can't focus. I don't know. I'm depressed and I can't shake it. I'm trying but it's not working."

He broke down. 

I talked him through it and toward the end of our conversation he mentioned that he liked reading books by Tolkien. I have no idea how we got on that but anyway.

On my drive home I went to a bookstore and found the cheapest book by Tolkien I could find. Money is tight. 

When I got to practice the net day, I teach at another school about 20 minutes away, I gave him the book and he was speechless. Somehow it changed him. He seemed more alert at practice during walk-through, like some of "the fog" had lifted.

The next day - on Friday night under the lights - he had the game of his life: 3 tackles for loss, a tipped pass, an interception and a sack. It was amazing! He had never had an interception or a sack before in his high school career.

He ran off the field one time after making a huge stop on 4th and 1 and I gave him the biggest bear hug I could muster. I was so proud of him.

We got the win and he got the game ball and all the coaches were shocked wondering how he could have turned it around like that. 

"Mike, you had the worst week of practice in the your life and then you have the best game of your life ... How?"

Mike said,  “Real simple, Coach talked to me.” He pointed to me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Music - Depression - Books

Getting teenagers to read is not for the faint of heart. But the below study might provide some added motivation.


Coach Dean Hood has chosen a book every year for his coaches and players to read. Basically the idea is to read a chapter a week and he asks his players to text him once they have personally finished the chapter letting him know what they got out of it. The book he chose this year was "The Mentor Leader" by Tony Dungy. I know that all of his Seniors have read it.

This could be another way to generate some good discussion on the team.

If during the season seems too difficult, maybe consider doing this in the off-season.
Study: Are Music-Loving Teens More Likely to Be Depressed?
By Amie Ninh

Being plugged into an iPod is a hallmark of adolescence, but a new study suggests that teens who spend too much time listening to music may be at higher risk of depression.

The study, led by Dr. Brian Primack, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, found that teens who reported listening to music more often — rather than using other types of media like TV and books — were at higher risk of having major depressive disorder (MDD), compared with teens who listened to music less frequently. With each level increase in music use, teens had an 80% higher risk of depression, the study found.

"At this point, it is not clear whether depressed people begin to listen to more music to escape, or whether listening to large amounts of music can lead to depression, or both," said Primack in a statement.

By contrast, researchers found that reading books had the opposite association: with each level increase in time spent reading, teens' risk of depression dropped 50%. "This is worth emphasizing because overall in the U.S., reading books is decreasing, while nearly all other forms of media use are increasing," Primack said.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Build Those Folders and Write That Letter

I had dinner with Coach Mark Reddy last night. I learned so much from him just listening to his perspective on life, adversity, coaching ...

At one point in the conversation he began to talk about his awards banquet.

There is a particular tradition in SportsLeader that unfortunately many coaches have not taken us up on - but - fortunately - Mark has.

We have a virtue theme of the week with a story, some questions, some quotes, a goals progress chart ... Every week the idea is to go over one of the sheets, the players fill them out and hand them in to their mentor coach.

Most teams do this part. The next part requires a little more sacrifice. Each mentor coach then keeps all of those sheets in a player folder, one folder per player. They write down some comments, some praise on each sheet week after week ... building up the folder.

By the end of the season each player will have about 20 sheets representing all of the work they have put in during the season.

Then the week before the awards banquet, each coach looks back through all those sheets of the players he has been mentoring all season and writes each of his players a short letter, maybe 1 page.

At the awards banquet every player receives that folder with all the sheets and the personal letter from his mentor coach.

The look on Coach Reddy's face while he was talking about all this was proof enough for me that this works ...

"Lou, when the kids go back and sit down they couldn't open that folder fast enough ... they read the letter over and over again. Most have tears running down their faces, especially the Seniors. I know they will keep those folders forever."


On my way to dinner with Mark, I had a phone call with another coach who just had a player die this past weekend in a car accident. He was a Senior getting ready to graduate in a few weeks.

Couple this with the above story ... a true perspective on what coaching is all about.

Life is short. I encourage you to follow Coach Reddy's example ... build those folders and write that letter. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Andrew Luck: Chivalry Still Lives

I have always been inspired when I see young people going out of their way to be polite and helpful. 

Unfortunately, finding chivalry in today's young men is at times a daunting search.

Andrew Luck to our rescue. In case you've never heard of him, Andrew is the QB at Stanford University. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season and he almost certainly would have been the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft on April 28 had he not opted to return for his redshirt junior season, in large part, he said, because he wanted to finish up his degree in architectural design. 

