SportsLeader is a virtue-based mentoring and motivation program for coaches. This blog shares stories from coaches all over the country transforming lives. For more information contact Lou Judd -

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Players Want From Their Parents

The relationship between players and parents can be a major issue at times for coaches.

Coach Mike Bickerman of Rushville Industry High School in Illinois handed out a surgery for his players to answer.

"I had a meeting to finalize summer stuff with the kids. I gave them an informal survey which said what do you expect from yourself (3 spaces), your teammates (3 spaces), and your parents/family (3 spaces). Of the 106 possible answers I got for the 3 blanks under parents and family, 36 (or 34%) had something to do with the word "support". I think possibly our kids don't feel supported....or maybe they do feel supported and crave more of it. It just jumps off of the pages."

I went through the list as well. 

If you include the words: support, games, help, encourage, back me up ... well over 70% have to do basically with the concept of supporting them.


Have you planned out when you're going to do you personal questionnaire and fun activity?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kirk Cousins: Team Building

While we were in Michigan we had the opportunity to visit Michigan State University and get the "grand tour" along with talking with head coach Mark Dantonio about SportsLeader

Mike Pruchnicki, athletic director and assistant football coach at Flint Powers Catholic high school, played and coached at MSU a few years ago. He was kind enough to organize quite a few things for me and my 8 year old son during our visit.

Mike also had all of his coaches attend a training - he is one of the most inspiring AD's I've ever met and I'm proud to have him in our coaches association.

As a Dad I was ecstatic that my son was able to experience all these things but I also learned a ton.

When we were chatting with OT Jared McGaha he told us about some team building activities that his QB Kirk Cousins was taking upon himself to organize with all of the offensive linemen. Namely a "weight-lifting crawl" and the more popular "buffet crawl"

The lifting crawl consisted in visiting nearby gyms and getting a lift in at all of them.

The "Buffet Crawl", whose description was always accompanied with a large smile, will be a lineman's dream of visiting one buffet restaurant after another all in one evening. I pity the buffet owners (smile) ... these boys can eat.

Jared said that Kirk is always looking for new and different ways to have fun - the good way.

It was obvious that these young men are learning a lot about virtue by the way they treated my son: teaching him to block, throw a ball ... you could tell that they really wanted to help him.

We need more young men of virtue!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brightening Someone's Day

I had a pretty amazing trip to Michigan this past weekend. I believe we met more than 70 coaches from 10 different high schools and 3 different middle schools. More on that over the next few days.

One of the coaches who organized a training was Ron Adams from Wyandotte Roosevelt high school which is a little south of Detroit.

He and a few of his players did something pretty special recently and I thought it was definitely worth sharing - a service project we could all accomplish.

They visited a former player at Hospice to brighten his day. 

Have you and your players done something to serve others this year? Let us know.
Stephanie from Hospice called and told us we have a gentleman who would like to meet with some Wyandotte athletes as one of his last requests. TD figured out who Mr. Miller really was, Walt's Dad, and called me to make the visit happen. 

Mr Mike Miller is a former all state football player and 1951 graduate of Roosevelt High School. This was a visit I will always remember. I have never seen Walt display such love and caring as he did this day. It makes me proud to be a Wyandotte Bear! 

I visited Mr. Miller with our captains and it was a very emotional experience. Mr. Miller's face lite up like a light bulb when he saw our youngmen. It was a great feeling to know we helped brighten his day.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We Can't Do It Alone

Somebody you know is really working hard to improve.  It's a struggle and they are struggling but they are getting some things figured out.  They want us to notice, they desperately want us to notice.  But we are so stressed trying to get it done that we aren't noticing.

Let's notice today and complement them for becoming more virtuous.  Nobody can do it alone, and we all need little successes every day.  Help somebody celebrate their successes today. We all have power we can't even comprehend!

Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling-Faith, Focus and Fight!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Importance of Virtue Camp

This past weekend I was blessed to be a part of another virtue camp. It was with the Xenia (Ohio) HS football seniors.

What was unique about this particular camp was that one of the players is about to become a father. At every camp we tell the boys that what we are going to talk about is a lot more than just what is needed for the season ... but to help you become a better husband and a better father for the future.

