30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Friday, November 30, 2012

We're Talkin Bout Practice

In not coaching this season, one thing I wanted to do was attend high school practices.  I have attended college practices at UK, IU, Xavier and other colleges, but I wanted to see what my competitors were doing in practice.  You can watch a college practice (I like them better than coaching clinics), but you still have to adjust to your players.  You don't coach in college with players who you recruited, so I wanted to see if what I have always done was way off, on spot, or just wrong.  I want to thank those coaches who have allowed me access so far and there have been quite a few, so many that if I mentioned them all, it would take up most of the column.  But they have been open to me, a former coach, in coming in and watching what they do and I truly appreciate that.

Some things that I have noticed with these coaches and their importance has been reinforced by my attendance are as follows:  Teams will do what you allow.  Meaning, if you allow them to take bad shots, talk back, have bad attitudes, they will.  Coaches have to control what they will allow or let slide and every single one I have seen has done a great job with the discipline of their team.

Teams will take serious what the coach takes serious.  I can remember my first year as boys' basketball coach at Henryville, I asked my former Coach Dennis Holt how I could get my team to be better on defense.  We did all the drills, but couldn't get better.  He asked how long we worked on defense per practice and then said that teams listen to you talking about defense, but unless you work on it a lot the players won't really believe you.  I have watched recent practices and noticed that teams don't do 50 things per practice, they do 5-10 and make sure their teams are doing what they want done correctly. 

Fundamentals must be worked on until boredom, and then you can't let them go through the motions.  When it comes to footwork, hand positioning, defensive stance, shooting, hitting shots around the basket, ball handling, passing, etc, the fundamentals have to be burned into their brains.  The best way to do that is constantly correct and ask the players what they have done wrong or right. 

The more intense the coach, the more disciplined the team.  So far in the 8 or 9 teams I have watched practice, I notice that the coaches energy level definitely has an influence on the energy level of the players.  One thing I have spoken about in clinics around the world is that as a coach, I could never have a day off.  If I did, you could watch the intensity/energy level of the team go down proportionately.  Plus, I always felt that if you were passionate about basketball practice, it would carry over to the players in their passion and commitment.

Some times I allowed people to come in and watch our practices at Henryville, and often they would leave with a different perspective on our team than from just watching games.  So many people have no idea what actually goes on at practice because they are closed to the general public to accomplish anything in your limited time.  I think it is important that when you are at a game and you want to critisize a coach, we need to understand that we aren't at practice, we don't know what is trying to be done many times, we don't know who has missed practice, and we don't often realize how much time a coach spends with your child at practice.  That time at practice is shaping and forming your child in a positive way while their own children are at home waiting for them to come home.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just a Dad

Hopefully, a rather informed Dad, but I am thoroughly enjoying watching my children play basketball and attending games for fun without all of the stress. I am sure I am not finished coaching, but it is nice to be able to spend time with the family and be "Dad". Pretty funny, though, I feel like I am home too much now which can never be, I don't think.

There are certain things that are frustrating about not coaching, but for the most part, I am glad I did what I did.  I look forward to being someone who can come and go as I please at 2:50 and attending high school practices visiting friends which I have done a lot already.

Maybe we will have a Miss Basketball in 2023 or a Mr. Basketball in 2027, but it will be up to them. It will be up to them to be really good, to their potential, or if they decide to do something else.
Who knows where the future will take me and my family, but I know that they are on my side and the most important team that I coach is the one that lives in my home.

Coach Crean, feel free to start recruting the now 4 year old, the same kid at 2 years of age could dribble two basketballs at once.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Father/Son Time

(with Coach Kelly Combs)
Friday night, my wife, kids, and I journeyed to Spalding University in Louisville, KY to watch them take on Asbury College in a men's basketball game.  Athletes in Action head coach, Kelly Combs, who I went to Indonesia with this summer, texted me and told me about the game.  His son, Kyle, also went on the tour with us and I wanted very much to visit with Coach.  My daughter is not a bad little basketball player, but could care less to watch it right now, so my son sat and we watched the game while my daughter did other things, mostly bugging my wife.  Such is life, I guess.

