The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation is run by MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and named after his late great dad, manager and lifelong teacher Cal Ripken Sr. The Foundation aims to help underserved kids through sports. Some of their activities:
- Building multi-sport facilities in communities that need them
- Training police officers in communities coaching skills so that law enforcement and kids can try and come together through sports and achieving shared goals – this aspect of their program is so important in today’s divisive environment.
- Equipping and empowering student athletes through training, workshops and tools
The fundraising lunch in Dallas highlighted the Foundation’s Uncommon Athlete program. Uncommon Athlete is a leadership curriculum for student athletes to help them maximize their potential as people and citizens to ultimately use their influencer to drive change.
The main event of the luncheon was a panel discussion with four of America’s most accomplished NCAA Football coaches. The panel was hosted by Dallas TV and radio personality, Newy Scruggs. The coaches on the panel:
- Charlie Strong, Head Coach at the University of Texas
- Kevin Sumlin, Head Coach at Texas A&M
- David Bailiff, Head Coach Rice University
- Chad Morris, Head Coach at SMU
Big name guys.
The hour long discussion was wildly educational, really funny and most of all, inspirational. Hearing from guys that have dedicated their lives to coaching and molding young athletes made we want to step my game all the way up in the ways I approach leadership and fatherhood.
The coaches blessed us with countless gems during the panel discussion and I wanted to share a few that have stuck with me since listening in on these great guys share their thoughts.
1. Use Time Wisely
One of the moments of comic relief came when Newy asked the coaches what TV shows they watch during their down time. He started with Coach Strong who just shook his head. He could not name one TV show that he watches regularly. It was a a hilarious moment, highlighting how much of a no-nonsense guy Coach Strong is. But as Newy went down the line and asked the other coaches the same question, he got the same answers.
It became a powerful moment. These guys are some of the busiest people in the world and during the season they are fully engaged on their players and winning football games. Anything outside of that is a distraction. It made me think a lot about how I spend my time and what it takes to reach success. Without saying it explicitly, the coaches taught a valuable lesson on not letting outside distractions leak into the process of accomplishing goals.
2. Your Word is Everything
Rice coach David Bailiff talked about a commitment that he honored to running back Luke Turner. Turner was a star Texas high school player who broke his leg his senior year. At that point no other school had offered Turner a D1 scholarship, but Rice stood with their commitment and belief in Turner. Bailiff kept his word to the young man and it changed Turner’s life. Check out Turner’s emotional acknowledgement of Coach Bailiff’s support below:
3. Family First
While the coaches are in charge of the young men on their teams, they are also fathers. A couple things stood out to me in their approach to busy schedules and being fathers. Each of the coaches talked very specifically about not missing their kids games and events. If they had a long night of film and game planning ahead of them, often they would take a break, go to their kids’ games and then go back to the football facility late at night to finish any prep.
SMU coach Chad Morris mentioned that often times the two most influential men in a kid’s life is a coach and a dad. So, when he’s communicating with his kids, he’s got his dad hat firmly on. No post game analysis. That’s what coaches are for. He’s there after games to be dad first.
4. Publicly Reward Hard Work
It was awesome to see the coaches light up when asked about the ability to reward walk-on players with scholarships. Across the board the coaches had such admiration for the young men who walked on to the football team — paying their own way through college — and giving the same, in many cases, more effort than their teammates.
SMU coach, Chad Morris famously captured the emotions of this act when he turned a prank into a public celebration of hard work paying off:
These public acts also build hope for the other walk-on players, showing them what’s possible if they stay focused and work hard.
5. Be Active in the Community
This was the whole spirit of the panel. This was not a paid event for these coaches. They were there to represent their passion for kids and their belief that sports is a great way to build kids into people that can help change the world.
In 2016 it feels like an imperative to reset and refocus on making sure we’re investing in developing active, inclusive and empathetic kids. The coaches’ discussion really reignited that passion in me to get involved locally to create a better world globally.
Big thanks to my friend Kevin Smith, Sports Business professor at TCU for the invite!