I DO Have TIME to do a Virtue Camp


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The fall sports season is upon us! Soccer balls are being kicked, volleyballs are being set and spiked, footballs are being carried and dropped(not too many, we hope!), and cross country runners are, what else,..........running and running and running!

With so much practicing going on, there doesn't seem to be much time for anything else. But more and more teams that work with SportsLeader, realizing how important the PRACTICE OF CHARACTER is in their teams succeeding, have decided to ADD a VIRTUE CAMP to kick off their season to help their players practice character during their 2013 season......... character that WILL be needed to have a successful season.


Xenia football players celebrating at their Virtue Camp.

One of those SportsLeader teams is the Xenia high school football team, who held their annual Virtue Camp, last Friday-August 2nd to kick off the 2013 Buccaneer football season. Head Coach, Bob DeLong, veteran head coach of 17 years, knows the importance of character in achieving a winning season. So he dedicated one whole day to his virtue camp.....and the kids loved it!


Xenia senior football players, working hard on their discussion questions!

The day began at 9:00am in the upper gym at Xenia high school. This year's slogan, emphasizingResponsibility, Unity and Never Giving Up...was Are You In? (RUN). Short talks/ virtue stories were given on each virtue by members of the coaching staff, then video clips(Arlington National Cemetery was a hit!) were used to highlight each virtue in action. Finally discussion questions were answered individually and then discussed among athletes in small groups, about how the Xenia team could live those virtues better to build the 2013 team.


Xenia offensive coordinator, Coach Burnett inspecting form in the Tug-of-War.

But, what is a virtue camp without competitions and games??? So the players were divided into two teams and competitions were held throughout the morning and afternoon. Opposite-hand Dodgeball(our favorite!) in the gymnasium, Sharks and Minnows outside on the practice field, physical challenges of push-ups, dips and medicine ball throws in various locations on the school grounds and finally, Tug-of-War back in the gymnasium, gave everybody a chance to compete and have some fun.


Roasting marshmallows for Smores on the bonfire. That fire is HOT!

There were so many other highlights to the FULL day that Coach DeLong included. Lunch and dinner was provided by parents who were generous enough to bring it to the school for the players to eat. Motivational speaker, Coach Mark Ewald from the University of Dayton/Stand Tall with Passion spoke to the team. An assistant coach training session on mentoring led by SportsLeader and the Xenia coaching staff was conducted. And one of the biggest bonfires in Xenia history was built and burned in a neighboring field.


A Xenia football player committing to the Xenia team.

But probably the highlight of the Virtue Camp was when the Xenia players wrote out their goals and commitments to their brothers and the 2013 Xenia team. Statistics say that only a paltry 4% of ALL people write out their goals! Well, then, include Xenia's football team in that 4%! Once, written out, players read their goals to the team. Then Coach DeLong gave them a hammer and nail to nail their commitment(and sign it) to the 2013 Responsibility, Unity, Never Give Up, board.


So many coaches claim that they don't have time to do a virtue camp. When I asked Coach DeLong how he was able to fit it in, he said it's just a question of priorities. There is no reason coaches can't fit a virtue camp into their schedule, especially those three or four days before the start of official OHSAA fall sports practice(Monday, August 5th for football coaches in Ohio). We, at SportsLeader, urge all coaches to start a new tradition of a TEAM VIRTUE CAMP. It's easier than you think and you DO have time to do one(and of course, SportsLeader will help you do it!) The more us coaches get our kids to PRACTICE character, I think we'd all agree practicing those other skills will be easier to master for all!