As I continue speaking with coaches on the podcast or meeting with them while visiting colleges with my son I come into contact with coaches who are "rebuilding" or working to craft a culture of success. It can not be stressed enough the importance of having everyone within the organization commit to the same goals but we often overlook the difficulty of this task. One often overlooked element of getting everyone to row the boat in the same direction is commitment during the lean times.
I recently spoke with a small town sixman coach who stressed the need to get everyone to buy into the program because he had only 13 males in the school. Playing a season with seven or eight athletes the previous seasons had stripped the program of the depth needed to compete successfully. Coach was able to get all 13 players involved in the program through activities which nurtured family and more importantly commitment to being a member of the family. Through his program of Forget About Me, I Love You he drove this point home.
Today, I met Coach Wagner at Briar Cliff in Iowa who in his third season helped to guide the team to their first winning season ever after 15 years of having a football program. He was very clear that the turning point the first season was instilling a culture of commitment which exceeded previous expectations. It meant a significant reduction in his scholarship players the first year because of an inability to commit to the program's new direction. This led to the first two seasons with only one win. However, last season the school went 6-5 and was 18 points away from being 9-2.
It would be easy for players to dwell on the losses of the past and to let these losses define their future. In Proverbs 17:17 it is written, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Solomon teaches the path to success is born through love of your brother and commitment to him through adversity. If you want to build a winning program you need to be willing to go the extra mile and that means there will be suffering. It means holding you and your brother accountable be it more time in the weight room, film room, or classroom and it never stops if you want to stay on top.
Both of these coaches have been a part of winning teams and programs. Both of them know what it takes to be successful and how both winning and losing can become common place. They find themselves teaching the principles of commitment through adversity and how love of others and teamwork is a cornerstone to the foundation. I am certain they experience greater success and this lesson will serve their players well throughout their lives.