(at Loogootee)
Saturday morning, however, it was boys' night (or day) out.  We traveled to Loogootee, IN and historic Jack Butcher Arena to watch them take on Attica and to watch Rock Creek play Irvington Prep in Loogootee's annual Tip-Off tourney.  If you have never been to Loogootee's gym, you have to watch a game there.  The gym is set up for games, of course, but it is also a museum for Loogootee athletics.  Many schools have done great jobs in recognizing the past, but Loogootee is the best, in my opinion.

After watching those two games, Brandon and I headed to Terre Haute.  It was on the way to Riverton Parke where we watched a couple of friends coach for Cloverdale High School.  In Terre Haute, after a nice long nap by my son, we ate at Pizza Hut because he "likes the breadsticks" and then we headed north.
(4 year old looking over the Rady coaches)
My friends at Cloverdale are Pat Rady, Sr. and Pat Rady, Jr. Pat Jr. and I became friends when he was coaching boys' basketball at Southwestern (Hanover).  His dad who is a very good coach and greater man coached at Terre Haute South for many years coaching guys like Steve Hart and Brian Evans.  He is now the head coach at Cloverdale and his son is his junior varsity coach.  It was nice to catch up with them and to have my son watch, with the victory Cloverdale got the other night, the 3rd all time winningest coach in Indiana high school basketball history.  Pat Sr. has over 700 wins, do you realize how long it takes to get that many wins? 

By the time we winded back through southwestern Indiana Saturday night, my son was fast asleep.  He had been a great kid that day loving to watch all the basketball.  The travel didn't bother him either and he didn't want to sleep because he wanted to play basketball when we got home.  When we arrived home, as I carried him up the stairs to his room, he woke up and went into his mother's arms.  I went to his room to cover him up and he hugged me thanking me for the day.  As I prepared for bed, I reflected on how many more days I will have like this with him.  As I have learned, this life can be taken away at any moment, but more than likely it will be because he grows up, out (not if I can help it!) 

FCA for November 27, 2012

Today we spoke about many of the same things that we talk about that as Christians, we are called to love God and love people.  Senior athlete Tyler gave his testimony and used Psalm 139.

1You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Tyler shared his feelings about what drew him, finally, to Christ and then sang David Crowder's song Oh, How He Loves Us.

Monday, November 26, 2012


The beginning of basketball season usually coincides with rival games.  I have been to many rival basketball games including the Silver Creek vs. Henryville games, New Washington vs. Charlestown, Jeffersonville vs. New Albany, Southwestern (Hanover) vs. Madison, Austin vs. Scottsburg, Orleans vs. Paoli, and Eastern (Pekin) vs. Borden.  These are all games that when you mention "rival" most people from those areas mention the other school as one of their rivals if not the main rival on the basketball court.

What makes a rival?  Is it a 50/50 win vs. loss percentage?  Not really, many games including the Barr-Reeve vs. Loogootee game has a lopsided side winning more than the other (Barr-Reeve is one of the better 1A teams around and Loogootee has a decided advantage in wins over them, of course, Loogootee is also one of the better 1A teams in southern Indiana).

What makes a rival?  Is it the close proximity of the towns?  Probably.  Towns that are no further than 15 miles apart, and really the closer it seems, the more bitter the rivalry.  What causes that?  Town pride?  Pride in the basketball team?  Insecurity complex in one town vs. superiorty complex in another?  I read one time on one of those chain e-mails that living in a small town is when you think the town ten miles away is either poor and unintelligent or rich and snobby and really they are more like you than you believe.

