Category Archives: Raising Men

Youth Coaching

Soccer Ball

I do a little bit  of youth coaching – some basketball and most recently soccer.

This got me:

For anyone who has ever coached youth sports of any kind, from pee-wee to middle school, and even high school sports in some cases………I have a deep question that has been floating in my mind in recent days. Just give me minute to circle around to it.

My youngest daughter wrapped up her high school soccer career tonight.  The days leading up to it flooded me with memories of all her games past, both far and near.  Thoughts of different leagues, cities, coaches, teammates, hotel rooms, victory, defeat.  Reflections of how she changed over the years as a player, a competitor, and a person.  Wondering how and why things have played out exactly as they have.  Thinking about influences both good and bad that could have or would have made things better or worse if they’d been different.

And I started thinking about the kids that I have coached as my kids have grown up, from youth soccer to travel soccer, Upward basketball to middle school basketball.  And I just can’t help wondering……

If all coaches could see into the future, to that very day when a kid puts away the cleats or the hi-tops for the last time and walks away from a game………would they choose to coach individual kids differently than they presently do?

Every kid walks away from their chosen sport someday…….then what?

Effective youth coaching is psychiatry and it is parenting.  Each player is unique, and they have specific needs that team sports can bring them.

Many coaches fail to fill those needs because they falsely assume they are training the next state champs.  They fail to see each child beyond that day when the sports equipment goes in the yard sale or the closet.

Shouldn’t the journey of sports teach these things and more to prepare kids for life beyond sports?

  1.  Standard of excellence
  2.  Work ethic
  3.  To believe in themselves
  4.  To trust others
  5.  The value of encouragement
  6.  To know they aren’t the center of the universe
  7.  To know that success does not come overnight (or in one practice)
  8.  To lose with dignity
  9.  To accept temporary failures without blaming others, and to realize these failures aren’t permanent
  10.  To be pushed to their physical limit, time and time again
  11.  To love and to be loved
  12.  To sacrifice for others
  13.  To respect authority and rules
  14.  Teamwork/unselfishness
  15.  To never give up

These things still matter when the cheering stops.

The cheering stopped for Maddie tonight.  Her team lost in the regional semi-finals.  In a game where she and her teammates truly “left it on the field”, the score was tied at the end of 80 minutes of regulation.  Two 5-minute overtimes later, the score was still tied.  Penalty kicks would now decide the match.

Maddie stood over the ball, ready to attempt her shot with her team facing a nearly hopeless 3-1 deficit.

If she missed this shot, the game was over.  The season was over.

Sitting on my knees beside my wife, I simply mumbled, “Maddie needs to be to one to take this shot.”

Not because it could be the game winner………because it would be the shot that would seal the loss if she missed.

I don’t know what kind of reaction or look Kristy gave me, but I went on to say, “Maddie needs to be the one to take this shot, because I know she can handle missing the shot to end the game.  She can handle it.  That’s my daughter!”

And my voice cracked at the enormity of what I was saying in a trailing voice……..”that is OUR daughter”.

She missed.  Game over.  Season over.  High school career over for her and her senior teammates.

Maddie played her heart out.  And I was so proud of her.  But when those words came out of my mouth, “that’s our daughter” it hit me so clearly.  I was not proud of her effort or her performance.

I was proud of who she has become.

She met her mother and me after the game with head held high.  That’s our daughter.

Do your best.  Have fun.  Train and play to win.  In the end it’s just a game.  The end came tonight.  I’m thankful for all those who have prepared her in the right ways to go beyond this “end”.

If you’re coaching your 1st game or your 1000th, take an occasional peek toward the end.  Winning is a by-product of doing all things the right way.  Some lessons can’t be cast aside for the sake of early wins or just because you ARE winning games.

And while your players are dreaming of making that dramatic game-winning shot, you better spend some time preparing their toughness and character……for missing it.

The Game of Football


I found this in the Tar Heel Archives and running it today.

