Upon Entering a Locker Room

flattop 341

Photo Credit: Flattop341 via CC Flickr

“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30

Locker rooms are where the interior of a team is built and developed. Locker rooms are where goals are defined and measured, and the struggle comes out.

Yesterday I had the special privilege of entering a legendary locker room immediately after a convincing victory. Some profound, stirring things took place there. Amazing really.

When you enter a locker room, the presence of a group or team, what do you bring? Scripture here points to five wonderful things in this simple verse:

1. URGENCY – Urge other men. Don’t let them drift. Don’t leave them alone…on an inactive roster. Charge and connect. It’s God’s game plan. Have an urgency to include others.

2. MOTIVATION – Jesus drives men to great attitude and action like no other. Let Him drive you. Be confident this will infect others too. Make Him your first motivation, first audience. Let all other motivations flow from there. Audience of One. Point men here.

3. PASSION – Learn to love the Spirit of God. Be passionate for Him. Let His passions become yours. Let His love infuse you. Let Him define and stir up all the proper passions in you. Buddy up with Him through life, for life.

4. GOOD RECRUITING – Invite others into your foxhole, your struggle. And freely join other men’s foxholes too. There’s power for the journey and greater joy in the journey when men are joined in the journey.

5. GODWARD EXPRESSION – Invite another man’s prayers. Pray for him too. Pray together, man on man. Give great expression to all this. Perhaps the greatest way we can join in manly struggle is to take each other to the Throne of God in prayer.

Pushbacks

* Carrying a good sense of urgency about things right now?

* Making Jesus your highest motivation? Audience of One in place in your life?

* Loving the Spirit of God’s role in your life? Buddying up with Him?

* Asking others to join in your struggle? Joining in their’s?

* Taking men freely to the throne of God in prayer? Who? Inviting them to take you?

LORD, may I operate faithfully according to Romans 15:30. Help me bring urgency, motivation, passion, good recruiting, and godly expression to every locker room I’m in…for Your glory and my joy in You. Amen.

Maximum effort.

Heart for others.

Glory to God.

Coach Mo

The Heart of A Champion

US Department of Agriculture

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via CC Flickr

In 1990, the Colorado Buffaloes football team was on the road to the national championship. Before half the season was over the Buffaloes had already defeated ranked teams Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, and tied #6 Tennessee. They also faced the toughest schedule in the nation. But even throughout all this success, Colorado coach Bill McCartney still had a huge RED problem. You see, his next game was against the highly ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. To make matters worse, going into the game Colorado had lost 23 straight times to Nebraska when playing at Nebraska’s home field in Lincoln. What could he do to motivate his players?

McCartney knew that teams always play best when they have a sense of team, that selfless attitude that takes his players out of the mind set of playing for themselves and into the mind set of playing for the team. With this attitude, when the team gets glory. the player gets glory. Outstanding individual performance means little if the team does not perform well as a whole. Bill McCartney is also an outspoken Christian and he always sought to demonstrate the principles of Christianity to his team even while motivating them. So with that in mind he came up with a plan to motivate his players. In the last meeting before leaving for Lincoln, he called his players together and said this.

“At the end of the game each one of you is going to receive a $70 game ball with the score printed on the football. Before we leave tomorrow I want you to call up somebody close to you and tell them to watch you play. I want you to play your heart out, and play each and every down for that person. Tell them that you are dedicating your game to THEM.”

Well, the plan worked. On a soggy, cold, rain swept Nebraska field, Colorado overcame a 12 point 4th quarter deficit to defeat the Cornhuskers 28-12. Coach McCartney to this day attributes the win to the selfless play of his team even when they were losing. It allowed them to muster up every bit of strength and courage to come back and win. Their strength came from an attitude of selflessness.

Being a Christian is all about being a team player and submitting to one another out of love. The attitude is, “Give the other person the glory,” and “Let the other person go first.” So today, your game plan is to pick someone else on the field and play each and every down for them. Play selflessly. Play without trash talk. Play with humility. Play with dignity. Play with class.

At the end of the game you’ll want to be able to say, “I played a great game for You today, and I played with the heart of a champion.”

~ Author: Nathan Naversen

What Do Coaches Make?

Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks via CC Flickr

I came across this great story a while ago which perfectly illustrates the life and mindset of a coach. I have been a coach for 30 years and I think this tale hits the subject right on the head. I hope that it inspires you as much as it did for me. 

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The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, tried to explain the problem with college athletics. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to be a coach?”

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about coaches: “Those who can’t play, are those who coach.” To stress his point he said to another guest, “You’re a coach, be honest. What do you make?”

Having a reputation for honesty and frankness, the guest replied, (At this moment Coach Ridder was FIRED up and getting after it!) “You want to know what I make? I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids run through 90 minutes of practice and sweat. I make kids turn dreams into reality.”

“You want to know what I make?”

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them criticize.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them cooperate.

I make them competitive and respectful.

I make them show all their work in front of hostile crowds and perfect their acts of sportsmanship.

I make them understand that if you have the will to follow your dreams, should anybody try to judge you by a mistake you made you must pay no attention because you tried and gave it your all.”

“I make teams from individuals who work together to build success.”

He paused and continued. “You want to know what I make?” I MAKE A DIFFERENCE, I MAKE LEADERS, I MAKE OTHER PROFESSIONS POSSIBLE.”

Then he asked the CEO, “What do you make?”

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It makes you think doesn’t it?

MANUP!

Coach AllenMOTIVATION (Part 1 of a 5 part series) – Coach Allen in Action

“To go from where you are to where you want to be; you have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.” – Jim Valvano

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways wise! It has no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-11

As a former high school basketball coach with 20 years experience, one of the most important jobs I had was to motivate my players. When it came to building a competitive program at Norfolk Christian, it all started with the foundation of developing buy in, responsibility, teamwork and accountability among our players. As most coaches will attest, the “off-season” is one of the most important times to develop as a player. Therefore, it was my job to find ways to get my players motivated to get in the gym to develop their skills.

During the basketball off-season, which is considered the summer months, the work and development done during this time would play a major part in our success during the actual season, which is during the winter. If our guys were to turn the corner and become competitive within our local conference and then ultimately across the state, our off-season expectations and standards would need to be raised; and that’s exactly what we did.

“The key (of success) is not the ‘will to win’…everybody has that. It is the ‘will to prepare to win’ that is important.” – Bob Knight

We took a three step approach. First, we provided summer skills open gym workouts twice a week. They were given a minimal amount that they were required to attend (say 10 out of 15 days). Secondly, they were required to attend Team Camp together – no questions asked as they had to attend. This was important to getting away as a team and bonding as a family. Lastly, we also gave minimal requirements or milestones to achieve during our open gyms. (ie: Shoot a certain amount of shots, perform specific ball handling drills, footwork drills, etc.) Through the years of building our program into one that was respected not only across Virginia but across the country, there is no question the majority of our success was attributed to this off-season program and raising the bar on our standards. For our commitment, we were blessed to win back-to-back state championships and four consecutive conference titles. This was not by luck or talent alone – we prepared during the off-season when many people were not watching.

However, inevitably, every year we would have at least one or two guys who stated they wanted to be a part of our program, but would not meet our expectations and would end up either being cut or being dropped to our JV program for further development. This was mainly because of their laziness or lack of commitment in the off-season. They would seldom attend our workouts or if they did decide to attend, they would go half speed in our fundamental work and rarely made progress in developing their skills. This was all due to their lack of motivation. They wanted to shine before many during the season and have the glitz and notoriety that went along with that however they were unwilling to put in the required work when no one else was looking.

“Everyone wants to do what the great ones do: but very few are willing to do what they did to become great.” – Jon Gordon

As stated in our scripture above from Proverbs, “we should look at the ant and consider its ways wise!” The ant does not have someone lording over it making it go out and look for food to bring back to store for the winter months. It just falls in line with the others and does what is required. They know if they do not prepare ahead of time, they will not eat. Well as I related this to our players, if they are not “storing up” on their skill work in the off-season (summer) to where things will become natural and second nature to revert back to during the season (harvest time), they will not eat. And by eating I meant make the team, play as much as they would like to or win as much as they would like to. It all went back to “what you reap is what you sow.”

