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, September 24, 2012


The key difference between a value and a virtue is that a value is knowing something is right and a virtue is doing it.

Service projects are excellent ways to help our athletes put the virtue of the week into action.

Victory Day is a virtue-service project started by SportsLeader Coach Aaron Segedi of Trenton High School in Trenton, Michigan. It gives children with physical and mental disabilities the opportunity to enjoy being a football player or cheerleader for the day. High School football players and cheerleaders from over 10 schools came to serve and help these young people.

Many of these schools are from the same conference and had played each other the night before. What a great testimony!

It was a very moving experience to see so much happiness, so much innocence, so much virtue!

Coach Segedi shared with me: "The Monday following Victory Day is one of my favorite days to talk to the kids. They shared so many stories about their child that they were with all day.  Our players really understood the more we share, the more we gain.  Giving back to others makes us feel kid told me.  Another one said that they are fortunate to be able to play football or do "common" things so easily.  Another player said he enjoyed getting to know several players for other league teams....saw them in a different light and not just the opponent.  Very cool."

Former Head Football Coach from the University of Michigan Lloyd Carr came for a second year. You can hear his 3 minute intro speech inside the video link below.

This should be the service project of choice of all SportsLeader football teams.

We need to spread Victory Day to every State. If you would like to host a Victory Day at your school please let me know.

To watch videos on Victory Day click on the link:


Chris Tracy, Head Football Coach at Franklin County HS in KY, has recently started a new tradition where each Friday a different coach writes a letter to the team letting them know how much Franklin County football means to them.

The coach writes the letter and then reads it aloud to the team before they take the field.

Imagine ... keeping all these letters year after year in a binder ... a legacy, a history of the team and what it has meant to all these men.

Definitely give this a try with your staff. Here below is one of the letters.

Lou Judd

Dear Flyer Football Team,

This football program has and will always hold a special place in my heart.  Over the last ten years football has completely changed the course of my life. This spectacular game has brought me to where I am today and has given me my closest friends and some of my fondest memories along the way. Through football I have learned many valuable lessons that I carry in my everyday life. These lessons are mainly centered in Courage, Discipline and honor.  Without this football program my life would be very different and I can almost assure you I wouldn’t be standing in front of you today.

The last day of my sophomore year I got into an argument with a principal and ended up in handcuffs in the front office. The result was a suspension for the first 5 days of my junior year. With that came being banned from school property for the ENTIRE summer. If it had not been for Coach Ledford and Coach Walker I would have been off the team and probably headed to the school that I work at today. These great men stepped in at a tough time in my life and gave me a crutch to stand on. This crutch has put me in the place I am today and for that I can never thank them enough. Their attitude and belief in me gave me the courage to get back up when I was down and fight for the things I wanted in life.  

As a player I was never all state or even very good, but I cherished going to war with my brothers on Friday Nights. To me there was nothing like running out of that tunnel next to my brothers. The time spent with those guys and the relationships we built are irreplaceable and hold strong to this day. I only wish that I had taken time to cherish those moments. Looking back I was having the time of my life but was never able to enjoy it because I was too young to understand what the game meant to me. Live in the moment and cherish every second because it can all be taken from you in an instant. Enjoy your time here because four years is a small chunk of time in the big picture. It will have come and gone before you know it.

This team will always be special in my heart. Some of you guys have been with me since you were 6th graders and others I have met along the way who are equally important. Each of you is unique and special in your own way. This team has the ability to do anything you want as long as you set your mind to it. I ask from this day forward that you commit yourself to this team 110%. Go the extra mile at practice, spend the extra time watching film or studying your scouting report, buy in to your coaches and do more than what’s asked of you. These things will take you and team to the next level and let you capture your dreams.

Never forget, this program is bigger than you will ever understand.  There are 80 year old men who can barely walk that believe in you. There are handicapped kids who will never play a snap that love Flyer football. These are the people you play for. Always do right by those that have worn that flyer jersey before you and remember there is always a kid in the stands who wants to be you. Make them proud of what you represent.

