I’m busy preparing for my talk tomorrow “Talent Code to Beast Mode”. If you can make it out to the talk, I’d love to see you. However I didn’t want to skip the day. So here is a section from my book.
There are things that carry us much farther than they ever should. Our best self often springs out of something that we take as our own even though it never really belonged to us. This is the story that has been the most influential on my playing and coaching career.
My father played for St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. St. Benedict’s is a virtual factory of soccer talent in NJ. Several USMNT players went there. Only my father didn’t play soccer, he played football. His was one of the last classes that played football before the school closed briefly and switched over to soccer.
My father is essentially blind without his glasses. In the late 1960’s, he didn’t have the money for special goggles or contact lenses to wear while playing football. So as a middle linebacker, he basically chased blobs that wore the other teams colors. Despite his vision, he was a pretty effective defender. In the last game of the season, his team was holding onto a slim lead in the fourth quarter. My father’s assignment was to go in on a blitz. He was just about to hit the quarterback when a screen pass was looped over his head to the running back. My father turned and raced after the running back for nearly sixty yards. He came close to catching him, but the running back crossed the goal line first. My father was completely dejected because he had lost the game for his team.
A few weeks later at the football banquet, they were showing film from the season. That play came up on the screen and it played out exactly as my father remembered it. He got beat by a screen pass. The running back was able to outrun him to the goal line. However, with his glasses on, he now could see the one thing that he missed during the game. He passed by at least four of his teammates who were in a better position to stop the runner, but they gave up before he did.
That story has colored my career as a player and a coach. As a player, I have caught many players that I shouldn’t have just because I refused to give up when it looked hopeless. As a coach, I look to instill that same dedication and effort in all of my players because giving of yourself to a worthy cause is always worth it.