Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for January, 2015

“Never Go Back”

Posted by admin January - 27 - 2015 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

We had our church’s (Community Church @ Western Branch, by the way… BEST group of folks ever!!!) annual Group Leaders’ Retreat last weekend at a hotel on the oceanfront at Virginia Beach. The church was nice enough to pick up the tab!!! (We love our Staff Pastors!) The weather outside was not conducive to going up on the beach but what was going on inside in the conference room trumped the walk on the beach any ole time!!

Our Lead Pastor, Michael Brueseke (yes… that is how you spell it!!!), taught our training sessions from a book by Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s title is Never Go Back. The subtitle is: “10 Things You’ll Never Do Again.” WOW!!! After listening to Pastor Michael’s teaching from Dr. Cloud’s book, I knew I had to get a copy. I have only gotten into the first chapter and I’m already amazed at what the author is teaching. I feel that this book is so important that I wanted to go ahead and post this so those of you who are interested can get a copy. Of note… though Dr. Cloud is a Christian, the book is written for the general public. I would not classify it as a “Christian” book. Cloud is a businessman and writes from a businessman’s perspective. In other words, the information in this powerful book is applicable to anyone in any walk of life.

He shares in the Introduction that “… in the first part of this book, we’ll explore ten key realizations about behaviors and thought patterns that hold us back and keep us from our goals. When you actually ‘get‘ the principles in the first part of the book, and then implement the helps you’ll find in the second part, you will never want to go back to your old ways— you will be forever different.”

The principles that Pastor Michael taught on at the Retreat were: you will never again: 1- return to what hasn’t worked in the past; 2- do anything that requires you to be someone else; 3- try to change another person; 4- choose short-term benefit over long-term benefit (I heard it expressed as Short-term gain… long-term pain! OR short-term pain… long-term gain!); 5- * remember now… we are talking about “things we will never do again!!!) fail to ask why you are where you are; and 6- take your eyes off the big picture.

I had the opportunity at the closing of the Retreat to get up and share with the group which principle impacted me the most. I shared about: I will never go back to… Failing to ask why you are where you are! I explained that 4 years ago I knew that God wanted me coaching football at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. That was quite clear. I just wasn’t sure why! I’ve loved working with this great bunch of young men and enjoyed getting to know and respect a wonderful group of caring parents… but, I wondered if it went further than just me being blessed!!??!! We’ve had our up’s and down’s through the four years but we’ve hung together and always bounced back.

I shared with my fellow Group Leaders that the second year at NSA, one of our players suffered an unimaginable tragedy. He got home after school to find his mom dead on the kitchen floor of multiple stab wounds. He heard the car running in the garage so he dashed out there only to find his dad dead in the car from carbon monoxide poisoning… and bloody knife in his hand. The next year, one of our player’s mom died of cancer right after the season ended. Again, I tried to be there to comfort the young man and console the family. Finally, just this past season a second player lost his mom to cancer too. So much pain for such a small school to deal with. All of it on our football team.

Standing in the Reception Hall at First Baptist Church of Suffolk after the funeral this past fall, I commented to the pastor of the church (who is also our Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chaplain) that, “I just don’t get it, pastor. This has been overwhelming. I feel so bad for the families. I wish there was more I could do.” He looked at me and said, “Lew, this is exactly why God called you to be these guys’ head coach. You are just who God needed to be here for these boys in their time of need.” It was a “Holy Spirit Moment” for me. It became abundantly clear “why I was where I was!” God placed me there just for this ministry. I am humbled but at the same time proud to be the Head Football Coach at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

I finished sharing at the retreat and sat down… hoping that I had clearly expressed what this principle from Dr. Cloud’s teaching can mean for one’s life. I will never again fail to ask why you are where you are. I encourage all of you to read this book! More later as I finish reading it.

God’s Will For YOU!

Posted by admin January - 16 - 2015 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

Ahhhhhh… the elusive “God’s will for your life!” How many times have I tried to answer that question from friends and family! “Coach J, how do I know what God’s will is for my life?” “Coach J, how can I tell if what I’m doing is in God’s will?” I’ve come to learn that living in God’s will is not as elusive as we might think! There are 2 things I want to share in order to fulfill God’s will for your life. They are:

1) You must come to terms with: what you think you should be. We spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others… even when it comes to where we are in our walk with Christ. It’s important to know that comparison kills spiritual growth. The young man who reaches out to the homeless and is constantly sharing the Gospel with unchurched folks becomes depressed when he hears his friend talking about how much time he spends in prayer each day. The friend happens to be a person who enjoys solitude. Taking extra time to pray by himself each morning is not a chore— it comes easily to him. The first young man is gregarious and spontaneous. His willingness to serve and witness are his gifts. But, he’s guilty of spirituality by comparison. What he’s taking away from his spiritual walk is that he doesn’t measure up to his friend the prayer warrior.

“Should” is an important word word but… when it comes to our spiritual maturity, God doesn’t want you to obey Him just because you think you should. He designed us to want His plan for our lives.

2) You’ll have to deal with: what other people want you to be. Your spouse wants you to be more responsive to his/her needs. Your boss wants you to be more productive. Your trainer wants you to be more fit. Your credit card company wants you to go deeper in debt. At times it may seem like everyone has an agenda for you. You feel like if you spend your life trying to meet everyone else’s expectations you’ll never be free. This is important: Seeking to become the person that others want you to be is a shallow way to live your life!!!

