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, March 30, 2012


Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of spending the day listening to a man of wisdom. His name is Bill Myles. I went with Joe Lukens and Chris Willertz to discuss SportsLeader, mentoring and many other things. It was a memorable experience.
One phrase my Dad would say frequently was, "That coach forgets more about football before breakfast than others will learn their whole life." 
I felt like "the other" yesterday so I was happy to soak it in.
Coach Myles was a high school head football coach and an offensive line coach for the Universities of Nebraska and Ohio State. He coached Joe while he was at OSU.
We met him at his home and he gave us the tour. I was amazed how he would remember players names, numbers, stats, plays ... You could tell that every one of his players was important to him. He rarely spoke about championships, and there were many, but he spoke at length about his players as people.
At one point over lunch, he shared a really good nugget ... I paraphrase (and I won't do it justice)
"A mistake that many coaches make is that they forget the principle of little victories. For example ... I was watching an offensive line coach one day ... he had his players working the sled. A player goes through - You did not get low enough. Player goes back and does it again. You did not sustain ..."
"What that coach did was a huge mistake. You see he first wanted the player to get low. Well on the next try - he did get low. But he did not recognize "the little victory". He wants perfection all at once and that does not happen. Once he gets low, you praise him for that ... he then understands that portion of the skill and then you move on to sustain - or whatever."
"One little victory at a time, each one building on the other. You skip the little victories - not only will you not get the big ones, you wouldn't enjoy them as much either."
Let's ask ourselves as coaches - do we celebrate the little victories with our players?

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Virtue Promotion!
We should all do more to get VIRTUE front and center on to our attire.
Let's teach VIRTUE with every method available.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Two awesome examples of virtue in action - instigated by being part of a sports team, a brotherhood, a family that goes way beyond "just" the Friday night lights.
Thank you for your testimonies and your service.
Coach Jon Clark
Madison Southern High School, Berea KY
A group of 30 football players and 4 coaches went down to Laurel Co. in an effort to help clean up after these past tornados.  We spent the day in East Bernstadt cleaning up an area where a mobile home had been thrown across the road, through the trees, and down a large wooded hill.  Upon arriving, I think we all felt that there was absolutely no way we could get this area cleaned up as it was overwhelming how severe the distruction was (not to mention is was down a very large and steep wooded hillside).

These young men worked in a way that I am not only proud to have been a part of, but I am also still in awe of the accomplishment.  After 8 hours of tireless effort, the area was not only completely clean, but we had managed to pull the entire frame of the house back up the hill.  The boys even re-ran an entire barbed wire fence line to keep the horses safely away from any glass and materials that still ly in the dirt of the field.

Thanks guys for the hard work!
David Skarzynski
Wyandotte Roosevelt High School, Wyandotte MI

On Saturday I went to feed the homeless as a part of our Bear Olympics group. Although I went there for service points I realized it's not about the competition. It's about helping people who have no future, no education, no money, no home, nothing. I realized what they got to have on Saturday we take for granted. For me, and I hope for everyone else, that people will realize to come and join us. The next trip down into Detroit will be on the second Saturday of April. It is on April 10th and everyone is welcome to donate clothes, food, water, toys or just come out and help out and get to know people and their story of how they got to be where they are.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The below statistics show two things very clearly:
A. There are so many kids playing sports - a true spring of hope and possibility to teach them virtue and life lessons.
B. Getting a college athletic scholarship is not so easy.
So only .6% of our nations high school baseball players may earn a college scholarship but ...
Close to half a million boys can be taught to become virtuous men who will lead their families and change the world making it a better place.
“We stress to parents and students everywhere that you should participate in athletics for the values and benefits that sports can give, not because you want a scholarship,” said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president of membership services.
Of the 17 sports listed only 5 had a scholarship percentage of 1% or higher and none cracked 2%.
A study of numbers provided by the National High School Federation and the NCAA:

National participants 478,029
Number of college scholarships 2,956.1
Pct. earning scholarships .6%

Boys basketball
National participants 552,935
Number of college scholarships 4,046.7
Pct. earning scholarships .7%

Girls basketball
National participants 449,450
Number of college scholarships 4,329
Pct. earning scholarships .9%

Boys cross country/track and field
National participants 548,821
Number of college scholarships 2,481.7
Pct. earning scholarships .5%

Girls cross country/track and field
National participants 447,520
Number of college scholarships 4,030
Pct. earning scholarships .9%

