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, May 30, 2012


Ryan Wikel, head football coach at Sandusky St Mary's Central Catholic High School, had his first ever Senior Sendoff event last week.

He had 10 players, 9 coaches and 1 chaplain Father Jason in attendance.

They gathered at the South Shore Inn, played a game of kickball - players against coaches that went 9 innings plus a 2 out sudden death overtime where the coaches prevailed 7-6. They enjoyed some food and then they went inside for a chat.

Coach gave each of the 10 players a mentoring group, just like the coaches ... so this year all the football players will have a coach and a graduated Senior who will be helping them. Coach Wikel said, “I feel like it is important to keep the graduating seniors connected to our program.  Since this is year one of our virtue program, I wanted this group to be a part of it.”

He told them that he'd like each of them to text their mentoring group at least 5 or 6 times throughout the upcoming year to encourage the young men to be virtuous. For example on homecoming and prom nights ... send a text to your group to make good decisions, don't do anything you might regret. “I have a sheet of important dates that revolves around the school calendar.  Midterm dates and end of quarter are important for grades. School functions such as dances and opening night of football are other important dates.”

The great thing about this is that maybe because the new college Freshman is texting the high school players to make good decisions, that will help them stay on the straight and narrow as well because they are telling others to do it ...
He also gave them a sheet with all of the names and contact information of all the coaches and assured them that they are forever a part of the football family.

To close it out he gave each player a book that he signed - "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People".  “It is a good read and a small token for the graduating seniors.  They may not read it right away, but maybe they pick it up 10 years from now and it makes an impact.”

Since the event he has received numerous texts from his assistant coaches letting him know how much fun it was to simply play a game with the guys. Admittedly some of the guys were sore for a few days because some "new muscles were freshly discovered" but that it was worth it.

A new tradition has been started ... a lifelong memory created!

There's still time to get in this event if you have not done so already. You won't regret it. It is called Senior Sendoff and the objective is to gather your graduating Seniors one last time ... Here is a recent example.

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