Virtue Made Graphic

Some coaches are afraid that SportsLeader won't "work" with their players ... that they won't like it or even worse they will ridicule it.

Ayden Opfer of Sandusky St Mary Central Catholic, OH,  is an example of a young man who is the opposite. He has embraced the virtue program and is doing everything he can to help his teammates do the same. He recently started making a poster for the virtue of the week. Last week his football team was working on dependable. No one asked him to do. He chose to do it.
Also, here is another testimony from Dave Simon, Linebackers Coach at Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas, OH.

Virtue = Strength,
Lou Judd

Iron-will. What is it? How does it feel? Where do you find it? When does it show up? All questions people ask whether about themselves or another person they hear or see about.  If you want a definition to read about iron-will, well iron-will is sheer, powerful determination in one self. Iron-will really can’t be written down or even defined.  Iron-will can be raised through the love of another, it can be raised upon spite for critics in one’s life, or iron-will can be set off by an unsubstantial amount of determination to fight for a purpose in one’s life. Iron-will is something that you can’t teach; it can be something that is inspired upon in one person’s soul. Iron-will is almost the fight or flight we all have inside of us that makes us accomplish something in life so great that it’s almost unexplainable.  It’s the passion inside of us that makes us rise up to the occasion. What occasion am I talking about you might ask? Whatever it is, that pins you up in the corner and has you against the ropes. The one thing that smacks you right in the face, and in that moment something arises inside of us to fight back and make that corner bigger and bigger until your not in it anymore or against the ropes.  Iron-will is that soul riser that brings strength to overcome whatever life throws you. 

Kyle Maynard was a gentleman we read about for our virtue of the week. Kyle Maynard was born March 24, 1986 with a condition known as congenital amputation (no arms or legs). Kyle’s athletic journey began as an 11-year-old that wanted to wrestle and a coach gave him an opportunity to try. After losing every single match his first year and most his second year, Maynard, with his iron will and parents who wouldn’t let him give up on himself, found a way to win 36 varsity matches his senior year; defeating several state place finishers and state champions during his final season. Kyle later became a motivational speaker about his disability traveling all around the country. He said in an ESPN special, “ for about 45 minutes that I was speaking I was happy and felt good because I was inspiring young people to achieve their dreams and goals but right after my speech would end, I would become depressed, and alone. It was like I needed to find a purpose in my life.” I sat there hearing this and saying to myself, wow! A purpose? This man has already accomplished so much, what else can he accomplish? 

So, he goes on talking about sitting in an airport one day, waiting to board his flight to another city, and he comes across two soldiers badly burnt from Iraq. They recognize him and walk up to meet him and say how much his story inspired them because they had made a suicide pact when they returned home. What stopped these two men from ending their life, was Kyle, his story. He then decided in that moment, his life would change even more. 

Kyle found his purpose finally and decided that he would do the impossible. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Kyle spent hours and days across this treacherous and dangerous terrain where at times he felt as though he was so exhausted and tired he might just give up. But, Kyle did not, he felt his iron-will and purpose and reach the summit of the mountain to where he would spread the remains of one of the fallen soldiers that was in the same platoon of the two men he met in the airport. Kyle found his purpose, he accomplished his mission, the mission of impossible is nothing and iron-will defeats all in its way.

After reading and watching about this story I tried to relate iron-will to my own life and the people I’m surrounded by. I try and do this to help my player’s better get a perspective of my life and something they can relate to maybe. I choose to talk about the people in my life because it helps my players get a more in depth look at who Coach Simon really is. Iron-will really struck me with three people I know. When the word iron-will came up as I read the definition to my players, these same three faces stuck right inside my head and really my heart. These three people are my nana, papa, and step-dad. These three have shown so much iron-will throughout their lives that I am proud to say they are my family. Iron-will has made these people go beyond their calling in life and truly inspire other people and keep the harsh critics still wondering.  These people have shown that iron-will is something so extraordinary, that it overcomes all obstacles and shines light upon any situation. 

