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 -

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Great Way to Start the Basketball Season

This weekend I was honored to be a part of a father-son cookout to kickoff the St Gertrude boys basketball season.

It was an opportunity for Dads to meet the coaches, reminisce about the football season and just have some fun. Cornhole, basketball, burgers, smores, hot chocolate and a fire made up the menu.

After everyone was fed and settling in by the fire we had numerous men talk about great memories they have.

Coach Chris Willertz started us off talking about how he integrates SportsLeader into his public school wrestling team, how his opinion of his Dad changed as he matured and a great longing he had for a better relationship with one of his coaches in college.

Dads then shared about a host of different topics:

-The patient baseball coach who enabled a young man to have a memory he will never forget

-The man who never knew his father but had an Uncle who formed him into the man he is today and how much he appreciates him.

-The youngest of a family of 9 and how he appreciated his Dad making the special effort to play with him as he grew up.

-The memory of the non-athletic Dad who made numerous sacrifices to always be there for his athletic son.

-A man's fond memories of his high school football coach - how he is still a second Dad to him.

It was a fantastic way to show the boys that this season is about a lot more than basketball. It was a step closer to the goal of making the basketball community into a family ... 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Memory for a Lifetime

Here is a note from a good friend of mine, Gary Stegman. We are both volunteers with a boys club called Conquest which focuses on building boys into men through virtue - much like SportsLeader. I am honored to know his son personally. 

It is so awesome to see young boys embracing virtue with such strength.

Many grown men and women would not have the same perspective and virtue to react the way this 10 year old did. Maybe a good lesson in humility for all of us.

Hi Lou,

I wanted to share this story about my 10 year old son, Chris, that brought a tear of joy to my eye and made me think about how much our kids can influence us.  

(It also was a pretty cool proud Father moment)

Chris’ team made it to the finals of a soccer tournament a few weeks ago.  The game was a hard fought contest with regulation ending in a 0 – 0 tie.  

The overtime consisted of two 5 minute periods and then, if still tied, a shoot-out to determine the winner.  The first overtime period ended without either team scoring.  

Then Chris’ team scored with just a minute gone in the second period.  The kids were elated, but getting very tired.  Then, with less than 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, the other team scored to tie the game.  

On to the shootout…  each team missed a couple of shots and made a couple of shots.  

It came down to the last shooter for Chris’ team.  He needed to make it to tie the game.  If he missed, the other team would pull out the win.  

The player to take that final shot was my son, Chris.  

He lined up the ball and gave it a hard boot but the shot went wide left.  His team had lost.  

After a few seconds dealing with the disappointment that I felt, I searched the field for my son thinking I would need to console him after the miss.  

Lou, this is where I saw the image of my son that will stay with me for a long time.  Instead of Chris lying on the ground in disappointment or hanging his head, he was running across the field with his head held high clapping for the other team.  

He was able to quickly realize that the game was hard fought by both sides, and, instead of wallowing in his own disappointment, he was able to celebrate what was a great game between two talented teams.  

I admitted to him later that I don’t think I could have handled what happened with the same character and strength.

Before the shot, I was hoping to have a memory of my son putting that ball in the goal.  However, I realized after the game that I would have soon forgot that memory.  Instead, I have a wonderful memory of an example of the character that my son possesses.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What Game Photographers See

I received this note from a parent/booster member of the Eastern High School football team in Louisville, KY - Matthew Smith.

As coaches, we don't always hear about the good things about our players and our programs from "outsiders" ... many times just the complaints.

The more you teach virtue, the more the good starts to flow.

Virtue = Strength, Lou

I had the pleasure of shooting photos for the Bryan Station/Eastern game Saturday.  I was fortunate enough to get many good shots. The shots that impressed me most won't make anyone's highlight list.

One of your players (#5) was tackled, way out of bounds, penalty flag thrown. The player was thrown into an elderly fan standing on the field on Bryan Station's sideline. What most impressed me is that player, #5 & another, #12, stopped and took the time to help him up and ask him if he was okay.

If your coaches were yelling any instructions, your kids, classy gentlemen, did not notice. They took their time, to not only help the guy up, but I heard them ask repeatedly to verify that he was okay. They took their time to listen to his answer. And not until then, did they hear or seem to care about anything else and return to the field.

Tell your coaches and parents that I am most impressed that, in addition to coaching and raising these very gifted athletes, they are coaching and raising an exceptional class of men to send out into our world upon graduation.

And if you deem appropriate, let your athletes know that, though they may rarely hear it, the truly great things they do off the field, like helping someone up and waiting until they knew they had done all they could do, is noticed and appreciated.

Well done,

Mike V.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who Am I?

In the past few weeks I have come into contact with a number of coaches who have lost pretty much all perspective on what youth sports are about. They have forgotten that kids want to PLAY sports, that kids develop little by little, that they build confidence through little gains on the PLAYing field.