As soon as I said that, the camp took on a whole new meaning - that it was for real, that it was important NOW.

The young man in question was inspiring. His circumstances are challenging no doubt but he was just as excited, just as scared, just as hopeful, just as involved ... as any other man would be expecting his first child. He is having a son and you can tell that he already loves him with all his heart.

The coaches, players and Dads present were all extremely supportive of him. This is no small comment.

It reminded me of asking many different young men over the years once their season is finished - "What are the 3 best memories from this past season?"

Almost 100% of the time the young men respond in the same fashion:
1. Father-Son Jersey Night
2. Virtue Camp
3. A particular win

So often sports are about so much more than just the games. The best sports moments are about much more than that. 

Even the big wins, the great come-from-behind victories ... They are so special because of the love and the camaraderie that you have built up as a team.

Virtue Camp is an enormous part of that camaraderie.

So if you don't do something currently similar to a virtue camp, I encourage you to give it a try.

It could be one of the most memorable experiences for you as well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Leadership Day

I had a very interesting experience yesterday. I was invited to Lloyd Memorial High School by one of the coaches in our SportsLeader Association to be a part of their first ever Leadership Day.

They invited 10 speakers: One for opening assembly, one for closing assembly and 8 others who would have 8 - 20 minute segments throughout the day.

They selected 175 students who participate in sports, band and any other extra-currciculars. They were divided into 8 groups boys and girls, Frosh-Juniors.

I had never really done something exactly like this before so I was excited to be a part of it.

First off, I highly recommend that you do this at your school. I would suggest doing it at the beginning of the school year and then repeating it at the end.

Things I learned. I don't think these "things" are particular to this high school but of our culture in general. It was a confirmation for me personally how necessary SportsLeader is.

I asked the students to raise their hands to a number of different questions. They were very honest. Here were the 2 most striking:

-90% have intentionally said something extremely mean to another student

-10% have apologized for doing so

Charity is one of our core virtues. On our commitment card it states:

CHARITY - I will only think and say positive things about others, especially teammates and coaches.

Let's not forget that we need to repeat and repeat and repeat ... and that mentoring will help!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Which Ring?

I was visiting with one of the coaches in our Association, Bruce Scifres of Indianapolis Roncalli High School once. He has coached 6 State Championship teams in 1993, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

We were in his office talking when a group of players gathered at the door.

"Coach, out of the 6 State rings you have, which one is the most important to you - or the one you like the most?"

Bruce simply lifted up his left hand and showed them his wedding ring. 

They stood there looking at him in a somewhat stunned silence. I was looking at the expressions on their faces change as the lesson set in.

As they were turning around to leave, Coach said, "Boys ..."

"Yes, Sir."

"And it always will be."

I felt blessed just to be able to witness this simple, basically one minute exchange. You could tell that those young men just learned something they will never forget. I include myself in that group as well.

No wonder so many former players come back to coach or be involved at Roncalli ... they want to keep learning.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thank You Coach Hood

Last night we had 2 special events in Lexington: A meet and greet for coaches and a benefit dinner.

What was the most amazing part of it was that the main impetus for both events came from Dean Hood, the head football coach at Eastern Kentucky University.

As you can imagine, a Division 1 FB coach is pretty busy ... he has plenty on his plate already ... and yet he takes the time and the initiative to call, visit and invite people.

It once again proved to me the old adage, "If you want something done, ask someone who is already busy."

There were many inspiring-moving moments but 2 stood out in my mind:

-In his keynote Coach Hood said that the rate of fatherless homes has quadrupled over the past few decades. Within white families it was 6% not too long ago - now it is 24%. And within African-American homes it was 19% and now it is 67%.

-I had the honor of meeting Dean's wife Crystal for the first time. I was inspired by how much she loves her husband and how much she loves the work  her husband does building up young men. There was "that same fire" in her eyes, that she loved being a part of something big, something truly worthwhile and how she offered up the sacrifices that come from it.

Thank you, Dean, from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Having or BEING

Our society is becoming more and more materialistic ... more and more about having instead of about BEING.

Here is a neat really short story that I thought would be good to share with your players.

