Lives Transformed

One of our SportsLeader teams just finished their season 6-4. At the close-out coaches meeting, a first year coach approached the head coach and said:
"Coach, can I talk to you for a minute. I want to say thank you .. I want you to know I had Jesus in my life a long time ago and I strayed away and you know for the first time in a long time ... because of the football and the virtue program ... Jesus is back in my life and I can't thank you enough for that."

He had his players fill out a post season questionnaire as well as write a personal essay. Here are some examples.

During the season he had priests come to hear confessions for his team 3 times. The third time - every member of the team went. He also had weekly team Masses and a 4 day team camp.

God bless, Lou

1. Alex K.
The SportsLeader program is probably one of the most important things that could be done with our football program. Building character and transforming the boys on the team into men. What could be more important? I truly believe this virtue program has transformed me into a smarter, more-well rounded person. I have come from being a reckless child, to growing into respectable man.

This virtue program has helped transform our football team. We play the game not only to become better football players and to win, but for the character you cannot build in any other sport other than the great game of football. This virtue program has been a cornerstone to our offensive line being the #l offense in the shore, By teaching us a man can overcome someone physically stronger than him by having the determination and the clarity of mind to mentally defeat his opponent.

Something which I personally believe couldn't be more true, being one of the physically lightest and smallest linemen on the team. If you told me that I would be a 2 way starter 4 years ago I would've thought you were insane. This program has helped me reach my potential and I believe in the years to come this program will produce some of the best and most well rounded players this sport will ever see, both on and offthe field.

This SportsLeader program is by far the greatest thing that has ever affected my life, besides my own parents. Virtue camp itself will forever be one of my fondest memories of my high- school life. I believe the Brave Heart and the SportsLeader Virtue program should be things included on all football teams, which would fill the world with more respectable and responsible men.

2. Jacob M.
In the spiritual and moral areas of my life, my goal was to pray three times daily and build a stronger relationship with God. I feel that I accomplished these goals by actually making a conssientious effort to pray more often through out the day and also by taking multiple steps to become closer to God. In order to build a closer relationship with God, I found myself going to Church more often than I had in the past. I became an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist for St. Joseph Parish. fn doing so I was trusted to give the body of Christ to others. I feel that this brought me closer to God. Many times I also found myself readitrg the Bible in times when I thought I needed strength. This proved to me that my relationship with God had improved.

My goal in respect to my family life was to be a better sibling and bring my entire family closer. This was hard as I was not home very often due to the busy school and football schedule. However, when I had a few minutes here or there I tried to help my brother or sister out. On nights when I had less homework I tried to sit with my family more tha4 I had and also I played Madden with my little brother. Considering the time restraints,on family time, I feel that I met this goal.

My goal for my senior year academics were to get straight A's, to graduate in the top ten of my class, and get admission to Duke lJniversity. The first marking period my GPA was a 103. Therefore I met my goal of straight A's, My class rank still stands at 6 out of 238. Therefore I feel that I am in position to meet my dream. Regarding Duke university, I applied early decision and amwaiting to hear back from the university by December 15. I feel that I put myself in agreatpositionto be admitted to Duke. I have met all my goals in area of school.

My goals for the team were to challenge myself and my teammates so that we get better. My dream,was to win 8 games. We obviously did not win 8 games, although I feel that ,lf we did not hurt ourselves during the season this feat would have been possible. As for my goal, I feel,that I challenged both myself and my teammates. Both my team and I have improved a lot since the beginning of the season.

Finding time to meet my goals for strength and fitness on a consistent basis was very difficult. Due to a very small amount of "free time" between school, athletics, and family,,it was difficult to run often to improve my cardio. I did however run a few times throughout the season on my own. After the season I hope to lift and get myself in better shape both before,and during basketball season.

Community service is a very,important aspect of my life. I felt that I went oui of my way to touch the lives of others on a daily basis. Even if this meant a friendly smile or a helping hand. As for my dream, I will return to the Dominican Republic to work for the Village Mountain Mission Project for 20 days during this upcoming sumrner. This will help me to accomplish my dream.