It seems many coaches don't have the time or interest to develop players. As you can see by the examples below ... these two football players have developed over many, many years. Quite a few people looked past them, did not seem to think they were worth their time ...

Let's be a good example to our comrades in coaching that the purpose of sports is to build virtue, build willpower, build young men and women who will be excellent citizens who will serve others.

This young man attended High School in Houston, Texas, where he threw for 7,139 yards and 53 touchdowns in his high school career, and rushed for another 2,085 yards. He was also co-valedictorian of his graduating class in 2008. Regarded as a four-star recruit by, he was listed as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2008. 

Yet in the recruiting process he only received offers from Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Rice, Virginia and the school he chose.

He is now unanimously considered to be the #1 draft pick in NFL this coming year with many calling him the most amazing player they have ever scouted.

Who am I?
Andrew Luck


Despite his record-setting statistics in High School, he garnered little interest from Division I programs, with only an offer to compete for a scholarship as a walk-on from Illinois. He declined the invitation, and considered quitting football to study toward law school. 

He was then recruited to play football at Butte Community College in Oroville, a local junior college in California. In his freshman season he threw 28 touchdowns while leading Butte to a 10–1 record, the NorCal Conference championship, and a No. 2 national ranking. While there, he was discovered by a Division 1 coach who was actually recruiting someone else. 

The coach was very surprised to learn that this QB had not been recruited out of high school. Because he had a 3.6 grade point average and SAT score of 1300 when he left high school, he was eligible to transfer after one year of junior college instead of the typical two.

Now professionally, he is the NFL's all-time career leader in passer rating during both the regular season (101.9), and in the post-season (112.6) – among passers with at least 1,500 and 150 pass attempts respectively.

He also owns the league's lowest career pass interception percentage for quarterbacks during the regular season (1.89%).

He is considered by many to be one of the NFL's top 3 QBs.

Who am I?
Aaron Rodgers

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Things That Really Matter

Another team made the effort to see Courageous over the weekend - Wyandotte HS FB in Michigan. Thus far they have the "winning" photo.

They had a great discussion afterwards.

Here below is a note from one of the Dads from a school near Chicago.

If you can, I encourage you to make the effort to bring your team and their Dads to see this.

Virtue = Strength, Lou

Coach Cemeno,
I’m writing to thank you for coordinating the “field trip” to take the entire Providence Catholic H.S. football program and their fathers to see Courageous this past weekend. I admit, the initial thought of burning a Saturday afternoon to see a movie didn’t exactly fit into my busy schedule. However, having had the experience with my sons and seeing their reactions, I can’t think of a better way I could have spent my time.

Courageous now ranks atop my list of all time favorite films, not because the special effects or cinematography are so mind boggling, but because its content is so poignant. There was a point mid-way through the movie that I feared my 8 year old wasn’t old enough to understand the true message of the story. Then, he leaned over to me, tears streaming down his face, and said, “Dad, this is the best movie I have ever seen.” His tears were of joy and an understanding, even at such a young age, that life on earth is about far more than serving ourselves. He truly began to grasp the power of faith.

The room was filled with giant burly football players, sitting next to their buddies, but you could tell leaving the theatre that every one of them had been deeply affected. While some of them may have been hiding their red eyes, I heard many say openly, “Man, I cried… that was an amazing movie.” They were right. This is an amazing movie.

Courageous grabbed a hold of me and most everyone in that theatre. It made me realize the world is moving very fast these days and I spend far too much energy trying to stay on pace with it. However, when all is said and done, the only things that really matter are my God, my family and my contribution to helping others. This is the single most REAL movie I’ve ever seen and my hope and prayer is that families across the world will invest a couple hours to experience it themselves. While the movie is certainly not gender exclusive, it speaks so strongly to every father alive. I am a better man for having seen it and I am making it a point to recommend it to anyone that will listen.

Again, thank you for your effort to bring us together. I am forever changed because of it.

May God bless you,

Dave Stolarek

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fathers Affirming Their Daughters

Two teams had their Father-Daughter jersey nights recently and both were awesome events: Flint Powers Catholic HS cross country and Cincinnati St Bernard 7th & 8th grade volleyball.

I was honored to be able to attend the St Bernard one. After all the Dads had affirmed their daughters I said a few words and saw that there were a few roses left over so I invited the girls to come up and say something positive about their coaches. Two girls took me up on the offer and that was probably the most moving part of the evening.

Simply put - both girls made their coach feel very loved. Very well done!

Here below is a note from Coach Dave Quinn of Powers Catholic. Oh - and the day after - They won the Big Nine Championship with 23 pts, second place had 50! Their top five girls placed 2,3,4,5 and 9. 

Last night we had our first "Letters to Mom" event for both the Powers Catholic Cross Country teams.  After a short practice and team dinner, the boys and girls teams separated into different rooms at the Activity Center at St Johns, Fenton, where we held the event.