So in conclusion, whether in your athletic endeavors, your academics, your marriage or your vocation, you must be motivated to work for everything that you desire as nothing is going to handed to you. Thankfully we have a savior who does not give up on us and guides us in the way we need to go. Just like a coach would guide his players and give them a plan on how to improve, God gave us a plan through Jesus Christ on how we should be living and it is therefore up to us to be motivated to follow that plan – His plan.

MANUP!

Coach Allen

July 4, 1939: A Day That Will Never Be Forgotten

Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia

Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia

He is a tribute to one of the greatest baseball players of all time…

I am a 60’s kid. I started watching baseball on the old black and white TV when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The first team that I ever watched was the New York Yankees and from that point on, I was forever a Yankees fan and a baseball fanatic. I tried to learn about as many famous ball players that I could and I loved so many of them.

My all-time favorite baseball player let alone my all-time favorite ATHLETE was “the Iron Horse”, Lou Gehrig…the Hall of Fame first baseman for the Yankees. I remember watching the movie “The Pride of the Yankees”, the Lou Gehrig story, totally mesmerized. I used to try to hit like him, play like him, etc.

One of the things that Lou Gehrig was so famous was two things: A disease that would later take his life, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig Disease,” and his famous “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. It was July 4th, 1939 and the Yankees had decided that they were going to honor Gehrig and staged a “Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.” Ruth and other members of Murderer’s Row returned for the ceremony, along with Yankee officials and dignitaries.

At first, Gehrig was too overwhelmed to speak, but the crowd chanted: “We want Gehrig!” He stepped to the microphone, blowing his nose and rubbing his eyes. Cap in hand, he spoke: “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? … “When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that’s the finest I know. So I close in saying that I might have had a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Two years later, Gehrig was gone.

To me, that speech showed the kind of man that he was. Gehrig not only was an astonishing player (he was actually voted as the BEST first baseman of all-time), famous, and well known through-out America, he was an incredibly humble and soft spoken man. He would let his stats do his talking. I used to think that when I played baseball (or any sport) I would emulate his character.

Well, twenty-one years ago, my oldest son was born and we named him Luke Eric. What does that mean? Say his name fast….pretty cool huh? The funny thing about it is that we got the name by accident but once it was said, we decided to keep it. (just a little note: my other son was born on Joe DiMaggio’s birthday but we couldn’t decide on a good Yankee name for him BUT if he was a girl, do you know what his name MIGHT have been? Jody. Get it? Jo-dy (Joe D)…Joe DiMaggio’s nickname.”

Anyway, in remembrance of Mr. Gehrig, here are some remarkable facts about Lou that shows just exactly how good he was.

1. Lou played fullback while he was at Columbia college and studied engineering.

2. Lou was the only one out of four children who survived past infancy in his family.

3. Lou won the Triple Crown in 1934. His batting average was .363, 49 homeruns, and 165 RBIs!

4. The Yankees had actually tried to trade him to the Red Sox but they DIDN’T WANT HIM!

5. Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games. During that time, he suffered 17 fractures in his hands at different times (see how tough he was?)

6. Because of his durability, people affectionately gave him the nickname, “The Iron Horse.”

7. When Gehrig’s consecutive game streak was in full effect, he played first base the entire

8. period except for one game in which he played left field (September 28, 1930).

9. Gehrig accumulated 1,995 runs batted in (RBI) in 17 seasons, with a career batting average of .340, on-base percentage of .447, and slugging percentage of .632!

~ Coach Muller

A World of Difference

Photo Credit: Steven Guzzardi via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Steven Guzzardi via CC Flickr

“Righteousness exalts the nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

A man’s moral behavior creates a much bigger effect than he thinks. Choosing to live a righteous life somehow blesses others and even lifts a nation. God says so. So never minimize the influence a commitment to righteous living can have. Righteousness has power. One Righteous Man changed the world. His followers can too.

Sin also has a strong, multiplied effect. It brings shame to the group, not just the individual. (Just ask UK after their loss to UW Saturday night.) The reproach and loss of confidence that results stains others. Like one turnover or bad shot can lead to another, a bad apple really can spoil the bunch. So stop sinning. Disgrace spreads.

Look to the Righteous One to inspire your righteous living and belief that living His way makes a world of difference. May God grant you His resurrection power to pursue righteousness passionately and overcome sin heroically. Not only personal wins but corporate wins await.

Nothing detrimental.