My nana and papa, yes I say nana and papa, not grandparents because they are different, they chose not to be grandma or grandpa, because they truly are special and not ordinary. I don’t say this because they are my family but because of the people they truly are. Special, selfless, determined, compassionate, and inspirational are just some of the qualities they share with everyone they meet. My nana and papa have had some iron-will in their life living the life they have, to be the people they are today. My nana and papa have raised four children. Two boys and two girls. One of their children has intellectual disability (sometimes called cognitive disabilities or mental retardation). My nana and papa both were very hard working people trying to provide for their family as well as a child with a disability. Pretty hard if you ask me and ask my aunt and uncle as well as my mom. You could say a lot of words come to mind with how they lived their lives as I described my nana and papa above, but iron-will really strikes me because these two made major sacrifices. Not just then, but they still are even as I speak. My uncle is in his mid 50’s and my nana and papa still are helping take care of him today.  My papa is retired as well as my nana today, but these two worked not just one job but sometimes two , coached, took care of their children, paid the bills, put food on the table, helped with homework, and still made time to be great parents and especially great grandparents to us grandchildren. The iron-will that pushed these two through just everyday life not just to get by, but achieve what they have now is absolutely mind blowing to me. These two had the iron-will to create a life for all of us that is never repayable. 

The other person I mentioned before, my step-dad, is another person that has shown a lot of iron-will throughout his life. My step-dad went through hell and back and took on responsibilities later on in his life that not a lot of men do, but great men like him step up to the occasion and rise above. My step-dad was a single father of three children. Three boys to be exact. He was not of a background with a college degree, but he strived every day to become a better person and man by working his way up in the company that he has been working for, for over 25 years. He took on the responsibility of adopting my older brother and raising him as his own. He took on the responsibility of raising two more boys, my younger brothers, and not just being a dad every day, but a coach, teacher, mom, mentor, friend, etc.  He would later take on the responsibility of being a man in my sister’s and my life as well, when he married my mom. He has shown iron-will with juggling job, house chores, bills paid, being a loving husband, and ultimately a great dad and man to us children. Iron-will has helped reflect to us children never missing a day of work, being a hard worker, being a good listener, and yes, putting up with all the mishaps we children have caused to create gray hair. But, the iron-will that has helped him rise to occasion on many levels in his life has made me not just respect and love him, but be amazed in what he has accomplished in life so far. 

The one player I talked about iron-will with in my one on one session was absolutely lifting and rewarding for me. Now, this player is a special young man. He’s a great young man. With that being said, I think most of the time he puts too much pressure on himself and doesn’t get to enjoy the game of football and life. We talked about iron-will and how he needed to use it in his life to just enjoy the simple things. I told him, make sure you take time to take a deep breath and savor the moment, whatever it is. Being an average height and weight at his position, puts him in a category of college recruits that push a stack of paper s on their desk aside, or even highlight tapes. I tell other coaches all the time, one program, one coach, is going to take a chance on this young man and not be disappointed.  The sheer, powerful determination that this young man shows not just on the field but off as well, is so impressive for any 17 year old I’ve ever met. I’m not only honored to be able to coach him, but be his mentor as well. His parents have done one heck of a job raising one of the most humbling young men a mom and dad could ask for. His iron-will that he has will overcome any obstacle that is thrown his way and I can’t wait for the day that he has his moment in the light and turns around to others who doubt him now, because he is going to open eyes and inspire others that are around him. He’s a leader; he’s a student of the game and a student of life as well. His iron-will he brings to the table inspires me every day I’m around him. Words really can’t describe this young man, but I tell you this, he is already making a name for himself and he doesn’t even realize it. 

Iron-will- sheer, powerful determination in one self. Iron-will is that spiritual lifting inside us all to rise to the occasion, whatever the occasion may be, a disabled young man climbing a mountain finding his purpose, a husband and wife raising a son with intellectual disability along with three other children, a man raising three boys by himself and taking two more children in like his own, or a young man who fights his way to get noticed. All of these stories have one common denominator, iron-will. 

So, I ask you coaches, what iron-will in your life will rise up and inspire others or what iron-will, will inspire you? We are all surrounded by iron-will every day, but its something that can’t be taught, it really is something so deep inside of us all, that when it happens, nothing, I mean nothing, can stop us from reaching our goals and aspirations. Iron-will is something burnt inside us all that says stand up and fight, push your way out of the corner, and over come the adversity we all face. Our critics, our fears, our failures. Iron-will is simply this….impossible is nothing. Nothing is impossible and everything is accomplished through sheer, powerful determination, with the help of a great support system in our families and friends, and the support of our religious beliefs too. I’ll leave you with this…

Life has no smooth road for any of us; and in the bracing atmosphere of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps, till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself. 
W. C. Doane