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Those words greeted me when my son signed up for a youth football team in Strongsville, Ohio back in the early 80’s.  My son loved sports and I had coached some of his teams before so when the organizers of the league asked me to coach, I agreed. I was happy this father of one of the boys alerted me that we would not only have Brian but his son and two other boys from the championship team of the year before.  He even told me how they would be glad to help me call the plays and even knew at sign up which boys should be playing at each position.  When I told him that my philosophy for kids this age (10 and 11 year olds) would include having all the kids play all of the positions so they could appreciate what it takes to make a team, the idea was not met with very much appreciation.  He quickly stomped off to find some other fathers who were also outraged at my idea before they even considered its merit. 

As the season got started, I could see in practice that the fathers were right about one thing.  Brian was a special athlete and clearly could have carried our team. But I explained on the first day that it was important at this age to learn about playing all the positions because a team cannot be successful unless each player and each position is honored for what they do.  Brian’s father was an interesting and distant bystander thru all of this.  He never came to watch us practice and he always found a faraway spot to watch all of our games.  We won our first three games with Brian playing different skill positions and all of the rest of the team rotating as well.  Then came the fourth game when Brian was scheduled to be a lineman and blocker. Kids and parents told me that Brian was thinking of skipping the game to teach me a lesson.  But he didn’t and even though he was a lousy lineman and had never blocked for anyone before, he played hard that day.  We lost in a close game and risked losing the championship because of this coach’s idea to play all of our players at ALL of the positions at least once.

As we walked off of the field that day, the normally distant figure of Brian’s father, Marty ran up to me and wanted to tell me something. I was prepared for a tongue lashing for having lost the game. Rather, he thanked me for a great game and for following up on my game plans to teach the kids the importance of all the players and positions on a football team. The father actually was Marty Schottenheimer (he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns at that time), and Brian his son, is the current Offensive Co-coordinator of the New York Jets. Brian had a distinguished college career at Kansas and the University of Florida. Marty’s own words to me were, “My son learned more about what it takes to make a football team today than all the trophies he has ever won!” It appears that the crazy coach's idea didn't destroy Brian's future.  Whether it is sports, the church, or any group of people, knowing the importance and value of each member of society is God’s way of teaching us to respect and honor all of the people that He places in our lives. 

John 15:5-6 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Monday Morning Message Sent 1/18/10


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