After a brief introduction,  I called the girls up, one by one, with their moms to the front of the room, where each girl either read, or spoke words of honor, love, and appreciation for their moms.  Some told stories that made us all laugh.  Others spoke of difficulties in the past and promises to do better.  Each girl came prepared and I was very impressed by the level of maturity displayed, and insight that their words conveyed.  At times, I found it difficult to announce the next name, still moved by the last speakers words.  It was truly a remarkable and blessed evening.  I am so glad Sports Leader has this event, especially for the girls.

God Bless!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Being Bold

A few weeks ago Coach Dan Duddy had a special experience at the end of one of his games.

Read on.

When the final whistle was blown we had won 35-28 in a nerve-wracking shootout against a very talented football team. If the game had been 4 minutes shorter we might have lost, and if it had been just two minutes longer, a possible loss as well. Our team played valiantly to win it.

Both teams were alternating spectacular touchdowns whether it was an acrobatic catch, a “scoop and score” of a fumble, a fake punt, or a game saving dive by a defensive back to knock down a “if not for one more inch” game winning touchdown pass 60 yards down field.

We were fierce opponents. Both teams put their colors on the line. It took six days to prepare with grueling practices and hours of film. Our Virtue theme of the week was “Consistent”, provided by one of our athletes. “We need to keep the ‘Integrity’ that we resolved to last week, he said.”, and we did.

We had played the only Catholic school on our schedule. We are Catholic as well. I approached the opposing head coach during the pre-game stretch and said we would like to pray together post-game right after the traditional handshake. He thought it was a great idea.

At the end of “the war” we knelt down with the 50 yard line separating the two teams. I was sure to “walk across the line” and get my body kneeling amongst the down – trodden players from the opposition. I found myself right next to #71, a huge offensive tackle that enjoyed “having his way” with our defensive line most of the game. I said “let’s remove our helmets men”.

I then reached out my hands to grab the hand of the young strangers next to me. We pray hand-in-hand daily. There was an awkwardness from the opposing team, this compounded with the ease and habit of what we do everyday was startling to me.

I took the big guy by surprise when I grabbed his hand, and found quite a few surprises myself. I was taken back as I raised my eyes to him to find that he looked just like the rosy-cheeked cherubs that we see surrounding our Father in Heaven in DaVinci’s art work. Coupled with a “b-zillion” freckles, he smiled uncomfortably as I found his saliva-filled mouthpiece now sandwiched between our hands. I said “thanks for the mouthpiece, but you can keep it” as I wiped my hands on my pants. This turned into mutual laughter by both teams and a wonderful “Lord’s Prayer”. Among the best one’s ever said.

Stand up for who you are. If you are in a public school have your captains invite the opposing captains to do the same at the coin toss. It was a very small gesture that turned into a multitude of results that will last not just lifetime, but generations to come, but will also spread across our nation. Be bold, be strong, BE “who you are”.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Elderly: Weakness or Strength?

A number of years ago when I was studying in Rome Italy, I had a pretty amazing experience that I think speaks volumes of the power of personal sacrifice ... especially the testimony and/or witness of it by others.

I was accompanying a youth group visiting the city of Rome for a week - part tour guide, part baby-sitter, more disciplinarian than anything else (smile).

We had a group of 20 boys more or less ages 11-15. All of them were extremely polite, interested and engaged young men with the exception of one. Let's call him Alex.

Alex, apparently, did not want to be on the trip and was doing everything humanly possible to make my life and the life of the group miserable. This is actually an understatement ... but we move on.

After a few days it was time to visit the Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs), more info below. All of the boys were very excited ... get to do something physical. You see the tradition is not just to look at the stairs but to go up them - on your knees. There are 28 steps and it hurts. A lot.

All of the boys rushed to do it, many competing with one another to see who could do it the fastest. Typical boys completely ignoring my pleas ... "it should be a prayerful, reflecting experience ..." Anyway. Alex was not interested and refused to even try.

After trying every motivational tactic in my limited repertoire a little old lady walked by. I would guess she was about 85, hunched over, very wrinkly and very beautiful ... she reminded me a lot of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

I said, "Alex if that little ..." before I could finish the phrase he was walking over to the steps. For some reason I instantly knew something special was about to happen.

The lady was on the left side of the steps, Alex on the right and I was in the center. We were one or two steps behind her. (See photo)

About half way up I kind of peek over at Alex and I notice that he was crying and constantly looking over at the lady. He refused to go any faster, even though he could. He would only move after she moved. The rest of the boys had finished by now and they were at the bottom again watching us in amazement that Alex was doing this. They could see that "something" was happening.

Understandably she was struggling mightily to continue ... so was I for that matter. 

At the top of the steps, he grabs me and says, "Translate for me. Tell this woman that she changed my life." And then he gave her the biggest hug that I have ever seen. He held on to her for what seemed like 5 minutes - a total stranger.

He finally lets go and walks away.

