How Mentoring Changed My Program

An "inside the heart" view of how one coach transformed his team through SportsLeader.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 

How Mentoring Changed My Program

I feel bad that I have not taken the time to share all that has happened. It really has been a very challenging but rewarding period for us here at Xenia.

We Did our second Jersey Ceremony this fall. It was amazing. We had 15 seniors who we awarded jerseys to. We had Dad’s, Brothers, Grandfathers, and Coaches present jerseys to coaches in a ceremony that the photographer described as, “simply Amazing”.

We instituted daily mentoring this season where our coaches met weekly with every kid we coach . I had parents say things to me that were very positive but one of the most powerful statements came from a parent of a top notch student-athlete who said, “Finally, someone pays attention to the kid who does the right things and tries to do what is right”. I was humbled by the fact that I did not see that one coming.

In my opinion, mentoring was much more valuable to our coaches than it was to our players. I saw mentoring change the hearts of our coaches. I saw coaches grow into the leaders that God intended them to be. I saw this change weld our coaches and players into a unified effort each week. Every coach didn’t implement the program the way Coach Willertz instructed and those who did it their way were without question far less successful.

Our coaches have instituted the program for the kids we are working with in winter weights. I had multiple players ask me if their mentoring would continue throughout the off season which is what prompted the expansion of the program. I have been approached by our youth program and it looks like they are going to try to train their coaches to begin mentoring this coming season.

We had a brunch for the junior and senior mom’s at the end of the season and our seniors wrote letters to their parents which were read at the ceremony. Coach Mack provided every mom with a framed copy of the letter they received. An assistant coach and I both wrote a letter to our mom’s and also read them to our mom’s at the ceremony. I can’t begin to quantify the number of gushing compliments we received from the mom’s and grandmothers who attended, but I can tell you that one grandmother told me after wards that if this couldn’t take place some year because of cost, that I should call her and she would pay for it!!

It costs nothing but your attention. Sports Leader has made me a better coach because it has refocused me to the people whom I have the privilege of working with on a daily basis. For so many coaches, the challenges of injuries, money to get the things you need, strategy, logistics of preparing a team each week, teaching school ... can pull your attention away from the really important things in our world. I believe that Sports Leader has refocused our program to what is really important.

To those of you who are devoting your life to spreading the techniques and skills of Sports Leader, you should be so proud to be a part of such an awesome movement. Billy Graham said that a high school football coach touches more lives than an evangelist does by a large margin. Just think, you are touching many coaches who each touch that many lives.

I encourage everyone to invite Coach Judd and Coach Willertz into their programs and let them challenge your program to become all that it can be. I am so thankful for these two men and feel so very blessed that they have been brought into my life.

In a day and age when high school coaches complain about the focus of everyone on winning and not on education, I have grown to think differently of this subject. I really believe that our parents are much more patient with us because of the work we do with our kids through Sports Leader. I believe that our administration is also able to be more patient with us while we build a program because they can point to the work we are doing with our kids through Sports Leader. Perhaps the reason it is “Win Only” is because that is what the coach has made it?


These are some random thoughts but they are mine. I want you to know that I have been chosen as the head coach of the Ohio South All-Star team. We will play on April 27th at Welcome Stadium in the Longest running high school all-star game in the county. I would be honored if you and Chris could be in attendance.

Bob Delong 
Head Football Coach 
Xenia High School, Xenia Ohio