In Closing, I want to leave you with this. The KHSAA 5A State Championship game is NOV 30th at 7:00. That is just a short 77 days away. You are not guaranteed the right to play in that game. It is an honor that only few will ever earn. This team has the “potential” to be there but “potential” is a dangerous thing. Darrell Royal the Hall of Fame Texas Longhorns coach summed it up best when he said “Potential means you ain’t done it yet.” At the end of the day potential is nothing unless you find a way to unlock it and turn it into success. The only way you are going to turn potential into success and go to Bowling Green is through blood, sweat and tears every day that you put on your helmet as a Franklin County Flyer. I love every one of you guys and look forward to seeing you achieve your dreams over the next 11 weeks.

Coach James

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Sometimes we get to see some "light", some "fruit" of our labor. Other times not so much.

Here is an example of some light.
Lou Judd
I found this note on my desk today from a player of mine who I've been coaching and mentoring throughout the season.  As a coach it's always our hope that we are making a difference in a young athlete's life.  I wanted to share what this player wrote:

To Coach DeJoy
I love you as a coach and you are the reason why I am wearing green and gold in high school.  On the back page he shared some of his goals:

2012 Sycamore "I Will"

I am a champion
Will not make excuses
Loyalty to the team, and soon to be a legend.

Mentoring works!  Please continue to work and build these players into good men!  They need us!  Finally, embrace being a role model!  This is the reason why we do what we do!

Jim DeJoy
8th Grade Football
Sycamore Jr High School

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Many Assistant Coaches are hesitant to dive in 100% to the SportsLeader program - especially the mentoring. Here below is a testimony from an Assistant Coach, Dave Simon from Cincinnati McNicholas HS, who wanted to encourage all the assistant coaches out there ...

Well worth your time. Please forward this on to all your coaches. I highlighted some parts that I found really powerful.

Lou Judd

Football can not just be a demanding and stressful game as a player, but for a coach as well. In today’s society, many young men choose the path of football not knowing the life lessons they may learn and how they can be guided to become better young men when they’re finished. Many adult males get into the coaching field due to competitive nature and missing the game they grew to love.

As coaches, we have the most opportune time in a young man’s life, to not just make an impact, but inspire and help young men be able to achieve their dreams and goals in life. Whether coaching in a program with little resources or coaching in a program with unlimited resources, all of our players face life struggles. Some kids come from great backgrounds and supportive families and some kids come from a struggling house with little to no resources at all to fall on.

No matter the circumstances, we as coaches have a duty each day we are around these players on and off the field. Not just teaching the X’s and O’s but teaching the lessons of life to help create strong, determined, iron-willed, outstanding young men. Young men who become leaders, not followers. Young men who people look to and know they can rely upon.

I had the privilege to meet a head coach during a coaching clinic years ago. This man did not only inspire me to be a better coach on the field, but be a better coach off the field to all my players that I am blessed to spend each season with.  This man read statistics about how many student athletes come from a broken home. This same coach made one statement of a stat that can’t be measured on paper. This stat was so astonishing, that while I sat there, I understood now the importance of my job.

I say “job” because yeah, we as coaches are paid upon our duties, but not enough to live on, we don’t coach for that reason. We all heard the same calling in our lives at one point. The statement I talked about earlier, the one that the head coach of this college program talked about, “Who is the most influential person in your life?” The answer……..High School Football Coach. He said 90% of all college players that he has coached answered that single question with High School Football Coach. Pretty powerful response? Makes you sit back for a second and understand how important your “calling” is. Makes you realize the impact we have as coaches not just for one young mans life, but for an entire team. The coach I referred to earlier is Dean Hood. Head Coach of Eastern Kentucky University Football Program.  Now, Coach Hood was a former Defensive Coordinator at Wake Forest University where he used the same character development program that he still uses today.

This year, our HC decided that something had to change with our football program, not just a systematic or scheme to use for on the field but a system that would reach deep inside a young man’s life and a coach’s as well. He wanted these young men by the time they were done with their four years of high school football, not just to be proud of their on field accomplishments, but their off field success as well. He wanted these young boys to become great young men. Someone that people looked to and knew that this was not just an ordinary young man, but a special young man. We as assistant coaches were introduced to this program this off-season.

The program is called SportsLeader. Our HC introduced us to Lou Judd and his program and the vast majority it had to offer. At first, I was very hesitant on what this program was about. But, as I sat one Saturday morning at Moeller High School, I quickly learned what Sports Leader had to offer. I learned from coaches all across the country and the neat ideas that were being incorporated in their program. I soon was absolutely amazed at what it had to offer. So, after witnessing this opportunity, our HC decided to take it further and have Lou explain to us a more in depth perception of what this program had to offer. Call it an all access pass if you may. Lou talked with our entire staff and we decided that we would incorporate some ideas and roll with them.