The game of football has been my favorite go to sport since I was a kid – and I wanted to play as long as I can remember.

But I sucked.

Part of it might have been that I wasn’t good but part of THAT is that I wasn’t willing to trade getting tackled for scoring touchdowns.  I like to think, in part, that I traded my mind for my body.

That said – I can’t let my son play the game; the trade off isn’t worth it.  And earlier this year a legend of the game agreed with me:

Football great Mike Ditka says that, if he had an 8-year-old son right now, he wouldn’t let him play football. He made the remarks in an episode of HBO’s Real Sports, which will air tonight.

The Chicago Tribune has the exchange:

Ditka: “If you had an 8-year-old kid now, would you tell him you want him to play football?”

Gumbel: “I wouldn’t. Would you?”

Ditka: “Nope. That’s sad. I wouldn’t. And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

The HBO piece will focus on drug use by the 1985 Chicago bears.

There have been numerous stories about the 1985 Chicago Bears, but none quite like this.

The upcoming edition of “Real Sports” (9 p.m. Tuesday, HBO) will feature a report by Bryant Gumbel that chronicles the players on that team using excessive painkillers and narcotics to overcome injuries and get back on the field. The report says that contributed to many of the former Bears players being severely debilitated nearly 30 years later.

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka even said if he had a young son today, he wouldn’t allow him to play football. Gumbel calls the ’85 Bears football’s “ultimate cautionary tale.”

Last May, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, defensive end Richard Dent and offensive tackle Keith Van Horne were among a group of retired players who accused the league in a lawsuit of supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that kept them in the game but led to serious complications later in life. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 500 former players.

On Hate And War

HateHere in North Carolina the republican party has a super majority as well as the governor’s mansion.  In fact, even when the governor has felt that the party has gone too far, he’s vetoed a bill.  Or two.

And still the senate and house override the veto.

What we here from the left is the very predictable frustration of living under a super majority rule.  And, in only some cases, I can resonate with them.  After all, if it wasn’t for super majority, the Obamacare fiasco wouldn’t be taking place as we speak.

However, when it comes to policy differences, it really bothers me that people here in North Carolina, and across the country to be honest, take the position that just because I might disagree with specific legislation than “the democrat” that:

– I “hate” the poor.

– I am waging “war” on the poor.

And you can substitute any group or element of society and get the same message.  Think education, women, children, minorities, elderly or any other group that can tug on heart strings.

And now that I think of it, it doesn’t just bother me, it insults me.  I have a firm belief that each of us has amoral responsibility to care for our fellow man.  That society is strengthened on the idea that should one of us stumble, those of us capable will carry the burden.

However, the morality in that action comes from the voluntary aspect of it.  The very act of sacrificing for the common good is the notion that the sacrifice is free and voluntary.

So when I say that I support programs that reach out to the most vulnerable folks in society, I am NOT speaking of programs that force one person to contribute to what I feel is my version of the best good.

That is:

I find it noble and of morality to contribute to my neighbors relief.  I find no such nobility or morality in forcing you to do the same.

So enough of this “War on Puppies” or “Conservatives Hate Kittens”.  Air your concerns in the public square and take what comes.


Your Kids – You Didn’t Build That

big government

Whoa Buddy.

This is dangerous stuff:

This is where things like eugenics come from.  Thoughts like this are the genesis of licensing kids.  Of controlling parenting.


Going through some old Facebook and found this from late last year.  I think it’s important now as my son continues to love football and the draft is coming up.

While the NFL took a step in protecting defensive players this year, there is still work to do.  And until then, I have to begin backing away from the game.