I speak with the woman. She is crying uncontrollably. She tells me, "My husband died 30 years ago and I am so lonely. I loved him so much and he would always give me the biggest hugs. I miss those so much. I came here today begging God to send me a sign that He loves me, that my husband is still there, that he loves me. And then this boy comes and gives me the most wonderful hug in the past 30 years. You tell that boy that - he changed my life."

This might seem impossible - I was speechless.

And Alex? He was transformed that day. She really did change his life. Her sacrifice, her willingness to tackle those 28 steps at her age was the most impressive and valuable thing he had ever witnessed in his life. 

When I was saying good bye at the airport, after a week of seeing some of the most amazing historical sights our planet has to offer, the only thing he spoke about was - "The little old lady."

Why did I write this today?

Our motto is Virtue = Strength. Our elderly are often forgotten and under-appreciated. Looked on as weak. They are not. So often they are much stronger, much more virtuous than we are and they deserve our love, respect and honor. 

Some young men and women, some athletes do not see this due to the hyper-attention that we put on our bodies within athletics.

Let's make an effort to bring the elderly into the lives of our players - to help them see the tremendous strength and wisdom they carry.


The Scala Sancta (English: Holy Stairs, Italian: Scala Santa) are, according to the Christian tradition, the steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial.

The stairs were, reputedly, brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th Century. For centuries, the Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims who wished to honor the Passion of Jesus.

It consists of twenty-eight white marble steps, now encased by wooden steps, located in a building which incorporates part of the old Lateran Palace, located opposite the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ohio State Wrestling - Building Life Champions

Tom Ryan, Head Wrestling Coach at Ohio State, is integrating virtue into his program and doing a great job. Below is a portion of his newsletter.

We need more college coaches to step up and lead in the same way. The need is urgent.

Coach Ryan’s Corner
Pre-Season Is Underway!
We are now two full weeks into our pre-season prac- tice and we sure are happy that our No. 1 recruiting class attended summer school and trained for 90 days in June, July and August. The freshmen, and there are a lot of them, all came in prepared for the challenges of a Big Ten wrestling program. 

As is expected, the rigor of the daily life can be very challenging. My favorite quote is posted on the wall of The OSU wrestling room, “There are 2 pains in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.” Either way, life is going to be tough and demanding. The men in this program who not only make it, but fight to standout are the ones who will lead us. The focus of pre-season to this point has been on weight control (getting athletes down to their ideal training weight), a strong base of conditioning, our culture and general skill needs. I am not sure there is any time of the year other than the NCAA’s that is more fun than when the team returns in the Fall.

As we continue to train hard we are preparing to move into daily wrestling practices. Currently, under NCAA guidelines we are only allowed to work with the student-athletes eight hours per week of which two of them can be skill related. We will began our formal training Monday, Oct. 10th, so now we are up to 20 hours per week. In addition to the athletic side of our practice, all of our freshmen and other student-athletes with below a 3.0 GPA must turn in a weekly class attendance sheet, as well as attend eight hours of study hall. The coaches are not only in the wrestling room, but on campus doing random class checks. The culture and standard is simple. It’s about excellence on and off the mat.

The last piece of the puzzle is the building of future leaders. Our motto is “Building Life Champions.” Each week we study a new word before our Tuesday practice. To date our team members talked about the following words: Grateful, Boldness and Toughness. We heard from Logan Stieber who mentioned how Grateful he is for all those who have assisted him in all aspects of his develop- ment. Cody Magrum shared with us about the Boldness required to have the strength to not follow the crowd down the wrong path. Cody is a two-time NCAA qualifier and has earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors for his 3.8 GPA, as well as Academic All-America honors. He is one of our three team captains along with Nick Heflin and freshman Logan Stieber. 

Every week we text the word of the week to the team and then discuss what it means to them and a scenario that would define it in their lives. College life has so many doors that can be opened, but also so many challenges for young men. Freedom is a blessing and these men, although sad to leave home (LOL), they also must manage their free time and many choices that are made each day.

To close, we are all very pleased with the progress of this team. Although most of our squad of 31 student-athletes from around the country do not quite shave yet, we are all fired up about their passion to succeed and pride they bring to Buckeye Nation. We hope to see you at our Varsity wrestle-offs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20th in the French Field House. The wrestle-offs are free to the general public.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Players Address Their Teams

Here are a few great stories from Nazareth Academy near Chicago IL. Consistent mentoring over a three year period is definitely making a difference.

If you'd like to watch a short video testimony from a former Nazareth player, Mike Williams, click on the link

Hi Lou,
I wanted to write a follow up story to Coach Racki's comments below.

While mentoring today one of our freshman players today at practice, I was able to use the example below to strike a cord with this young man.

During our friday night game, this player had a very difficult time with not being giving the opportunity to punch in one our touchdowns. He is a very talented athlete who happens to be the youngest on the team. Because of his selfish behavior, he was pulled out of the game. Yesterday he was told by the head coach that he would be held accountable by sitting out the first quarter of our upcoming game and he again proceeded in a childish fashion by threatening to quit the team. As you can imagine he was a distraction for the rest of that practice.

