Next Friday, June 8th, I will be honored to help host the 5th Annual Reese’s Senior Bowl Middle School Football Combine and Showcase in Mobile at Mardi Gras Park. I cannot think of a better way to fulfill my final obligation to the organization than by being on the field with the “next generation” of these local, young football players.
While the “Combine” piece of the event will focus on running and jumping in order to give a baseline to these rising 6ththrough 8thgraders, and the “Showcase” will revolve around the fundamentals of the game, our concentration will be on what I call the “Four C’s for Success in Life”.
My football mentor, Coach Homer Smith, always taught his quarterbacks to say, “I will prepare myself to be a quarterback. If I do not get to be one, I will have prepared myself to be something else.” I think that statement holds true across athletics and all sports, in general.
So, with that in mind, we emphasize these four characteristics from arrival to the final whistle because everyone in attendance is capable of acquiring every single one of these traits.
“Coachability” might be the #1 factor in determining the course of a young person’s career. Is he/she coachable on the field, in the classroom or at a given job? Does the player look the coach in the eyes when receiving instructions? Does he/she really try to enact the coach’s words? Legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden always began his remarks to any group of young campers with this idea of being coachable. He said the first question asked by NFL scouts was always, “How coachable is so-and-so?” Becoming a willing learner at home, during school hours and on the field is a huge key to enjoying a successful career.
“Character” anchors the very foundation of any person’s life. What kind of personal character does the player have? Does he/she show respect to his parents, teachers and coaches? What kind of classmate, teammate, son/daughter, brother/sister is he or she? Often, character is connected to a person’s faith, where they have a belief in something that is bigger and more important than them. Regardless, it still comes down to what is in a person’ heart and their ability to make consistently wise choices.
“Competitiveness” can be described as the will to win or the desire to excel, but for most people, the attention should be on their effort to be the very best they can be. A young athlete might be the best at their local park or in their current school, however, in today’s society, there are kids all over the Gulf Coast, the United States and internationally that have the same natural ability with an intense work ethic to achieve greatness. Today’s aspiring athlete has to understand that competition is not just local, but worldwide. Still, at the very core of this trait, is the competitive spirit within a person to reach their full potential, regardless of talent.
“Compassion” cannot be understated. The respect for our fellow man, the treatment of others and the investment into people is such a vital characteristic when it comes to successful living. With achievement comes responsibility and with responsibility comes compassion for others. Showing people that we care is the single greatest way to connect with them and can serve as a life-changing example to others.
So, yes, regardless of what sport a child is playing, and to what level he or she is reaching, I hope these “Four C’s” can help parents and coaches focus on the bigger picture at hand, developing our young people in coachability, character, competitiveness and compassion.