National participants 1,108,286
Number of college scholarships 15,997.2
Pct. earning scholarships 1.4%

Boys Golf
National participants 159,958
Number of college scholarships 999.1
Pct. earning scholarships .6%

Girls Golf
National participants 69,243
Number of college scholarships 1,076.4
Pct. earning scholarships 1.6%

Boys Soccer
National  participants 383,561
Number of college scholarships 1,683
Pct. earning scholarships .4%

Girls Soccer
National participants 346,545
Number of college scholarships 3,591.9
Pct. earning scholarships 1%

National participants 371,293
Number of college scholarships 2,774.4
Pct. earning scholarships .7%

Boys swimming and diving
National participants 111,896
College scholarships 891
Pct. earning scholarships .8

Girls swimming and diving
National participants 147,197
Number of college scholarships 1,766.4
Pct. earning scholarships 1.2%

Boys tennis
National participants 156,285
Number of college scholarships 925.6
Pct. earning scholarships .6%

Girls tennis
National participants 172,455
Number of college  scholarships 1,848
Pct. earning scholarships 1.1%

National participants 397,968
Number of college scholarships 3,318
Pct. earning scholarships .8%

Boys wrestling
National participants 259,688
Number of college scholarships 696
Pct. earning scholarships .3%

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First District Championship in 13 Years

Here below is a testimony from Mike Key the AD and Boys Head Basketball Coach at Lloyd Memorial High School in Erlanger KY. They have been with SportsLeader for two seasons now and this year they had a tremendous turnaround and a District Championship title for the first time in 13 years beating a school about 4 times their size which is a short bike ride away.

It is so inspiring to see coaches who really pour their hearts into their kids with a vision for the future.

Dear Sportsleader,

As I reflected back on our season and the special run we were able to go on at the end, winning the District Championship and making it to the final four in the region, I tried to think about what made a change, was there a specific moment.  In looking at it there is not one that stood out.  Sure we made some tactical changes here and there but we really decided that we were going to be a team that as we put it  “ do what we do”.  That was not only from a basketball standpoint but for entire program.  How we worked with our kids, from the emphasis we put on character and doing the right things at the right time, to holding each other accountable when we didn’t do the right things.  That attitude of being relentless in doing what is right is what allowed us to overcome at the end. 

I have heard Coach K say that each season is a journey that lasts a lifetime and as I continue to work with young people I believe this is true.  Our kids as I am sure everybody’s else’s kids have a lot of issues that are bigger and more challenging than their ability to pass, dribble and shoot.   Our kids at times are not sure where they will sleep that night, who their father is and where he is, whether or not there will be drug and alcohol use going on when they get home, along with the other common high school sports issues of overbearing dad’s and at times unrealistic expectations.  

These take its toll on everyone associated with the basketball program, it makes it harder for young men to trust the coaches, it makes it harder for coaches to trust the players in doing the right things.  It makes for a lot of moments that test what you are made of as a man who will lead young men.  This season was very testing as we went through a 3 and 8 start, we went through several meetings with kids in which of course criticism came upon the players and coaches.  I as a head coach was too much about life lessons and not enough about winning, we had handled a dismissal of a player from the team poorly for continued violation of team rules, the way that we were playing was not beneficial for our kids, our kids were not tough enough and on and on. 

Through that criticism it rallied us around what was most important to me and what was going to be most important to the program and our kids.  Faith, Family, School and Basketball was going to be our focus win or lose.  When we entered the season and took our virtue camp we decided that Sacrifice, Respect and Perseverance were going to be our focus.  We were going to sacrifice for each other, respect ourselves and our opponents and persevere through whatever was to come our way.  The weekly readings and stories became great resources to continue to motivate me and our kids to do what was really important. 

As we entered the end of the season the players were taking more responsibility for their own actions, they were disciplining themselves, from missed lay ups to not having practice shorts that day to staying away from parties on the weekends.  So just as we had decided what was important to us the kids played the District tournament with the same priorities they sacrificed for each other, respected there ability to play with a really good opponent and in the end persevered by hitting a last second shot to win.

As we moved forward the following week after the District Championship, the first for our school since 1999, we decided to clear the air before we started to focus on our next task the regional tournament, we asked each of the kids what the Trophy had meant to them.  As we went around the circle each kid talked about the perseverance, how they had come together and sacrificed for each other. 