We chose doing a virtue of the week and having one on one session with the players we drafted to be in our mentor group, father-son jersey night, and letter to mom night. The mentor group was the only thing at first I was very hesitant on. Lou explained that we would draft players of six or seven depending on the number of players we had in our program, sophomore to senior, and go over the virtue of the week chosen by the HC for the week and talk about it maybe before or after practice. Basically you become not a coach, but a big brother. As I sat there and heard the details of what the Mentoring brought upon us coaches, I said to myself, “Hold up! I’m supposed to mentor these guys? What am I going to say? How am I going to make a difference?

I am a 27 year old young man who had made a lot of mistakes so far, how am I supposed to be a mentor, when sometimes I may not make the right choices. So, I sat back and reevaluated how I was going to approach this whole program. I kept an open mind. I first started by asking myself what makes a man a man? I mean a guy can be 40 years old and still not be a man just as a guy can be 19 and be a man. A man isn’t defined by giving shelter, food, and water to his family is it? Then, I thought about all the coaches I have had the pleasure of being able to stand next to and coach throughout my young 8 year career so far, and thought about them as men. I have been with three different staffs and learned from each staff what it means to be a man.

These guys are the same guys that I had the pleasure of seeing off the field in their environments at home and around their families. The staff I’m with this year I will use as an example because it’s fresher for me to refer to, but these coaches all reflect what it means to be a man. These guys are the same guys that are very competitive and determined to win, but at the same time are the guys that you see with their children and wives engaged in life and understanding what it means to be appreciative of the gifts they are given in their life. The same guys that you look at and see a great father and husband, or great son and brother. Guys who just don’t provide food, shelter, and water for their families, but unconditional love and laughter to their families as well.

The love that is greater than money can support, the love that builds a house and a family. The love that helps siblings out and be a role model. Men, who I look up to. Men that I have a huge found respect for. I say this because being raised by a single mother and helping raise a younger sibling you never know if you’re a man or not. Not saying that you can’t be a man being raised by a single mom because you can, my mom is a saint in my eyes and honestly my biggest hero and inspiration in what I do today. But, seeing these coaches I am blessed to coach next to, it just elevated my perception of what a man is. So, as I referred to these guys while thinking of how to be a good mentor, I found my way of being a great young man as I teach my players to be great young men as well.

My first week of mentoring was a little hectic with our new stadium opening up for our first varsity home game ever in the schools history, so emotions were high as a former alum and the focus was a little stray at times with the virtue of the week and the one on one session with my players. No excuses, so I made sure the next week would go as I wanted this process to go. The virtue of the week was “consistency.” I talked with my players about consistency and how they were going to be consistent in not just football but life in general as well. There was one player that really shocked me while having our one on one session. If I wouldn’t have been a part of this program, I probably wouldn’t have known about his situation nor would have ever been.

It’s not that I don’t talk to my players and interact, but this program allows an open door policy for a player and coach to talk and not make a coach feel as though he’s crossing the line on asking a question or getting more involved in the players’ life. This helps the awkwardness that may occur in the beginning to allow a more in depth perception of each other. Players look at Coaches as guys who are perfect or on this realm that they make no mistakes in life. But, the mentoring program allows the player to see that the coach is human just like him. It allows the player to see and hear a side that they might not have heard before. We as coaches make the misperception that we get involved in our players life and we know our players so well, but do we?

This mentoring program made me reflect as a coach on how I have constructed myself. Made me become a better coach in fact. While having my one on one session with this player, I said to myself I am glad I got to talk to him, I’m glad he got to open up to me about his problem and I was able to help in some form or fashion. I just told the young man that we all make mistakes in our lives, and people are easy to criticize on others, but the only opinion that matters is on the inside of us as people and how we perceive ourselves. And yes, the big man upstairs opinion on how we live our lives as well is judged in the end. But, he knows us as humans are susceptible to mistakes, and how we learn and change from them is ultimately what shapes us as human beings and young men.

