SportsLeader focuses on three main things: Virtue, Mentoring and Ceremonies. One of the ceremonies we encourage teams to install is called Letters to Mom.
Over the years I've been blessed to develop a lot of great relationships with coaches all over the USA and Canada. Men and women who have become some of my closest friends.
One of the those men is Bill Sweet. He is an Emergency Room Nurse by day and Offensive Line Coach by night if you will.
Here are some of his thoughts about mentoring. I pray that you find them inspiring.
Thanks, Bill. We need coaches like you!
Forge on, Lou Judd
My name is Bill Sweet. I have been coaching the offensive line at Wyandotte Roosevelt High School for ten seasons and each one has been a blessing.
We are fortunate to have the four key components that are essential for a successful football program:
1-Strong supportive administration
3-Hard working cohesive coaching staff that love the kids as well as each other
The man responsible for blending all these components is our Head Coach Ron Adams.
Coach Adams is a tremendous leader who inspires everyone around him to achieve to their highest capabilities. Great leader and a great man. Our program is blessed to have him.
Three years ago Coach Adams and I traveled to Cinncinnatti to learn about the Sports Leader program.
We immediately recognized what a valuable program this is and how beneficial it would be to our program.
The program consists of multiple components but in my opinion the most beneficial is the one on one mentoring.
We assign players to coaches who act as the individual mentor for that given player.
Each coach has 6-10 players assigned to him and makes contact daily with his group.
The time at first may seem overwhelming but you develop a routine and the kids appreciate the time spent with them.
I was sold on mentoring into our first season with Sports Leader.
It was early in the season and we were fortunate enough to have a substantial lead. We started the third quater with our second offensive line.
A few minutes into the second half I felt a tug on my shirt. It was one of my starting linemen.
When I turned arond he said "Coach, I didn't get my time." I thought he was referring to playing time-he wasn't. He said "we did not have our talk".
I had to laugh but told him I was a little tied up but we would talk after the game.
This young man was a starter, good student, good home without divorce present, financially sound, mom and dad both supported the progam and this young man had a great relationship with his father (they both loved to hunt and did it often).
After this occurence I realized how valuable it is for young men to talk and be heard.
I first equated the mentoring program with helping the young men on our team who are disadvantaged in some way.
The truth is we are all striving.
We all fall short of the glory of God and desperately need his guidance.
Mentoring gives us a opportunity to show the love of God to our players.
Coaching at a public school I am so grateful for that opportunity.
Thank You Lou God Bless and Go Bears.
An "inside the heart" view of how one coach transformed his team through SportsLeader.
Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd
How Mentoring Changed My Program
I feel bad that I have not taken the time to share all that has happened. It really has been a very challenging but rewarding period for us here at Xenia.
We Did our second Jersey Ceremony this fall. It was amazing. We had 15 seniors who we awarded jerseys to. We had Dad’s, Brothers, Grandfathers, and Coaches present jerseys to coaches in a ceremony that the photographer described as, “simply Amazing”.
We instituted daily mentoring this season where our coaches met weekly with every kid we coach . I had parents say things to me that were very positive but one of the most powerful statements came from a parent of a top notch student-athlete who said, “Finally, someone pays attention to the kid who does the right things and tries to do what is right”. I was humbled by the fact that I did not see that one coming.
In my opinion, mentoring was much more valuable to our coaches than it was to our players. I saw mentoring change the hearts of our coaches. I saw coaches grow into the leaders that God intended them to be. I saw this change weld our coaches and players into a unified effort each week. Every coach didn’t implement the program the way Coach Willertz instructed and those who did it their way were without question far less successful.
Our coaches have instituted the program for the kids we are working with in winter weights. I had multiple players ask me if their mentoring would continue throughout the off season which is what prompted the expansion of the program. I have been approached by our youth program and it looks like they are going to try to train their coaches to begin mentoring this coming season.
We had a brunch for the junior and senior mom’s at the end of the season and our seniors wrote letters to their parents which were read at the ceremony. Coach Mack provided every mom with a framed copy of the letter they received. An assistant coach and I both wrote a letter to our mom’s and also read them to our mom’s at the ceremony. I can’t begin to quantify the number of gushing compliments we received from the mom’s and grandmothers who attended, but I can tell you that one grandmother told me after wards that if this couldn’t take place some year because of cost, that I should call her and she would pay for it!!