Last year I watched every game the Vikes played.  This year it will only be half and I’ll not talk about or encourage football for the boy.  Not until the NFL begins to seriously protect these kids:

  • Eject players for intentional shots to the head
  • Suspend them for the same
  • Same for shots to defenseless receivers

Anyway, check it out:

I grew up in Minnesota, I was born in 1968. Some of my earliest memories were running the 3 or so blocks from my church at 11:50 on a Sunday morning so that I could be in front of the TV at noon. We were lucky because the Vikings would play their home games on the CBS channel, which in those days meant a LOT. See, the CBS station came over the VHF, channel 12, a channel unlike the UHF channels that carried the other games.

I remember Fran and Carl. Chuck and Krause. Did you know that the greatest defensive end in the entirety of the whole world once returned a fumble the wrong way resulting in a safety for the other team? I remember Jim Marshall.

I was a kid not yet old enough to drive when I would go to the campus of Mankato State where the Vikings would practice. I stood on a sidewalk in the middle of that campus, a piece of paper in my hand and a pencil. Alan Page, the only defensive player ever to win the NFL’s MVP award, was running towards me. I wanted his autograph. He didn’t blink as he ran by me, ready to run OVER me if I hadn’t jumped out of his way.

I remember Rashad [hearing about] and the Browns. Kramer and the Eagles. Young and the scramble. Pearson and the push.

My lunch box had all the NFL teams on it – Before Tampa Bay and Seattle.

I know that we passed on a Hall of Fame running back to draft a piece of shit who would drop the game winning TD against the Redskins that kept us from the Superbowl. Can you believe that we choose Darrin Nelson over Marcus Allen?

I played football for hours; for days. We would play in the street catching toe touching in bounds passes against the curb falling into the grass pretending that we were Sammy White. We used to go see the guys practice at summer camp. We had them autograph every card they ever had made.

I know about Kansas City, Miami. I remember Pittsburgh and Oakland.

I bleed Purple.

And now I have a son. And since I’ve had his older sister I’ve been throwing balls to my kids. The girl could catch and throw at 2. The boy has been watching Vikings games his entire life. As he moves from a gangly toddler to a clumsy grade schooler I practice. Day after day. And now, just now, he’s able to catch a fade, a fly and is even able to adjust his route and his velocity to accommodate me guiding him deeper or shallower; left or right. Truly a father’s joy.

The little bastard is just like me. He runs like the wind and catches everything thrown close.

But the reason I didn’t make a good football player was that I was a pussy. I couldn’t take a hit. And the reason that I couldn’t take a hit was that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. I wasn’t gonna make my mark in this life like that. The same God that granted me the ability to hit a sparrow at 30 yards, or throw ten straight bulls eyes at 8 paces; catch any ball thrown to me, gave me the mind that has allowed me to be who I am.

On any given Sunday I buy my ticket to the Colosseum. I knowingly and willingly watch and cheer and roar with approval as my team engages in combat with our enemy. I loudly and admittedly yell “Kill him” as John Randle chases down his prey. As Doleman his. Or Allen his.

But my son watches me. And he sees what I approve of. And he wants to be that. He has learned to love that.

And these men kill themselves. With guns. To their heads.

My child, MY kid, wants to play football. And I can’t let him; there is no way. Boys 10-12 years old are taking concussions. Boys not yet 20 years old are ruining their lives. And yet, in it all, we have players in the game PAYING a bounty to hurt other players. No one doubts that they did it; there’s no justification in their actions. The only defense is that everybody else does it too. As if that’s justification.

I’m nearing the end of my love affair with football. These boys are modern day gladiators; they’re being maimed and killed for our love of bloodlust. And the Saints had the unfortunate fortune of being in the perfect storm; they were caught during my enlightenment AND they cheated against my Vikings.

If you love the game, punish the Saints and save the players. If you aren’t willing to do that, well, Hail Caesar!

Tarheel Runs

2013.Tobacco Road.Finish

Yesterday I ran – and finished – the Tobacco Road Half Marathon here in Raleigh.  Great times!

Last year I had hoped to run the full marathon but thought better of it.  This year I signed up for the half.

