All posts tagged: Dr. Mark Robinson

Damany Hendrix, The Pain and the Game

Damany Hendrix is currently the varsity head basketball coach for the Justin-Siena Braves.  As a player he has experience at the high school and collegiate level.  As a coach he has experience with club development, AAU and NCAA coaching.   His experience as a player and now a coach influenced him to publish a book, The Pain and the Game.  We wanted to know more about the book, coaching and AAU basketball.

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Dr. Mark: Why did you write a book?

Coach Hendrix: I started writing the book because I was in a really bad space at the time mentally and I thought it would be therapeutic.  As I got into my story I thought that this could be a good tool to help young athletes navigate through the ups and downs of high school and college athletics.  Many young athletes have no idea what it takes to be prepared for college in the classroom and in their respective sports.  Many of them have never even thought that their preparation may not be sufficient.  I believe that my story could be a tool for them to use in order to be better prepared for any obstacles that may be put in front of them.  If my journey can make these young people take an honest look at themselves and evaluate where they are academically, and athletically, and say “I need to buckle down to get where I want to be”, then the book was used for its proper intention.

 

Dr. Mark: What message can readers expect from your book?

Coach Hendrix: I believe there are a few messages that readers can take from my book and the first one is perseverance.  I have been through a lot because of the game of basketball, but I still devote lots of time and energy to the game because it’s what I love to do.  I love to teach the game, and help young people become better players.  The message I took from writing the book is that life is not perfect.  There will be things outside of your control that may attempt to block you from getting to your goals, but you have to learn to deal with those situations and not let anything stop you.  It also teaches that even if you put your all into it, you may still have to take an alternate route to your destination.  Lastly, we should always take an honest look at ourselves, evaluate the part we played in the outcome of all the decisions we make, and learn from our mistakes.

 

Dr. Mark: You took a run at D1 coaching, what happen?

Coach Hendrix: I could write a ten-page paper on all of the things that happened while I was pursuing a college coaching job, but I will try and summarize what happened.  College coaching is a network, and if you are not in the network or highly connected within the network, it is very difficult to get into the business. There are hundreds of guys that hold all the spots in the network, whether they perform well or not.  If one staff gets fired for not doing well at a particular school, many times all of those coaches land on their feet at another school where they have a connection.  It makes it difficult for any new coaches to get jobs because all of the available jobs are filled by guys who just got let go, want to move schools, or guys who were in part time positions such as graduate assistants, or director of operations.

The best way to get in as a new guy is to take a Grad assistant job right after graduation, and grind your way to the top.  I didn’t attempt to get into the coaching game until I was 3 years removed from college.  I had an interview with my old college coach who was going to hire me, but the athletic director made him hire another guy that was a graduate of that school.  That is another obstacle, politics play a big part in who a coach can hire.  It has to “make sense” to the institution to hire a new coach that’s just getting into the business.  So, it is very difficult to get hired unless you can hand deliver a high level prospect, which is how many guys get into the business.  I wasn’t going to attach myself to a player to get a job because once you do that, you have to be able to deliver a player at all times and I think your basketball acumen becomes devalued.  You become a “recruiter”.  I have put in too much time mastering my craft as a coach to be simply a “recruiter”.  After 9 years of chasing it, I decided to take a high school head coaching job and put all of my energy into becoming the best coach possible.  It was very rewarding being able to put into practice all of the things that I had learned on my journey, and it further let me know that this is my gift and I need to continue to put my all into becoming a great basketball coach.

 

Dr. Mark: Is AAU basketball good for the players and the college game?

Coach Hendrix: I used to think AAU was hurting the game, and it was a bad thing for the game.  My views have changed slightly, but I still think it is doing more harm than good.  AAU basketball has become more of a business and has taken away from the development of 95% of the kids that play it.  The top 5% are taken care of.  They have the best resources to improve their game ie. Trainers, elite camp, great instruction, and many of them good quality high school coaching.  For these kids, I believe that AAU has it’s place.  It gives them an opportunity to compete with and against the best players in the country consistently, and it gives the college coaches and accurate assessment of these kids abilities.  With that being said, it also has created the pampered athletes that we see today.  The best high school players get treated like royalty.  They are pros from the time they are 16 years old and are treated as such.  It causes entitlement issues among the kids, and they have trouble taking criticism, being disciplined, and small failures.  I believe that this has led to the 700+ transfers that we have seen at the division 1 level this year.

The EYBL is the greatest and highest level of high school basketball I have ever witnessed.  Nike has organized it in such a way that every game counts and winning is a bit more important, where in the past it wasn’t, it was more about showcasing your talent. Coaches want winners, and when you devalue the importance of winning it’s hard for coaches to see which kids are truly about getting the W.

For the other 95% I believe we are spinning our wheels, creating bad habits, and creating bad basketball players.  I am not saying that these kids aren’t talented, I am saying that they are playing a bad brand of basketball.  Over the course of the summer kids play up to 50 games, vs 30 high school games where there is a little bit of structure.  Hopefully, the high school coaches are teaching good defensive principles, and rotations because on the AAU circuit (outside of the EYBL) they are not.  Many of them sit in a zone and rarely even play man.  There is very little offense being run, and it’s mostly 1 on 1 iso on each end.  It’s hard to watch.  The ball doesn’t get reversed, it doesn’t go in the post, and now with all of the warriors success, most of the time it’s a bunch of kids jacking 3’s.  It’s the worst brand of basketball I have ever seen.

Many high school coaches have to spend the first few weeks re programming their kids to buy into a structured setting.  You have to re teach the good habits, and try to eliminate all of the bad habits they picked up over the summer.  Most high school coaches do not like AAU for this reason.  There is a disconnect between the two, and I am on the side of the high school coaches because if it’s not high level AAU, most times they aren’t  being taught to play the right way.

Middle school basketball is almost like recess.  It is hard to find quality basketball minds who want to teach at that level so most times it’s a dad who coaches these teams, and many times they know very little about the game on a technical level.  This isn’t a bad thing all the time because the elite talent gets scooped up by the better programs who have some decent instruction, but the other kids are left to fend for themselves.

I have a great passion for the game, and I am a bit of a purest, so my opinions may come of as the old guy screaming “get off my lawn”, but I have been observing all levels of basketball for over a decade now and I can see the change in the athlete.  I can see the change in the game at the college level as well.  I watch all levels of college basketball, and I have seen a decline in the skills, mainly the shooting at the college level.  There is also a lack of back to the basket scoring, a lack of ability to create your own shot, and poor knowledge of how to move without the ball and get open.  I have seen the emergence of the specialist, which isn’t a bad thing.  Every team appreciates and can use a “3 and D” guy on their roster to spread the floor and hold his own defensively.