Andrew was recently surrounded by reporters during an interview when he noticed a woman approaching the Stanford athletic building with her hands full. He excused himself from the interview, went over and held the door for her and asked her if she needed help with anything. Apparently she needed to use the restroom so he directed her to the location and cautioned her that they might be cleaning inside. She was very grateful and moved on probably not realizing that one of the most "famous" young men in the state of CA just helped her ...

Andrew returns to the interview, "Please excuse me. Where were we?" 

Now this is not earth-shattering, nor worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize BUT IF ... we could inspire more of our athletes to act like this out of personal conviction ... having formed the habit of being a gentleman ... we will change the world.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lessons Learned from Augusta & Bobby Jones

Even watching sports on TV can be an occasion to learn and grow in virtue. Frank brings up so many interesting conversation points, lessons ...

A powerful connection between virtue, golf and The Masters Tournament is the person of Bobby Jones (1902-1971).After retiring from competitive golf in 1930, Jones started and helped to design the Augusta National Golf Club soon afterwards in 1933, and also co-founded the Masters Tournament, which has been annually staged by the club since 1934 (except for 1943-45, when it was cancelled due to World War II). The Masters evolved into one of golf's four major championships. 

Bobby was a man of extraordinary virtue. Here is a movie clip that depicts this. I would truly be difficult to have a shorter clip display so perfectly the virtues of honesty and integrity in only 2 minutes.
Lessons Learned from Augusta
By Coach Frank DiCocco

I Watched the Masters This Weekend… and What I Saw Was Inspiring

Like many golf enthusiasts, I tuned into watch the greatest tournament to be found anywhere in the world.  Augusta National: it is the reason why HD-TV was invented… the lush grass, the bright azaleas, the incredibly picturesque scenes of Magnolia Lane and Amen Corner.

But what caught my attention the most, however, was not the beauty of the greens and fairways. Rather, it was the beauty of the human spirit on display.

What I saw when I turned on the Masters, was the following…

I saw Phil Mickelson, adorned in pink awareness ribbons, promoting the fight against breast cancer — a battle which both his wife and mother most recently fought valiantly. Both waged a courageous war against a disease more insidious than anyone should have to deal with. Both of these brave women not only survived: they overcame.  They conquered cancer.

I saw Ryo Ishikawa, playing his hardest for something truly special—Ishikawa made it known that he will donate his earnings for the ENTIRE YEAR to the relief efforts in Japan. Ryo Ishikawa will give every-single-cent of every-single-paycheck he makes on the PGA Tour this season, to help the victims and nation of Japan heal from the tragic earthquakes and disasters that ravaged the wonderful country.
(Whoever says it’s all about the money… might want to talk to Mr. Ishikawa. They may also want to talk to his fellow countrymen and women, for whom Ishikawa will be playing this entire calendar year.) 

I watched the Master’s this week; much like every golf enthusiast around the world.
Yet, I saw something that many others probably didn’t see:

I saw courage.  I saw hope.
I saw compassion.  I saw redemption.
I saw greatness.  And more importantly, I saw goodness.
I watched for hours and I saw something that cannot—
And will not—ever be replaced.  I saw the human spirit on full display.

And there’s no jacket that can be made to fit something so large.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Purpose of the Senior Trip

Last weekend the three senior wrestlers went on their senior trip to Beaver Creek in the Daniel Boone National Forest, outside of Somerset, Kentucky.  I've attached pictures of the weekend, thanks primarilly to Jim Bissel our guide and camera guy. 

The purpose of the senior trip is one last initiation before they graduate.  Roughing it is the primary condition for the trip to be a success.  God to speak to the boys is another key ingredient.  I think we had plenty of both.  We camped and slept under the stars Friday and Saturday nights in 40 degree weather.  We hiked all day, blazing our own trail half of the day for six hours, covering approximately 9 miles.  We purified our water, taken from the Beaver Creek itself, ate very limited food and probably the harshest.....forced the kids to give up their cell phones and I-pods. HA! The boys had a chance to talk around the campfire (after they cut the wood themselves!)  Of course I preached about the value of being a man of service.  I know some revelations ensued.