Advice if you wanna run either a half or a full marathon:

1.  Train

2.  See #1

I’m pretty busy and I let the training slide almost completely.  However, about 1-2 weeks before the race I started seeing behavior in my son that I wasn’t real keen on; not following through on goals, not competing at high levels and stuff like that.  So I felt that in order to make a statement to this little dude, I should run, finish and sing the praises of the value of a “Finisher’s Medal”.

So, I crash trained for 5 days.  The results were predictable.

Severe pain, agony and humiliation; a great number of people beat me who I had no business losing to.  However, I did mange to crack a sub-3 hour time AND bring home the hardware.  My son was duly impressed – we’ll see if it worked.

Anyway, bring on The City of Oaks!

Of Do’ers and Non-Do’ers


I resonate with Romney and Ryan when they claim we’re a nation of  “Takers and Makers.”  I also resonate with the counter argument that we are a nation of people who USED to make and now are, so called, takers.

I’d like to change the terms and introduce what a word that a buddy of mine at the office and I use:


I work in corporate America and it’s fast and quick.  There’s little time to do it once, none to do it twice.  I quickly learn who delivers and who doesn’t.  And I gravitate to those who do.

The do’ers.

We need more do’ers:

The 18-year-old hiked through an ice storm for 10 miles to interview for a minimum wage position with Dairy Queen Inc., and a local restaurateur was so impressed that he hired Reagan for double the state minimum wage, which would make his salary $14.50 an hour.

Reagan’s dedication came to light Friday while he was trudging through a winter storm outside Indianapolis for the Dairy Queen job. On the way, he asked a man for directions. The man turned out to be Art Bouvier, the owner of a local restaurant, Papa Roux Cajun Cooking. When Bouvier learned of Reagan’s 10-mile journey, he asked the 18-year old, “How come you’re not on the bus?” Reagan answered: “I can’t afford the bus until I get a job,” Bouvier told Indianapolis TV station Fox59

After picking up Reagan, Bouvier dropped the teen off at his interview. But before he let him go, Bouvier told him that whatever the Dairy Queen offers, he’d double it for him to start working with Papa Roux, according to conservative news site TheBlaze. After his interview, Reagan soon found out that the Dairy Queen decided to fill the position with another candidate. But Bouvier told Reagan that he’d have a job waiting for him at Papa Roux on Monday.

When I turned 10 years old my father gave me a job.  I’ve been pullin’ a paycheck since.  While I never walked 10 miles for an interview, I DID walk through snow and ice and cold doing the job.

We’re a nation of do’ers, non-do’ers and done’ers.  We need more of one and fewer of the others.

Faith, Hope And Charity

I came across this video the other day.  Someone I know posted it on Facebook and I took the two minutes to watch it:

It turns out that it wasn’t the first time that Freemasonry, Facebook and the Shriner’s Hospitals For Kids juxtaposed.

About 3 years ago a college roommate living in North Western Minnesota shared a link on Facebook.  It turns out that his brother, living in the same town as him, had a little boy; a son of about 11 years old.  This brother had just posted that he was outside the emergency room where his little boy had been taken and observed.

It turns out the kid had been complaining of knee pain for several days and was now complaining that it was dramatically more severe.  It became so bad that he had to be brought to the hospital.  The doctors couldn’t say for sure what the problem might be without further testing.  They wanted the young man to be brought back for MRI’s and some x-rays.  The boy’s folks wanted the best for their kid but were unsure of what the costs might be and where that money would come from.  Additionally, the strain of being away from work only added to the pressure.

By the time I saw the post it was long past “real-time” and was now of the type, “Keep my brother in your prayers.”  And it was 8:30 at night.

I called the Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis, explained that I was a Mason and requested that I be allowed to sponsor a patient.  I went on to describe the condition of the child as best I could from the information I had.  The nurse made an appointment for first AM Monday morning.  When I told her that the family lived near 4 hours away, she let me know that she could change it to 1:00 if that would be easier.