Chinese Legend

A group of elderly, cultured gentlemen met often to exchange wisdom and drink tea. Each host tried to find the finest and most costly varieties, to create exotic blends that would arouse the admiration of his guests.

When the most venerable and respected of the group entertained, he served his tea with unprecedented ceremony, measuring the leaves from a golden box. The assembled epicures praised this exquisite tea. 

The host smiled and said, “The tea you have found so delightful is the same tea our peasants drink. I hope it will be a reminder to all that the good things in life are not necessarily the rarest or the most costly."

* - Do you have any great stories to share? Send them my way.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Both And

Coach Paul Passafiume, the founding Coach of SportsLeader, told me a story about one of the players on his football team a number of years ago and I just remembered it again this morning. He coaches the St Agnes Saints in Louisville, KY. 

There are many coaches out there who think that it is "either - or". Either you are old-school and care for nothing else but winning whether you "crush" your kids or not ... or you are a fluffy cupcake that talks about character and never wins a game.

This is just a weak cop-out and we have plenty of examples of coaches in our association - Coach Passafiume being one of them - that prove this false, for example:

There was a young man named Justin. He was somewhat interested in football but the other boys in his class who were on the football team were not the most charitable bunch at the beginning of the season. Justin soon became a target for getting picked on and bullied. But then the change came. 

Coach began working with the bullying football players in question. As our SportsLeader's first tee shirt reads "Virtue = Strength", he challenged them to be charitable and respectful of others - in other words to be a strong man instead of a weak boy who just follows his feelings. The boys soon took it to heart as well as to Justin. Instead of picking on him, they began befriending and defending him. It was a complete 180.

During the off season, Paul leads virtue and weight lifting sessions on Saturday mornings at the local community center. Justin showed up one morning asking permission to be a part of the team. He then shared his whole experience with Coach, letting him know that he wanted to play football so he could learn how to become a man who used his will to serve others. Excelling at football would be icing on the cake.

Fast forward a few months later to the next football season. This time Justin was a member of the team and not just a member - a really good player.

As it turns out the team makes it to the Championship playing the team they had lost to 0-22 earlier in the season. No one gave them a chance to win this game.

Well - they did win 19-14.

And who made a huge play late in the game to seal the victory? Justin.

So the young man who wasn't coming out for the team due to a lack of charity ... once his classmates learned about what it means to be a true man ... becomes a stand-out player and helps win a championship.

At the awards banquet, I hear kid after kid going up to coach, "Coach, thanks for teaching us what it means to be a man."

So, coaches leave the "Either-Or Dark Side" and come over to the LIGHT.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Get Over Your Fear

Coach Trent Todd is one of the finest men in our SportsLeader Coaches Association. He was kind enough to film 12 videos about his experience mentoring and coaching. He shares a personal experience here below as well as a great message to coaches everywhere. The two are very related: Because Trent conquered his fears, he has impacted thousands of lives - like Ryan in the story.

Here is video 9 - Get Over Your Fear. It is well worth 1 minute of your time.

Hi Folks, my name is Trent Todd, I helped Ron Jennings get the Lakota Stallions off the ground (a youth football team near Cincinnati).  When the Stallions was started it was with the mind set of building a better youth sports philosophy.  One that incorporated football along with virtue, value, and mentoring.  I'm proud to say that we have done that.  I see examples of it every day.

The latest comes from Ryan Ennis.  Ryan plays for Coach Joe Toepfer, which is 4th grade Blue.  Let me make this clear I'm not Ryan's coach and have never coached Ryan. I did coach next to Ryan's team last fall when I was coaching my 6th grade Blue Team.  I would always watch Joe's team and joke with them before and after practice, and Ryan would always remind me to get all of my cones and dummies, but that  was about as far as the interacting went.

Now as many of you know I have a lung disease and I'm waiting for a transplant.  Two weeks ago I'm sitting here at home and the door bell rings, It's Ryan and his father Gary, and they have a present for me.  It was a autographed picture of New Orleans Saints Linebacker Troy Evans, Troy had signed his name and the phase "TO COACH TRENT TODD KEEP FIGHTING!!!!"  I was totally amazed at what Ryan took upon his self to do all on his own.  He basically told Troy that a coach he knows is waiting for a lung transplant and wanted to do something to make him feel better.

