Why Don't My Players Ever Listen to Me?!?!

Dear Coaches and Supporters of SportsLeader,

Sacrifice!  Brotherhood!  Commitment!  Focus!  Discipline!  Honor!  

Great words, coaches, words to live by, for sure.  At SportsLeader we are consistently urging coaches to make these words a part of your team's everyday vocabulary. Stories, quotes, song lyrics, stories again, quotes again song lyrics again and again.....and again.....and again!  Many of you are skeptical at best, as to  the power or effectiveness of the SL approach-creating a culture of excellence for your team-through virtue.

I know one coach that was skeptical.  However, he is a skeptic no more.  Below is a senior captain's testimony to his team's motto.  Who would believe that the simple words of Brotherhood, Sacrifice, and Humility would impact this young man the way they did!  Please, take the time to read the following college entrance essay he wrote.  Even though your players may not appear to be taking in your stories, words of wisdom, and mentoring: they ARE having an impact. You still are skeptical?  Read below:

Fridays are different now.  I sob alone in silence. 

We are all taught a hidden curriculum:  brotherhood, sacrifice, humility.  We glean, throughout our learning, these abstract attributes that separate good people from great people.  Ironically, what I thought these words meant were not what these words mean.

I thought that brotherhood meant being close to my friends that I played football with.  Brotherhood was this fraternity of young men who stuck-up for each other at school and was a place you could go when the pressures of being a teenaged boy were too much – and you just needed to be a boy again.  I realized after my season-ending injury that brotherhood meant TRULY being happy for my brother as HE carried the ball across the line when it should have been me.

I thought that sacrifice meant giving-up my time to practice six days a week rather than screw-off with my buddies.  It though that sacrifice was that determination that I had when I forced my broken body out of bed on Saturday mornings to go watch film and listen to my animated coach chew-up and spit-out pieces of that broken body.  That, I learned, is not sacrifice.  Sacrifice is dragging myself up from the self-wallowing hole that this injury threw me into because my team still needed its captain.  I became the parent – the twin sophomores, who looked to me…looked to ME….for comfort in the training room when it became apparent that I was done, were my concern.  I needed them to see that I was strong and that I was still their leader.  I eased their sympathetic pain by assuring them that I was going to be ok – much like a parent does when he or she is sick.  The child’s emotional needs supersede the parent’s emotional or physical state - always.  I was becoming a man, right there on that gurney, as I wept into my broken future.

I thought that humility meant not “show boating” after one of my many touchdowns.  I thought that humility was giving credit to my linemen during an interview, praising their part in “allowing” me to score four touchdowns in a game.  Coach required humility, and I thought I was humble. My humble moment came when the state champion 4x400 sprinter lay on the thirty-yard line after a quick cut forced my knee to decide which way to go.  The decision was too quick for this knee that has carried me to glory for 12 years.  This knee that has stabilized me in a many a huddle to listen to countless victory speeches had forsaken me.  This knee that could sacrifice no more for me selfishly abandoned me on August 31, 2012.  It is, nonetheless, MY knee and this foe will be with me always – both to remind me of my greatness and to remind me that I am human – a human being with limits.

My knee and I will – together – go back into the weight room this winter to rediscover each other.  I will be the parent, patient and impatient.  My knee will be the child in need of nurturing and tolerance.  Together, we will strengthen ourselves and persevere through our little bump in the road.  We will be back stronger than ever - and with a few life lessons under our belt.

Be the difference you want to see in the world!

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