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 -

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Outstanding Young Men

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FREE Character Building Clinic hosted by SportsLeader for Coaches and Captains
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Below are a series of emails that I wanted to share that I believe sums up very well what SportsLeader is all about ...
The emotion, the passion, the struggles, the hopes ... seeing the results and having a heart exult with pride.
Maybe you are not seeing some of these results at this moment ... but KNOW that you are changing lives.


I am sending you this email with joy in my heart, and a bit of emotion on my sleeve.  It has been less than a year still since I took over here at Madison Southern.  With 3 wins in the previous 4 years, you can imagine what the confidence, attitude, and overall work ethic of this place has been.  Not good would be a kind statement.  My goal in taking this job is to of course turn around a program that  everyone feels is a losser, but more importantly I wanted to get closer to the root of impacting kids.  At the collegiant level I only had so much influence, as they are sure of who they are by then.  Madison Southern was my chance to change lives on the ground floor, and make men out of boys.

I have to admitt, at times this year I have struggled to see as much progress as I wanted with my leadership and character development.  During season, it was shining through our young men on a daily basis.  I could see it in their eyes and in their determination to not quite despite a rough season (we won 2 games, which I felt was decent with where we started).  After season, kids go their own ways and they became distant from the program.  This is usually short lived, but I could see the changes in character and virtue taking place, and not for the better.

I am a perfectionist by nature and I want to see every kid that comes through my program become the best he can be.  I struggle sometimes with the realization that this isn't always going to be the case, despite my tireless efforts.  Some people just choose the path of lease resenstance.  That being said, I struggle seeing the good things we are doing sometimes because I am always focused on for lack of a better term, my failures (the ones that I know have the potential to be men of virtue and strength but struggle making good decisions).  I often feel that for every step I take forward with one kid there is always another who will take two steps back.

There is an email below that I recieved today that almost brought me to tears (sad I know, but it hit me).  It is something that has given me fuel to keep fighting the good fight, and ever harder.  I have never felt as proud of anything, as I do of the young men listed in this email.  It reaffirms me that we are getting through to them and that we are making better men.  It takes time and it does not happen over night, but it happens...and because of us.

I have to preference this story a bit, as to why it makes me so emotional.  They young men in this story are young men I selected to do this based on that fact that they have nothing at is very tight and they struggle constantly financially.

Thank you for all your guidance and support.  It is trickling down Lou...1 drop at a time.

Jon Clark

Head Football Coach
Madison Southern High School

From: Ramage, Amy
Subject: FW: Two Outstanding Young Men at MSHS

Coach Clark,
First, thank you for assisting me by finding two outstanding young men who helped me to move last Friday.  Wes and Brett were both great help.  I wanted to share with you what I shared with Superintendent Floyd this morning.  I have been around young people all of my adult life, and maybe two or three times have I ever been as moved as I was by what Brett Sipple said and did last Friday.

Thanks, again.  I can see the character that you and your program is building in your young men and you should be so proud.  Whether they having a championship season on the field or not, these two young men are going to be winners in the game of life.   Brett invited me to come to a game this fall to see them play.  If I can get back to the area from western Kentucky on a game night, I will definitely be there to see them play.

Thanks, again-
Amy Ramage

From: Ramage, Amy

Mr. Floyd,

I hope this finds you well.  I wanted to share something with you because this is indicative of what I always found so special about Madison County and the people there.  I think it also represents what you see there and what you are working for every day.

Working through Coach Clark, I asked if he could find me a couple of football players whom I could hire to help me load furniture for the move last Friday.  Coach Clark arranged for Brett Sipple and Wes Proctor to come over Friday after school for $50.00 each.  First, I have to tell you that these two young men were extremely polite and respectful (and they were great heavy lifters!). When I went to pay them is when I was touched more than I have been in a long time.

Brett Sipple explained that he could not take any money because he was seeking to be “an uncommon man” and he wanted to do things for people who needed help without taking anything in return.  He then offered to go with us to help unload (not knowing we were going over 200 miles).  I finally got them to take the $100 on the condition that they find something to do with the money that would make a difference for others—whether it was at their church, their school, or their community.

Eddie and I were so moved we were still talking about it this morning.  I am going to email their coach, but I wanted you to know in case you are at Southern and see them.  I was so impressed with them and the great character that they showed.

Take care,

Amy Ramage
District Assessment Coordinator
Christian County Public Schools

Learning from Bamboo

One of the more rewarding aspects of SportsLeader has been the relationships I've been able to develop with coaches all over the world. Coach Yeager is from Alabama. We've never met but you can readily see that we are on "the same team."
Below is a link of an abbreviated video presentation of Coach Yeager's first lesson to his team:
This is another great aspect ... sharing everything that you do that works to build up our young people.

Six years ago our staff evaluated the training of our players. We identified nine categories that we felt our players were receiving superior training: speed, strength, power, flexibility, agility, nutrition, cardio endurance, muscle endurance and position skills. We realized we were not investing in the most important issues of the game - the intangibles (issues of the heart and mind). These areas are important for many reasons:

1. We can gain an edge in our performance by being trained in the intangibles
2. When the nine physical traits fade with age the things we emphasize in Character Education are the things that will stay with our players for the rest of their lives.
3. Training of the character completes the education process - with character education you are receiving and education superior to your contemporaries.
Our Character Education begins with identifying the purpose of our football program. Our purpose is not to win games. Winning games is a weekly goal. The purpose of our program is to develop men of significance. If you are successful your influence dies with you. If you are significant your influence remains long after your football career, occupational career and life are over. Significance ensures you will live a life of purpose. Significance transcends time and space. As long as there are those that bear the stamp of your influence your life continues.

