Young men will become what you say they are

It is easy to become overly negative working with teenagers. Let us use our will to be more positive.

My family watched a movie last night together - "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". Here is a scene that, humorously, shows in 1 minute what Dan describes so well below.

*July 31 Father-Son Campout

By Dan Duddy

        I am blessed with a unique and dedicated football staff that joins me in an organized man-to-man mentoring system within my program. Weekly, in just a three minute mentoring encounter between coach and athlete, a resolution to a specific and achievable action is agreed upon with a handshake relating to the team’s “Virtue theme of the week”.

For example one of my mentorees, Colin, confessed during â€œhumility week” that he has yet to tell his younger “pesty” sister that he loves her. He also confessed that as a new young driver he would take her to games to lighten mom’s load, but sit in the car and listen to his music while she played her heart out, unnoticed.  At game’s end they would ride home with music blasting, and not a word spoken. Colin vowed to take responsibility as a man of humility and resolve to change this relationship. Closing with our “virtue handshake”, simply a firm, deep, strong, look- you- in-the-eye grip, Colin resolved to transport her, sit in a lawn chair at the field’s edge, take her out for pizza, and then tell her he loves her! He was to report back to me in one week.

He proudly reported his conquest, and said the affects played a tremendous role in changing the atmosphere in his home amongst the others, his example as a courageous young man infiltrated his other siblings and surely made his parents proud.

These mentoring sessions take place after every practice. I simply yell “Grab a Kid!” and the miracles begin. Each of our 10 coaches has a group of six athletes that they are responsible for. Every single young man in our program steps out of his comfort zone weekly and executes “Resolve”, the greatest deficiency in our youth today. On Thursday evenings, the day before our game, we then break out our sports bibles and present a bible verse or two that sheds a spiritual light on the theme with an energetic discussion that provokes dialogue amongst the players and coaches. A pertinent and inspirational film clip from a popular movie is shown; we hit our knees with our traditional team prayer, then we wrap it up with a team meal.

Blessed with the gift of Fire and Brimstone, I then light a flame to our weekly theme and present a pre-game speech that sends frenzied young men onto the game field with each and every player on our sidelines having already accomplished a relative and significant action in their lives. It is nothing short of the greatest integration of masculine spirituality and mentoring for a resolve to action that I have ever witnessed in athletics.

Our young men are in a war that they don’t even see and therefore they are losing abysmally. It is difficult to enlist a manly warrior and bring him to a battle that he doesn’t even know exists, unless of course a mentor takes the responsibility of spelling all that out for him, and that youngster is transformed into a battle – ready “Son of Thunder”.

I took this name, “The Sons of Thunder” and gave it to our brotherhood in a ceremony of flickering lights and shadows by the campfire of Virtue Camp last August. Young men will eventually become what you say they are and I wanted them to become Sons of Thunder.

It is so important that if we want our young men to really follow Christ by the example of those great men that did so in his actual presence, eventually giving their lives in martyrdom, then they need to really get a good whiff of the manhood that was truly required. For example, we can’t ask young tough men of 2010 to become inspired by the softly bearded depiction of the robed men in DaVinci’s “Last Supper”. 

As their inspirational leaders we need to make those 12 men come alive. We need to meditate historically on what the Disciples saw daily, study their travels, how difficult those travels were and the perils they faced. There was no GPS, no text messaging stuff like “Hey John, I’m really get my chops busted over here, send help”. There was no business rental car, just sandals.