Then I was ready to finish the talk and move on to practice, the seniors stopped and said coach you have not said what it means to you.  They wanted to know where I was, so I told them,  my greatest hope for them is that they use the lessons that we had gone through to achieve success and apply it to their lives.  They apply the lessons of hard work, doing the right things, believing in their ability, and sacrifice for each other and families. 

As great as the run that we had went on at the end of the season was,  if they do not go on to become great men then the trophy and the accomplishment will just be a number on a banner and a piece of wood in a trophy case.  So in looking back at the season that we had and the success we think we had,  we will not  know if we were really successful for some time off in the future, when our kids become fathers, husbands, church members, employee’s and citizens.   If they can use some of the lessons that we learned and taught this year then we will have had a great year. 

Mike Key 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When Our Players Move Our Souls

The inspiring fruit of working daily on virtue. You think anyone present at that banquet will forget this? That is a memory that will last a lifetime.

By Bruce Scifres
Head Football Coach Indianapolis Roncalli High School

As I reflected back on our 2011 season, I was filled with a great deal of pride. As I shared with our players at the banquet, we had accomplished many great things.

Everyone in our school community believes that we were one or two key plays away from moving on in the tournament to convincingly win a State Championship. They are probably quite justified in this thinking.

However, at the banquet, I told them to let go of the "what ifs?" and "woulda, shoulda, coulda." I told them to focus on the great accomplishments of this team:

- the strong bonds of friendship and loyalty this team created

- the great leadership shown by our players in our hallways and classrooms at school and in our community

- the neat community service projects this group participated in

- the awesome player-led prayers after each practice and before and after every game

- and the conscious decision these young men made to love and honor their parents by playing with such pride and passion every Friday night.

Winning several very big games this season was merely a by-product of all the things just mentioned.

Usually at our banquet, our parents present some very nice gifts to our senior players paid for with the proceeds from our very popular pre-game tailgating events.

This group of seniors, however, requested that they not receive any senior gifts this year so that all proceeds might go to one of their classmates who is battling cancer.

The pride I felt in my heart at the banquet this year was in part due to the fine football team this group had become, but far more importantly my soul was touched by the charity demonstrated by this awesome group of young men!

Although we were a couple plays away from winning a State Championship this season, I shared with our parents that in every sense of the word, their sons proved to be real Champions in the game of life!

I do realize that I am truly blessed to be a part of their lives. As coaches/teachers/mentors, we have an opportunity to touch the lives of our young people in a positive and powerful way.

More times than not, however, I think it is we, the adults, who end up being most blessed in this process!

** If you'd like to hear an inspiring pre-game speech by one of the Roncalli Assistant Coaches, Chris Belch, click on the link below to watch the video. His speech is at 2:25 of the video.

Creating School-Wide Change

Coach Dan Duddy of Monsignor Donovan High School in New Jersey has been a part of the SportsLeader association for many years now as a head coach but something special happened this past summer.

The local Pastor of his Church was so excited about what was going on in Dan's football program that he invited him to work full time in the school as the Pastoral Minister of Athletics bringing the virtue program to all sports at all levels.

He has been at this since September and now it is reaching well beyond sports into clubs, school wide themes, etc. Dan took the time to fly out here to the Cincinnati area a few weeks ago and presented what he is doing to two different Catholic schools in the hope that they would get excited about the idea as well - Newport Central Catholic and LaSalle.

I believe some great things are developing.

Here is an abbreviated version of the video presentation Dan gave that he and some students, teachers, chaplain, parents ... created to help spread the message. Click on the link to watch:

 Please forward this on and don't keep it a secret.

We can help other schools, whether public or private, make this happen and help create a culture of virtue.

Five Indicators of a Mature Man

I believe this is worth forwarding on to all of our athletes, both boys and girls.

Boys - this is what we are training them to become.

Girls - this is what you should be looking for in a man.

Five Indicators of a Mature Man By Michael Sliney, LC

1. His top priorities are first God, then his wife, and then his kids. How many men on their death bed wished they had worked longer hours?

2. He overcomes all adversity with calm, determination and a positive spirit.

3. He recognizes his own weakness, especially in the areas of purity and kindness, and makes time for daily prayer, regular Mass and Confession. It's amazing how men can live heroic virtue with the help of God's grace.

4. He is willing to give up part of his "cave time" and free time to serve others.

5. He strives for excellence and integrity in all things, both in his professional and personal life. If he gives his word, he will get it done.

Is Your School a Culture of Misery?

The below article is another extreme wake-up call that our society urgently needs VIRTUE to help transform it.

We need to examine our school - our team and see if it has a culture of misery or a culture of virtue.

Our commitment card is all about this: Charity - I will only think and say positive things about others, especially teammates and coaches.

Let's ask more of ourselves in this area. Let's be more charitable ourselves in the way we speak of others.

My View: It’s time to change schools’ culture of misery
By Jessie Klein, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jessie Klein is a sociology and criminal justice professor at Adelphi University. She is the author of “The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools.” During the last two decades, she led and administered high school guidance programs. She served as a supervisor, school social worker, college adviser, social studies teacher, substance abuse prevention counselor and conflict resolution coordinator and worked as a social work professor. You can see more of Klein’s work at

(CNN) - Misery has become the norm for young people in school - the Ohio school shooting last week and the case of the Rutgers University cyber-bullying suicide are only the most high-profile of recent related fatalities.

Such despairing actions like suicides and shootings aren’t aberrations. Kids across America are distressed and crying out for help in different ways. When they abuse substances, cut themselves, sink into debilitating depression and paralyzing anxiety, become truant, drop out of school or commit suicide or school shootings, they are saying the same thing: It is too much to bear.

These incidents and the hundreds that came in the decades before, are treated time and again as problems with the individual at the center of the story – but Tyler Clementi and T.J. Lane are not the only lonely teens who were at risk for drastic actions like suicide and shootings.

Educators, parents, and other concerned people often ask me to describe the profile of a bully or someone likely to commit suicide, but this is the wrong question. Instead, we need to examine problem-schools where kids endure a hostile environment every day.

Classic sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote in his seminal work, “Suicide,” that when the same affliction appears again and again, we must question whether something is amiss in our larger social, economic and political sphere. It is no longer reasonable to look merely at familial contexts or only at the pathology of a given individual. When school shootings and suicides persist as they do today, and in the company of high rates of depression, anxiety and social isolation among youth and adults, something must be wrong on a much larger level. Schools are in a position to be part of the solution - but too often they maintain the status quo where children are left to handle everything on their own.

Students are encouraged to be competitive and aggressive, to pursue success - socially and otherwise - with a single-minded zeal, and to step on anyone that gets in their way. Perhaps related, the 2004 General Social Survey reports that social isolation has tripled since the 1980s, while many studies show depression and anxiety have increased significantly among both adults and youth in the same time period.

We see this in the cases of Lane, the alleged school shooter in Ohio, andClementi, who jumped off a bridge after his Rutgers University roommate broadcast online a sexual encounter between Clementi with a man; the roommate, Dharun Ravi, is now on trial for hate crimes and other charges. Lane and Clementi were both described by peers as outcasts. Lane is said to have few friends and a hard home life. Clementi was described as a loner, and lonely. In conversations reported in The New Yorker, Clementi had said: “I need some people in my life.” Both seemed irritated at the other’s “modest roots.”

Kids routinely speak about one another with racist, classist, and other forms of prejudice that objectify others. Girls get called “slut” and “whore,” boys get called “gay,” white poor people are called “white trash” and the list goes on. Increasing one’s social status by putting others down is par for the course. Broadcasting secrets or sexual images of each other is common and part of the culture of deceit, mistrust and cold clawing for recognition that students learn is necessary for social survival.

Schools can’t handle these problems by themselves – it’s difficult for the school community to flourish when it is infiltrated by violent media, hard economic times with little social support, and families without tools to help children navigate a harsh world. There aren’t enough counselors and social workers to help all the students who are having a hard time.

But individualizing the problem is just another way of avoiding it.

While working on my book, “The Bully Society,” I cataloged every shooting that took place in a school - not all of them high-profile or mass shootings - and found that between 1979 and 2009, approximately 30% of the school shootings were related to rage at schools for disciplinary practices which were perceived by the perpetrator to be unjust; 15% related to dating or domestic violence; another 20% consisted of violence directed specifically at girls or women; and 10% of the shootings were triggered by gay-bashing, in which heterosexually identified students tried to prove their masculinity through violence when their sexuality was questioned. These are social problems, not just individual matters.

Schools need to address the concerns children and teens face, openly and honestly and in an environment that promotes empathy. Kids - and adults - ought to be taught how to develop friendships based on trust and care, rather than competition and envy. Kids could use help to share deeply with each other instead of using one another’s secrets as valued commodities to be traded for social status. They need a reprieve from the bully society where so many are out to destroy others in order to make themselves look better

And kids need to be pathologized less. What they need is to be part of compassionate communities.