I hesitated but pressed on.  I mentioned that the family worked and may not be able to make the trip to Minneapolis and I would have to call back to confirm.  She cheerfully explained that they had arrangements with a lodge in that area of the state and that a Mason would be called and a ride, to and from Minneapolis, would be arranged.  It was hard to get my head around that.  Again, explaining that the family might be able to make it based on their circumstances, I asked for lodging near the hospital, the less expensive the better.  Again, she had an answer, “We allow families to stay on campus, we have rooms just for that purpose.”

One last thing…money might be an issue.  As she wished me a good night she reassured me that all services would be provided to the family free of charge; there wouldn’t be a financial obligation to the family.

I was reminded:

Freemasonry stands for the exercise of Faith, Hope and Charity, the three cardinal virtues in the Freemasons’ creed. These are the principal rounds of that many-staved ladder, of which every stave represents an active virtue, which links earth to heaven, and which, though invisible, is a reality to the true Mason. Indeed, no man can be a true Mason without the exercise of these virtues in his daily life, for having Faith in God and His promises, he has the Faith which banishes doubt. He has also Faith in himself. Faith in his fellow-man. Faith in the boundless possibilities for a regenerate humanity, Faith in the ultimate happiness of all mankind, Faith in the enjoyment of perfect bliss throughout an endless life. With this Faith in his soul, the consistent Mason has hope. Hope for that in which he has Faith, Hope for himself. Hope for his fellows, Hope for all mankind—Hope for the present, Hope for the future — a Hope so firmly rooted in his soul, that it is steadfast, immovable, enduring to the end. And Charity, that perfection of all virtues, the choicest, rarest of all the jewels which adorn the life of a perfect Mason, that too Freemasonry stands for, although each Brother well knows the difficulty of its full attainment in this world of conflict, error, sin and tears. To bring help to a suffering humanity, to relieve the distressed stricken in body or mind, to shelter those whom a censorious world has cast out, and to throw a veil over the faults and failings of all weak and over- tempted souls—that is the Charity placed before us in a Freemasons’ Lodge.

I so do love this noble fraternity.

Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet

And law suits:

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. – A New Jersey woman who was struck in the face with a baseballat a Little League game is suing the young catcher who threw it.

Elizabeth Lloyd is seeking more than $150,000 in damages to cover medical costs stemming from the incident at a Manchester Little League game two years ago. She’s also seeking an undefined amount for pain and suffering.

Lloyd was sitting at a picnic table near a fenced-in bullpen when she was hit with the ball.

Catcher Matthew Migliaccio was 11 years old at the time and was warming up a pitcher.

The lawsuit filed April 24 alleges Migliaccio’s errant throw was intentional and reckless, “assaulted and battered” Lloyd and caused “severe, painful and permanent” injuries.

A second count alleges Migliaccio’s actions were negligent and careless through “engaging in inappropriate physical and/or sporting activity” near Lloyd. She continues to suffer pain and anguish, incur medical expenses and has been unable to carry out her usual duties and activities, the lawsuit says.

And Lloyd’s husband, in a third count, is suing for the loss of “services, society and consortium” of his wife. They’ve demanded a jury trial.

What kind of special hell must we live in before people just wake up and slap those around us into reality?

If You Wanna Stop A Thing From Happening….

Then stop doing that thing:

A white student at a Riverside high school has returned a $1,000 scholarship intended for black students.

Jeffrey Warren of Martin Luther King High School received the scholarship from the Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club at a school awards night last month, prompting laughter from the audience.

Jeffrey later returned it. The teen, who graduated last week, says he applied for 27 scholarships and won three others.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise says the 17-year-old never saw a cover letter for the award that was sent to high school counselors and specified it was for black students.

The application itself said only that African-Americans were encouraged to apply.

The scholarship has now gone to a black student. The senior club says it will change next year’s application language.

I get the point.  A group of people wanna help members of that group of people.  But the overall complaint seems to be that when the wrong groups of people help their own groups, that’s seen as bad.