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Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Different Perspective...

Good  morning folks -

I'm not sure if you guys are aware, but I'm an adjunct professor at Concordia University. The class I teach is called Sport Ethics. In this class we deal with all types of scenarios as they pertain to sports and some of the ethical situations that can arise. Today's post is a sample of what one of my students wrote about character education through youth sport. Enjoy!

A coach of youth sports has numerous responsibilities.  These responsibilities include both the athletic and social arenas.  As a youth coach you must teach the fundamentals of the game to promote future success and proper technique to prevent injury.  You must also instill character, morals, promote social standards, and develop cognitive skills. 
 One of the best ways that you can teach good character, morals and social standards is by modeling them yourself.  As a coach you are a role model.  The manner in which you carry yourself reflects what you value.  If you are always on time, organized, well prepared, and honest then your players will see that and begin to model it.  If you are consistently late you send the message that punctuality is not something that is important.  This is just an example, but is true of all character traits and values.  It is also important that you allow athletes at this level to have fun and show a lot of enthusiasm and praise for their accomplishments.  A positive atmosphere is something players should learn early. These are good character development traits to have in sports and life in general."
                                                                                                                                  - Casey Workman

Yes, behavior is modeled and kids act on what they see... the question then becomes what are you showing them... coach?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Responsibility...Take It or Leave It?

What's good everyone?!

I thought I would take a moment to jot down a few personal thoughts about: Responsibility.

We usually equate responsibility with a job (i.e. "I'm responsible for X at my job.") Sometimes we equate responsibility with our families in that we're "responsible" for providing as adults and parents for our children. We may even be responsible in how we manage our finances and relationships with others.

Today, I want to explore another direction within the framework of responsibility's definition - and that is... simply taking responsiblity for ourselves.


Taking responsibility for ourselves may be the one thing that is most difficult about being an adult. Of course when things are great and everyone is lovingly smiling at you it can be awesome...but what about standing up when things aren't great... when they're dark and ugly? I mean the very thought of "taking responsibility" for something that's gone wrong connotes a type of punishment or as we hear incessantly -the "karma's a bitch" thought process.

Let me be the first to tell you, I've had some great moments and I've had some dark moments that I'm none too proud of.  From legal issues to moral issues I've had it all in my 40 years. I'm sure you've had some moments like that too...maybe you feel as if you've let someone down or hurt someone so badly, but there's no way to take it back... yup, been there too. The immediate reaction is to grab the proverbial bat and begin to bash ourselves over the head with it... so much so that we work ourselves into a frenzied mess of mis-managed emotions. Ugh... not a good place to be, right?

Hey - people screw up! We sometimes make bad fact sometimes things are just downright, god-awful... in these times I remember my Big Nana saying, "Baby, you're just standing too close to the mirror."

Say wha?

I didn't really understand it back in the day, but now that I'm older and have a few more life experiences under my belt I get it. She was simply saying if we stand really close to a mirror we see all the imperfections and blemishes... no one can ever be harder on us than we are on ourselves. But when we stand back and take a look at the entire picture...hmmmm... not too bad... guest I can put the bat away.

You may agree or you may think I'm completely off base as I've said before these are merely my thoughts and opinions... but the one thing we can agree on is that we ALL at some point have "stood too close to the mirror."


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teaching: Trustworthiness

Dearly beloved; we are gathered here today...

Uh oh - my bad… wrong intro.

What's up good people? I hope you’ve all been enjoying health, fruitfulness of spirit and peace of mind since our last conversation.

Today we dive into our last topic in our Learning to Teach While Teaching Series: Trustworthiness.
Our young people today need to be taught the value of being trustworthy. Unfortunately, when they watch ESPN or any television show for that matter the modeled behavior is often less than helpful in teaching the aforementioned – there’s something I like to call (PMS) the “Predominately Me Syndrome” displayed everywhere. Professional athletes from football players to race car drivers show irresponsible, selfish behavior that fills the minds of our young people with what they think is acceptable.
It’s ok to do steroids…as long as I apologize. It’s ok to say disrespectful things to others…as long as I apologize. It’s ok to be unfaithful…as long as I apologize. It’s ok “go off” on my parents and coaches…as long as I apologize. Basically it’s ok to be a complete idiot…as long as I apologize.