Makes sense to me.  I have lived in/coached at New Washington when we played Charlestown; I have lived in/coached at Henryville when we played Silver Creek; I have lived in/coached at Borden when we played Eastern (Pekin) and many of the same thoughts, beliefs, and menality existed in all situations.  I have lived in Sellersburg and hear the things said about Henryville (both good and bad), I coached at Eastern when we played Borden and also heard similar things.  I have been on both sides of many rivalries either being with the team that often gets beaten and on the side that often wins.

It is interesting to me when towns, schools, teams have inferiority or superiorty complexes, I mean, we really are pretty similar in southern Indiana.  Yes, you will have some differences when a New Albany plays a Floyd Central ("city" vs. suburbs), but even there most of the people involved are similar to each other.

I don't know why I am writing this other than writing out some thoughts.  Because the hatred that spews back and forth during these games, both online and and live, is ridiculous.  However, there is a fine line because it is that anymosity that makes these types of games so fun to watch.  It is that anymosity that creates the energy that is well worth the price of admission.  But it is that anymosity that creates ugly scenarios that no one is proud of, no matter which side you are supporting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FCA for 11/20/2012

This morning, Cody came in and shared his testimony.  He spoke about how bad things happened to him when he was younger and it made him angry and question his faith.  Then when confronted with situations that he perceived worse than his, he understood that he was blessed.

He used Jeremiah 29:11: " For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." and Proverbs 2:5-6: "then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."
What Cody explained from both scriptures is that he cannot begin to understand God's ways in all things, but that he gets his understanding from God, not about God. 

Students continue to share their lives both good and bad.  You cannot help but think that it is drawing them nearer to each other as well as strengthening their faith.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rise by Shawn McDonald

Halftime Entertainment

(when youthful exuberance goes too far)
Is there anything more pure than the little kids who "play" at halftime at varsity basketball games?  Let's get past the whole "trying to make more money by getting people who rarely come" thing.  You are trying to generate a little money for the Athletic Department, but you are also trying to get younger players who may never come to a varsity game exposed to the environment.  Yes, the players get in free (usually the players are from a camp or youth team), but all family members must pay to get into the game.  Great idea on both sides.

Anyway, is there anything more pure?  I recently watched detached as little girls played at halftime of the Silver Creek and Henryville girls' game and then watch my daughter, Madison, get to do it for the first time four days later and it was nice.  I have done it as a coach and experienced it before in the stands, but there is something innocent about it.  The kids are running up and down for the pure joy of playing basketball.  They aren't trying to impress their friends, their boyfriends or girlfriends, their parents, college scouts, coaches, they are just playing the game.  Even the crowd has zero agenda when it comes to playing time or shots taken.  All family members are just so happy that their child is running up and down the court in front of others being a kid.

And what about when a child does make a shot?  Usually, after many throws, launches, or hopefully shots, one gets through the basket.  I remember that euphoric rush from a gym full of people cheering for you and the slow motion that ensues for a few seconds.  For the first time in your young life, you are getting applause for doing something from lots of people, most whom you don't even know.  It is funny to watch that child stop, look around, smile and sprint to the other end of the floor; talk about motivation to play defense!

When the horn goes off everyone cheers from both sides of the gym.  The youngsters have earned the respect of both schools and as they head to their loved ones, do you think their feet are touching the ground?  Probably, but much lighter, I am sure.  And what do the parents/loved ones do when they get to them?  They smile, kiss, and hug them.  There is no disappointment from mom and dad because they "lost", that they didn't play good defense, that they didn't score enough, that the coach was a moron, that they could have done better and should have.  There will be no game tape to go over by the parents, there will be no replaying the game at home over and over, but there will be ice cream, or stories told to others about playing in the big time the other night or better yet, how they scored on their "defender".

Did I say pure?  It depends on your definition of "pure", I guess.  If "pure" means something different to you, what I just described may be the complete opposite of pure; and how unfortunate that is.

