Recently, I was a member of a TV audience on a program that dealt with solving some of the problems in our society today. The open forum featured extraordinary football coaches D. W. Rutledge and Dennis Parker. A third participant was Dallas Police Chief Ben Click, and the fourth was a former minister/educator Rev. Russell White.
From the coaches, we learned that they do not coach football — they coach boys, and teach them how to play football. Coach Parker stated that he had never had a former player say to him, "Thank you, Coach, for teaching me how to throw the football," but he's had many come back and say, "The story you told about ..." or "The lesson you taught on ..." had a significant impact on my life, and I just wanted to say thank you."
Coach Rutledge emphasized that you've got to show the players that you're interested in them as individuals, that you genuinely care about what they do with their lives and their education. The objective of both coaches is not just to win games, but to make the young men successful in their lives.
When Coach Parker took over as head coach in Marshall, Texas, the football team had not been in the playoffs since 1949. His first three years were rebuilding ones, and the team was 11-19. His last four years, they were 45-3 and 14-1 in the playoffs, and were state champions in 1990.
In 1984, Coach Rutledge took over a team that was the "doormat" in 5A football. In 1988, they were state champions, and since 1990, they have been state champions three times and finished second three times. His overall record, including the slow start, is 184-23-5. Apparently, their system works.
Russ White was being recognized for his accomplishments in the Eagle Club from the state of New Jersey, where he did some extraordinary things, working with youngsters in the inner city. He starts with them at age 11, and by age 15, they are confidently flying airplanes. He points out that the first thing he does is require that they get a haircut that is businesslike and shows personal respect for self. He requires them to say "please," "thank you," "yes, Sir," "no, Sir," "yes, Ma'am' and "no, Ma'am." He puts his arms of love around them and makes it clear that he is interested in making adults out of them, not rebellious kids. He believes with all his heart that he can take these underprivileged kids and make winners and champions out of them.
Chief Ben Click is a throwback to the old days of law enforcement. He's been a policeman for 35 years, and has seen some disturbing changes take place in our society. He says we cannot pass enough laws or hire enough police people to make an impact on the crime situation. We must work with parents and the community; we must teach our young people that we genuinely love them and that they must accept their responsibilities. He spoke with love and passion about his commitment to law enforcement, which really is a commitment to protect the rights of the citizens involved and to give our youngsters a chance to grow up in safety and have successful lives.
One outstanding young man named Brandon spoke of what he learned in scouting and how it had been helpful to him. I shared that Judge Elvin Brown from Norman, Okla., a 20-year veteran of the judicial bench, said he had never had a juvenile in front of him who had spent a year or more in scouting.
One astute observation was about the farmer who, when told by a neighbor that he didn't have to work his boys so hard to raise crops, responded that he wasn't raising crops, he was raising boys. Yes, loving discipline, showing that you care, and giving hope were the underlying themes of the entire program. Apply what that panel said, and I will see you over the top!
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