Today was different though when we sat down to mentor. He felt better and was receptive to discuss the events of the past several days. He was remorseful about telling me to get lost at the game when I tried to comfort him. I told him that I prayed he could come to terms with the punishment he was given. He relayed his feelings of being out of control and guilt about comments made about his teammate  who actually got to score the TD. I went on to relay the story told below of how this varsity player was humble enough to apologize to his team.

Before we prayed at the end of today's practice, he asked to step up and address the team. He started by saying he didn't know what got into him, never having done anything like this in the past. He turned toward the player he defamed and told him that he deserved the TD and ended by apologizing to the team.

After 3 years of sportsleader at Nazareth, one can see the rewards of our efforts. We are developing virtuous leaders on the varsity who are becoming role models for the younger players.

Have a great day,

Hi Lou,

Thanks! It has been fun. Winning can be fun if you do it the right way and I would like to believe that's what we are doing.

One of the really neat mentoring things that has caught my attention this year has been the accountability issue. Just this past Saturday one of our
players was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. After the game, amid the celebration, and right before I was going to let them go to the locker room,
the player stopped me and asked if he could address the team. He sincerely, apologized for his actions said he let them down and that it would not
happen again. A little thing, but something this kid would not have done if not for what we preach. 

This has happened quite a bit without my prompting with players who are late to practice, got detentions in school ect... Seeing them take the initiative to accept responsibility has been a great memory of this team up to this point. 

Also...just yesterday our Principal (Deborah Vondrasek) commented on our players conduct at the homecoming dance....spirited, respectful, polite, very impressive for a team that could have very easily let all of this success go to their heads. 

I told them at this morning's meeting I was more proud of those comments than what any scoreboard may read.

Take care Lou.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Virtue, Pancakes and Championships

I was able to attend a football game with a SportsLeader team this past Friday in Wyandotte Michigan. They were playing for the league championship and it was a really awesome experience. There are so many positive things I could say but what probably stood out the most is that the whole coaching staff and their Senior leaders have really, really bought in. 

The virtue theme of the week is blended into everything they do. It is on white boards right next to scheme and plays, it is in their vocab when they break em' down ... and all of this in their first year.

I spoke with over twenty players and they all mentioned how they loved their mentor coach, how they appreciated the time on virtue and the motivation.

After a victory the offensive line coaches take the big men out to a pancake restaurant. While we there one of the coaches, Ben Reynolds, told me a story about how a bunch of his linemen helped move his Grandmother's things on the Saturday of the homecoming dance ... that the players were tired from the game the night before, had lots going on to get ready for the evening ... but they gladly showed up to help. 

What was more impacting was that Coach Reynolds' Grandma was naturally a little sad about moving but the players really lifted her spirits, made her feel a part of the team and showed her a lot of love and respect.

One of the other o-line coaches, Coach Bill Sweet, gave an amazing pre-game speech to the lineman about the virtue theme of the week: Bold.

Many people have told me that virtue is for teams that can't win ... that coaches who dedicate time to that stuff don't do a good enough job coaching the x's and o's.

Well, simply put Coach Ron Adams, along with his whole staff, is proof that they are totally and categorically WRONG.

Virtue helps you win championships - on the field and off.

Congrats to the Bears! Keep up the great work and don't stop.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tips for Teenage Boys on Respecting Girls

I received this email from a friend of mine and I thought it had a lot of insightful points.

You may want to consider forwarding this to your players, the parents of your players and having a talk with your team or in your mentor groups about these points.

With the hope of offering some helpful tips to young men on respecting girls, we interviewed several moms and dads, teenage and college age boys and girls who we consider to be wise and prudent in this matter.

Tips for Teenage Boys on Respecting Girls
These tips are useful both in and out of dating relationships both in high school and college. We do not recommend having serious dating relationships in high school. In general it is better to stick to larger groups and any relationship should be paced, chaste, respectful, non-exclusive, and public.

1.       Be sincere (don’t try to be somebody you are not…girls see right through this.  You are much better off just being yourself)

2.       Don’t brag, talk too much about yourself, or speak poorly of others

3.       ­Be kind to EVERYONE.  (A girl judges whether you’re a good guy not just by how you treat your buddies or herself, but ALL people: the janitors at school, waiters, kids you’re not necessarily friends with, etc.)

4.       Be respectful of the rules imposed by a girl’s parents.  Every family has different guidelines with respect to movies they’re allowed to watch, parties they’re allowed to attend, curfews, etc.  Don’t criticize, make fun of or even worse encourage her to break them, no matter how much you want to spend time with her.

5.       When you go up to talk to a girl, make a point to say hello and talk to her friends as well

6.       Don’t expect a girl to hang out with you and ten of your buddies.  This can be very uncomfortable for a girl.  Ask her to bring a few of her girlfriends along as well or don’t insist that she come over to watch a football game if it will be all guys.