Friday, November 16, 2012

View from the Bleachers

As the boys' basketball season is to begin next week, I have noticed some different things about how I feel.  I have been able to attend many practices all ready, but do not feel the need to help. I had grown weary of practice the last two seasons, and I don't miss it.  Games might be a different matter.  That is where the competition is and I still appreciate the joy of victory, just not caring so much for the agony of defeat.

I am getting excited for the season to begin.  Excited to see the team I coached for the last 7 years to begin their season without me at the helm.  Excited to watch other games that I haven't been able to do for many years.  Exicted to call some games for WBIS and to continue writing my weekly column.  Excited to be asked for help and advice by coaches as I have nothing but the best intentions for their successes. Finally, excited to spend so much more time with my wife and kids.

I pray that I continue to be positive in all circumstances this winter, but it could be hard at times.  If you want to complain about a coach, stay away from me, I am a coaches advocate and you just might end up in my next article.  Good luck to all teams as the girls season keeps going and the boys get started, I cannot wait to watch more practices this winter of so many coaches who I respect. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stuff Christians Like

Want to change the world in 3.2 seconds?  Love reading this website by Jon Acuff and really liked this article on his blog.  It really is that easy most times.  You may never see the results of your reaching out, but it isn't about me...or you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FCA for November 13, 2012

Twenty-five students attended this morning to listen to Kati give her testimony.  Kati is adopted and has had 17 or more brothers and sisters at any given time.  She shared a rough childhood that was changed due to her adoptive parents and her faith in God.

She chose 2 Kings 8-21.  She explained how this scripture spoke to her that you do not have to be like your parents.  You can choose the good parts and not choose the bad parts of your parents. You can choose to be different and the best way to do so is to turn to Christ. 

Finally, she spoke about when she no longer was ashamed to speak about her faith.  God did wait for her.

Monday, November 12, 2012


This winter, Nick Ray and I will be doing play by play for WBIS-TV.  You can go to their website and check out which games that he, I, or both will be doing.  The "H" next to a game is one that I will be covering.  I will be watching teams from Barr Reeve to Loogootee to Borden to Clarksville as well as many other really good teams that are well coached.
I cannot wait to be a part of this and to offer my so called expertise with the games we will cover.  Hopefully, my experience and the relationships I have formed with so many coaches will help me do a sufficient job for those involved.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Character Counts

Recently, I spoke with IU and Southern Indiana FCA rep Dave Hudson about giving "Character" awards to basketball players in different basketball tournaments throughout the state.  His idea was to recognize student-athletes who were displaying good character on a daily basis.  Our Henryville varsity girls finished their tip-off tournament last Saturday and since the idea was devised too later for that tournament, the FCA chapter at Henryville decided to recognize the girls this season.

Henryville FCA recognized one girl from each team this year and maybe giving one award only starting next season.  In doing so next season, forms would be filled out and then sent to the state headquarters of FCA and they would pick the one person per tournament.  The character award is recognition for exhibiting the FCA Core Values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence in their school, community and within the team.  What we plan to begin this season and build on is for Southern Indiana FCA to be involved with in as many tournaments as possible.

We often see athletes being rewarded on the court, yet aren't doing what they should be doing off the court.  It was rewarding as we researched these student-athletes to know there are some great kids out there in our communities.

At the Henryville Varsity Girls' Tip-off tournament, the girls that received the awards were:

Ashley Isenhower from Crothersville High School
Abigail Hurtgen from Clarksville High School
Hannah Elkins from Medora High School
Nichole Tucker from Providence High School

Sarah Gutman from Oldenburg Academy High School
Jasmine Harrell from Henryville High School
Elizabeth Wilson from Irvington Prep High School (not pictured)

Friday, November 9, 2012

"I Have to Have This..."

My children say this often, to be honest, I think I probably say it often, too.  How often do we think we have to have something?  How often do we say we are "starving"?  How often do you feel victimized? 