It costs nothing but your attention. Sports Leader has made me a better coach because it has refocused me to the people whom I have the privilege of working with on a daily basis. For so many coaches, the challenges of injuries, money to get the things you need, strategy, logistics of preparing a team each week, teaching school ... can pull your attention away from the really important things in our world. I believe that Sports Leader has refocused our program to what is really important.
To those of you who are devoting your life to spreading the techniques and skills of Sports Leader, you should be so proud to be a part of such an awesome movement. Billy Graham said that a high school football coach touches more lives than an evangelist does by a large margin. Just think, you are touching many coaches who each touch that many lives.
I encourage everyone to invite Coach Judd and Coach Willertz into their programs and let them challenge your program to become all that it can be. I am so thankful for these two men and feel so very blessed that they have been brought into my life.
In a day and age when high school coaches complain about the focus of everyone on winning and not on education, I have grown to think differently of this subject. I really believe that our parents are much more patient with us because of the work we do with our kids through Sports Leader. I believe that our administration is also able to be more patient with us while we build a program because they can point to the work we are doing with our kids through Sports Leader. Perhaps the reason it is “Win Only” is because that is what the coach has made it?
These are some random thoughts but they are mine. I want you to know that I have been chosen as the head coach of the Ohio South All-Star team. We will play on April 27th at Welcome Stadium in the Longest running high school all-star game in the county. I would be honored if you and Chris could be in attendance.
Head Football Coach
Xenia High School, Xenia Ohio
Here is a great testimonial from a girls basketball coach in Pennsylvania and how SportsLeader has helped a great program with a rich tradition make an even greater impact in the lives of their coaches, players and parents.
Coaching Strength, Lou Judd
I thought you might be interested in an update in how the SportsLeader program came to us here in Central Pennsylvania and how it has been received by the St. Theresa Lady Saints basketball team.
I’ve been coaching for thirty years at the grade school, middle school, and high school levels. Long ago I realized the far-reaching impact a dedicated and caring adult can have in a young person’s life through sports. If you are coaching for the right reasons, you intuitively know that you are in a position to teach far more than Xs and Os to your athletes. Good coaches should be role models for young people, not just in regard to the skills for their respective sports but in so many other ways. In everything we do, the eyes and ears of our athletes are tuned in to see how we handle adversity, failure, and success. They will draw conclusions from our actions and use this in the melting pot of what they see from all the other adults in their lives as they struggle to develop the mettle of their own character. If we are positive, if we keep things in perspective, if we openly live a life of balance and integrity, they may see value in emulating us. If we fail to do these things, we miss a golden opportunity to influence young lives when they need us the most.
This past summer, the coaching staff got together and discussed trying to take our informal mentoring in a new direction. We began searching for a formal program that would help us be more effective as coaches, not in our chosen sport, but in reaching the kids. In what I firmly believe was an act of grace from a higher authority, I came across SportsLeader.
Imagine how pleased we were to find a program that was deliberately asking coaches to be relevant in their players’ lives. A program bold enough to suggest that through a series of specific steps, coaches can actually help athletes build virtue, and through virtue, strength.
We sat down and charted our course for this season using the SportsLeader program as our blueprint. We consciously decided to take the eight hours or so of quality “face time” we have per week with our athletes, and use a part of this every day to talk about subjects far more important than winning or losing. It didn’t take long to discover that the girls were completely captivated by what we were doing. From interest in what our lanyards and ID cards were all about, to curiosity what the next “virtue topic” for discussion would be, the girls delivered buy-in to a degree well beyond anything we had imagined.
At our Uniform Night, we secured a meeting room in a local hotel, provided pizza, salad, and desert for the girls and their fathers before the “real deal” began. Each daughter was asked to provide an introduction for her dad, a chance to say a few nice words for the most important man in her life. Our dads rose to this special occasion. At times humorous, at times choking back emotion, each man went outside his own comfort zone and spoke from the heart those words that every daughter longs to hear. Standing there listening, every coach in that room knew that our decision to implement SportsLeader was the right choice.