7.       Be very selective in the movies you take girls to see. Inappropriate content makes a girl feel very uncomfortable and it is simply not considerate to put her in that position.

8.       Be a good listener. Ask questions and allow the girl to talk (don’t dominate the conversation). When a girl has a problem, she needs to talk about it.  She is looking for empathy (NOT sympathy) and not necessarily a solution. If she asks for advice give it to her (and give it some thought).

9.       Give special attention to etiquette and chivalry:
a.       Stand up when she stands up from the table, and stand up when she returns to help her with her chair
b.       Hold doors for the girl, especially car doors
c.       Give the girl the seat of preference and offer her a seat if there are none readily available
d.       Walk a girl to her car if she is driving alone
e.       Check on the girl to make sure she gets home safely
f.        Come to the door when picking a girl up and meet the parents and come to the door when you drop her off as well
g.       Stay out of other girls’ bedrooms and don’t bring them into yours
h.       Keep eye contact (if you can’t look her in the eye, look away, not anywhere else)
i.        Walk on the outside of the sidewalk (the guy is the protector)
j.        Don’t cut off conversation for a social text or call
k.       A guy should be the one initiating contact (phone calls, etc.)
l.        Give preference to calling over texting and always take care of important business face-to-face
m.     Respect girls online and via text the same way you would face-to-face

10.   Most importantly, treat a girl with RESPECT. She is not an object, but one of God’s beautiful creatures.  Dating and friendship are for getting to know the person rather than for physical intimacy. Girls are created in God’s image the same as guys. If you always try to see a girl the way God does, you won’t ever have a problem treating her with respect.

God bless,
Fr. Michael

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cross Country Runner Carries Bleeding Competitor to Help

This story came out a few weeks back. Very inspiring. It has charity, humility and courage written all over it.

Please share this with your athletes.

Runner carries injured foe half mile to help in middle of race
By Jonathan Wall

Josh Ripley didn't have to stop. Running in a recent cross country meet for Andover (Minn.) High, the junior varsity runner was making his way through the trail at the Applejack Invite when he heard a loud scream during the first mile of a two-mile race. Most of the other kids running didn't pay much attention to Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas, who was writhing in pain at the time, as they passed by.

The only person who decided to pay attention was Ripley. As an Anoka-Hennepin school district releasereported, Ripley immediately noticed Paulauskas holding his bloody ankle. Then, instead of running back and calling for help, he did the only thing he could think of: He carried the injured runner a half mile back to coaches and family members.

"I didn't think about my race, I knew I needed to stop and help him," Ripley said in the school district release. "It was something I would expect my other teammates to do. I'm nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time."

It was a good thing Ripley had the foresight to carry Paulauskas so he could be rushed to the emergency room. When Paulauskas arrived at the hospital, doctors realized he had been accidentally spiked by another runner's shoe during the race. The injury required 20 stitches and a walking boot to keep the wounded area from opening up.

Andover cross country coach Scott Clark couldn't believe what he heard when word got to him that Ripley was carrying another runner back to the starting line.

"Then Josh comes jogging into view carrying a runner," Clark said. "I noticed the blood on the runner's ankle as Josh handed him off to one of the coaches from Lakeville. Josh was tired and you could tell his focus was off as he started back on the course."

Amazingly, the story gets even better from there.

After dropping Paulauskas off with his coaches, Ripley proceeded to go back and finish the race -- even after carrying a kid for a half mile on the running trail. Admittedly he was a bit winded, but still completed the course as scheduled.

It's safe to say the average athlete would have taken a breather and called off the rest of the race after such a harrowing and intense experience. Luckily, Ripley is clearly not the average athlete. Fittingly, he'll be honored at a school board meeting next week. Talk about an incredible example of sportsmanship.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting Stopped at the Supermarket

Here is some very encouraging feedback from Mrs. JoAnn D'Anton, the media arts and MDTV director at Monsignor Donovan High School in Toms River NJ.
Lou, I needed to inform you about the happening around Monsignor Donovan High School this weekend.  Well let me begin with we won our game.........the last few seconds of the game when our field goal kicker kicked for three points on the was a nail biter...and he won the game for us.....but that is NOT what impressed me.  

I don't care about the W's or the L's (well maybe I do a little) but what truly needs merit here is that like any other High School football game, the press is always there to interview the guys as they come off the field.  I was never so impressed with our boys response to the reporter.  The article spoke of the win but each boys response to the reporter was astounding.  They humbly spoke of their teammates and each one shared that it was a team effort. 

None of them spoke about themselves and THIS I FEEL is a true testimony of the work Coach Duddy is doing with his team here at Monsignor Donovan High School.  When I read the article I was proud to be part of the Monsignor Donovan Community.  