It is really quite ridiculous.  The United States is the 1% when it comes to the world population and we so often take it for granted.  Perspective....perspective.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mosquera-Perea, Jurkin, and the NCAA

(IU freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea)

Being in a position of leadership is not easy.  I tend to try to back off from being overly critical of anyone who has to make decisions that affect large groups of people, it can't be easy and you will never make everyone happy, I get that.  The IHSAA and the NCAA have done some things during my lifetime that are questionable, to say the least, but I have remained relatively quiet....until now. 
Indiana University men's basketball program was decimated during the Kelvin Sampson era due to illegal phone calls.  Meanwhile other programs were and are doing much worse.  I know of stories from pretty reliable sources but have no actual proof that most big time college coaches during this time had "throw away" phones in case the NCAA came snooping around.  Also, you know those Master Card cash cards?  They apparently are given out like candy at some universities.  A booster buys a bunch, gives them to someone who gives them to someone who gives them to athletes.  Should athletes be paid?  That's another article for another time. (Oh, by the way, you can now make as many phone calls and text message as you want to recruits.  The rule that almost killed IU basketball is now legal.)
But what has happened to Hanner Mosquera-Perea  and Peter Jurkin, two basketball players for the IU men's basketball team is absurd, ridiculous and any other term that shows complete ignorance on behalf of the NCAA ruling committee.
What happened?  Some of you may be asking. The NCAA ruled that Indiana freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will be suspended for the first nine games of this season and forced to pay money to charity. Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin did nothing wrong in this situation. They came to the United States from foreign countries with the A-HOPE Foundation for a better future with basketball.  (A-Hope has provided players for many programs in the U.S., not just IU) They did receive benefits from A-Hope and its founder, Mark Adams because they had nothing when they arrived to this country.
However, the NCAA had no issue with benefits Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin received. The problem was that Adams, who also served as Mosquera-Perea’s guardian, was considered an Indiana booster when he provided benefits. Adams was considered a booster because he donated $185 over a seven-year span from 1986-1992. That money came in the form of checks written by Adams’ ex-wife for bumper stickers, in the amount of $20-$30 per year. All of this done before these two players were even born!  That $185 over seven years is costing two players a total of 18 games and around $1,500.
Adams met with the IU compliance department, their legal department and had a recorded conference call with the NCAA.  He wanted to know exactly what a non-profit organization could do to make sure that nothing wrong was done.  The NCAA response was that they didn't know and could not answer the question.  Adams volunteered to drive to Indianapolis at any time, he provided bank records to prove that nothing was done backhanded or under the table.
This is not right to these two kids.  I wouldn't care what university they played for, this is wrong.  The NCAA is working hard to deal with the integrity of the institution of college athletics right now...?  Really?  This is at the top of their list?  Universities and the NCAA itself is making MILLIONS off college athletes and then has the nerve to do this to two kids who are trying to improve their futures.  Integrity?  When it comes to the common sense of integrity the NCAA needs to look in the mirror first.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

FCA for November 6, 2012

Today senior athlete Sydney gave her testimony and finished with a song in front of 33 attendees at our 7 AM meeting.  Her scriptures were John 15: 18-19 and 1 Peter 4:10-11.  John 15:18-19 states 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."  Using that scripture, she explained the changing landscape of her friendships due to her faith.

Also, she chose 1 Peter 4:10-11 10" Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen".  She used this to explain her love for singing and how she wants to use that ability to serve God.

After last weeks Kate testifying, and Sydney today who also sang Yours Forever by Dara MacLean.  After FCA, yet another student came up and wants to share her testimony next week.  Encouraging and uplifting times for Henryville FCA right now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Charlie Strong vs. Joker Phillips

Just a few years ago, these two African-American coaches were ushered into the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky as their new football coaches.  Much was placed on their race, their friendship, and their possible abilities to turn their programs around.  From my understanding, both are very good men and good coaches.  Since that ushering in, their paths have taken different routes.