These can be created and developed by almost anyone. Counselors or social workers could be the ones to start a movement for creating more compassionate school communities - or teachers, parents, or other school faculty. Student leaders, even self-appointed, could build fervor for compassion and care in their schools.

I worked for five years as a social worker in a community-focused school,Humanities Preparatory Academy in New York. Every week, we had all-school, student-led meetings about issues that concerned the school. In Advisories, often called homerooms elsewhere, students discussed their concerns in smaller groups and participated in exercises that helped foster student and school faculty bonding. Even though it was an at-risk school for truant kids, and many came from devastating backgrounds including gangs, homelessness and domestic violence, we helped almost every student get into four-year colleges, and many with scholarships. This school continues to be a mostly peaceful and supportive place, especially as compared to other schools in the same area.

Schools could have all-school emergency meetings if anyone is hurt in the community; we can’t wait for the bullying to become “a repeated offense” as some define it. Prejudicial slurs of any kind should not be tolerated - including any racist, classist, sexist, or otherwise disparaging judgments. People need to stand up and say that speaking of one another pejoratively is unacceptable. It must become everyone’s mission to uphold values of concern for everyone. This can happen in so many ways, like students working in small groups with those they might not otherwise interact.

Every conflict and difficulty needs to become a teaching moment, not a cause for punishment. Students (and adults) must learn how to communicate with one another with respect.

With these efforts, our children will learn and grow with integrity, ethics and a warm regard for themselves and others. In such a school environment, we will have increasingly healthier children. We won’t have to look for what’s wrong with yet another child who exploded in one form or another - we’ll build schools, and in time, a larger society, where children (and adults) finally thrive.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Jessie Klein.

Virtue Front and Center

Two of the speakers at our Coaches Clinic this past weekend were Ron Adams and Bill Sweet from Wyandotte Roosevelt High School in Michigan.

Upon arrival he gave me a copy of their football yearbook (beautifully put together by Ashely Abaloz).

The first thing that caught my attention were all the virtues ... then I realized it was the football yearbook.

That really struck me ... that what their program, their team, their season ... was about was virtue - that is front and center - just as much as the football.

What about your team? What about your yearbook, t-shirts, posters, etc?

What is front and center about your program?

Let's be the change we want to see in our culture.

Building Muscle and Virtue

This past weekend we celebrated the virtue of three athletes and a coach - people who have made a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Over 200 people came to honor them and it was a tribute to the power of influence.

Congratulations to Joseph Fisher, Lauren Hall, Nicholas Holden and Coach Trent Todd. We are blessed to have you in our lives.

We also got a little press. Here is an article from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Building muscles - and virtue

Written by Jeanne Houck

MADEIRA — St. Peter urged Christians to supplement their faith with virtue.

Now, St. Gertrude is asking its school’s coaches to supplement their athletic efforts with the same kind of moral excellence.

St. Gertrude School in Madeira has joined SportsLeader, Inc., which trains and provides materials for coaches of grade-school, high-school and college athletic teams to deliver “virtue talks” to students, who also are mentored by adult participants.

Based in Louisville, SportsLeader works with private and public athletic programs at schools throughout the United States and Canada ranging from the St. Xavier High School wrestling team to the Michigan State University football program.

“Following our successful work at implementing a virtue-centered program in our parochial school, I was encouraged by many parents to begin a virtue-centered program in our boosters’ sports program,” said the Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, pastor of St. Gertrude Church, also in Madeira.

“There was talk that our children needed to be formed in virtue in all disciplines of their lives.”

LaCasse said he asked several of the parents who brought the issue to his attention to form an exploratory advisory board to look into virtue-centered sports programs for St. Gertrude School, which offers pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

“After looking at several, we decided on SportsLeader and contacted Lou Judd, the promoter of the program,” LaCasse said.

“Lou was local and was able to give us all the time we needed to look into his program and begin the training.

“At first it was a challenge, and we had to do a lot of explaining to get the families, coordinators and coaches on board,” LaCasse said.

“Overall it has been a great success. Although we still experience some challenges with the program, the success of our football program last fall with SportsLeader gave us the momentum to continue into the other sports programs.

“We hope to continue to build on the good that has been done, and hope that all will see the great value in this program for our parish,” LaCasse said.