As the session ended, I gave the young man a huge hug and told him no matter what, if it’s his assigned day to talk to me or not, and he needs to talk, to come and talk to me. I told him that I make mistakes too; all the time, but I try and learn form them to become a better young man and person every day. I told him that I cared about him and not just as a football player but as a person as well. I didn’t want him to just succeed on the field but off the field as well. I told him we all have obstacles on our journey’s, but its just like a tree fallen on our path, we can turn around and go back from where we came from, cut the tree out of the way or move it to the side and keep moving forward to where our goal is at the end.

The mentoring session hasn’t just helped my players in our conversations and stories we read that relate to the virtue of the week, but has helped shaped me to become a better man each day and lead by example for not just the virtue of the week, but a man as well, just as the men I stand next to on the sideline every Friday Night or Saturday Afternoon coaching along side.

So I challenge you coaches each day you have the opportunity to talk to your players, DO! You answered your calling for a purpose. Don’t be hesitant, we all make mistakes, I know that one best. But, for a young man to admit his mistakes and learn from them and pass the knowledge around to another, well that makes a man, and that ultimately makes a great coach.

Remember the question that college football players answered earlier in our conversation, Who is the most influential person in your life?......High School Football Coach. Make the impact, make the difference, be the men in their lives and be the inspiration that make these young men, GREAT MEN.

Dave Simon
Linebackers Coach Archbishop McNicholas High School, Cincinnati, OH

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


An important aspect of creating a structured environment to our Mentoring-Virtue Program is really using your team motto.

You need to find creative ways to get your motto constantly "in front" of your players ... in breakdowns, one-on-one sessions, team talks, posters ... helmet stickers.

Archbishop McNicholas High School Football in Cincinnati has chosen to use the school motto for their team motto -"To Attain Full Stature in Christ"

So to re-inforce that, they created a helmet sticker to remind everyone ... Maybe you can do something similar with your motto.


Another great aspect of being a part of the SportsLeader program is sharing new ideas with everyone else.

Coach Ryan Wikel of Sandusky St Mary's Central Catholic in Sandusky OH came up with a great reminder for the Dads for Father-Son Jersey Night. He created a laminated business card to help the Dads remember the key phrases to tell their son. What is awesome about this is that it is small, fits in your wallet and can be a constant reminder to the Dad that he should be saying these things more often. Maybe a few months go by, looks through his wallet one day, re-finds that card and he gets inspired to communicate something meaningful to his son.


If you have an idea or a nuance ... please share it with us, just email me at


I'd also like to share another athlete testimony. This is from Makenna Myers, a tennis player from Sandusky St Mary's Central Catholic HS. I hope these testimonies inspire you to keep mentoring.

Hello, I’m Makenna. I am currently a senior at Saint Mary Central Catholic where I am the co-captain of our tennis team. I have been playing tennis for SMCC since I was a freshman, which I think was the best decision I ever made.

Going into any high school sport was very overwhelming for me, just the idea of playing with people older than myself made me extremely nervous. When I told my parents that I thought I wanted to play tennis they were thrilled. The first practice we had I was literally shaking because I was so nervous. I didn’t know any of these girls except for my friend, Giselle, and I was scared. As soon as I got out of the car all of the girls came up and introduced themselves, and they were so happy that we wanted to be on the team. Each tennis season from that point on has been very memorable.

Last year the seniors started the tradition of inspirational notecards. These notecards were made before every match and were given to each girl as we took to the courts. The notecard had a personal message that the senior shared with the girl she was writing to, and always ended with a bible quote that would focus on an uplifting message. It would only take a few moments to read these cards, but the messages would help me to focus on the way I played. Whenever I got down on myself during a match I would read my card and think of how special I was to have teammates who wanted to encourage me to go on, to work through the rough point, and who cared so much about me. Knowing how much this made a positive impact on me and the way I played, I promised myself that this year I would make every single card meaningful and unique. Now that it is my turn to write cards, I look for inspirational quotes that are specific to my teammate that I write for, I draw funny pictures, and I take the time to write a quick prayer for each of the notecards.

It never occurred to me that my teammates would ever save these little paper cards. I always thought they were read once, and then thrown into their tennis bag eventually to be found at the end of the season when the bags had to be returned. But one day before a match I saw my teammate reach deep into a side pocket and reread the card that I had given her a few games prior. She had a somewhat rough day at school and had taken the card out to read again.  After reading the notecard she gave me a hug. I never realized that I could have that kind of impact on a person. Through this experience I have learned that even small acts of kindness can make a difference.