Not Always What They Seem To Be



Here is a testimonial from a coach who is a great friend and a member of the SportsLeader coaches association for many years.

He poignantly describes the urgent need our young people have of mentoring. As you prepare for your upcoming seasons, please make an intentional effort to schedule and program your time and your staffs to strategically mentor every young person in your care.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Web Site

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Coach Todd Naumann

Not Always What They Seem To Be – Todd Naumann

As a teacher and coach I have the privilege of working with young men in the classroom and on the athletic field. I am continuously amazed at the wonderfully gifted students that roam our hallways. Young men are provided tremendous academic, athletic, and spiritual opportunities in our Catholic high schools. Their parents make great sacrifices to pay the high cost of tuition. Many of our young men matriculate to outstanding institutions of higher education. It is true that our young men have more opportunities than nearly any other group of people in world history.

This past school year I had the opportunity to lead a group of seniors on a four day retreat. What a beautiful time of deep spiritual reflection and renewal for both the retreatants and the leaders. However, this experience reminded me of the challenges many of our young men face. I was on retreat with a group of seniors that would soon be graduating. They were intellectually gifted, athletically talented, and financially blessed. It would appear as though these guys had the world at their fingertips.

Upon my return from retreat I began to mentor a young man in the senior class. This was a guy that “fit the bill” according to worldly standards... He was extremely bright, a talented athlete, and well respected by his teachers and classmates. My time on retreat reminded me of the significant obstacles that many of our children face, even those who appear to have it all together. I reached out to this young man as I believed that his heart was in some need of healing. Through simple observation and a desire to build a relationship, I believed he would be willing to open up to me.

Over the next few months I would be constantly reminded that things aren’t always what they seem to be. I came across a young man that was in need of a mentor who was willing to listen, could be trusted, and would care for him exactly where he was. During the course of our mentoring sessions it became painfully obvious that this great young man, whom many would have thought was on top of the world, was living a life of quiet desperation. Social challenges, family difficulties, academic pressure, and a lack of meaningful relationships had left this young man brokenhearted.

His desire for guidance and healing was palpable. In an early mentoring session he mentioned he had never talked to anyone about the real challenges he faced in his life. He spent many years in fear, hurting, and ashamed. I thought to myself... If this young man was so wounded, how was it that no one ever knew? I am more convinced than ever the vast majority of our young people have no one to take their greatest hopes, fears, and challenges to. It is so important to reach out to our student-athletes, proving to them that we as coaches care about them as people first and athletes second.

The young man that I had the opportunity to mentor is one that I would be happy to have my own boys emulate. I have worked with thousands of student-athletes over the past 20 years and this young man is one of the most outstanding I have ever been around. Looking back on the last few months I am sure that he taught me much more than I was able to teach him. He reminded me of why it was that I chose the vocation of education, he taught me about the virtue of courage, and he reminded me of why I believe so strongly in the SportsLeader program.

At its core, SportsLeader is really about the development of Christ-centered relationships and mentoring is the key. All that is needed to be an effective mentor is a genuine concern for others and a willingness to listen. If we open our eyes and our hearts to the young people in our classrooms, on our athletic teams, and in our own homes, we may come to realize that indeed... Things aren’t always what they seem to be.