As so many recent events have forced us to realize, life is tough and if we are not training our boys to expect a tough life, we are doing them a disservice.  Thanks to all for your funds, offerings of help and prayers, that made this trip a reality.  Nothing like having to get your water from a spring to realize how much we take for granted. It takes a village to raise a child and thanks for all of you willing to be a part of the Winton Woods Wrestling village. Chalk one up for the good guys! TKC!

Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling: Faith, Focus, Fight.....Forever!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Impacting the Parents on Your Team

What makes the below testimony even more amazing for me personally is the fact that this team did not have much athletic talent over the past 4 seasons ... they did not win too many games. And yet, their retention rate was nearly 100% over the 4 years ... 

Why keep coming back to a team with little apparent hope of "winning"? The testimony answers that!

I do not really have words for the ending of this incredible journey. Although we have moved even further north and would pretty much have been impossible to have made it this year, we would have made the games to support all of you.

Trent and Coaches, you are amazing in spirit and heart. What you have taught these boys will last a lifetime.

What you have taught me, will! You have been an inspiration to me from day 1 and there has never been anything that has impacted me in spirit the way that the Lakota Stallion Family has.

People ask me why I still have my Stallion Football sticker on my car, IT IS STAYING THERE and proudly so!

Trent, you know how I feel about you, I pray daily! I know if anyone will fight through this it will be you.

I am headed to Cleveland Clinic myself in 2 1/2 wks andd as afraid as I am, your heart and spirit make me know it will all be ok.

I miss each and everyone of you and all of the boys and wish all of you the very best.

Connor is not at the point of being able to watch the videos but he will and I will keep them forever. Please take care all!
Mrs. K

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Great Article about Butler Basketball Team

Finding what is important in the midst of bitter disappointment is a rare jewel.

They did not have too many video cuts to the coach during the game but when they did, Coach Stevens was always composed and focused ... in the midst of the severe shooting drought he wasn't ranting and cussing ... he was saying "good effort" and encouraging his players.

An outstanding example for all of us.

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

HOUSTON – Shawn Vanzant sat in the corner of the Butler locker room, sobbing, his teammates said, at an almost uncontrollable level. Next to him was Matt Howard, a towel draped over his head, the tears coming just as hard.

Together, the two seniors had shot 3 for 23, an absolutely abysmal, crushing performance in the biggest game of their lives. Connecticut was outside clipping the national championship nets. In here it was just hell, the aftermath of a great team gone bad – 12-of-64 shooting, a record-low 18.8 percent from the floor, a measly 41 total points, the lowest since the shot clock was invented.

Vanzant thought it was his fault. Howard felt no better.

And that’s when Ronald Nored, eyes red and tear-filled as well, noticed his teammates, got up, crossed the locker room and reminded everyone what this entire pursuit is about.

He pulled Shawn Vanzant up off his stool and hugged his friend, physically and emotionally attempting to lift him out of his depression.

After a few seconds, Nored stepped over to Howard and did the same. And soon enough, his teammates followed. One after the other, from the freshmen to the managers, from the benchwarmers to the starters, every last Butler Bulldog was taking a moment to remind each other, particularly those bottomed-out seniors, that this was about a lot more than some basketball game.

“It [was] hard for me to watch; it’s hard for me to talk about,” coach Brad Stevens said of the scene, his voice catching and his eyes watering behind his glasses.

“But it’s the best part of the story.”

The story of Butler, the one that’s captured underdog hearts for two consecutive NCAA tournaments, was always about a group finding a way to be better than its individual parts. The Bulldogs were a family, they said. They were a brotherhood, they reminded. They believed they could reach back-to-back NCAA title games when there was no logical reason to think such a thing was possible.

This is what all kinds of teams say, of course. And it’s easy to be a family when the shots are falling and victories are piling up and you’re shocking the world night after night. It’s another when you take the grandest stage in college basketball and proceed to experience a failure of historic proportions.

Butler hit just 3 of 31 shots inside the arc. It made just six baskets in each half. At one point, the Bulldogs missed 13 in a row. They clanked open shots and blew gimmes they make in their sleep. As much credit as the long-armed Huskies’ defense deserves, in the back of every Bulldogs’ mind was the thought that they gave this away by playing the worst game of their lives at the worst possible moment.

“All the people who played in the game think they let us down,” Stevens said. “And that’s ridiculous.”

That’s also when everything gets tested. Butler blew it and that’s when fingers tend to get pointed and playing time gets questioned and selfishness can rise up. If only he had made that lay-up. If only he had knocked down that open jumper.