Nobody can tell you exactly how to change. Only God can do that… cuz He made us! Even you can’t tell yourself how to change. Unlike people, God has no hidden agenda or unmet needs that He’s hoping you can help Him with. He knows what the best version of you looks like… and if you are “offering up your body as a living sacrifice to Him” on a daily basis (Roman 12:1), God’s Holy Spirit is working within you to bring that “best version” of you to fruition. You’ll only be free to rest in the reality that God is in control of your life when you make up your mind to be happy about the person God meant you to be— the one He’s working on each day of your life.

Goal-planning for the 2015 Season

Posted by admin January - 7 - 2015 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

I conducted my annual (rising) seniors luncheon and goal-planning meeting last week before the holidays ended and the players went back to school. I have been doing this for the last 20 years or so. I invite the rising seniors to lunch and then we gather to discuss our goals for the upcoming season. It always provides an effective venue for seeing where the players are looking to go and what level of expectation they have for the upcoming year. By doing it now, I can reinforce how important it is to properly prepare by lifting, running and/or participating in other sports during the off-season. I don’t remember where I first heard it but it’s true: Championships are built from January to July! If you wait to start in August when practice begins, you’re too late.

We took a radically different approach to our goal setting this year. I’ve read several books by Pete Carroll and Nick Saban the last year or so. I’ve commented on them in previous blogs on this website. Check them out. After what we went through this past season (a 5-5 record and a rash of injuries), I decided it was time to look at our team goals from a different perspective. I explained to the seniors gathered around me that, this year, we are not going to talk about winning a conference championship as a goal. We are not going to set a state championship as our ultimate goal. I told them that “everybody wants to win. That’s really just paying lip service to something that anybody who plays a competitive sport is wishing for. Saying ‘I want to win’ doesn’t mean a whole lot.” It really doesn’t mean a whole lot unless the players and coaches are willing to emphasize the steps needed to get to that championship. What we are going to focus on this year is what Coach Nick Saban calls his “process.” We are going to be more “process-oriented” rather than “results-oriented.” We want to develop a process of excellence. Our pyramid of success (which I first learned about from the legendary basketball coach John Wooden) is going to be the “building blocks” that, when constructed properly, leads to winning. We’re going to work hard— but on the right things! We’re not going to wear on our sleeve the desire to win a championship. Instead, we’re going to be careful to emphasize the steps needed to get there. Again… we want to develop a process of excellence for our football team.

So, I told the guys that I am going to set our ultimategoal for the upcoming season. Then, it was their job to brainstorm the building blocks to achieve that ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal which I set for our 2015 season is: We are going to strive, on a daily basis, to be the best possible team that we are capable of being!!! I’m sure they were waiting for me to fire them up with something along the lines of “going undefeated” or “state championship” but, no… we’re going to emphasize the process— NOT the results! I like the way Saban puts it: “We want to BE a champion… not become a champion!

We spent the next 30 minutes brainstorming ideas that these really intelligent young men whom I have the pleasure of coaching came up with that would meet the criterion of developing a process of excellence. I’m not going to share them all now. If you want more information, send a private message and I’ll help you. Suffice it to say, we left that meeting excited about what the new year holds for us as a team and as teammates! It’s the seniors’ job now to spread this new concept to their teammates. I am confident that they will accept that challenge and begin laying the foundation for our pyramid of success.

Get To Know God This Year!

Posted by admin January - 2 - 2015 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

Louis Zamperini
If you haven’t read Laura Hillebrand’s book, Unbroken, you need to put it on your “must read soon” list. I’d recommend the book before the movie. In fact, I’d recommend you view the Fox News Channel’s documentary on Zamperini’s life before I’d ever recommend Hollywood’s version of anybody’s life. You see, the movie producers conveniently failed to include the most significant event in the war hero and Olympic champion’s life: his salvation experience at a Billy Graham Crusade. Louis got to know God in a most profound way that night.

In the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, it’s God speaking to His people. He says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boaast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me” (Jer. 9:23-24 NIV).

The truth is, if you don’t know God it doesn’t matter how much money you have or what title you hold in the company… until you have a relationship with God, you really haven’t begun to live. A BIG part of getting to know God is learning the truth about yourself. It’s the truth that people have a hard time accepting but, as the Bible says: “The truth will set you free.” Zamperini had to face the truth about himself that night in LA at the Billy Graham Crusade. He might have been an Olympic champion and a war hero but his life was a train wreck! He was an alcoholic and a miserable excuse for a husband. God changed all that the night that Louis heard Rev. Graham say that “we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.”

The neat thing is that God doesn’t tell you the truth about yourself and then leave you that way. No, like a good doctor, He tells you you’re sick so that you can get the proper treatment. And the proper treatment for sin is salvation through the Blood of Jesus Christ!

You will never know God until you are related to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. So, if you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Savior, what better way to start a new year than by praying: “Lord, I repent and turn away from my sinful ways. Heal me Lord Jesus. I place my life in Your hands. I trust You as my Savior and Lord of my life. By faith, I receive the gift of eternal life that You offer. Starting today, I ask You to guide me and help me to live a life that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!”

Zamperini prayed a prayer similar to that and his life was never the same. God healed him of his alcoholism and restored his marriage. Louis spent the rest of his life sharing his story of redemption that came about because he finally admitted that he couldn’t do it on his own. He needed Jesus. I encourage you to do the same.

Happy New Year!

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