Hmmmm… trustworthiness; that sounds like a really important word. What is the clinical definition of trustworthy? Trustworthy is defined as:

adj. deserving trust or confidence; dependable or reliable

Got it… so Merriam-Webster is saying there’s actually some responsibility in being trustworthy. There’s actually a level of expectation applied to someone who possesses this character quality. Being considered trustworthy is actually earned….wow - what a concept!

While playing at Notre Dame, Coach Holtz would pose three questions to our team as we began each year. It was his way of reminding us that we had a responsibility to our teammates, our coaches, our community and ultimately to ourselves to be the best possible young men we could be. Not just on the football field or in the classroom, but in life.

The three questions he asked us to consider were:

Can I trust you?

            Do you have my back? Can I trust that you will do what needs to be done for the team to be successful? Can I rely on the fact that you will put the team first?

Are you committed to excellence?

            Are you willing to sacrifice personal glory for the team in working together for a bigger more unified goal? Will you work hard each day to be the best possible version of yourself and in doing so make us stronger?

Do you care about me?

            Do you care enough about me to execute the previous two questions on a consistent basis? Even when you’re tired and worn. Even when others talk about you? Will you defend the honor of the team with your actions?

Even today at Relentless Sports we use those same questions in our philosophy of teaching character through team work and discipline. If you were to ask members of Relentless about the "three questions," most of them would be able to tell you what they are and what they mean.

Being a young person today is admittedly tougher than when most of us grew up. That said it is the responsibility of parents to set the foundation at home for their children. It then becomes the responsibility of coaches to model the behaviors that are acceptable in their programs which should mirror those from home. There was a time that we could get some additional help from our “celebrity” role models…

Unfortunately, we can’t always depend on them anymore.

¿Que Dice?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teaching: Respect

Good day fine folks –

Today we continue to move forward in our Learning to Teach While Teaching Series:

Today’s Topic: Respect

I don’t really think I need to break out into Aretha Franklin’s all time number one smash single “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” for everyone to be able to understand at least in part how important respect is… I mean geez, if there’s a song written about it I’m guessing it must be pretty important. Motown greatness aside, today I want to really examine what respect is all about…and more importantly what respect isn’t.

The dictionary definition of respect is:


to avoid violation; held high or with special regard; the quality or state of being appreciated

Let’s break the definition down by segment and further examine how we (coaches, parents and student-athletes alike) show respect to each other. I think we’ll all be interested to see how it all shakes out.

Okay, let’s see… “to avoid violation” - Wow…seriously?!? So, if I violate someone by speaking ill or back stabbing do I truly have respect for them? What if I circulate rumors and filth in order to gain some sort of favor for myself? I am showing respect? Hmmm…this isn’t quite adding up. Mom always said: “one plus one ain’t three, baby.” I’m getting the picture.

Let’s look at the second definition segment: “held high or with special regard” – I’m guessing that since this is a verb, there’s more to it than just saying I respect someone… I actually have to show it right? How should I go about it? Is there a formula for respecting someone? Man, this is really enlightening…

 The last segment simply says: “the quality or state of being appreciated.” The last time I checked if someone was appreciated they were not only told, but were shown in action and in deed. I think what’s most disturbing is that our actions and deeds are polar opposites in most cases. I can look at you… smile at you… invade your personal space and yet I have no regard for you whatsoever… unbelievable. As my students say… “that’s totally creepy.”

We’ve all heard the saying: “respect isn’t given its earned.” That’s an interesting concept because based on the 14th century definition I don’t think the person who came up with that saying really understood what it meant. Sounds to me like the basic definition of respect is just to treat people well. You know, the “Golden Rule?” Anyone remember that from Sunday school? Some would argue that the second and third segments of the definition are what have to be earned – “special regard and appreciation”. I would then argue the mere fact that you’re a human being qualifies you for those. I don’t think anyone wants to be violated or unappreciated… that goes without saying – or at least I thought it did.