“It’s very easy to just think about yourself and be frustrated in the situation,” Howard said.

Instead, the Bulldogs showed all the talk was real. They did it one hug after the next. One whispered “I love you” after another. One pat on the back and look into the eye and honest bit of concern. The harder some cried, the harder the rest worked to ease the pain.

Stevens stood in that locker room, took it all in and saw the kind of miracle for which coaches strive – collective support in the lowest and rawest of moments. Kids caring about kids. Perspective and purpose on display. It may not get you a clipped net, but that’s some kind of championship in itself.

“Hard, hard to put into words,” Stevens said, his voice trailing a bit.

“It’s probably the great thing about sports,” assistant coach Matthew Graves said.

Nored said he never hesitated. Once he noticed Vanzant in such a state, the game didn’t matter. Only his friend did.

“That’s what we’re here for, we’re here for each other,” Nored said. “In the big picture, who really cares about basketball? It’s about the guys in this locker room. I wanted Shawn to know we don’t really care that his shot didn’t go in; we care about him.”

Howard, just a half-hour later, could only marvel at the entire thing. Butler had come to win the title on Monday, but when he gathered the team pregame in the tunnel, he told everyone to forget what was at stake.

“Don’t think about the national championship,” he shouted. “This is our last time playing together.”

With that, the Bulldogs broke huddle and sprinted out into the dome.

A couple hours later, his message meant more than ever. The national championship was gone. The appreciation of playing together was not. He couldn’t hide under that towel after the game. His teammates wouldn’t let him.

“[They] come over and give you a hug and tell [you] how much [they] love [you] and appreciate [you] and that is what this team is about,” Howard said. “It’s really uplifting because no matter the result, they want to be a part of this team and that is all that’s on their mind. They want to pick you up.

“It’s a special group. That’s the only reason we’ve been able to do what we have.”

They talk a lot about the “Butler Way” around here, although no one has a specific definition of it. Mostly it’s about being selfless, not caring who gets the points or the headlines or the accolades. Here on the night of a bitter, bitter defeat, Brad Stevens was reminded it can mean a whole lot more than that.

“You know if someone has to go 12 of 64 and lose that game and do it that way,” he said, “these guys have the character to handle that.”

The game had been a nightmare. The embarrassment of all those misses will linger. The frustration of so many good players failing to make simple shots will haunt them.

But it won’t happen alone. Not with these guys. Not after Ronald Nored hugged Shawn Vanzant in the corner of that locker room and just wouldn’t let go.


From Rick Bozich - Louisville Courier-Journal|newswell|text|Sports|s

Butler is just the ninth program to appear in back-to-back NCAA finals in the post-UCLA era of college basketball, one that started in 1976. The Bulldogs have shown you can succeed without majoring in nonsense and minoring in obsessing about NBA-ready freshmen.

No five-star recruits. Not one. Howard, their leading scorer, grew up in Central Indiana (Connersville), with belated recruiting interest from Indiana. His scholarship to Purdue was taken by another prospect (Scott Martin).

No McDonald's All Americans. Not one. Mack, their best overall player, was raised a University of Kentucky fan in Lexington, but he signed with Butler because Stevens showed him more persistent love.

“It's not rocket science,” Stevens said. “It's a values-based organization driven by a mission and a vision like every other business in the world or every other collective group in the world.

“I think it begins with selflessness, and certainly accountability is very important, humility is very important. You kind of go through those founding principles.

“The only way we address ‘The Butler Way' with our team is in this regard: People know they've seen and felt something special, they just can't put their finger on it.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Difference Between Boys and Men

Another great testimony of a boy becoming a man ... even though he is still a young fella.

Your players listen to you coaches - sometimes more than we think.

Hey Lou,

I just wanted to forward you some pictures of a boy on my basketball team that made a cake for a neighbor of his that has breast cancer. He's a 5th grader, a great kid and he is really taking to our talks.

After practice we talked about what it means to be a man.

We discussed how boys look to be served while men look TO SERVE.

Then we discussed how we can serve others. I challenged the boys to be men by doing something for others.

This boy in the pictures has a neighbor who has breast cancer.  He went home and made a cake for her and let her know that the team has included her in our prayers.

She was very happy that he had thought of her by making the cake and including her in our prayers.

This came after our introductory SportsLeader talk.

Take Care,


Monday, April 4, 2011

Eastern Kentucky University Virtue Camp Testimonial

We'd love to host you, your staff and players as well.