I hope that the game moves more towards skill development of our young athletes and less playing games.  It hurts the non elite athlete and produces kids that are less prepared for the next level whether that’s Junior college or the four-year level.  With the emergence of the “trainer”, kids are getting skill instructions, now whether they are getting useful instruction or not is a case by case scenario, but I do know kids are working on their skills. I am encouraged by this movement.  But there are still too many unorganized, yet, organized games being played which is hurting basketball overall.

 

Dr. Mark: The biggest problem facing HS coaches today? 

Coach Hendrix: I believe that the biggest problem facing High school coaches today is a combination of AAU, parents/handlers, some skill guys and the limited amount of resources and funds.  Parents have become the biggest thorn in the side of the high school coach.  Parents have a different lens and feel like every coach needs to cater to their child.  A coach’s job is to do whats best for the group, not one individual.  Parents and players often believe that they are better than they are.  This isn’t a problem unless a parent of a player believe that the coach doesn’t value their skill set.  A player that believes that his coach should let him shoot more three pointers, but is shooting 28%, is a problem.  A parent that says a coach isn’t using his son right is a problem as well.  Players need to understand, you are your skill set, and your production.  If you are shooting in the 20’s from 3, any coach in their right mind will limit your ability to continue to shoot from behind the arc, not because he doesn’t care for the play, but because it’s whats best for the team, and more than likely the player.  I see dad’s coaching from the sideline which is my biggest pet peeve.  The problem with this is, it can confuse the kid, but more importantly, it could directly contradict what I work on daily in practice.  It could contradict the play I just drew up coming out of a huddle, and we need a basket because we are down two points.  Parents should be there to support the coach, and cheer on their child along with his or her teammates, PERIOD.

I have already addressed High school coaches having to break the bad habits of the kids coming back from playing AAU.  They also have to change the mindset as well.  AAU is about showcasing, and less about winning.  The high school season is about winning first, and then showcasing your talents within the framework of a team.  There is some reprogramming that needs to be done, and I have seen coaches not have success to the detriment of the team and the season.  It can be very frustrating.  It makes players difficult to coach when they do not put the team ahead of their own personal agenda, and on top of that you have the parents reinforcing this selfish mindset.  It can tear a team apart.  I have seen it happen.

We all know high school coaches put in countless hours for very little compensation.  There are some coaches that have the passion to push through this and still strive for greatness.  But who can blame a coach who is only receiving a $1200 stipend for 5 months of work for just making it through a season and not giving it his all.  It is a thankless job unless you are winning big, and you have to deal with ungrateful kids who give you attitude, and parents who think you are the scum of the earth because you don’t play their 5’5 son 32 minutes per night.  I have seen coaches get burned out, run off by parents, and frankly quit mentally mid season because of the factors I mentioned previously.  It can be very difficult to power through these things and bring it every day.

 

Dr. Mark: What does the future hold for you in the basketball arena?

Coach Hendrix: I feel like I have a wealth of knowledge, and I see myself educating young people in many ways.  I believe one day that I will be a division 1 Head Coach.  I believe that I will also travel around the country, and maybe even the globe speaking to young people  about what this game has meant to me, how to achieve their goals, and motivating them to be the best human beings that they can possibly be.  I see my self motivating young athletes to achieve 4.0’s and seek higher education beyond their Bachelors degree.  I believe I will be a household name among coaches. I truly believe that I have the basketball acumen, and the drive to become one of the great coaches this game has ever seen and I will not stop until I achieve my goal.  Everyday I strive to unlock my genius, which I believe to be coaching and educating people on the game of basketball. Whether they are young athletes, or coaches.  I want to share my gift with the world.

 

 

Damany Hendrix is currently the varsity head basketball coach for the Justin-Siena Braves.  He graduated from Vallejo High in 1998 and was an All-Monticello Empire League player. After high school, Hendrix accepted a scholarship to play for Gonzaga University. At Gonzaga he redshirted as a freshman, then transferred to Junior College, where he was the conference MVP and an All-State selection.  Hendrix completed his collegiate basketball career at Lamar University where he was selected All-Southland Conference, twice.

 

Social media links

Instagram:coachdamany

Twitter: @coachdamany

Facebook

The Pain and the Game link

 

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Brandon Sweeney, On his IPPD Specialist Certificate Experience

Brandon Sweeney is a former college athlete who experienced depression and thoughts of suicide, as a college athlete.   Mr. Sweeney shares his story of the setbacks he had to overcome when his dream of going to the NFL was shattered by a career ending injury in his current book, Loving The Game When The Game Doesn’t Love You Back.  Mr. Sweeney recently completed his Personal Player Development (PPD) Specialist Certificate, from the Institute for Personal Player Development (IPPD) and we wanted to get his thoughts on the IPPD Specialist Certificate program.

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Dr. Mark: Why did you enroll in the IPPD, PPD Specialist Certificate program?

Mr. Sweeney: Being a former athlete, I thought I truly understood athletes and how to help them because of what I went through. However, after working with athletes, I discovered I did not have the necessary tools in order to assist them.

Therefore, I enrolled in the IPPD because I wanted to truly understand athletes, the issues they were facing, and how best to assist them. I was looking to understand Athletic Identity, Athlete Behavior, and how to help athletes holistically. Most of the things I’ve researched and studied prior to enrolling in the IPPD, did not address helping athletes holistically.

Dr. Mark: Give us your thoughts regarding the program curriculum? 

Mr. Sweeney: I thought the curriculum provided relevant and valuable information. It was a lot to chew on. The curriculum gave me great knowledge and access to the minds of experts who work with athletes on a daily basis.  It also provided me with concepts and frameworks that I could use when working with athletes.

Dr. Mark: Would you recommend this program and why? 

Mr. Sweeney: Absolutely,  for two reasons. First, I believe those who want to truly understand and help athlete’s, need training on how to do that. Second, there aren’t program that specifically focus on the holistic development of student and professional athletes as it pertains to the issues and challenges they face.

Dr. Mark: What aspects of the program will you use in the future when working with athletes? 

Mr. Sweeney: How to specifically help athletes in two areas.  One, assisting them in maneuvering through the sports transition process. Two, a better way of working with athletes towards achieving success outside of the playing environment.

