Today I had the privilege of giving a pre-game talk on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) to the Charleston Southern University football team which was in town to play Stony Brook University. I spoke on the “7 Keeps to Success.” I was told by several of the coaches that my talk was really timely for the team. One of the coaches said he had taken notes and was going to steal my talk. lol
Being my first time in this setting, it was very interesting to see the team’s preparation mode on game day. My FCA friend Steve said that I would see their focus, but I had no idea it would be like it was. I was expecting to find a team having meetings and getting themselves pumped up. What I found instead was a very quiet group of about 100 men. Here are 5 things I observed:
- Intense Focus. There was no talking except for a few minutes when the assistant coaches were meeting with their respective teams around the tables. And even then the talking was never above a whisper. Some guys had iPods on, but other than that each person was simply sitting and apparently concentrating on and envisioning their job for the day.
- Tremendous Attention to Detail. Each group was talking through their different plays for the day, and there was no question that everyone understood exactly what was expected of them. I was sitting next to the head coach who was going over his plays for the day. At one point he whispered across the table to one of his coaches to make sure that the code word for a certain play was the right word. They were leaving nothing to chance.
- Order. Prior to my visit I was given a copy of the team’s schedule from Friday through Monday. It looked like an agenda from a youth retreat. Everything minute was accounted for and filled with a purpose. Being in the room with these guys on game day was like being in a military setting. Roll call was taken, each player standing when told to stand and sitting when told to sit. There was no talking; there were no questions asked. When it was time to eat, the only thing that was heard was: “Seniors,” “Juniors,” “Sophomores,” “Freshmen.” “Coaches & Staff.” It was quite a well oiled machine. They ran a tight ship.
- Leadership is an Honor. After roll call, one of the assistant coaches informed one of the players that he was the team captain for the day. He said that this player had earned the right to speak to his teammates as a leader. If he saw something he didn’t like, he had the right, privilege, and responsibility to speak to them.
- Servant Leadership. Finally, I noticed that while the players were eating, the coaches were running back and forth coordinating things with the caterers, serving drinks to the players, and making sure they had everything they needed. They made sure their players were taken care of before they even thought about sitting down to eat themselves.
It was a great experience, and I was glad I got to take one of my students, Tory, with me to share it. We had a good time together! I hope I have further opportunities along this line. The team also gave me tickets to the game, so I was able to take my family and Tory to the game. They lost by one point with just one minute remaining in the game. Bummer! Well, I guess my motivational talk got them within one point of victory. Not bad for my first try. Next time I ought to be able to motivate them to victory. Ha Ha!