Now for Ryan to do this all on his own and think of someone other than himself let alone a coach who doesn't even coach his team, this tells me he is one UNSELFISH STALLION, so coaches and parents we need to keep doing what we are doing because we are making a difference in these kids lives.

Thank you Ryan, Coaches, Parents, & Stallions

Sincerely, Trent Todd

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

We've all heard the phrase before ... "The Elephant in the Room" ...

That awkward subject that everyone knows about but no one wants to talk about ...

At virtue camp we at SportsLeader make it a point to publicly address all the Elephants - give them their due.

This past weekend was no exception. Hanover College, a division 3 school in Indiana, brought their Senior football players for an opportunity to grow in leadership.

We were blessed with a fabulously star-studded night sky, an enormous bonfire, an opportunity to help someone pull their 2,000 pound tractor out of a ditch ... and some serious "elephant time".

I was impressed with the coaching staff ... they really got after this. 

Some coaching staffs "go silent" when we've had some discussions like this - they unfortunately get as passive as the players. Not these men.

We found two main issues, we circled them in, and didn't stop till we came up with some concrete actions. 

We finished off with an activity called "The Commission" where the coaches handed off the leadership of the team to this new group of Seniors. It was an event I don't these young men will ever forget.

Virtue = Strength, Lou
*-If you'd like to schedule a virtue camp for your team drop me a line.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Drew Brees - Leadership - Actively Resolve

What does it mean to lead?

During our virtue camps this spring and summer we have been trying to help our coaches and players really understand that.

We are playing off the acronym LEAD:
Love Others
Encourage Others
Actively Resolve
Deny Yourself

Drew Brees is a perfect example of all 4 ...

Thanks, Drew, for your excellent example!
Leadership.  It’s often the difference going from good to great.  It’s what college coaches are hoping to get out of their players during voluntary summer workouts when the coaches are not around.

It’s the essence of Drew Brees.

With the lockout ongoing and teams not allowed at their practice facilities, Brees has seized the opportunity to be a leader once again.
Starting today, the Saints surprised many by conducting an organized team workout at Tulane’s practice facility with 37 players participating.  Brees, the unquestioned leader of the Saints, setup the practice that was attended by numerous veteran players.  It's the first of many workouts at Tulane, says Brees.

And who is paying for all this? Drew Brees.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Brees will pay as much as five figures for Tulane staff to help out with the practices, insurance and lodging for younger players. He also flew in his personal trainer to oversee the conditioning program.

Asked what he’s trying to accomplish with these workouts, Brees said, “Honestly, it’s to prepare us to have a championship season.  That’s obviously our ultimate goal.  I feel like the more organized you can be as a team and the more you can communicate during this time, in May, June, July prior to a normal training…the better off you will be once the season does come around.”

“None of us know how long this (lockout) is going to last. This gives us the best position to be successful once the season does start.”

Brees added, “It helps being a veteran team, but also having young guys that are strong character guys and willing to follow the leaders on this team and when you have veteran guys showing up like Sharper, Vilma, Stinchcomb, and countless others, Heath Evans, David Thomas, then others can say ‘These guys are doing the right thing.  These guys know how to be a pro and you know what, I want to be there because I want to show them I can be counted on, too.’”

And that, my friends, is leadership!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mentoring - How To Do It

Over the weekend at one of the coaches clinics, a coach asked a really good question:

How do you mentor a young man? I mean I want to be his coach, not his friend ...

The short answer - Both AND ...

But I wanted to hear what you all thought about it as well. Here is what Coach Willertz wrote.
Mentoring our players and young people is a job all men must do.  It's not a question of why me?  It just comes with the turf.  Throughout history adult men mentored the boys and younger men, from the apprenticeships of New England to farmers of the Midwest "instructing" their children in the ways of cattle, chickens and hay.  It's a natural phenomenon.

But why does it seem so difficult to so many men today?  Probably because so few men today having been actively mentored by adult men when they were growing up.  I think we are in a time today, when so many adults don't know how to be adults, to parent effectively because they weren't mentored or parented very effectively. It's pretty hard to teach what you don't know.

