Here is the transcript I worked from when I spoke to the Coastal Carolina Men's Football Team a few weeks back.
Well, as I thought about all of the different things I could get up here and share, a few ideas came to mind. For starters, you don’t play until 1:30 tomorrow. So having me coming in to fire you up would be kinda dumb; to give an inspirational speech that makes you want to run through a wall, when the reality is you have to go to bed soon.
So I am not going to do that.
I thought about standing up here and delivering all of these football analogies. Talking about how in life sometimes you have to hit someone, or real men go for it on fourth down. But as I thought about that, the ideas were all really cheesy and there was an even bigger problem – I’ve never played a down of organized football in my life.
So I am not going to do that, either.
Finally, I thought I could sit up here and lament with you guys about a less than ideal season thus far. Talk about teams that I have been on that haven’t gotten the results we wanted; bad breaks we suffered, or calls we never got. But this isn’t meant to be a pity party, so that went out the window.
Instead I thought we might take a look at the reality you are facing. That though things haven’t been ideal; maybe not the way you had originally planned them, you still face a task at hand. And in order to approach it appropriately you need to know what that task is, what’s expected of you, and how to move forward accordingly.
The question then becomes how are you going to respond? How are you going to deal with what has been put in front of you.
Now, if we are to deal with this task, we need to know exactly what it is and whom we are doing it with.
FIRST of all, though it has become clichéd in athletic circles I honestly believe it is the job of a team to become the best team by the end of the season that it possibly can be. And in this, it is up to you whether or not that happens. Now, regardless of what has or what will happen this team has a unique opportunity that no Coastal team has had before and no Coastal team will ever have again. The men that comprise your 2010 roster will never again be recreated. Sure, the majority of guys may come back. A high percentage of starters might return from year to year. But this specific squad will only exist for one year. Seniors will leave and new freshmen will join. Certain things might get re created but you only exist in whole for one season.
Additionally, you love to play football. I know you do. You may be frustrated with results, playing time, teammates, or anything else, but there is something about this game that you fell in love with. Have you seen the movie The Rookie? It’s a baseball movie, but I think there is an incredibly cool picture painted in it. As things aren’t going well for Jimmy Morris in Triple A Durham he makes a phone call to his wife to tell her he is coming home. Soon after he walks to a nearby little league field and takes in a game from beyond the fence. He sees kids laughing and playing, enjoying the game. The camera pans back to him and we see him smile before the scene cuts out. The next day we see Jimmy Morris approach his teammate and ask, “You know what we get to do, Brooks? We get to play baseball.” See, that was it for him! He LOVED to play the game. There are countless other movies and stories like it. When THIS is over, there is no going back. Forgive me for being the old “I”m telling ya…” guy in the room, but believe it! Ask your seniors? Where’d the time go, guys? Tomorrow, you have the opportunity to go out and play the game you love. And you get to do it alongside your teammates, your roommates, and your best friends. You get to represent your school, your coach, your families, and yourselves. I cannot myself think of anything better than that.
SECONDLY, if we are going to deal with the task at hand, we have to know what is expected. Now…I cannot answer that for you, but I do know this. Back in August, and probably back in December last year, you each made a commitment to Coastal Football for the 2010 season.
Whether it was committing to play here, showing up to off-season meetings, or checking into camp this summer, you all made an initial and continuing commitment.
I understand those commitments may be what I like to call “Coffee Conversations.” Do you know what I’m talking about? Things that sound great in theory; over a cup of coffee on a nice afternoon. For me anyway, I love to talk about how I am going to work hard, or how great things are going to be when I am sitting on my ass. That’s easy. Anyone can sit there and dream of how things are going to be.
But it takes a man, one who is in the arena, who has been knocked down and kicked in the teeth, to continue striving after the task. That shows commitment.
In front of you is a choice. I have seen your results. There have been some pretty tough losses. Are you a team, are you an individual who is going to cash in his chips, or put them all in?
But let me tell you, this decision extends well beyond your football team. Too often in life, the realities don’t exactly line up with the dream. How do I know? On the outside, I’m a pro soccer player who walked in with a cute girl and seem to have it together, right? The reality? I get paid almost nothing, live paycheck to paycheck, am simply friends with this great woman, and have no real idea what life looks like for me after soccer.
But that’s life. Hopefully most of you will be married some day, with a family. At some point no matter how good you are you will probably be in a different job. And I can promise you at some point or another all of those are going to suck. I promise. Your wife won’t look hot, your kids will annoy you and your boss will be an idiot. Trust me, it will happen.
Then what? Do you walk out? Do you quit your job? Your wife? Your kids?
And I know what you are thinking. But Ryan, that is life. This is just football. And I tell you what, how you act now is exactly how you will act then. Are you a man who is going to run away from the problems, or towards them looking to get things fixed? In front of you is a perfect opportunity that you are a man, a group of men that exemplify the latter.
AND FINALLY, if we know what the task is, who it’s with, and how committed we are to it, the final question becomes, how then do we go about completing it?
Now, you can say whatever you want to about this book. You can say it’s inspired. You can say it’s dumb. You can say anything in between. But I will tell you this, there is some good stuff in here. Whether or not you view it as a religious book doesn’t matter. There is wisdom in here.
I want to read you a section from Philippians. Maybe you have heard it before. Now, to give a bit of context, the speaker Paul has basically started a new job. He has all of these old credentials that one might be worried about. Things that might keep him from occupying his position in this new vocation. But his response is amazing. He says in Chapter 3, starting in verse 13: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…”
I don’t believer there was football in Phillippi, but if there was, what a pre game speech Paul has just given!
Look at what he says! He addresses the group as brothers! Now, if he sees them as brothers he must understand that they are in this together; not unlike the group of men sitting in this room. He knows it must be done together.
Next he admits that he doesn’t have it all together. He hasn’t accomplished everything that there is to accomplish. No one in here would make that claim either; I hope.
He goes on…Forgetting that is behind…
There it is. How do you continue to deal with the task at hand? In complete and total freedom.
There is a straining that is necessary, but Paul is very clear. Forget what is behind. Press on to what is next.
The men in this room have the opportunity to press on. To, in complete and total freedom, forget about what has, or hasn’t been and to, as one team, press forward together toward the goal, towards the prize.
And I for one, completely and totally believe it is possible. Now, it’s up to you guys.