Shaping Lives through Football
By: Stephen Ward
As football season comes to a close for high school athletes across the country, teams will go on to
prepare for next season; but for seniors on the team, the most important game has yet to begin.
On the surface, it may appear that football is just a game or an extracurricular activity; however it
prepares students for life. Coaches are on the field and in the locker room to teach players how to win.
Not just on the gridiron, but in any profession they choose. We want to impart habits that will lead
them to excellence throughout their lives. Most of all, we want to teach them the value of loyalty,
integrity, and teamwork.
Once you know how to work with people, you can accomplish anything. There is no denying the
influence coaches have on the lives of young players. One kind word of encouragement or harsh word
of criticism can have a lifetime effect.
Coaches take instruction beyond the playing field and have the unique opportunity to provide players
with lifetime skills. This is the truly irreplaceable role coaches, as teachers, play in the development of
young players. A good football coach will teach players lessons that go far beyond tackling, throwing,
blocking, and catching. They teach life lessons that include dealing with adversity, developing a strong
work ethic, learning the value of teamwork and character building.
As a coach for 15 years, I tell my players that I want them to be champions in the classroom,
champions in the community, and champions on the football field. Sending someone back as a
contributing member of society is the greatest reward as a football coach. I believe that if you aren’t a
champion in the classroom and in the community, you won’t see the football field in many institutions
(colleges). Being a champion on the field is really only the third part of the equation.
So what will high school senior football players take with them?
Hard work. Football teaches you that if you want to succeed in the game, you have to do things before
practice, during practice, and after practice to be the best you can be.
Teamwork. There’s no better team sport than football, and being part of a team is true to life. I don’t
know anyone who has achieved success by themselves. The ability to work with people and make
them the best they can be comes from lessons in practice and in the game.
Rules. The rules don’t bend in football or in life. You might not like a law, but you live by it. You
might not like a rule, but you play by it – or be penalized.
Life. Many times a player may turn their life around through a coach’s influence. What the players do off the field in life is what is most important.
For all the senior football players across America, always remember the principles of hard work,
dedication, and persistence and you will succeed in life.