Bring honor to Christ.

Coach Mo

The Love of the Father

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. ~ Romans 8:39

There are times throughout our lives when things or circumstances can get so difficult…that our dreams or goals seems totally unreachable. But, the difference between an extraordinary person and an ordinary person…is that little EXTRA!

There are also times that we need that one special person to help us “pull through” the tough situation that we may be experiencing and encourage us to “fight on” and overcome our diversity.

This video shows us the amazing and powerful love of a father helping his son while his experiences a heartbreaking and agonizing situation . It should remind us that when the hardships and painful times of our lives come our way, we can be assured that God, our Father, will be there to lift us us and give us the power and strength that we need and to continue on…until the task is done

It is my hope, that this incredible video will touch your heart, soul, and mind and encourage you to stay strong when you feel your weakest…and remember…your God and Father…will always be there to help His children!

Coach Muller

Finding What You’re Looking For

Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar via CC Flickr

“He who pursues righteousness and kindness finds life, righteousness and honor.” Proverbs 21:21

It sure is satisfying to find what your looking for, especially if what’s sought carries real value or worth. A lost key, misplaced wallet, improved performance technique, new business or game strategy, long and timely winning streak, genuine acceptance, full forgiveness, real romance or a discovered mate…all these represent things we’re so very glad to find when they are missing.

Proverbs 21:21 mentions two top things to pursue in life and three things we’ll find as a result. Let’s take a closer look…

  • To ‘PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS’ is to pursue a person, a Righteous One. Since none are righteous, it’s futile to try to be good enough. Instead, we must attach ourselves so closely to a Righteous One that He rubs off on us. Let His perfect blood mark, stain, wash us clean. Draft Him to righteousness.
  • To ‘PURSUE KINDNESS’ is to learn to love others liberally, serving diverse multitudes in practical ways by bringing grace and mercy to folks in its various forms.
  • To ‘FIND LIFE’ means discovering real fulfillment, meaning, purpose, satisfaction in life. The mundane goes. Only rich living is left.
  • To ‘FIND RIGHTEOUSNESS’ means receiving full acceptance, citizenship, forgiveness and wholeness. It is to find Who we’re really looking for and what we truly want and need. It is to find Jesus and let Him find us.
  • To ‘FIND HONOR’ means finding reward, encouragement and confidence in the journey. Genuine honor satisfies when it comes from God.

I’m not sure what you are looking for, but I know that if you’re seeking righteousness and kindness, you’re seeking well and bound to find them…and even more. God says so. When we hotly pursue these things, God promises to deliver the righteousness we seek, with life and honor thrown in too. What a great package deal!

LORD, thank you for the rewards you bring the seeker. Finding life, righteousness and honor are such great gets. Continue making us confident that that’s exactly what we will find. And keep us heading in the right direction, pursuing righteousness and kindness. Amen.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Glory to God.

Coach Mo

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese: A Friendship in the Midst of Racism

Photo Credit: Awesome Stories.com

Photo Credit: Awesome Stories.com

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” ~ Proverbs 17:17

Racism is an ugly and repulsive belief that millions of people around the world still believe in this poisonous mentality. Therefore, it is always good to hear of stories of people who took a stand against racism despite what people thought of them. Today’s story is about two professional baseball players. One that had to face the evils of racism everywhere he went…and another who decided to show people how he felt about racism and be a friend to his teammate.

Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

Same story different version:  One example of friendship remains with me as vividly as the moment I first heard of it as a boy. In his first seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League baseball, faced venom nearly everywhere he traveled–fastballs at his head, getting spiked on the bases, brutal epithets from the opposing dugouts and from the crowds. During one game in Boston, the taunts and racial slurs seemed to reach a peak. In the midst of this, another Dodger, a Southern white named Pee Wee Reese, called timeout. He walked from his position at shortstop toward Robinson at second base, put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder, and stood there with him for what seemed like a long time. The gesture spoke more eloquently than the words: This man is my friend. ~ Willie Morris, Parade Magazine

These are great stories of a special man that wasn’t just a leader but also an unconditional friend to someone else that was going through unimaginable circumstances. There are many people who are lonely, made fun of, and need someone to stand up for them…regardless what others say. So, be a friend… a real friend to someone today!