BUT ........when I went into the local Shop Rite and I had my id on, an older woman stopped me and said, "Hey, your from Monsignor Donovan?"  I replied, YES (proudly) then  she continued with, "I may be old, but I have been following football in Toms River for years and I have NEVER seen young men speak about their teammates the way those boys did. You should be very proud of them."

As I walked away, I said to myself...BRAVO Sports Virtue Program!

Thanks Dan.  Keep up the good work.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Let's Be Courageous

Remember that challenge to go and see the movie Courageous with your players and their Dads?

Some teams have stepped up to the challenge, namely Providence Catholic near Chicago, Cincinnati St Gertrude and Eminence in Kentucky.

Providence is in the lead at the moment having brought 100 players and 25 Dads, no photo but a coach did write this encouraging note here below.

I'd like to challenge you all again. Strive to do this - THIS WEEKEND. Our men need it!

Virtue = Strength, Lou
To all Coaches,

I highly encourage all men, young and not so young, to view the movie “Courageous”, Especially those guys who are fathers, coaches, and mentors of young people.  It is the essence of what a guy goes through when confronted with the difficulties and responsibilities of adult decision making. The Movie presents a challenge to men of all ages to do the right thing in our relationship with family, other people, and faith in God.


John Pergi,

A Football Coach
A Father
A Grandfather

Monday, October 10, 2011

St Gertrude Letter to Mom Ceremony

Yesterday I had the honor of witnessing the Cincinnati St Gertrude Bandit Football Team Letter to Mom Ceremony. The Bandits are boys in grades K-2. They have 18 little guys on the team and their coaching staff is one that simply put, you would want your boy on that team.

Everyone gathered at Coach Rob Gruber's home for a grill-out and some fun and when all the kids had eaten we had the ceremony.

The Letter to Mom tradition is an effort to help teach the players to appreciate their Moms, show some gratitude and tell them they love them. 

Many guys this little don't have a whole lot to say but I can assure you the Moms did appreciate it.

The coaching staff also took an extra step. They filmed each boy one day at practice giving a short message to his Mom and they recorded it to a DVD so each Mom could have that as well.

On some teams, the parents hardly ever speak to one another ... they don't know one another and it stays that way. Not on this team. Everyone is friends by now. What a great fruit of charity!

I heard one Mom say to a Coach, "I love this team, I love you, the Coaches, and I'm so excited that my son will get to participate in this for 8 more years in no matter what sport he plays."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Relentless: Player Testimony on Virtue of the Week

Helping kids know, value, live and transmit virtue using the platform of sports. This is is what SportsLeader is all about.

Thank you, Coach Mike Bickerman, for sharing.

Stoney Haines
Rushville-Industry High School, IL
October 6, 2011

In our football season this year we have been participating in the SportsLeader program. 

It gives us a virtue each week to look at and think about through the week. Our coaches all participate and become “mentors” to us. They talk to us about the virtue for the week and help us achieve our goals for the week. 

Last week we had the virtue relentless. This is a virtue that is well known to our football program at Rushville-Industry. To be relentless is to continue to strive for our goals that we make for ourselves in everyday life and to continue to strive even when the going gets tough. 

Our mentors teach us to do this and strive for our goals even when the going gets tough. For almost twenty years we made it to the playoffs. Then for the previous two years we went 0-9 in our season. 

Coach Bickerman came to our school to coach the year before these seasons. Being new then having two bad seasons didn’t look well to many of the locals. Seeing him push on through all of this and watching him keep going even when the going got rough really showed me the true meaning of relentless. 

As of now we have won 2 games in this years season and plan to get 3 more in the last 3 games. Me seeing coach push through all of that and then seeing what our team has become out of what little we had this is what relentless is. 

Relentless is going out every day of the summer to work out. It is going to two-a-days and proving yourself to everyone that you want a season that people remember. 

Relentless is going out that first game with a town against you but you give it your all. It is losing that game but coming back out to the practice field Monday and that Friday, you get the win. That is what I have gotten out of the word relentless from this program.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mid-Season Feedback from Parents

Something that you might find helpful is asking the parents of your players to send an email with the changes they have observed in their son or daughter since the beginning of the season.

Coach Paul Passafiume, Co-Founder of SportsLeader, of Louisville St Agnes did this yesterday and he got some pretty quick replies.

In Louisville, there is a web site,, that features a different young person as their Rising Star of the Week. This week one of Paul's players is featured.

Monday, September 31, 2011
Joseph Fisher
Grade: 8th
School/parish attending: St Agnes
Sports currently playing: Football, Basketball
High school attending (or considering): St. Xavier
Best school subject: Math and Science
Why is Joseph a Rising Star?
Joseph Fisher loves the game of Football. He loves working as a team to achieve a common goal. He credits the Sports Leader Program as a big part of the success of his team. His team won the Toy Bowl in 2009 and 2010. At St. Agnes, he is consistently a 4.0 student, is a member of the Student Council, and the Kentucky Youth Assembly. Joseph is a volunteer at the Nazareth Home and created a group known as "Fifth Down Equipment Locker" where he collects used football equipment and donates to underprivileged football teams. He looks forward to attending St. X and playing for the Tigers.