So here, in early January, the Lady Saints sport a 16 & 2 record. St. Theresa has an unsurpassed legacy for excellence, having won more Diocesan championships than any other girls’ program in Central PA. We’re off to another great start. And while competing at a championship caliber level is exciting, I’m just as excited to see where the kids continue to go with Virtue=Strength. We’ve already participated (at the kids’ request) in two volunteer days in the Vickie’s Angel Walk, a local organization assisting in the fight against breast cancer. Later this month, we’ll take a practice off and gather at the county children and youth office to help wrap Christmas gifts for kids who aren’t as fortunate as we are this holiday season. Next month, we’ll have our Muffins with Moms letter event at breakfast on a Saturday morning, as we recognize the most important woman in their young lives.
Along the way, we’ve had the chance to talk about a host of topics, from how to deal with bullying in school to how best to manage your time in order to maintain your grades (and YES, we check report cards). We talked about the importance of affirming our love for parents and grandparents, siblings and other special people in our lives. We also talked about self-affirmation, the importance of realizing we each are special in our own ways, we each have worth, and that no one has a right to treat us as if we didn’t. We’ve talked about the importance of putting God first in our lives and of the importance of prayer. We’ve talked about what things like virtue and integrity mean to each of us and how we can use these as tools to build our character. We’ve talked about the power of forgiveness, the worth of a human life, and the beauty and love of adoption. We still find time to talk about proper shooting form but it’s not unusual for one of us to stop practice for a moment to remind everyone just how awesome it is that God is in our lives.
SportsLeader has provided some outstanding ideas for us to better interact with our athletes and opened the door for these kinds of conversations. For that, I am eternally grateful. Everywhere I go, I’m spreading the SportsLeader mantra. I’m a believer. Virtue=Strength!
St. Theresa Lady Saints
One of the great benefits of being a member of the SportsLeader Coaches Association is that you get to hear great ideas from fellow coaches from all over the country. Some you may want to implement and others maybe not.
Here is one from Coach Theresa Guard of Pinecrest Academy in Cumming, GA.
Do you have a tradition you'd like to share with other coaches? Drop me a line. Let's keep this going.
Virtue = Strength, Lou
Journals for Sports Teams:
I use journals for my high school girls basketball team.
Each girl gets a notebook at our first meeting and they decorate it in some way. I prefer that they write at least once a week, but they can write more if they like.
I leave it open to whatever they would like to write and as much or as little as they would like to write. I have not had to make it a disciplinary issue. I just remind them and they get it to me.
I write back to them and sometimes I will have the assistant coach write back to them. It helps to facilitate the mentoring sessions.
Here are some anonymous quotes:
_“I apologize for being distracted and everything. There has been a lot going on lately at home. I know that you are here for me and that I can talk to you about anything, but I don’t want to talk right now. “
“I think practices are more fun this year, although they are still difficult.”
“I just feel like I have fifty billion things going on in my life and can never give the proper attention to all of them. I am worried that I will compromise on everything.”
“I need to talk to you.”
“I am not nervous about our first game. I can’t wait to see what my Dad says on Jersey Night. Now that, I am nervous about.”
“Thank you so much for the letter that you wrote me for my retreat. I was so happy when I saw that I had one from my parents and you.”_
I would love to hear any feedback on this and get some new ideas for journaling.
God Bless and Good Luck!
Head Girls Varsity Basketball Coach
Congratulations to Monroe, Michigan St Mary's Catholic Central Girls Volleyball team on winning the State Championship.
I met their Athletic Director-Head Coach last June at a coaches seminar in Philadelphia and I could tell right away she was a coach who truly cared about her players.
I have tried some aspects of the virtue program with my varsity volleyball team and it was pretty nice to see them ask on a Monday what our virtue for the week was? Well something clicked for them because this team was very special in that I had no issues that normally occur with girls as far as gossip etc. the entire year. Our teamwork paid off because on Saturday our girls won the Class C State Championship! I am thinking of introducing the program to our coaching staff sometime this winter and allow them to start using some parts of it with their teams. Thanks for the good ideas.
Virtue = Strength, Lou
Below is an article that Ashley Abaloz wrote for her interpretive journalism class. The class is basically learning about writing editorials and opinion pieces for print pieces i.e. newspapers or magazines.
I was honored to be a part of another Father-Son Jersey Night yesterday. It was the third annual one for the Lloyd Memorial High School boys basketball team from Erlanger, KY.
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