So how do you mentor?  Personally, I think the most important element in mentoring is mentoring by example.  "What you do speaks so loud, I can't hear what you say." somebody important said.  And it's true.  Your student has eyes for you and on you 24 hours a day.  He dreams about you, he admires you, he watches you.  You must "act right", if you want your young one to "act right".  This can be tough, especially since so many adult men think it's their right to smoke, drink, cuss, etc...  But to instruct means you have to get your act together and start acting like a real man, 24/7.  Of course you'll fail and fall, but your attitude when you do, your humility and your perseverance will speak as well.  I am sure you will need help in your path to holiness(every man does), so you too should search for a mentor as well.

How close should I get to my charge? How casual/or strict should I be?  I think it's important to understand the relationship between you and your young mentee.  This is not an equal relationship, you are not looking for a 14 year old friend(at least I hope not), you are the adult, the wise one, the one who should know better and the mentee is the student.  Although it's fine to be familiar, a boundary should be set. Both parties should know this.  Don't expect the mentee to know this without you telling them.  You are setting up your relationship for a fall if you expect an immature, emotional teenager to grasp the subtleties of a mentoring relationship.  You set the boundaries, make sure all know the expectations, then be as familiar or strict as you think is right.

Mentoring can be so rewarding and so frustrating at the same time.  Be patient, be ready for you to be a part of a youngsters life for a long time, into their 20's and beyond.  Don't beat yourself up if you don't always give good advice or screw up.  Ultimately any relationship is good for both parties.  Take the time to realize the grace that you have been given to be important in a young person's life, pray and do the best you can. YOU CAN DO IT!

Love and admiration,
Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling: Faith, Focus, Fight!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NFL Draft - Behind the Scenes

I was able to witness this one as well - well witness it happening on NFL Network that is. I have been blessed to get to know both coach Frommeyer and Ed quite well. It's the little things ...
To: Sportsleader
From: Steve Frommeyer, principal & head football coach, Eminence H.S.

Recently, one of our former players, Ed Berry (a walk-on wide receiver at the University of Kentucky), was invited by Randall Cobb, an all SEC player, to attend the NFL Draft with him at Radio City Music Hall in NY. 

Ed and Randall became great friends and in fact Ed would bring Randall home quite frequently. They spoke to our school, he brought him to Church ...

When it came time for the NFL draft Randall was invited to attend in person and he in turn invited Ed to accompany him.

Randall was drafted in the second round to Green Bay and his Friend Ed was there to congratulate him and support him in beginning his next big career step. 

Watching the two excited friends in the green room after the announcement was made, called to mind how much life is really a lot more about relationships than it is about accomplishments. 

Even though it was Randall, not Ed, that was being drafted, I assure you that Ed was just as excited and proud for Randall as if it had been Ed himself that was drafted. 

For both, there had been many tough times (Good Fridays) leading up to this Easter Sunday type moment. However, both young men understood that both a personal relationship with their Savior and their family & friends is what really is the biggest accomplishment of all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Graduate Drafted into the NFL - Greg Jones

3 great pieces of news to share today.

1. Coach Trent Todd has been officially placed on the lung transplant list. This is a huge step. Coach Trent needs a double lung transplant and has been going through a battery of tests for months ... 

2. SportsLeader had its very first "graduate" get drafted into the NFL. Greg Jones, a linebacker who attended Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller High School and then Michigan State was drafted by the New York Giants in the 6th round. Congrats to Greg and to Coach Chris Willertz who has been mentoring Greg for about 6 years now.

Coaches - it is quite safe to say that Greg would not be in this position without the perseverance and humility of Coach Willertz.

3. Please welcome 8 new schools into the SportsLeader Character Coaches Association. 5 HS from Terre Haute, Indiana and 1 HS-1MS from Rushville, IL and 1 HS from East Peoria, IL

We did a lot of driving over the weekend but it was an awesome experience meeting so many men so dedicated to coaching and mentoring young people.

As a side note - all those who believe the world is overpopulated need to make the drive from Terre Haute, IN to Rushville, IL (smile).