Team Unity Amidst Adversity



I was blessed to have a very inspiring conversation with Ryan Wikel, Head Football Coach of St Mary's Central Catholic in Sandusky OH.

I hope his words encourage you.

Our Strength for Life Manual is now available in eBook format and is ready to download. It is textbook size for only $20. Click HERE to check it out.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Digital ebook Manual Strength for Life


_Last week our virtue theme of the week was ASSERTIVE. The story from the manual was about a young man who collected 1,000 jars of peanut butter … so our guys decided to organize a canned food drive and deliver the goods to Victory Kitchen to help the poor. _

We organize everything according to MENTORING GROUPS and this is a competition amongst them. The winning group gets a special dinner.

Some teams may not do too much with their mentoring groups but we do a ton through them. In the pre-season we did the typical fundraiser discount card … We have 38 kids, $10 a card … they sold 850 cards … $8,500 which is the most the company has ever seen on a per kid basis … creating competition within the mentoring groups was the key.

A few weeks back we had worked on the virtue of TEAMWORK. The suggested team resolution after the story was to organize a team get together to have some good clean fun. One of our Seniors took this to heart, asked his parents and did it. He and his parents took care of everything, fed the whole team and we had a blast.

One of our Freshmen thought, "Why not me?" He asked his parents … and now we are having another team get together at his house …

The team unity, the bond, the brotherhood has been awesome. In the midst of all the service projects and team get togethers we got it done on the field this past week as well. It can be done!


And what is more amazing is that our season has been kid of disappointing in the wins column if you know what I mean. We are one of the smaller schools in Ohio and most of our games are against schools twice our size. Next year that changes and we are excited about it!

Most of the time, when the losses pile up, teams drift apart, kids don't buy in, there is no brotherhood and everyone just wants the season to be over with.

Our team is the exact opposite of that. We have been getting tighter, more united every week … and is has EVERYTHING to do with the SportsLeader virtue program. The structure, the guide, the intentionality, the stories, mentoring, ceremonies, resolutions … it just all adds up and really makes a difference.

Last year we had 4 juniors and this year we have 11 Seniors … so we picked up 7 kids for their Senior year … when we did not win too many games last year.


2 of the kids came up to me personally and told me the reason they were coming out for football was because of the virtue program … the team togetherness.

During one of our games this season we had two Dads from our team with less than stellar behavior. The bleachers were inches from our bench and they are screaming and cussing … the works.

After the game, both of the players whose Dads were doing this texted me apologizing for their Dad's behavior and telling me that they are going to sit down with their Dad and talk with him about it. And they did.

We have since had one of those Dads come in requesting a meeting with all the coaches so he could apologize for his behavior in person.

2010 panther color

I did a radio interview recently and the guy asked me a really good question: "What do you do to make sure your kids do not get into trouble?"

I simply rattled off everything the SportsLeader program is about for the next 10 minutes. I think I shocked him.

_But afterwards I asked myself, "Five years ago how would I have answered that question?" _

I probably would have fumbled through that one.

My coaches are mentioning that they are better dads and husbands … that they are putting these virtues into practice in their lives now. Whenever I hire a new coach, the first thing I talk about is SportsLeader. If I sense any discomfort, he won't be coaching with the Panthers.

Next week is homecoming week so our virtue theme will be conviction and we are going to be mentoring about that all week: dealing with peer pressure, making good choices, being the leaders who set the tone and not letting others set it for us.