Strong's Cardinals are 9-0 with talks of a big time bowl and Phillip's teams have struggled, none more so than this season at 1-9 and ultimately with his firing this past weekend by UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart.  It is amazing how two similar trajectories can suddenly take different tracks as the future plays out.  Strong's Cardinals have won many close games this season where one or two plays could make their record much different than it is now.  Phillip's has had to deal with multiple injuries to his team forcing him to play a much younger team this season than what he wanted.

Really, with a couple of breaks either way this could be playing out the complete opposite than it is now.  If you are a sports fan, you can't help but feel good for Strong and bad for Phillips.  Both are good men as I stated before.

Within days of the March 2 tornado that hit Henryville, Strong and many of the Cardinal football players were in Henryville to assist.  They donated "stuff", but they donated something even more important, their time.  Strong has befriended many U of L fans in the area who were seriously injuried and has stayed in contact with them.  What Strong and the football team did will not be forgotten any time soon by many Henryville people, many who are not U of L fans.

Joker Phillips, so far, has handled his firing by UK AD Barnhart with the utmost class.  Has Phillips made mistakes?  Maybe...recruiting, game decisions...maybe.  Has he made mistakes off the field?  Maybe, I am not going to go into his personal life, but who hasn't made mistakes?  Who hasn't made severe mistakes?  But Phillips's comments after his firing are what make him a class act. 

Coach Phillips said in a written statement:
We, as coaches, are measured on results. We didn't get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed. In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we've had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. We've had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.

I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here. Mitch is the best athletic director I've ever been associated with. He's fair and honest and he's "all in" in terms of student-athletes' well-being. Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have. I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead. They are dear friends. Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive. I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward.

I love our players and am proud to be associated with them. I expect them to continue the behavior we have asked of them academically, socially and with football. I'm thankful for the staff's hard work, dedication, and what they have done in coaching and mentoring the players. I'd like to thank my wife and family for all their support and for being behind me 100 percent.

I realize that he has to say these things to keep a good reputation and for further job opportunities, but I do believe him about Mitch Barnhart.  I have heard Barnhart speak before, and he comes off as someone who does try to do the right thing.  I do believe Barnhart when he says this is one of the hardest things he has had to do as UK AD.

So...where do they go from here?  U of L's Strong will finish off a great season and elite programs will come knocking wanting him as their coach.  Phillips is fired and will be looking for a job, period.  How far they have come from that first year when they were so highly touted as new coaches.  They both can use these experiences to help others if they desire to do so which I believe they will do.  What it reinforces to me more than ever is that life is something that happens while you are busy preparing other plans. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

U of L's Peyton Siva is a Role Model

I was just a kid when Charles Barkley's commercial was out for...for...what was he selling again?  Anyway, in that commercial Sir Charles proclaims "I am not a role-model".  According to him role models shouldn't be professional athletes (couldn't agree more) but parents and other people should be, but he was and is a role model.  Even if I agree with in principle, role models should be looked for in the home not outside the home, I disagree that pro and college athletes aren't role models.  They are...they can't avoid it and in that commercial, Barkley wasn't being a good role model because though he proclaimed not to be, he was even in that commercial proclaiming to not be a role model.

All of the preceeding rambling is for what is to follow and I think it is pretty important in today's society that seems to continue to slide off the morality precipice.  There seems to be fewer and fewer pristine role models in the sports world.  I guess pristine is too strong of a word, there are very few positive role models that are showing kids it is "cool" to be a good person and not be horribly selfish.  Maybe there are, but SportsCenter only shows the negatives because, well, that's what society wants to hear and see isn't it?  How many of us have gone to a car race secretly hoping for a wreck?  Or gone to a hockey game and secretly (or not) hoped for a fight?  How many of us watched every detail that went on at Penn State?  How many of us turn the channel when "just the news" or worse, something positive comes on?

