Making Great Even Better

Here is a great testimonial from a girls basketball coach in Pennsylvania and how SportsLeader has helped a great program with a rich tradition make an even greater impact in the lives of their coaches, players and parents.

Coaching Strength, Lou Judd 


Lou:

I thought you might be interested in an update in how the SportsLeader program came to us here in Central Pennsylvania and how it has been received by the St. Theresa Lady Saints basketball team.

I’ve been coaching for thirty years at the grade school, middle school, and high school levels. Long ago I realized the far-reaching impact a dedicated and caring adult can have in a young person’s life through sports. If you are coaching for the right reasons, you intuitively know that you are in a position to teach far more than Xs and Os to your athletes. Good coaches should be role models for young people, not just in regard to the skills for their respective sports but in so many other ways. In everything we do, the eyes and ears of our athletes are tuned in to see how we handle adversity, failure, and success. They will draw conclusions from our actions and use this in the melting pot of what they see from all the other adults in their lives as they struggle to develop the mettle of their own character. If we are positive, if we keep things in perspective, if we openly live a life of balance and integrity, they may see value in emulating us. If we fail to do these things, we miss a golden opportunity to influence young lives when they need us the most.

This past summer, the coaching staff got together and discussed trying to take our informal mentoring in a new direction. We began searching for a formal program that would help us be more effective as coaches, not in our chosen sport, but in reaching the kids. In what I firmly believe was an act of grace from a higher authority, I came across SportsLeader.

Imagine how pleased we were to find a program that was deliberately asking coaches to be relevant in their players’ lives. A program bold enough to suggest that through a series of specific steps, coaches can actually help athletes build virtue, and through virtue, strength.

We sat down and charted our course for this season using the SportsLeader program as our blueprint. We consciously decided to take the eight hours or so of quality “face time” we have per week with our athletes, and use a part of this every day to talk about subjects far more important than winning or losing. It didn’t take long to discover that the girls were completely captivated by what we were doing. From interest in what our lanyards and ID cards were all about, to curiosity what the next “virtue topic” for discussion would be, the girls delivered buy-in to a degree well beyond anything we had imagined.

At our Uniform Night, we secured a meeting room in a local hotel, provided pizza, salad, and desert for the girls and their fathers before the “real deal” began. Each daughter was asked to provide an introduction for her dad, a chance to say a few nice words for the most important man in her life. Our dads rose to this special occasion. At times humorous, at times choking back emotion, each man went outside his own comfort zone and spoke from the heart those words that every daughter longs to hear. Standing there listening, every coach in that room knew that our decision to implement SportsLeader was the right choice.

So here, in early January, the Lady Saints sport a 16 & 2 record. St. Theresa has an unsurpassed legacy for excellence, having won more Diocesan championships than any other girls’ program in Central PA. We’re off to another great start. And while competing at a championship caliber level is exciting, I’m just as excited to see where the kids continue to go with Virtue=Strength. We’ve already participated (at the kids’ request) in two volunteer days in the Vickie’s Angel Walk, a local organization assisting in the fight against breast cancer. Later this month, we’ll take a practice off and gather at the county children and youth office to help wrap Christmas gifts for kids who aren’t as fortunate as we are this holiday season. Next month, we’ll have our Muffins with Moms letter event at breakfast on a Saturday morning, as we recognize the most important woman in their young lives.

Along the way, we’ve had the chance to talk about a host of topics, from how to deal with bullying in school to how best to manage your time in order to maintain your grades (and YES, we check report cards). We talked about the importance of affirming our love for parents and grandparents, siblings and other special people in our lives. We also talked about self-affirmation, the importance of realizing we each are special in our own ways, we each have worth, and that no one has a right to treat us as if we didn’t. We’ve talked about the importance of putting God first in our lives and of the importance of prayer. We’ve talked about what things like virtue and integrity mean to each of us and how we can use these as tools to build our character. We’ve talked about the power of forgiveness, the worth of a human life, and the beauty and love of adoption. We still find time to talk about proper shooting form but it’s not unusual for one of us to stop practice for a moment to remind everyone just how awesome it is that God is in our lives.

SportsLeader has provided some outstanding ideas for us to better interact with our athletes and opened the door for these kinds of conversations. For that, I am eternally grateful. Everywhere I go, I’m spreading the SportsLeader mantra. I’m a believer. Virtue=Strength!

Kevin Cicak 
St. Theresa Lady Saints