Hi Coach
Thanks for all you do.

Since being on your team and participating in the Sports Leader program, I have noticed significant changes in Albert.  He has been able to persevere and overcome obstacles such as shyness, fear, and a slight lack of self-esteem.  He has really developed character, self-esteem and pride and is growing into a considerate, mentally and physically fit young man. He is learning to achieve personal and team goals and finding satisfaction in meeting those goals. He is putting his heart, mind and soul into everyday conversations, thoughts and activities both on and off the field, at home and school, in football practice and Boy Scout meetings and activities.

Thanks so much for your part in the Sports Leader program and for developing a great team of great young men!

Go Saints!

Jill Marie Lynch

1.       As my dad’s health deteriorated in August, Daniel saw how it was impacting me and I woke up one morning on a weekday after school had started and found scrambled eggs, orange juice, and toast waiting for me at 6am.   Daniel set his alarm for 5am and made me breakfast.    This was a direct result of virtue talk that coach Passifiume had with his team.   Needless to say, he didn’t think it was a very big deal but it was very special to me.
2.       I’ve also noticed for the first time, Daniel’s leadership on the field.   He may not be the biggest, strongest, or fastest, but he’s become a vocal leader on the field and he stays after practice consistently to improve himself.   The 7th graders see him putting in extra time which will lead them to do the same thing their 8th grade year.
3.       Daniel now recognizes how important it is to take responsibility for his own actions and I’ve seen a much greater ownership for his school performance.   In the past, he used excuses for not performing up to his ability,   Now, he takes responsibility for his performance and he’s working very hard to do the best he possibly can in school.   I’m convinced of that.
4.       Some of the smaller items we see that are very noticeable:   He sometimes helps his mother around the house without asking.   Sometimes, I come home from work and the grass is cut.   He always keeps his room spotless.   He enjoys spending time with his grandparents and talking to  them  (he recognizes it  may not be exciting to him but it means the world to them).   He is affectionate towards his grandparents and parents.  And my  personal favorite… he looks me in the eye and shakes my hand with a firm grip.
5.       If we could just work on that sibling rivalry thing, we would have it all figured out.

Thanks Paul for all you do.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Untold Impact

I got some interesting surprises on my trip to Canada last week. 

1. All of my flights, 2 there and 2 back, arrived early. I'm wondering if I should report this as a miracle or something (smile)

2. On one flight, the lady sitting next to me asked me if I was a student. I thanked her for the compliment. I withheld from telling her I'm married with 5 kids because I thought that might induce a coma-like shock or something ...

3. I was hosted by a very generous family in Canada, The Penners. I got their son David's bottom bunk. David is off at college playing football in Saskatoon. When I went to bed I looked up and taped to the bottom of the top bunk were 2 pieces of paper. See photo.

The We-Will looks exactly like a poster that SportsLeader coach Dan Duddy made with one of his teams years ago. David must have heard Dan talk about it and saw the photo at the coaches clinic ... and it inspired him.

You never know where your impact will land ... Coach in NJ ... young man in Saskatchewan ...

This is one of the things I most enjoy about SportsLeader - helping coaches share their mission and vision with others to increase their impact.

Monday, October 3, 2011

SportsLeader in Canada

I had another first this past weekend - the first opportunity to bring SportsLeader to Canada. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Regina, Saskatchewan Friday-Sunday. Regina is a few hours north of where the Montana-North Dakota border is. 

Every year for the past 8 years I believe, some friends of mine Lynden Penner and Trevor Novak, organize a "Faith of Our Fathers Banquet" to bring men together for an evening of fellowship. Mass, an incredible meal, a speaker, some prizes, etc. Well this year I got to be the speaker and my theme was mentoring. I shared a number of stories I have been a part of in SportsLeader over the years and it was an awesome experience. There were about 130 men there: Archbishop, Priests, Seminarians, Grandfathers, Fathers, Sons ...

The next day we had a training for a number of coaches from all over the Province who coach numerous different sports from hockey to soccer to judo.

Saturday night I was able to see the movie Courageous. It is a must see. You really need to organize an evening to bring all the Dads of your players and your players, I would say ages 9 and up ... It is a powerful movie. I'm glad we bought our tickets online because it was sold out.

PLEASE make the effort to do this and remember to get a group photo.

Here is what one coach, Sal Fucito of Cincinnati St Gertrude, recently sent out:

Thank you for all that have replied so far. Courageous is showing at 6:50pm on Monday October 3rd at the Rave Theater in Milford, 500 Rivers Edge Drive, Milford Ohio 45150.

My plan is to be at the theater at 6:30pm. Please wear something bulldog related. It would be awesome to have as many dad's there showing our pride in St. Gertrude Football. I would also like to get a photo of all of us together to share with SportsLeader.