3. Angelo D.
At the beginning of the season I had no interest in participating in the SportsLeader program. I felt I was there to play football and no other reason.

As time went on and the more virtue sessions I sat through I began to realize that football can be more than just football. During the season we had weekly topics. Each week we focused on a different quality that builds a man. I began to start paying attention and eventually enjoyed going to "Virtue". Not only did I sit and watch but I began to apply it to my life.

The SportsLeader virtue program changed the person I would have been. I used the goals as challenges and got the job done in most parts. I have become more of a "man". Going through some difficult points in my life, I was given some tools to stay strong.

I think the program is amazing and I wish more people had the opportunity to experience it.

4. Skylar S.
For four years I have played football and the SportsLeader virtue program has been an essential part of my football career. The virtue program has not only changed the way I play the game but has also changed my life. It has allowed me to put my values into perspective and see my self in a different way.

Through the virtue program I have learned many ways in which I could improve my life. It has showed me the importance of settitrg goals for rnyself and the importance of making steps, whether big or small, to accomplish those goals. It has allowed me to get to know myself better as well as become a better Christian. Through the program I was shown the importance of church and the importance of family. Because of the program I have been able to develop a strong relationship with rny parents, brother, and other family members. It encouraged me to spend more time with my parents and with my little cousins.

It also has allowed me to develop a deeper sense of friendship and brotherhood with my teamm ate that I truly believe I would not have experienced without this program. Even though we experienced setbacks, the virtue program kept us focused on the future.

In conclusion, I believe the virtue program has been an important part of my life. I appreciate my coach bringing this to the football program and I wish that more schools, would integrate faith, character, and virtue into their prograrns, because without it there will be a lot less virfuous, honorable men in the world.

5. Ryan M.
Our team, to my knowledge, is the only team in the area which has and regularly practices virtue throughout the year. This year’s SportsLeader virtue program has molded me and my teammates into better football players as well as better young men. In the areas of spirituality, fitness, team, and family, I set goals in which I would strive to attain.

In regards to my spiritual life, I said that I wanted to make an effort to attend church each Sunday, and much to my embarrassment, I have failed in that goal. I had every intention of going to church each week, but when Sunday came around, I got lost in the “day off” attitude and relaxed too much. However, my long term goal was to develop an outstanding relationship with God through prayer and church. As I said, I did not make t to church many times, but I find myself praying regularly in times of need, or in times as bliss. I have strengthened my relationship with the Lord and will continue to do so because of the men I look up to throughout our virtue program.

Team and fitness are two areas in which I link together. My team goal has been the same for my career here at school, to make the NJSIAA playoffs. We did not attain this goal this year which broke my heart, but my long term goal is without a doubt a success. I wanted to gather life long friendships with the men I play football with each day, and that is a certainty. In regards to fitness, I wrote that I wanted to be the strongest, all around best athlete I could be to defeat my opponent in any sport I may play. By gathering these bonds with my teammates, they have allowed me, forced me to raise my self-standards in order to achieve that goal as well. The virtue program has made our team a family in which no one can pull apart.

Finally, the family aspect of life is one of great importance in our virtue program. My mediate family has seen my personal growth as I have become a better son, brother, and just a better person overall. I help my parents more, I keep frequent contact with my brother at college, and I am always taking my brother and sister all over town as their personal taxi. Also, my family grew immensely through the help of our virtue program. I acquired forty five brothers this year, the likes of whom I may never encounter again. My coaching staff, new or returning, has become I sense of support in my life, a group of strong men that have my back no matter what. The virtue program allowed me to set goals for myself, and through the help and guidance of the mentors and my brothers, I am without a doubt a better man because of it.

Thank you Coach and all the coaches for everything you have provided for me over my four years here playing football. You men truly are family to me, and I will miss these times every day after this season is complete.