PRESEDENT'S MESSAGE: Winter 1997
COACHES AND ATHLETES MAKING AMERIC GREAT
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1997
My definition of leadership is “Doing the Right Thing At the Right Time . . . Unafraid of Risk.” This special BFS Winter Edition offers many examples of inspiring leadership which exemplifies this definition.
My favorite movie this year was “Air Force One.” I saw it three times and bought the music CD. The president and vice president did the right thing, at the right time . . . unafraid of risk. My favorite book was Tom Clancy’s “Executive Orders” for the same reasons.
Drug use is rising. Violence is a continuing problem. Divorce rates are now over 50 percent. To some, the direction our great nation is taking may seem bleak. Yes, there are plenty of bad stories and we are bombarded with them everyday. However, I choose to look for the good stories and I see more good than bad. I see much greatness in our youth. I see valiant leadership by our nation’s coaches. With this, I see hope and a vision that we will continue to rise above ourselves.
Let me give you some examples. Murray High School in my community had their homecoming football game last month. They elected a homecoming queen with Down’s Syndrome and a first attendant who suffers from physical and mental disabilities resulting from a brain hemorrhage when she was 10 years old. This was the most special event ever in the lives of these two girls. As these winners were announced, the Murray gym erupted into deafening cheers and applause with a standing ovation. A great many tears of joy were shed by all.
When I was doing the interviews for the University of Florida story, I had a couple of hours to kill. I decided to pay a surprise visit to Gainesville High School. Head football coach Ed Janes, welcomed me and we talked for awhile. He only had 30-minutes to eat lunch so he ran over to get a school lunch. He brought it back and ate in his office which was next to the weight room. As he was eating, a kid said the F-word. Coach Janes excused himself and corrected the student. From my experience, most coaches would make this kind of effort but many others might not. It would have been much easier for Coach Janes to ignore what he had heard but such is not the character of the majority of coaches.
Coaches are leaders. Coaches develop leadership principles in their athletes. Most of the time coaches do the right thing at the right time and are not afraid to do so. Next, a muscular, athletic linebacker came in to see Coach Janes. With great respect, he asked if he might offer a suggestion on how to discipline two teammates that were caught fighting earlier in the morning.
Coach Janes gave his permission but told the kid that he’d make his own decision by practice. After his player left, he winked at me, “I’m, gonna tape those two kids together at their legs. The only way they’ll be able to move is to put their arms around each other. The whole team will laugh when they see them but I’ll get my point across. Right now they are two scared kids.”
On a scale of one to ten Coach Janes is an eleven. Can you picture the English teacher doing something like that? Later Coach Janes informed me that these two kids were now best friends. Coaches are in a position to save America. Coaches can develop leadership and promote values. I believe if we stand together unitedly we can make an even greater contribution to our nation.
I have a plan. It is called “STAND TOGETHER.” Will you and your athletes stand with me in the very real war against drugs, alcohol and tobacco? Please read carefully the information on pages 43-45. I know coaches and athletes are the best leaders in the world. Each one of you is desperately wanted and needed in this noble cause. Let us unitedly stand together and do the right thing. The right time is now. Let us all fill our hearts and souls with courage.
Let us go forth and be an example unto the world ... and by the Grace of God let us prevail.