I hope everyone reading had a successful and productive weekend. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to have the chance to coach Team Iowa 8th graders and see them manifest their goals of being national champions! Nothing is more rewarding as a father, a big brother, a coach and a trainer than watching the people around you develop the confidence and mental toughness it takes to achieve success. As an athlete, I know how hard finding your mental strength can be sometimes, especially at the young age of 13 years old. At Level Up our program is designed around 3 Pillars to improve every athletes life- Commitment, Ownership and Integrity! Watching our Team Iowa 8th grade boys apply those principles to their football game and life beyond the field is more rewarding than any championship trophy could ever be.
The level of commitment this team displayed was second to none. Already on the short side of the roster (23 8th graders) commitment from our athletes was a huge part of our success. Guys showing up to practice on a consistent basis allowed us to install a wider variety of formations and adjustments that really gave us the advantage over other teams in the game. There were plenty of teams that outmanned us in both numbers and size, but it was the team’s commitment to showing up, listening to the details of their assignments and then executing it 3X’s a week for the last 3 weeks and finishing 4-0 on the weekend. Commitment is the first step towards success.
Now ownership is probably the most important characteristic of all. Taking responsibility, even when we know we did something right but most times it matters most when we do something wrong. Most 13 year olds spend far too much time worrying about things out of their control: how much playing time do I get, what if this guy does something different than what I’m being coached to do, throw me the ball, blaming something or someone else for your own mistakes or own issues. One example in particular, my QB is very hard on himself, as am I. I have high expectations for him because he is a phenomenal athlete and a brilliant mind. At times in the past, throwing a bad ball or a poor exchange may have resulted in a “Coach it wasn’t my fault”. I couldn't be more proud of the extreme ownership he had all weekend. When he didn't do his job, he came to me, told me what he did wrong, took ownership for it and went back out and dominated. Not just once did he make a mistake and respond, he did it multiple times. What we have to take from this lesson is that ownership isn't about being right. It is about recognizing we are doing or did something wrong, get introspective, take responsibility and go back out and execute with great energy and passion! Couldn’t be more proud of his example of ownership. We should all strive to take ownership of our relationships, our habits and our lives.
Last but surely not least is integrity. Maintain who YOU are and who YOU want to be, regardless of the outcomes. We all have a moral compass, and not only do I feel like it’s my duty to withhold strong moral principles for myself but it’s my obligation to these athletes I coach. Winning is great, but at the cost of what? Oftentimes, we allow someone else to have “free rent” in our head and our ego takes over. We no longer do what we do for love and passion and purpose, we begin to do things with ill-will and bad intentions. Team Iowa from our director to our last man on the roster displayed great integrity all tournament long and great sportsmanship. I couldn’t be more proud.
Thank you 8th grade Team Iowa athletes for not only a great tournament, and for allowing me to be your coach, but for embodying these pillars of excellence: Commitment, Ownership and Integrity. There is so much more to life than the game of football. If you continue to remain committed to your craft and yourself, take ownership of what you have and what you don’t yet have, and display the highest level of integrity, you will achieve success for the rest of your lives! Whatever you plan on attacking this week, always strive to reach your full potential and Level Up.