Why do young people show so little respect to “elders” today? Why don’t young people respect teachers? Why aren’t parents more respectful of teachers who, in essence, spend more time with their children than they do? Why don’t teachers and administrator respect each other? Why don’t coaches respect student-athletes for who they are? Why do teachers have a chip on their shoulders? Why do busy-bodies need so much drama? Why do we dislike the person who is happy? Why does negativity sell? Why does one person feel the need to control another? Why is power so important? Why do jealousy and envy exist? Why is retaliation always the answer? Why is there always an excuse? Why is this list of questions infinitely long?

I don’t know either…

In a nutshell this is my opinion… like it or not – agree or not as I've always said you can always create your own blog. Respect is something you give and until that other person gives you a specific reason to do otherwise you continue to show respect. In treating others with respect we inevitably respect ourselves… if I don’t have respect for myself then how is it possible for me to respect someone else…? Instead of reciting “respect isn’t given it’s earned” maybe we should say, respect is given, but common sense is learned.

I sure hope “the community” is listening…

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teaching: Positive Attitude

What's good everybody?

I trust that everyone has gotten off to a solid work week after having a relaxing weekend with friends and family! The sun is shining (at least here in Southern Cal), the birds are singing and there's nothing but great things on the horizon!


I’m sure some of you are saying,  "Wow! What the hell is he on? Better yet... GIVE ME SOME!"

The fact that I might seem a bit overly excited is part of what will lead us into the next topic in our: Learning to Teach While Teaching Series.

Today’s topic Positive Attitude

We’ve all heard the quotes before:

“Whether you believe you can or can’t you’re right.”

“Whatsoever a man thinketh, so is he.”

“I think; therefore I am.”

A positive attitude sets the tone for anything we do. It could be the start of a difficult day, the beginning of a really hectic week or even facing an opponent that is sure to render a long, arduous competition. How we view our current situation is always critical as it pertains to our performance.

As I watched ESPN’s “30 for 30” series documentary on Ricky Williams, it was never more evident that attitude, other than preparation is probably one of the top three important aspects of sport...and life in general. We’ve all experienced how our minds dictate an outcome that we, at some point, have anticipated.

What exactly does this have to do with coaching..? Thanks, I’m glad you asked.

Coaches are important in setting not only the standards of excellence for a team, but also for being an example to the players on the team. If coaches have positive attitudes it’s inevitable for the team to have a positive attitude. To borrow the best line from my all time favorite football film “Remember the Titans” when Coach Boone has the team running three-a-day practices in an effort to bring them together: team leaders Julius Campbell and Gary Bertier have an exchange after practice when Julius says to Gary, “Attitude reflect leadership…captain.”

As coaches we can only expect our student-athletes to perform at the level to which they are elevated. We (coaches) are responsible for motivating and inspiring the student-athletes. That said there are some student-athletes who are more difficult to inspire than others, but as coaches it’s our job to know what motivates our players to perform at their optimum best. Taking the time and having the patience to find that motivator is part of having the positive attitude they need in example.

Look –

Here’s the bottom line. Parents have a difficult job… dare I say even more now because of how different things are (technology, law, government). Coaches have an even more difficult job because in some cases the only discipline a student-athlete receives is from his/her coach. That’s not putting parents down… that’s merely stating fact. The good news is that parents and coaches who work together give the student-athlete the best combination of support, discipline and love available. We (parents and coaches) are in the “mold” business. We are molding and shaping our leaders of tomorrow. Our attitude, style and approach are critical in the scheme of their development.

If nothing else remember: “attitude reflects leadership…captain.”

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teacing: Passion

Good morning peeps -

In today's special Saturday edition of our Learning to Teach While Teaching series we discuss one of the most powerful emotions we all encounter:

Today's Topic: Passion

Passion is a very peculiar word. We’ve heard it used in many different contexts over the years. Hmmmmm…let’s see – there have been crimes of passion, we’ve seen passionate outbursts by players and coaches, maybe someone we know has passion for what they do, some have even described passion in a sexual connotation meaning a physical relationship between two people – there’s even “The Passion of the Christ” for our viewing pleasure and critique…that all said, what is the true meaning of passion?

The word passion comes from the Latin word pati which means to suffer. Latin was spoken by the early Romans and this word was used specifically when referring to the suffering of Jesus… some seven hundred or so years later the meaning began to transform into strength of feeling and ultimately what we have come to know today as love and sexual passion.

OK, now that the history lesson is over, how does this relate to teaching while teaching? I’m glad you so profoundly asked. In the current definitions of passion it is important for coaches and athletes to have passion for what they do. Having a strong sense of purpose is part of the picture. The purpose is set in the expectation set by the head coach and then carried forth by the leaders on the team. If all are on the same page, success is inevitable.

We’ve all heard stories of teams that over-achieve, or who did something great when the “odds” were stacked against them. I would argue that in spite of their lack of ability, skill or even numbers the players and coaches all had the same goals, mindset and were committed to achieve. Of course they were disciplined, focused and well prepared, but the ultimate difference came from the passion with which they played.

Let’s see… passion comes from the Latin word meaning suffer and if a player is selfless he or she then puts his or her teammates before themselves. That in itself is an act of sacrifice (coming from the Latin word meaning; to make sacred) for the whole.

At the end of the day, as coaches we want to convey to our student-athletes the importance of giving all they have for as long as they compete. Strength of purpose, selflessness and sacrifice are all ingredients of passion. If mixed in the correct amounts along with discipline, hard work, trustworthiness and respect success is eminent…this is the true breakfast of champions!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teaching: Humility

Family –


Once again it’s time for us to chop it up… moving into part four of our Learning to Teach While Teaching Series: “Humility”

As most of you know I was raised in a small rural town in Florida that isn’t much to speak about. Not much has changed in the way people think or do things since about the mid – 1950’s so there was always some sort of racial tension or overtone to most anything that happened.


My grandmother (“Big Nana”), the matriarch of our family was the granddaughter of a slave who taught me those “common sense life lessons” she had learned throughout her years in the south. My grandmother’s wisdom and insight are still a huge part of my beliefs system and how I try to raise my own children today.


She only had a couple of rules that I can remember and both of them where specific to how I behaved. She wasn’t much for grades in school since she only had a second grade education, but she always wanted to see my conduct grade. Looking back on it, I believe that if I had failed every subject and received an “A” in conduct she would have been fine with that because conduct was about your character and who you were becoming as a human being… I understand that now.


The only other thing that Big Nana ever repeated to me over and over when I was being an obnoxious kid was this simple quote: “Humble is the way son…humble is the way.”  


Humble is defined as: adj. not proud or arrogant; offered in a spirit of submission.

What a concept… no suffering from “the disease of me.” Being submissive and thankful for who I am and doing my best to lift those around me.

Sport again, would seem to be a logical choice in helping develop this character trait. Coaches, in conjunction with parents, have the responsibility of making sure our young people understand how great being humble can be. In a society that is driven by recognition, celebrity and power modeled behavior is what will make the most difference in the lives of our young people. It’s innate for us to copy what we see… the behaviors that are commonplace in our environment - doesn’t it make sense?

The reoccurring theme here, good folk, is to model the behavior for our young people to see. Arrogance is easy, selfishness is easy – it’s not always about what we want as individuals. Learning to sacrifice for something bigger than you is always difficult. By nature we are all selfish – even as babies we cried to get our way; to be fed, changed, held, for whatever our little hearts desired…at what point do we stop acting like babies in order to lift someone else up instead? That, my friends, is hard…selflessness is hard… discipline is hard…humility is hard…

Have you ever known of anything worth having to come easy?

Speak on it…

Monday, June 4, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teaching: Hard Work

Good day fine folks - 

Now is time for part two of our Learning to Teach While Teaching Series:

Today's subject --> HARD WORK

We’re all in agreement that our generation (Generation X) has worked hard to give our children (Millennials) all the things we didn’t have – to provide those experiences and opportunities that we believe will be valuable to them later in life. We all work our hardest to make sure our children have the very best of everything. We spare no expense, we call in favors and if need be… would swim a gasoline ocean with a lit blow touch in our mouths for our children’s sake. With our aggressive nature and over-achieving attitude, we open doors and create paths for our children to walk and in some cases we seem to care more about their success than they do

Have we gone too far? Have we done too much? Have we created a generation of young people who feel they have a “right of entitlement?” Have we unintentionally crippled the hard work gene from the lives of our young people?

I mean, let’s be realistic. Our children are more technologically savvy than we were at their age, they’ve experienced much more than we did at their age (partly due to our efforts) and they have a huge convenience factor that most of us didn’t enjoy until the mid-nineties. Remember popping popcorn? Remember what a big deal it was to have “popcorn night?” Remember that big ol’ pot and putting the oil in it with the kernels and waiting anxiously for the popcorn to lift the lid off? Hmmmm… today it’s just a flat bag and the push of a button and….taaah-daaah! Instant popcorn!

Yeah… yeah I know everybody has their own idea of what hard work should be. We’ve all heard the quotes before, right?

“No pain… no gain”

“Work works” 

“There’s no traffic jam along the extra mile”

“No one has ever drowned in a pool of sweat”

Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah…

Does this mean that I have to subject myself to physical pain in order to work hard? Is that the only way? Is there a way for us to instill hard work in the value system of our young people?

Oh no! What to do?  “The sky is falling!” “The sky is falling!”

I submit to you my friends that sport is a way to subconsciously re-invent the wheel. Struggle, passion, commitment, selflessness are but some of the many ingredients required for success. Sport is a way to help us re-instill hard work as a part of the normal regime in the lives of our otherwise unencumbered young people.

Enter the importance of a good coach… not just a coach who’s good with X’s and O’s or who’s all about wins and losses, but a coach who understands the importance of coaching for character and building young people as human beings. Young people need a coach who won’t sacrifice character development for athletic prowess… a coach who actually cares about them – not just his/her legacy.

At the end of the day, life is challenging. Hard work is just a part of what we’ve come to know intimately as “the daily grind.” Not working hard in the physical sense, but working effectively with others, having the discipline and focus to keep it all together and somewhere in that microcosm of life finding the patience to be a person for others. Our young people need to know this… they need to be taught this… they need to understand this… the need to embrace this…

Yes, hard work isn’t always fun and it definitely isn’t the coolest thing to do, but it is necessary…VERY necessary.

Cheers -

Friday, June 1, 2012

Learning to Teach While Teaching Series: Discipline

What's happenin’ good people?
I’ve been away for a while, but after catching up I’m back on track to continue our discussions!

Today we discuss the first section of our series on Coaching for Character. Today's topic: DISCIPLINE. 

Coaches always say that discipline is important and how the team needs to be disciplined in order to be successful. What is discipline exactly? Merriam-Webster defines discipline as: (1) training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character (2) orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior (3) Self-control

Hmmmm…..from these definitions seems that discipline is a basic form of mental toughness. Not mental toughness in the sense that you are completely oblivious to everything around you, or getting beat to the proverbial pulp, but mental toughness as in staying the course and being focused on your goal.

The best definition of discipline that I can remember was given to me by my life trainer during my brief stay in the NFL – Mack Newton. His quote was simply: “discipline is doing what you should do, when you should do it, whether you like it or not.” I have to admit that immediately I thought the definition was dry and a bit blunt… but then again you would have to know Mack. That said, I took his words of wisdom and made them my personal mantra. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “The time is always right to do what’s right.”

Having played at Notre Dame I thought I understood what it took to work hard and give it my all. What I didn’t understand was how to give more than you have. Mack pushed me far beyond any physical or mental limit that I could have imagined. It was tough…in fact, it actually hurt like a…well, you know what I mean. The feeling of knowing that I gave everything I could give in an effort to be successful was one of the most rewarding feelings I had ever felt. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted yet happy to have competed…and that was just the workout!

It’s not always easy to discipline oneself. We all fall a little short of the “excellence” mark from time to time. Discipline in that vein comes from how resilient you are in regaining your composure and continuing on your journey. As I have told my students in the past: “None of us were born with a MANUAL OF LIFE in a little baggie; failure is a part of any success.” We have the power to decide how we handle any given situation in our lives. We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we have total control of how we react to it in moving forward.

It’s quite simple actually; we can choose to forge ahead and conquer or we can curl up into a ball and let life pass us by…based on those two choices doesn’t it make sense to opt for the former?

Thoughts anyone??