Dr. Mark: What are your plans moving forward within the PPD industry? 

Mr. Sweeney: I am going to start consulting and speaking with high schools and colleges to create a program/workshop that helps student athletes maneuver through the sports transition process. I also plan on writing a book that specifically contributes to the Personal Player Development industry.

 

Follow Braddon on Twitter- @BrandonLSweeney
Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn- Brandon Sweeney
Like Brandon L Sweeney page on Facebook – Purpose beyond the game

Get a download a FREE copy of Brandon’s current book at www.brandonlsweeney.com

If you are looking for a hard copy you can purchase here.

Book 2

 

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International Basketball Success Online Workshop

With over 4000 college basketball Seniors and only 60 available positions in the NBA, basketball players who don’t make the NBA have a great chance of playing international basketball, but many don’t make it.  Why, because they lack the necessary information.

The Institute for Personal Player Development (IPPD) has launched the International Basketball Success Workshop.  This online workshop provides athletes with the information they need in order to have successful and productive careers abroad.

Why is this workshop important or needed?  Most college basketball players are never given the proper information to find employment playing abroad.  Instead many of these players either:

Give up on the dream

Play abroad and have a horrible experience

Sign contracts with agents who don’t help them

Pay to attend exposure camps and never get a job

Waste years doing it the wrong way

College basketball programs and USA Basketball do not give basketball players the information they need in this new and exciting journey, but the IPPD does.  Enroll today and learn what you have always wanted to know.

Listen to what previous athletes think about the workshop below.

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Erin Konheim Mandras: Athletes and Eating Disorders

Erin Konheim Mandras played college soccer at Michigan State University.  Following her collegiate career she played semi-professional women’s soccer and later became a collegiate soccer coach.  Erin is currently a motivational speaker, blogger and founder of www.kickthescale.com.  Kickthescale.com focuses on eating disorders, body image, exercise, and nutrition, particularly in athletes.  PPD Mag caught up with Erin to get her thoughts on athletes and eating disorders.

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Dr. Mark: What is the purpose of kickthescale.com?

 

Mrs. Erin Konheim Mandras: Kickthescale.com is a website that provides my personal biography, my rock bottom, and my ongoing blog, all related to my story and experiences of developing, battling, and overcoming a significant eating disorder as a collegiate athlete at Michigan State University. Based on statistics, there is a widespread presence of eating disorders among all men and women, of all ages, but particularly prevalent in high level athletes. Therefore, my mission is to raise awareness and educate others on the issue, in hopes to prevent eating disorders from developing, or helping us to identify signs and symptoms early on, to prevent further damage. Kickthescale.com is a resource for people to use, as my writings and stories are relatable, real, and powerful.

 

Dr. Mark: Are female athletes under the same amount of pressure to perform as their male counterparts?

 

Mrs. Erin Konheim Mandras: Female athletes endure the same amount of pressures to perform as their male counterparts in all facets of life. Ultimately, males and females have the same goals, desires, and dreams to achieve great accomplishments, despite men’s sports earning more revenue. At the college level, a full ride scholarship is the exact same amount of money invested in an athlete, regardless of the sport or gender. Therefore, each athlete feels pressure to meet and/or exceed expectations, while an education is being funded. At the professional level, though there may be a significant discrepancy in salaries earned between men and women, each athlete signs a contract that promises results.

 

Dr. Mark: Is the subject of eating disorders a topic that needs to be discussed with high school and college athletes?

 

Mrs. Erin Konheim Mandras: Eating disorders are beginning to develop at a much earlier age, even before high school. Therefore, it is imperative to discuss, educate, and raise awareness on the topics surrounding eating disorders to all ages. Nutrition, healthy exercise behaviors, and a balanced lifestyle are all necessary components in helping to prevent eating disorders from developing. There is an intense desire to achieve the ideal body type that media and society is portraying as beautiful, in both men and women. And, as a result, many are finding alternative ways to attain that figure, whether through diet, exercise, or even surgery. It is so important to continue emphasizing positive body image. Also, we must continue discussing the details of eating disorders in hopes to bring attention to the signs and symptoms, and urge people to seek help immediately. Additionally, by sharing my story to all ages, my goal is to help eliminate the stigma attached to these issues.

 

Dr. Mark: What are some other topics you discuss when you’re presenting to athletes?

 

Mrs. Erin Konheim Mandras: When I present to athletes, I share my story of the development of my eating disorder, and the reasons why I was destined to develop one of my own. As athletes, we have tremendous responsibilities off the field, as well; academically, socially, and religiously. Therefore, it can become extremely overwhelming and stressful to perform at one’s best in all areas of life.

Athletes tend to be very high achieving individuals, who place an immense amount of pressure on themselves, and it is important to be aware of the health affects and ramifications this may have, such as, in my case, the development of an eating disorder. I emphasize the importance of positive body image, and the significance of strength, power, and health for optimal performance. Nutrition and exercise are two main contributing factors to optimal performance, and without proper and adequate attention to both, one’s performance may decline, like mine did.

 

Dr. Mark: What are the visible red flags of a student-athlete experiencing an eating disorder?

 

Mrs. Erin Konheim Mandras: In my case, I was identified by two major factors: a drop in body weight and my personality. These were clear signs of an issue. I had loss weight, but, also, appeared very lethargic, and distant in my close relationships. My dieting behaviors became noticeable, and my strict habits became worrisome. Additionally, I had lost my menstrual cycle.

Other signs and symptoms of all eating disorders can be found here.

 

Dr. Mark: How can we be proactive in preventing eating disorders with athletes?

 

Mrs. Erin Konheim Mandras: We must talk openly about the issues, and signs and symptoms so people are able to identify the disorders early enough to prevent significant damage. Additionally, the more common people feel these are, the more open to help people may be regarding eating disorders or disordered eating. It is so important to continue educating others on the details of eating disorders in hopes of saving lives.

Follow her on twitter @ErinMandras

Like Kick the Scale on Facebook

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Matt Blamey, Pioneering Lacrosse out West

Matt Blamey is the current Head Coach for the Sierra Nevada College Men’s Lacrosse program in Lake Tahoe. Currently the Eagles are 7-1 on the season and ranked #12 nationally in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association. We all know that lacrosse is the fastest growing youth sport but PPD Mag wanted to know how the impact and growth of the sport is being developed in the West.

Dr. Mark: Why did you start the California Junior College Lacrosse Association (CJCLA)?

Coach Blamey: Prior to becoming a college coach, I spent seven years coaching at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA. We had a ton of great athletes come out of the program who, for one reason or another, would end up going to the local junior college (Northern Virginia Community College). NOVA was, and still is, one of the most prestigious and largest 2-year colleges in the United States.

While I was very proud of seeing these student-athletes continue their education, I hated the fact that their playing careers had to come to an end. Over my final few years with South Lakes, I began writing a proposal of what it would take to run a program at NOVA. I’d say this is where my passion for junior college athletics began.

During my final season with SLHS, I sat down with Brian Anweiler, then Student-Wide Activities Coordinator for all of NOVA, to discuss the potential of a lacrosse program. They say timing is everything. My meeting with Brian was serendipitous to say the least. It just so happened that Brian was specifically hired to help make athletics a reality at the institution. Needless to say our meeting was very successful. Brian agreed bring me on to start the program at Northern Virginia Community College, the first JUCO lacrosse program in the state of VA.

After spending two fantastic seasons with NOVA, my wife and I came to the decision that it would be best to raise our family in her home state of California. Upon relocation, I started a new coaching position with Sonoma State University. Almost immediately, I began noticing how large the junior colleges are in CA and what tremendous athletics facilities that they possess. Junior college sports are very popular in California, but once again, lacrosse was rarely an option for graduating high school athletes.

I did some research and saw that there was one junior college who offered competitive lacrosse as an offering. Diablo Valley College, east of San Francisco, was running a club program who would compete annually against 4-year schools during the fall. I reached out to Terry Armstrong, founder of the program, and we worked together to come up with an umbrella organization that would aid aspiring junior college to create club programs at their own schools. The CJCLA was born.

The primary goal of the CJCLA is to assist student-athletes at junior colleges in getting club programs online at their own institution. We provide sample budgets, staffing needs and access to uniform and equipment discounts through quality vendors. We also will build a free website for new programs in order to assist them in getting the word out to prospective student-athletes about their programs.

Now in our third year, we have had a few programs come on board and fall off. It has been a rocky start. We are proud, however, that in addition to Diablo Valley College…Santa Barbara City College and Grossmont College have both come online and proved to be competitive and well-supported programs. This fall we are working with Butte College to get a new program running as well.

Some student-athletes will use JUCO athletics as a stepping stone to a 4-year school. For others, playing for the CJCLA will be the pinnacle of their career. In both instances we want to provide an organized and highly competitive playing experience for these young men. Lacrosse remains the fastest growing team sport in the country. One day, when there are CJCLA programs up and running all over the state, we hope the California Community College Athletic Association will see lacrosse as the next logical fit to their varsity athletic offerings.

Dr. Mark: Do athletes in lacrosse experience the same personal development issues as athletes in the sports of basketball and football?

Coach Blamey: Just this week I read an article in Fast Company on how student-athletes entering the work force are at an advantage over those who have never competed athletically. I believe this to be true. Many of those advantages have to do with withstanding the challenges and pressures that come along with competing in college.  In short to your question, the answer is yes. For every student-athlete who successfully navigates through the challenges brought on by stress, drugs/alcohol, technology, etc.. There will be another young man or woman who will falter.

Every year the NCAA puts out report a report on the levels of drug/alcohol use among collegiate athletes. Along with basketball and football, lacrosse consistently ranks high on this list. While substance abuse is an issue with many college students, I think the pressure on athletes makes them more at risk out of the need to “check-out” or “unwind.”

Social media has proven another challenge that I believe many athletes, at least in my experience, are learning to deal with much more intelligently. A few short years ago, I was often disappointed by the things that I would see posted by current players or even worse, potential recruits. While there will always be exceptions, I think the message that “nothing is private” has made the rounds.

Overall, I strongly believe that the days of simply “coaching” are over. In our profession we have to pay attention to our student-athletes in all areas of their life. It is our job to help these players successfully avoid making choices that can lead to disastrous consequences. It’s cliché, but frankly, I don’t want these young men to make some of the same mistakes that I did. Relationships don’t end when the whistle is blown at the end of practice.

 

Dr. Mark: In an ideal world, would it be advantageous for a coach to have someone on his/her staff to work with athletes on the personal development issues?

Coach Blamey: In an ideal world, absolutely. I am by no means an expert in personal development. I simply speak from life experience. Challenges with most institutions, mine included, will be budget dollars. We are constantly moving around the numbers so that we can hire adequate assistant coaches, athletic trainers, etc… Unfortunately, I feel that a personal development expert on staff is one that most athletic departments will relegate to the bottom of the priority list.

 

Dr. Mark: Do you believe specific training is needed for athletic staff members working with athletes in the area of personal player development?

Coach Blamey: This is my 14th year of coaching. I have yet to have a single season where I haven’t had a player come to me with a unique personal problem or challenge.  I think quality training could be helpful, but I would hate for it to turn into another mandatory webcast that the school or government mandates to all athletics staff. I think more valuable would be a professional consultant as an on-call resource. Google can only do so much.

 

Dr. Mark: Do athletes in lacrosse need support making the transition from athlete to non-athlete?

Coach Blamey: I’m not sure about this one. On those same annual reports put out by the NCAA, lacrosse athletes consistently rank among the highest in graduation rates. 99% of lacrosse players understand that they will not be earning a living playing professionally. I think that most realize that the cleats will be retired upon graduation and that Friday under the lights will now mean a late night at the office.  That being said, I am an advocate of giving our young men and women all resources possible prior to heading into the “real” world. If there are avenues available to ease the transition for our players, I’m all for it.

 

Dr. Mark: What are some of the issues you see at the professional level of lacrosse?

Coach Blamey: My personal experience within the professional ranks is limited. That being said, I am a huge fan of both Major League Lacrosse (Go Bayhawks!) and the National Lacrosse League. It’s amazing to see the growth of the professional game in both field and box lacrosse.

By all accounts, most professional players are still weekend warriors. They draw modest salaries and some fly into the city they represent on Friday for practice, game Saturday, and then fly back home to be at the office on Monday. It sounds like a grueling schedule, but from those I’ve chatted with, they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

As the growth of the game continues to explode for both players and fans, I think the salaries for athletes will grow into a quality living wage. Will it ever be a six or seven figure paycheck? I’m not so sure. Until then, however, there is something to be said for these guys. They are truly playing for the love of the game. I admire every one of them!

 

Dr. Mark: How much potential does the west coast have to develop lacrosse into a thriving sport?

Coach Blamey: This has been an ongoing question for some time. I think it’s time to put it to bed. Lacrosse is already thriving on the west coast. From Southern California to Washington, the west coast is putting out some of the best players in the country and every year it continues to grow. Are there areas where lacrosse is still new? Absolutely! But no longer is our sport an unknown.  This past season the University of Denver was the first NCAA program west of the Mississippi River to win a National Championship. Right now they remain ranked #1 in the country. Their roster is littered with players from the west.

In the MCLA, west coast teams have been flourishing for years with home-grown talent. It’s not a secret anymore. West coast kids know how to play…

Follow Coach Blamey on twitter  @coachblamey

Follow The California Junior College Lacrosse Association on twitter

 

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The Practice of ‘Mindfulness’ for Optimal Performance and Well-being in Sport and Business


 

 

Whenever we evaluate current levels of stress, anxiety, debilitative factors affecting confidence, or blocks to achieving optimal performance in a variety of vocational tasks and domains, whether that be human functioning in operational business, or collective team performance in sport, such conceptions of these barriers are atypically a result of past experiences or future events. Furthermore, from personal experience, within any life domain, when individuals are asked to reflect on their three highest sources of stress,  the responses often related to past experiences or future events. In business this may be hitting weekly/monthly targets, in football, goals per game ratios. To elaborate in more detail, using football as an example, it is a common occurrence to witness  teams ‘crumbling’ under pressure. Whether that be teams in the relegation zone, or underdogs with a shot at the title. What often happens in these situations is rather than being in the present moment and focusing on the tasks and resources needed to complete a specific task or game to the best of their ability, the egoic mind is all too often reliving past experiences or worrying about future outcomes, which reinforces (quite often negatively – due to negative tendencies in though processing) our current levels of self-worth and ability in that present moment.

 

For the individual saleswoman pitching to a CEO, her direction of thoughts on securing the deal (end result) and potential future business generation (future event) from this pitch debilitates her ability to pool resources together for; building high levels of rapport with the CEO in question, focusing on the tonality, language and pace of the pitch, the details and intricacies of the product. For the footballer who is taking a penalty kick in the cup final, he is often distracted by the consequences of success or failure rather than the decisions needed to succeed in the present moment (i.e. target, ball placement, shot choice, pace, power, wind direction, position of the goal keeper). The fear of not attaining the cup, letting down team mates, comparing this situation to the last time he missed and/or scored a penalty, is preventing the individual from optimal headspace needed to achieve success.

 

From my experience of working with business leaders, C-suite, employees, football managers, sport coaches, and athletes/players, what separates the best performers in the world, to the average ones, is an ability to recognize the direction of their thoughts, and an even stronger recognition to disassociate specific thoughts, thus allowing them to maintain in the present moment. Sport and business psychology consultants have long dedicated time to helping individuals change such thought processes, their attention, focus and direction, and the direct and indirect influences on performance and well-being. Traditionally, this has been addressed through models of practice such as CBT (thought stopping, cognitive reframing) NPL (reducing the impact of thoughts and feelings) and PST (increasing the use and applicability of psychological strategy).

 

A more contemporary approach which has aimed to help individuals with such thought processes relating to their well-being, is mindfulness. Practitioners are now incorporating such models of practice across a range of performance domains. For those that may not yet be fully aware of the way in which mindfulness works, Buddhism (the origins of mindful meditation) places emphasises on ‘being’ in the present moment. However, by identifying with the egoic mind, an illusory distinction is made with our past experiences and future events. Such identifications are the difference between being mindful or mindFULL. That’s not to say that we can not recognize our past, as inevitably it has made us who we are today, but continual recognition of past mistakes, missed opportunities, broken relationships etc., or conversely, solely focusing on future opportunities, and promotions, and living the future significantly impacts upon well-being by not allowing us to recognize the present moment for what it is.

Mindfullness

It is not surprising to know that through clinical research and reports, looking back is directly associated with depression, whilst looking forward (for some) is directly related to anxiousness.  Having worked with individuals with such tendencies, I feel that ultimately what causes such performance decrements and well-being issues (depression, anxiety, anger) is the lack of control which we have over events which have happened, or going to happen in the future. Mindfulness recognizes that all we can control is the present, by not evaluating thoughts of previous or upcoming events, we allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy the present moment. It is in this moment we see people flourish in performance and they experience feelings of content (not happiness – dictated by external sources). It is also during these episodes, elite athletes report being ‘in the zone’. With the ‘quiet mind’ being reported time and time again as a characteristic during such peak performance. Through neuroscientific evidence, we know this not to be 100% accurate. Whilst there is a significant reduction in brain activity, what actually is happening during such episodes is that the individual does not directly associate with his/her thoughts. He/she actively becomes an observer of thoughts through non-evaluative means. This allows him/her to be truly present in the moment.

A great example of someone who currently lives in the present moment is Claudio Ranieri – Leicester City FC Manager. His ability to not focus on the outcome of the season and to approach performance on a game-by-game basis, he is a prime ambassador for advocating the positive effects of being mindful (as opposed to mindFULL). Through a deep understanding that team performance will be dictated by the resources he has at any given moment in time, through his language, communication and actions, he instills a positive mentality in players, whereby their focus is intensely on the present moment for the following 90 minutes, and nothing else. Though we cannot examine brain activity and recall accurately during a football match, it could be assumed that players mindfulness on the pitch is exemplified in their behaviours i.e. logical as opposed to emotional reactions,  verbal and non-verbal communication and body language after successful and unsuccessful outcomes.

 

To illustrate this through a practical example (and in an attempt for you to understand your current levels of mindfulness, or mindFULLness) if you took your dog for a walk this morning, ate breakfast with your family, or grabbed a take-out coffee on your way to work, take time to relate back to the direction of your thoughts. Were you thinking about upcoming bills at the end of the month, the potential promotion at work? Or, were they solely focused on experiencing that laughter of your two year old son as he dribbled porridge down his chin, or the fresh crisp air at 6am when you walked your dog through the park, with the trees damp with the thaw of overnight frost? The layman will often volitionally accept the direct relationships between thought, feeling and behaviour without conscious attention. As a result, this lack of self-awareness often necessitates living (not being) in the present moment through thoughts of past circumstances or future events.

 

Being a Mindfulness Practitioner, I am fully aware and endorsing of the many ways that mindfulness could assist the well-being of the general population (feel free to ask me any questions you may have), but for the purpose of this article we will focus on the holistic benefits for individuals and teams in both sport and business.

 

By combining Mindfulness Diploma training with clinical, business and sport psychology education, practicum knowledge and experience, I have devised a mindfulness strategy (applied through either individual consultations and/or groups workshops), which follows the three stage process of; recognition, observation and acceptance.

 

This first step to becoming more mindful (as opposed to mindFULL) is understanding the cognitive behavioural hypothesis. By comprehending the cyclical relationship between thoughts, feeling and behaviours, we become more self-aware of the direction and intent of our thoughts, and the resultant impact on feelings, emotions and subsequent behaviours. If we relate this to business, as another example, due to the cut-throat nature of sales in high performance environments, a salesman’s typical response to each and every telesales call may be “I need to hit my target” (which could be a result of self-worth, paying bills, evaluation apprehension or all of these factors). This thought directly results in feelings of nervousness and tension, and the subsequent unconscious (sometimes conscious) behaviour of pressurized selling, not accurately listening to the customers queries and demands, poor memory of product features and applications etc. By focusing on future events (outside of his control at this present moment) he is unable to be in the present moment, resulting in a whole host of debilitative factors. From my own consultancy experience, when individuals who understand (even at a low level) such relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviours, this recognition is a powerful enough tool for initiating change.

 

Through intense self-refection and analysis, individuals will become more aware of both positive and negative cyclical relationships through the cognitive behavioural hypothesis. It is here (or should be) where CBT therapists may use thought blocking or cognitive reframing for changing faulty thinking processes. At this stage, mindfulness opposes traditional therapies by allowing thoughts to be (as opposed to controlling them) which results in reduced association with such thoughts, removing the negative impact on feelings and behaviours. Using quicksand as an analogy, this approach frees individuals from identifying and wrestling with their thoughts (sometimes debilitative, sometimes facilitative). For visual representation of this process, please refer back to the figure above.

 

For this to be achieved successfully, I have developed a bespoke introductory mindful meditation, which supports individuals and groups to become mere observers (and not evaluators) of their thoughts. This practice to the layman may seem ambiguous, however mindfulness is an art form that needs to be practiced practically. Once doing so, the self-awareness individuals experience will far supersede any retrospective reflections. Not only does this process support individuals to disembody thoughts and the typical volitional relationships with feelings/emotions and behaviours, it actively promotes individuals to experience ‘being’ in the present moment.

 

Finally, once an individual has experienced and achieved observing thoughts in the present moment, positive behaviour change will become both conscious and unconscious. Subsequent mindfulness sessions with clients are therefore aimed at further disassociating with the egoic mind, allowing thoughts to be just thoughts (and not subsequent feelings and actions) through objectification and non-evaluation, resulting in acceptance of thoughts and intense focus upon the present moment. For the salesman with the recurring thought of “I need to hit my sales target”, whose typical responses are nervousness and debilitative behaviours, he has now become consciously aware that he is not controlled by his thoughts and as such can actively be in the present moment. Not only will this transpire to more effecting performance (asking the right questions, listening to the wants and needs of the client, recalling the product features and applicability) and well-being (confidence, recognition of character strengths, presence) in this specific sales pitch, a significant positive shift will occurs across all contextual domains of the individuals life.

 

By Luke Whiting

Elite Mindset Coach at Norwich City FC, Life Coach and Mindfulness Practitioner

 

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Stephen A. Smith, Hearts and Souls of Men in Sports

Stephen A. Smith recently discussed his feelings and thoughts regarding the Rooney Rule.  For those that don’t know, the Rooney Rule requires National Football League teams interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs. It is sometimes cited as an example of affirmative action, though there is no quota or preference given to minorities in the hiring of candidates. It was established in 2003.

Although the rule has been in place for 13 years, many argue the rule, has not had the intended effect on hiring minorities.

What does this have to do with Personal Player Development?  Simple, the urgency to provide training and development for professional athletes and helping professionals in the personal development arena has lagged, just as hiring practices have.  Stephen A. explains why…

 

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Kristy Belden, The Reality of Athletics

“Here today.  Gone tomorrow”

Today you are a key part of an athletics department staff.  Your cell phone doesn’t stop ringing. Your inbox is forever full.  To put it simply, you are getting things done and the program can’t run successfully without you.  In a blink of an eye, you have been replaced.  And just like that, your student-athletes are depending on someone else and you’re left questioning, what just happened?!?  This, my friends is the reality of athletics.  As professionals in this ever-changing field, we are often the ones preaching to our student-athletes to get their degrees because their athletic careers won’t last forever; to select a school based on everything BUT the coach because we know all too well that those change like the wind.  Yet, here we are in the same boat having to take our own advice.

“The reality of athletics is that often change comes swiftly with lots of collateral damage”

The nature of athletics is that EVERYONE is replaceable, from the Athletic Director, to the Coaches, to the Staff, the Graduate Assistants, the Student-Athletes, and EVERYONE in between.  In many cases, change in athletics often is a trickle down effect and has little to do with YOU (or your résumé, your accolades, and how long you’ve been at Athletic University College).  The reality of athletics is that often change comes swiftly with lots of collateral damage.  In the high-profile sport of football alone, a head coaching change can immediately effect upwards of 100 lives, when you add in support staff, spouses and children.

The business side of athletics encourages change in many regards.  The myth is that a shiny new coach fixes everything…the “boo bird” fans are excited again, donations start rolling back in, there’s a ton of media coverage.  It’s a win-win for everyone except the old staff.  In many, many cases, any and everyone associated with the previous regime is let go.  It’s not personal, and you’re fooling yourself if you think it is.  Why do you think turnover in athletics is as high as it is?  People try to move up, move out before they end up unemployed when the writing is on the wall that change is inevitable. Nowadays, spending more than five years with the same program is an anomaly.  An old coach once told me, “if you haven’t been fired, you haven’t been in coaching long enough.”  As the pressure to win gets higher and unreasonably higher, the reality is that you will be fired.  Just as our current student-athletes get replaced by the latest 5-star stud, the sad truth is you will be replaced at some point in your career as well.   You can pout about it or you can be prepared.

” You will not be the Senior Associate of ABC’s at Athletic University College forever”

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times…”it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  This too is the reality of athletics.  The best advice I can offer is to stay connected with as many professionals (coaches, administrators, support staff, etc) as you can on multiple levels (high school, collegiate, professional). You never know when your guy knows a gal who knows a guy that might need a gal like you.  And just as we teach our student-athletes to not be tied to their identity as a student-athlete, we must take heed to that advice as well.  You will not be the Senior Associate of ABC’s at Athletic University College forever.  The blunt truth is that if you plan to have a long, successful career in sports, then you must understand that change is the Reality of Athletics.  Embrace it and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

“Kristy Belden is currently the Dean of Students at Bishop Moore Catholic High School and spent 5 years as the Director of Player Development with the UCF Football program.  She was one of the first female full-time player development directors for a NCAA Division IA football program.  Prior to that role, Belden spent 9 years as the Associate Director for Multicultural and Academic Support Services, and Academic Services for Student-Athletes at the University of Central Florida.  She is a former collegiate track athlete and has her Masters degree in Educational Psychology-Sport Psychology.  

Follow Kristy on twitter @KristyBelden

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Notre Dame College, Humiliation, Pt 3

How did you go from being a division one quarterback to a division two punter and not even a quarterback?

It is hard to revisit my experience at Notre Dame College. For a while I would refuse to revisit it, I could not do so without feeling bitterness or extreme pain that tainted the overall experience. Ultimately, the feelings evolved into numbness and a sense of not being able to acknowledge the fact that the experience occurred. It was the only way possible that I could move on and live. I am grateful that today, I am able to speak of the experience in terms not tainted by feelings or numbness.

Commitment is something that must be fulfilled to preserve friendship and relationships. The impact friends have on our everyday life can be so great that decisions are often made out of obligation. Unfortunately, decisions made out of obligation to our friends can lead to a traumatic experience and or humiliation. However, adversity even of the worst kind leaves one with a lesson to grow from and become a better person.

Before graduating from high school and upon committing to Miami University, I gave my word to four friends/teammates/brothers who were going to be student-athletes at Notre Dame College. I gave them my word that if things didn’t work out at Miami I would join them at NDC and once again play football with them. January 2011, I committed to Notre Dame College accepting a full ride scholarship. Once again, I had a duty to fulfill and a commitment to something much bigger than myself. I can recall my best friend who I also happened to room with stating, “man I didn’t think you were serious about the promise you made last year”. Of course when I made the promise I wasn’t planning on a time where I had to follow through with it but when the time came I did and was glad…. At first.

 At the time I felt nothing more than excitement and a sense of happiness. I thought to myself “this is like a home away from home”. I had anything and everything a collegiate student-athlete could ask for. I felt like I not only belonged but more importantly I felt like I was wanted and needed. All was good. I was the big man on campus, only an hour away from my family and hometown, classes were manageable, and I was more than happy with my decision. The first year had a couple of bumps in the road but nothing that couldn’t be overcome by persistence and sticking to the commitment of the process for success.

Entering into the 2011 football season I was in a quarterback battle with a talented returner. Eventually I would not be chosen as the starting quarterback for the first two games, however, this would soon change during halftime of our second game. I became the full time starting quarterback and one of the team captains after leading the team to victory the second game. As the season progressed, I became more comfortable as a student-athlete and leader at Notre Dame College. We ended the season with a better record than the previous year and had a lot to look forward to going into the offseason. Still, things were going well and I was a happy or as the saying goes at NDC “Falcon for Life.”

Spring 2012 was what I have previously labeled the beginning of the end. My best friend had decided to leave the school for personal reasons. This crushed me and at the time I considered it betrayal and selfish. I recall thinking, “how could you leave when I came here because of you?” After that I was never the same. You see, he was the person who I could always count on whenever I needed anything. When times were hard and I felt the weigh of the world on my shoulders, he would make sure I didn’t falter. He never allowed me to do anything stupid or reckless. He cared about me more than I cared about myself. To sum it up in a word, he was my brother, and when he left a part of me left with him.

A couple of weeks before spring practice was to begin, I was punished for breaking team rules. Allow me to explain… One night my suitemates and I decided to host a little get together in our suite involving refreshments of a kind that weren’t permitted on campus. But we were too cool and too much of a big deal around campus to ever get caught, let alone written up. Well, we got caught. When the time of confession came my new roommate and I took all the blame. If I hadn’t then a few guys in the room would have been caught, they would have been immediately dismissed from the team and possibly school. So, knowing this and being a team captain I decided to take the blame.

A captain goes down with his ship. Our team policy was that if at any time a player got in trouble with the school or team, that player would automatically be moved down the depth chart at the start of spring ball. As always the first string gets more reps than the backups, this is a fact even if coaches preach otherwise. Accordingly, as the spring season progressed coach and I became more and more hostile. It seemed as if I was not getting a fair shot to compete for the position. Many Teammates including the three teammates I had made the promise to, saw and felt this was the case. Often times behind closed doors where they could not be heard by anyone of authority who could punish them, my teammates would say, “Rob I know how they are treating you and it is wrong, but things will get better.”

Things never got better, only worse and worse. At the end of spring ball and the semester before summer, Coach called me into his office and told me I was being moved to wide receiver but still staying as the punter. I wasn’t going to be given a chance to compete over the summer and into fall camp. The decision was made that my days of being the starting quarterback were over and done. So began the summer of 2012, I came home and broke the news to my family. Upon hearing the news and thinking about what comes next, my parents pushed me to transfer elsewhere and that I didn’t come there to be treated in such a way. Most of the summer I spent weighing out options and trying to decide what I should do.

Eventually I would return to Notre Dame College as a “full ride” student athlete. I put emphasis on “full ride” because this was the main reason I decided to go back. How could one not turn down a full ride scholarship being a student-athlete? Everything was paid for which meant upon graduation I had no student loans to pay back. Common sense would tell anyone to not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. However, the price I had to pay for this decision was something that would become a lifelong lesson. A lesson that not many people consider as a good lesson because the impact it has on the heart and psyche of a person.

Humiliation has such a stinging ring to it when spoken. Try feeling it and experiencing it even just a little, I promise you or whoever experiences being humiliated that it will change your life and the outlook you have on life. Throughout the 2012 season at Notre Dame College there were times that I thought about getting in my car and just driving away to somewhere far away from there. But I didn’t, for some reason I was meant to be there at that time. I was meant to be that guy who transferred from a division 1 school where he won a championship, who then transferred down a division to become the quarterback of Notre Dame College, who then was knocked off his pedestal and brought down to become not even a quarterback let alone the starting quarterback at a school who couldn’t even break the five hundred mark of a football season. It was humiliating to show my face in public and know that everyone knew what happened to the once “big man on campus.” It was humiliating to be the starting punter every single game that season and after the game shake hands with our opponent and be asked by players and coaches “what happened to you being the starting quarterback” or “how did you go from being a division one quarterback to a division two punter and not even a quarterback?” Such questions at first angered and hurt me to the point of tears flowing down my face. Eventually the tears subsided as did the anger and hurt. What they became was nothing or a sense of numbness with no feeling at all. I had reached a point of no return and kind of died inside.

Friends, teammates, coaches, fellow students, etc. felt bad but did nothing to help. Not even those I made that promise and commitment to in high school, they knew and felt the position and psyche I was in but did or said nothing to me or anyone because they feared that what happened to me would happen to them. And so there I was humiliated and miserable. I needed some type of release from the hell I was in.

A week after the season I received a call from a past teammate and friend who had transferred from Notre Dame College (NDC) to Hiram College the summer of 2012. We talked for a bit just catching up on each other’s lives asking how things are going, then he asked if I would come down and visit him at Hiram College. I figured sure why not, it was somewhere away from NDC. So I visited him. We had a great time and I met a lot of good people… different people than what I was used to at NDC. People who acknowledged me and said hello and asked how I was. During the day we ate in the dining hall where I ran into a football recruit, he immediately recognized me and began talking to me. He asked questions about my experiences at Miami and NDC, then he asked my opinion on several matters. Of course I gave him my opinion, why not, what did it matter? It was just my opinion about what he asked me. Or so I thought…. Little did I know this conversation would cost me a full ride scholarship leading to my dismissal from NDC.

After the weekend on Monday coach called me into his office saying he needed to speak with me. Our meeting lasted for fifteen minutes and consisted of him asking if I visited Hiram College over the weekend, If I spoke to a recruit and what I said, and then my scholarship being pulled. That was the last straw, I was completely humiliated and a fool in most people’s eyes. However, a sense of relief and hope came over me as soon as I walked out of his office. I remember thinking, “its over… I was free.” At the end of the semester I left the place I once called home, my three teammates I made that promise to, and the worst experience of my life. I had been humiliated and broken. However, the lesson of humiliation and being humiliated was something that would be vital to me becoming a better person, a better student-athlete, and the leader Hiram College needed.

To be continued…

Written by Robert Partridge, follow Robert on twitter

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Miami University 2010: Commitment and Paying the Price for Success Pt 2

December 7, 2010, I committed to Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) accepting a full ride academic/athletic scholarship. Upon committing I didn’t know how much of an impact on my life this would make. While a student-athlete at Miami University, I was part of a team that made history by winning the Mid-American Conference championship and finishing the 2010 season with a record of 10-4. A substantial improvement from the year before where the football team finished the season 1-11. However, what is less known or advertised was the price that had to be paid by each team member individually. At the base of success is a degree of commitment to an idea or goal. It is often that the slogan/motto “there is no ‘I’ in team” is shouted among teams and organizations. Selfishness serves as a monkey wrench in the operation of collective actions. Individual commitment to the team is a necessity to success.

As I reminisce and think back five years ago, I cannot help but come to the realization that the overarching theme for my experience at Miami University surmounts to one thing. Commitment. Not only commitment to the institution and its football program but also and more importantly, commitment to the process of success while paying the price for success.

I understood as an eighteen year old freshman what it meant to be committed to goals/aspirations, the process of success, and the price for success. However, the commitment I was previously responsible to fulfilling was something I had rooted and engrained throughout childhood. In fact, this commitment only added to the childhood dream. College was an entirely different animal. An animal that I knew had to be confronted and dealt with accordingly. For though I made the decision and commitment to Miami University, I did so naïve/ignorant to the process and price that came along with success. I committed to being a student-athlete because that was what I was good at and that was what those around me expected of me.

 I was a collegiate student-athlete at Miami University for six months. During this time, I, like any and all college freshman, evolved in many aspects of life both positively and negatively. At the time my major or field of study was undecided, however, I did find a course or two interesting. Throughout my time at Miami I struggled academically. I continually asked for tutors and or academic coaches, never was I granted one. Nonetheless, I made it through the season and did what was asked.

Athletically, I competed every morning during practice at five a.m. I was privileged enough to travel with the team for away games and sometimes having the chance to play. Additionally, I was voted by teammates to be a member of the Redhawk leadership council, which was a group of guys who met weekly to discuss team issues and come up with solutions to produce positive outcomes for the program. These weekly meetings were the highlight of my week. I had the opportunity to get to know my teammates on a different level. Without the once a week leadership sessions I would not have made it through the season and semester. The lessons I would learn from those meetings I would carry  throughout college and still carry with me today.

I mentioned previously how I evolved while at Miami University academically and athletically, but I did not touch on how I evolved personally. The purpose of the next section is to speak of this subject. And so let us begin…

Academically, I was scratching the surface of becoming a student. Athletically, I was learning the intangibles and sharpening the skills needed to lead a program. However, though both academics and athletics are key subjects in a collegiate student-athletes life, one subject that is often times forgotten is personal development. While at Miami I failed to grow as a person and think about who I was becoming. Never did I tell myself “one day your football career will end and you will have to enter into real life”. Never did I question who I was as a person and what I wanted to become. While I was living the life of a student-athlete, I failed to embrace who I was as an individual. This was the something that was swept under the rug along the process of success. This was the price that I paid for success. Yes, I went out after games, hung out with friends, and tried to “live it up”, but not without second-guessing myself thinking “how could what I am currently doing effect the team and disappoint those who trust me to represent the program? ”.

Coach always told us that we as athletes (football players) have a duty to be great ambassadors for the athletic program and football team. Every action anyone or I committed either on or off the field was a representation of the team NOT JUST YOURSELF. Coach made this very clear by demanding before practices and every game that we “look around, to our left/right/front/behind, and say to our brother I TRUST IN YOU”. As a team leader (leadership council member), quarterback, and varsity player, I had an obligation to the team, both on and off the field. I assumed this duty upon committing to the institution whether knowingly or unknowingly.

            As the semester and season came closer to ending, as did my time at Miami University. And so upon the semester ending I made the decision to leave Oxford, Ohio. I would close a chapter in my life and begin anew. Though I would depart Miami, the lessons I learned while there wouldn’t depart me. Above other lessons, I learned what it meant to be committed and the price that came with it. I would carry this lesson with me to Notre Dame College.

To be continued…

Written by Robert Partridge, follow Robert on twitter

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