The evolution of our virtue program over the past four years

By Dan Duddy
Head Football Coach NJ

We have been doing “Virtue” for four years now and I thought I would reflect on the growth and evolution of it.
I am entering my 5th season as head coach at a Catholic school in NJ. I was head coach at Central Regional High School, a public high school just down the road for 13 years previously.
At Central I prayed with my team before and after games. It was illegal to do so. We were one of the most respected programs in the Shore, 43 high schools.
I left Central because I was personally unfulfilled for some unknown reason. 
I visited our Perpetual Adoration chapel constantly because I was miserable. The Lord called me to this High School and I got the head coaching job there.
 My first season.
 I wanted to make the statement that spirituality was going to be emphasized to our team. We prayed every day after every team get-together, practice, games and meetings. I was enjoying the freedom to do so, and was called to do more.
Our record was 0-10, not even close to winning any game.
I continued the Perpetual Adoration for at least one hour per week, every week.
        I went to my very first retreat, met a priest who knew I was a coach and indirectly I met Lou Judd, then somehow I flew to his home near Cincinnati airport and learned how to integrate spirituality much more deeply into my program through SportsLeader.
I came to know then, now fulfilled, why I felt unfulfilled at Central.
 My second season. 
Now with Lou’s friendship, we began to mentor our players in the areas of Charity, Humility and Courage. My goal was to become a team of action and become relationship-based between staff and team. I wanted to begin to have our athletes to understand and value the manliness of all the men of the New Testament. We began to study the bible together.
We won four games – we were 4-6. Great season for our school.

My third season:
We added Virtue camp. We would get every single coach involved. We became very aggressive in getting the saints in front of our players; we would close our eyes and “Relate”, not to compare. Our biggest award at the banquet was the “Virtue Award”, a standing ovation. We continued to evolve in man-to-man mentoring.
We won five games, should have won 6. We were 5-5. Only the second time in a decade that they did not have a losing season. We won games in over time or late in the fourth quarter.
My fourth season:
We took on the personalities of the masculine saints, those who we studied for their masculine virtues. We took on the identity of the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, The sons of Zebedee. Our Lord gave them this nickname for their feistiness, so we took it too. Our mentoring became theme based week to week. Lou gave me an incredible curriculum of 21 themes and film clips along with pertinent bible verses.
We continued all of our traditions, but our bible and mentoring sessions were so deep and meaningful. Our whole staff took resolutions to action in their lives as well.
We won 6 games should have won 7. We were 6-4.

We avenged losses from the previous year and finished with the number one offense in the shore conference of 43 high schools.
This 5th season is right now:
We have started a football team-led community based group to promote young men of action for the Catholic Church. The church is suffering and we are taking action.
We are returning to church on a regular basis, recruiting others, attending confessions, becoming a presence at Abortion Mills and Porn shops and Strip joints to invite men to be more virtuous and abandon these habits of weakness and vice.
I will let you know our record, but that will take care of itself. When it became secondary to me, it got better on its own.

If you would like to hear Dan give a talk to his team here below are 2 links: