"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes." - Charles Swindoll
I learned about this essay from Charles Swindoll while in college and it always stuck with me. It was probably one of the most important concepts that I learned in college. Attitude is everything. I took this message to my 8th grade football team this spring in our very first meeting. One of my parents read this message aloud to the entire meeting room. I doubt it sunk in for everybody at that time but the foundation of this message is what I choose to build a successful life upon - I try to transfer this mindset to my players and coaches. To me, coaching football is an opportunity to help develop my players on the field but also help them create transferable life skills. The foundation we build and incorporate into every practice plan and game in some form or fashion deals with creating an environment where attitude and effort is paramount. We also drive competitiveness, teamwork, leadership, and discipline to help build our players into champions on and off field. The formula works. Since 2012, many of these players have played in 5 out of 6 MYFL championship games and won 4 of them! They are smart kids in the classroom and keep things in perspective on and off the field. We keep building!
Coaching youth football has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I'm very torn right now because my son will "age out" of the youth ranks next year and enter high school but I may want to keep coaching. I just love it! I'm thankful for the friendships I have built with the other great coaches that have supported me all these years. I'm thankful for the relationships I have built with my players throughout the years. I'm thankful for the relationships I have built with many of the parents over the years. That is what it’s about.
As I sit back in 2017 and reflect on the year; coaching 8th grade was a challenge from the beginning. For starters, there was a great deal parity between all the 8th grade teams so the competitive balance was closer than ever before. The gap was closing and will continue to close in high school. Our team in 2016 just rolled through the regular season with a 30 point margin of victory on average and wasn't even legitimately scored on until the 8th game of the year. We reached the finals 8-0 prior to losing on a hook and ladder in the championship game to a very good Elkhorn South team. (That isn't why we lost but more how the game ended.) We started 2017 with the manta of "unfinished business." I didn't want to make the entire year about revenge against that team but felt like if we focused on the process in practice and developed a winning culture once again, good things would happen for our players. It wasn't always easy but the team gelled really well at the end of the year and overcame some obstacles. Good things did eventually happen.
As you can imagine, the year wasn't without some speed bumps. Due to some mergers in the Omaha youth football market this year, we added around 12 new players to my team and it was by far the largest number of players we have coached. (I will add, we were very happy to add those players but it did take an acclimation period to bring them into our system.) Like any new team, we needed to understand everyone's personal and team goals and also what would make the season worthwhile even if the player wasn't able to accomplish his individual or team goals. I also got the parents input on where their individual and team goals were as well. Overwhelmingly, a good percentage of the players and parents wanted to get back to the championship game for a rematch (which we earned) but winning wasn't everything. As I mentioned, we focused on the process and building fundamentals and having fun and winning was bi-product. I wish I could tell you that everything was "apple pie" with the parents this year. I had support from a good percentage of parents but with 29 players on the team at the start of the year, we had some negatively and didn't always see "eye to eye" on where players were slotted positionally and with playing time. I never really heard complaints from the players as they were having fun and building friendships and comradery with their teammates. What a great group of kids! These players absolutely refused to lose at the end of the year and displayed more gumption and grit out of a group of athletes than I have ever seen. If they take one ounce of that mindset as they grow into adulthood, they all have a great deal to look forward to. It was very satisfying to see it unfold.
Coaching football was one of the most rewarding things I could ever do. I'm thankful to my other great football coaches who have helped me over the years, Matt Johnson, Mark Hultman, Dave Merkely, Bob Miller, Chris Tauber, Scott Williams, Bob Grantham, Tim Silliman, Jeff Parker, John Behn, Chad Schmidt, Jud Hunter, and Scott Ward. I appreciate your help over the years and I couldn't have done it without you guys! That is what football is about!
Building champions on and off the field. Building relationships that will last a lifetime.
Until Next Time!
Related Articles 2015: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/building-business-lot-like-championship-sports-team-aaron/
Related Articles 2016: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-coaching-football-businesslife-aaron-becker-phr/