There are so many athletes that are positive role models from the Jets' Tim Tebow, to the Thunders' Kevin Durant, to IU's Cody Zeller, to the Colts' Andrew Luck, and finally to U of L's Peyton Siva.  Why aren't those people covered more extensively?  I will give you that Tebow has been covered too much, but is that his fault?  The media needs to cover some of these other people, even people not listed in my own small list.

U of L's Peyton Siva has a remarkable story.  I've heard and read about the story of Siva at 13 when he searched through Seattle streets to find his dad, Peyton Sr. Peyton's dad had not been involved in his son's life, but he felt one night in particular that his father truly needed him.  So he set out to find his dad and set him in a better direction in life.  After years of gang life, drugs, violence and being in and out of jail, Peyton Sr. was ready to commmit suicide when Jr. found Sr.  Siva Jr. promised his father that he would do anything to keep his father safe and Siva Sr. credits his son with saving his life...literally and spiritually.

Siva Jr. has taken that experience and other experiences growing up and using his position as one of the best point guards in the country to encourage his classmates and teammates. I have spoken with U of L's FCA chaplain Chris Morgan a couple of times about Peyton Siva and every time Morgan gives glowing accolades.  He speaks about how Siva is seen on SportsCenter then at FCA and is a regular guy who is a Christ follower and willing to help out his fellow man.

It's guys like Peyton Siva that are positive role models and sometimes we don't know about them because ESPN doesn't inform us of every detail of a player's life.  He is able to use his position to influence, positively, many, many, many people.  He is a guy who goes against what Barkley may have said back in the 1990's and accepts his position to help others, to be a positive influence, to be a role model for not just children, but for 43 year old men who write a weekly article for the News and Tribune.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review

This past winter, co worker John Bradley told me about a book that his brother, Orleans boys' head coach Tom Bradley, had given John's son as a gift.  The book was Lead...for God's Sake.  John told me about the book and I decided to buy it and read it.  I can honestly say that it is one of the best books I have read when it comes to leadership and one I recommend to anyone from coaches to business leaders, to parents, and one I wished I had read 20 years ago.

The book is a parable about a high school coach from Kentucky who is one of the most successful coaches in Kentucky history.  Coach Steve Rocker is falling short of expectations with his currrent team.  It is a team that has returned many players from their Sweet 16 run the previous season and their top player is heading to the University of Kentucky.  From the book jacket: His team has lost the will to win, their love for their teammates, and their passion to play.  Coach Rocker's motivational methods that have always worked before are now failing and he doesn't know why.

Struggling to understand what is happening, Coach seeks the counsel of a successful friend, CEO Grant Steffin, who, while fighting his own battles, offers advice based on his own leadership experiences.  Coach Rocker also stumbles upon some unexpected insight from-of all people-Joe Taylor, the high school custodian.

As Coach's season spirals downward, and as he continues to interact with these two intriguing men, the "why" questions become louder and louder in his head.  Why does he do what he does?  Or for that matter, why does he even exist?  These questions eventually push him to go deeper into his own heart than he ever imagined possible to deremine his purpose not only in leadership, but also in life.

The author Todd Gongwer spent nearly twenty years developing leadership skills.  He has worked at the highest levels in companies ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to public entities.  He has also served as an assistant college basketball coach for over a decade.  He lives in Indiana with his wife and can be contacted personally at  After the March 2 tornado that hit Henryville, Todd personally reached out to me and was an encouragment.  Later, I met him at the Final Four in New Orleans, and we have stayed in contact since.  My only complaint is that Todd is from Indiana, but the coach in the book is from Kentucky...he said he hears that a lot.

This book will resound with just about anyone who reads it, especially if you are reading the sports section right now.  It is a book that has been given to many coaches, who have to wait until their spouses have read it.  It is a "I can't put it down." book that will be read within 3-5 days if the time permits.  It is a book that has a couple of twists at the end that will have you shaking your head, and it is a book I highly recommend so get a copy and read it.  I don't care if you buy or borrow a copy because I make nothing off your purchase, but read it.  I don't think you will be let down.