One Man Can Make a Huge Difference

A number of people have really opposed SportsLeader coming into their school as of late. A number of leaders have refused to take the charge for fear of what the boosters might say. A number of coaches have said no because they're afraid the kids will think it's stupid.

Here below is a series of emails from a coach I could not be more proud of. He is from a very small community in rural Illinois. He recently coached through a 24 game losing streak.

He is an example of why virtue is necessary, why virtue works. One man can make a huge difference.

Don't be afraid.

Virtue = Strength, Lou


Thanks for your call. Coincidentally, I was walking into church when you called. So you got ignored for a pretty important speaker! 

Friday night was a blast. The kids were ecstatic! Breaking a 24 game losing streak meant a lot to them. Personally, it was strange for me. Not quite the euphoria I expected or the relief. Felt more like a win should, good and some validation for a lot of hard work. But the most enjoyable was the watching the players enjoy their reward. And watching my two boys enjoy a victory. They can hardly remember the last one (Chase can't at all).

Our jersey night was awesome again. The mentors were spectacular and the kids spoke with such meaning and passion that it motivated us all. We didn't have every boy there, but we only had one without a mentor. He had come and asked me to speak for him that morning. He had tears in his eyes because his dad couldn't make it and it had meant a lot to him last year. I said that I gladly would. As the night began, I contemplated having one of the other coaches talk for him for two reasons, 1) I was very overwhelmed with getting the whole night together, and 2) this young man's mother was the one who wrote the letter to the editor last year that was a not-so-veiled request for the school board to fire me. After thinking about it, talking for him was the right thing to do. As I saw the tears in his eyes as I spoke about him, I knew it was worth it. And he asked me, in front of everyone, nothing about coaching, he asked me to continue being there for them and mentoring them, because they will all continue to need it. Doing what is right, not what is easy, really feels good sometimes.

Here is some player feedback about jersey night:

"Me and my dad became closer because of the jersey night. Now, he is a lot more involved with the team than he was before." - Justin P.

This young man's dad was kicked out of a Freshmen game 2 years ago for verbally assaulting a coach and loudly criticizing other players. Now he is a valuable member of our parent support group.

"The mentor meeting is something that I really enjoy doing. I think that it brings the team and their mentors closer together, and being closer as a team is what a team needs to be successful." - Trevor H.

This young man has a father who works out of state. Each year he, and his older brother, have brought a male family friend whom they admire. Each one of them has quit football only to return to it. They each commented to me how if they hadn't come back to football, they wouldn't have had the mentor (jersey) night experience. 

As far as mentoring, it is going really well. Our water breaks/mentoring sessions are the highlight of the practice. We have yet to have a bad second half of practice this year. I have had a couple chances to stand back and watch the other guys mentor and it is amazing. 8 or so male conversations going on at once. Great. Very proud of my coaches. The senior kids have asked if they can start leading some small group or one on one sessions. ABSOLUTELY! Really proud of them.
If you need any validation for SportsLeader, go to this link

I was nominated for Chicago Bears coach of the week for week 2. There is a message board at the bottom that you should read. I did not win, nor did I deserve to, but read what people wrote about me. You will see Sports Leader smeared all over it, not in name, but in what it stands for. I didn't win the prize, but I won. And Sports Leader deserves much of the credit.

Here below are just a few of over 100:

A huge thank you for everything you have done for our program and my staff and players. We are making positive strides everyday. Again, thanks.

Mike Bickerman

8th grade Science/ Physical Science
Head Football Coach
Rushville-Industry High School

I echo all of the previous comments here for Coach Bickerman.  You would be hard-pressed to find anyone else who embodies all of the traits of character.  As a mother of two young boys, I look forward to the day they have the opportunity to sit in his classroom or play football for him.  He is a candidate truly deserving of this honor and recognition.
One of the programs Coach Bickerman has started ,is before the first game of the season we have a father son meeting (or a man the players look up to).It a nite when the father tells his son a least 1 thing he loves about him ,the player present his dad or mentor with his other game jersery. Coach Bickerman has a heart for the young men he Coaches on  and off the field. As a parent its good to see a coach ,who care more about my son  as person then just a football player.I played football myself in school and we won alot but i didnt have the respect for my coach that my son and his teammates has for Coach Bickerman .Coach Bickerman deserves this award not for wins and loses but for the TEACHER he is
Coach Mike Bickerman started at Rushville-Industry my senior year of high school, and he has been, by far, my favorite coach the school has had. I was in the marching band at RIHS, and Coach Bickerman included not only the fans, but also the marching band. He made it so that we felt like a part of the team, which made us play and cheer even more for our team. Coach Bickerman has had such a great influence on the students of RIHS, and I think he's done an amazing job rebuilding the Rocket football team after losing so many valuable players. Go Coach Bickerman!!!
Coach Mike Bickerman should be coach of the week; if you had coach of the year I would nominate him for that. Coach Bickerman teaches his players more than what is used on the football field. He teaches his players about respect, leadership, compasion, hardwork, and integrity. Every year I watch Coach Bickerman work with his players I gain more respect for him as a person, teacher, and coach. He encourages his players and students to do their best, and he leads by example. Coach Bickerman never lets the score determine the teams success. He ask only that each player give 100% and that they encourage and support their team, fans, and community. I am proud to have this man lead our team on and off the field.
Coach Mike Bickerman and the Rushville-Industry Rockets have showed great character during a 24 game losing streak that finally ended last Friday night. During the hard time, Coach Bickerman continued to show and convey the idea that hard work and perseverance would pay off eventually. During that losing streak, Coach Bickerman did not allow the team to become discouraged. Instead, he continually coached them and showed them that it is important not only to be good football players, but also good men as well. He has continually brought in mentors for the young men and worked to get them involved in positive efforts in the community such as participating in the wounded warrior program, a local effort to provide summer lunches to children called Chow for Children and raising funds and collecting food for the local food pantry. I have known of no coach in the area who puts more work and effort into his program than Coach Bickerman, not only in preparing the young men for football games, but also preparing them for life away from the football field. Coach Bickerman is very deserving of this honor
There is no one more deserving of this honor than Coach Mike Bickerman. There have already been so many comments remarking on his character, his leadership, and his oustanding success as a coach and role model to the team and the community. Having had him as a teacher, I know all of this to be true. Coach Bickerman has raised up some of the finest gentlemen there could be. He has taught them all about how to be honorable men of character throughout their lives. He has gotten them involved in the community in so many ways, and he has taught them so much about servant leadership and how to be truly respectable men of integrity, honor, and character . Not only does he tell them how, but he shows it through the example he sets. He is an excellant role model for any person, young or old, and he definitely deserves this award. Being in the Rushville-Industry Marching Band, some of the most memorable moments of my high school years have been from playing half-time shows and playing our school fight song as these great young men run through the tunnel of band members. Coach Bickerman has truly changed almost all of these players' outlooks on the game of football and life. These boys went through a rough time of losses, but Coach Bickerman kept the boys working hard and persevering through it all, and it finally paid off. Nothing could have been sweeter than hearing Coach Bickerman ring the victory bell last Friday night. Whether the team wins or loses, whether you were a student or team member, everyone has learned something great from him. Who could be more deserving of this award?