Contact us for more information ...

EKU Football Virtue Camp Experience
By Dean Hood, Head Football Coach

We went on our first SportsLeader Virtue Camp this past weekend. I brought my 15 Seniors to be along with my 2 Coordinators Mike Springston and Tony Hatmaker.

It was a great experience for our kids - a chance to get away and spend some time with one another in the great outdoors.

The camp had nothing really to do with X's and O's but it was all about leadership, fun and team unity.

The theme that we worked on was: What does it mean to lead? We broke it down like this:

L - Love Others
E - Encourage Others
A - Actively Resolve
D - Deny Yourself

We watched some movie clips, gave the guys some time for personal reflection with some questions and then had them open up about what they thought about all this.

Our goals for the camp were to:

1. Help our new leaders understand what being a leader is all about
2. Come up with a team mission statement
3. Get some practical ideas on how to help our seniors mentor the new incoming freshmen
4. Inspire them to give more of themselves via service projects

I think we more than achieved all of our goals.

We had some fun too. We mixed in some dodgeball. This was the most hilarious game of dodgeball we've ever had - why? Just have everyone play with their opposite hand and you'll see.

A midnight bonfire ... We had a "build the bonfire" competition between offense and defense while it was still raining Friday afternoon ... everyone was wondering why are we doing this ... it cleared up beautifully about 3 hours later. Plus we were able to witness that awesome full moon which won;t be that big, bright and clear until 2029. Pretty cool.

After some smores, around the bonfire everyone shared one of the most impactful moments of their life. It was a moving experience. I think we all learned something about each other that night.

This group is a special group of Seniors in that they really accept one another with a lot of charity.

Saturday brought some fishing where quite a few guys caught their very first fish.

I highly recommend you doing this experience with your team or your seniors.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Staying in Shape

A friendly note from my brother. He has some good nuggets of wisdom and motivation here that I know can and should pay attention to.

Hey Lou!

I'm always impressed with your Sports Leader emails. The stories are great, and it's amazing to hear about coaches and players internalizing the lessons.

In addition to modeling good behavior and values, there's another way that coaches can be role models for young players: through their health. I'm not sure what most of the coaches in the Sports Leader program look like, but when I was growing up, many of the coaches I saw, at my school and others, were all overweight.

In fact, quite a few of the adults in our community were overweight. I just assumed that everyone was destined to be fat and out of shape when they reached adulthood. It wasn't until I moved to Denver that I saw fit and healthy looking adults, from folks in their mid-20's all the way to spry 70 year olds. It was both a revelation and inspiration to me.

Now you know I'm not the most religious person, but in mind, caring for your body should be a part of everyone's spiritual life. Maintaining and strengthening the body is a form of gratitude, a recognition of the physical gifts and blessings that you've been given. 

Athletic activity shouldn't stop after high school or college graduation. If players are working hard on the field or the court, coaches can learn from them, too, and put in their own hard work to stay fit.

So, what I guess I'm saying is this: I'd love to see you encourage coaches to be mindful of their health. Players are looking at their appearances, not just what they're wearing, as an example of how adults care for themselves. 

Just my two cents.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Two simple and practical ways to do something to help this situation is the following:

1. Purposefully invite your wife and daughters to your practices or weight lifting sessions. When they arrive, go over and give them a hug, smile and treat them with respect. You are giving an example to the young men around you HOW to treat a woman. Spend a few minutes together. It does not need to be a long period of time.

-Schedule it in such a way so that every week (or as often as you are able) a different coach has his family come see him there ...

Over time - the young men will SEE how the important men in their lives treat women.

2. In your mentoring sessions, as you talk to the young men, tell them how much you love your wife ... how she is important to you ... that you are grateful for her, etc.

They will CATCH these lessons ... 
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Teal is the official color of the Campaign for Change.
The month of April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States.
The goal is to raise public awareness about the prevalence and seriousness of sexual violence, and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual assault from occurring. Each dayeach and every one of us can do something to promote positive & meaningful change. Working together, we can raise awareness, change attitudes, and improve the situation.

The Situation Is Disturbing, & It’s Time We Did Something About It
   ~ 1 of every 6 women will be the victim of attempted sexual assault in her lifetime. 
   ~ 1 of 5 teenage relationships involves some type of physical or sexual force.
   ~ 1 of 4 girls will become a victim of abuse by the time she is 18.