Last year our Character Ed study used the story of the battle of Marathon and the building of Temple of Nike Athena to teach the Four Pillars of Significance: Character, Vision, Discipline and Leadership.

Our mascot is the Spartan so we have adopted as our creed, "The strength of the Spartan is the warrior at his side." I am responsible to develop myself to my maximum potential because there is someone at my side trusting in me. I am motivated because I know he is developing himself to his maximum potential for my benefit.

This year I read Greg Bell's book "Water Your Bamboo". We took it a step further and formulated a Character Ed study that coincides with our four pillars of significance:

Cultivate your Bamboo
• Prepare the Soil - Develop and Protect Your Character
• Select and Plant the Seed - Discovering the Vision for Your Life
• Watering, Weeding and Waiting - Discipline: Making Daily Decisions that Reward
• Harvesting and Manufacturing Your Bamboo - Leadership

Bamboo (your team) in the hands of the right person has endless potential
Again I have enjoyed your work and have drawn from it and shared it with my players on numerous occasions. I tell everyone your website is a great resource. Thanks again for all you do.

Chris Yeager
Head Football Coach
Mountain Brook High School

Virtues of St Paul Award

It is always exciting to see young people receiving awards for being virtuous. Here is yet another example.

By Dan Duddy
I have a football player who has just been informed that he is receiving the Virtues of Saint Paul Award from a wonderful group in Chicago, Sports Faith International. He was nominated by me, his head football coach. I have the responsibility to teach him how to make punishing tackles, play through tough times, “suck it up”, run into the end zone and help his team win games.

But the greatest thing I did for him was nominate him for this award, and not by any means for the purposes of celebrating like “hey mom! I got an award!”, although he personally achieved the nomination through his dedication and participation in what we call our Virtue Program. Sportsleader did the same for me last year and I thank Lou Judd for that because it did for me what it is about to do for Sean McGovern.

We honor what we value. Our players will live the values that we, their coaches honor. We are always affecting the identities of our athletes, and they will act in accordance to which they feel they are. Their actions will affect those around them, hence the chemistry of the world. So consequently we as coaches are affecting quite a lot. We need to understand this, accept it, and then man up to it. This is “no joke”, we are affecting either negatively or positively an awful lot, and there is no “in between”. Life never stands still, it is either going in the right direction, or the wrong.

Since Sean has been informed of the honor he has studied Saint Paul and his Virtues. He knows now that any man, a sinner, can play a huge role today in changing the world with Boldness and Truth no matter what he did yesterday. The impunity clause is over,”becoming a saint” isn’t any longer something that men did a long time ago in paintings with haloes over their heads. He is now called to something out of his comfort zone, just like we do in our tackling drills. He is also beginning to understand that it is his responsibility to his very own existence to become one.
If Sean can truly take this on at age 18 and give up “yesterday”, then I can too. Give up yesterday every day. Give your kids an identity with hard work that takes them out of their comfort zones every single day. Honor the traits that you want them to initiate and generate in the world.

You’ve got not only the individual and personal world of the athlete it in your hands, but God’s world.

Skyping for Virtue

Technology can be a great tool and we took advantage of it yesterday when I was able to Video-Chat through Skype with a High School basketball team from Rice Lake Wisconsin.

Head Basketball Coach Kevin Orr found our web site over the summer, he reached out and ever since we have developed a great relationship.

He is blessed with a very talented team this year both on the court and off. He is most proud of the "off the court" success.
In the past few weeks:

The School Superintendent visited him in his classroom to thank him for the wonderful example the basketball team is setting for the whole district ...

It has become almost ordinary for the referees after the game to approach him and congratulate him on a classy group of young men who play the game with a lot of character ...

An elderly couple calling him to let him know that his players thanked them for coming to the game, appreciating their support, that they have attended many a game over the years and this has never happened, that it made their week ...

I had never spoken with a team through a computer before so it was admittedly a bit awkward but hopefully it helped.
We spoke about what they could do as a team, as a brotherhood to strengthen their bonds right now ...

To pour their hearts into their "Letter to Mom Ceremony" coming up next Tuesday ...

To dust off those goals sheets from Virtue Camp and talk about it with their mentor coach ...

A Life Changing Event: Father-Son Affirmation Night

I was blessed and honored to be a part of a truly special evening recently.

The Cincinnati St Xavier High School wrestling team hosted their first ever Father-Son Singlet night. About 60 Fathers and their sons participated and I believe they will remember it for the rest of their lives.

If you are not familiar with the event, I know many of you are, the concept is very simple: Gather all the Fathers and Sons on your team for an evening of positive affirmation. We encourage the Dads to say, "Son, I love you, I'm proud of you because of A, B and C and you're great at X, Y and Z" as they hand their son their wrestling singlet/jersey, etc.

Then once the son receives the singlet he turns and tells his Dad some words of affirmation, tells his Dad that he loves him.

All of the young men told their Dad that they loved him, that they were very grateful for the support with school, wrestling and life ...

Because it was a large group, Coach Tim McDonald divided the Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors into 6 small groups and they went into different classrooms to go through the ceremony.

Then when all of the small groups had finished we came together in the wrestling room to witness the Seniors receive their singlets from their Dads.

I was amazed at the depth and power in some of the words. One particular gentleman had his back to me while he was speaking but his son was looking straight into his Dad's eyes and it was moving to see the awe, the almost shocked gratitude, the longing to hear those words from his father. It was inspiring.

The other aspect that was impacting was that you feel the "cultural acceptance" of saying the words "I love you" to your son grow stronger and stronger as all of the men and their sons said it ... like it was freeing, like it was good and masculine, that it was right and cool to say.

Our society needs this urgently.

If you know other coaches around your league, city, etc please forward this to them, please tell them about this event if you have participated in it yourself ...