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Monday, October 16, 2006

still kicking.......

Still kicking these days......we are in the middle of school and the middle of Football, in the middle of Grandkids and in the middle.....of life. Last week went to two High School football games and spent Saturday as the barbecue King raising money for the Varsity Football Team in Town. Our local team has already qualified for the Regional playoffs which are preliminary rounds in the State Playoff system. This team is good, very talented but undisciplined. A malady of the age and indicative of what must be overcome not only on the football field but also the classroom with High Schoolers today.

Young men and women, mine included, have not lacked for much in this generation. My bride and I just built an gym for our youngest. Took one of bedroom and free weighted the place. Getting four or five high school guys in the house lifting weights is a testosterone experience at level 10.

Even the poorest of the community here in our fair town live well and are resplendent with clothes, cell phones and automobiles. Granted, there remain some who do lack but one cannot make too many assumptions at any level. Not long ago one young man who I believed might be from a less fortunate family came to school with a much nicer automobile than I drive for his 18th birthday present.

Many of these young men and women have been involved with competitive sports, football, baseball, cheerleading, soccer and others since early elementary school. The more affluent have personal coaches, personal trainers and attend expensive camps over breaks and summer. Several young men involved with football whose parents can easily afford it have engaged personal sports counsel whose number one aim is to garnish a scholarship at a reputable institution of learning through their sport of choice. These professionals, for a fee, do all of the leg work and do their best to match needs with skill at one of the major institutions of sport for an athlete who just might be overlooked.

Much of this business is the same as yours....networking and advertisement. Once a player starts to get his name recognized.....blogs, sports internet sites and message boards often can secure a full ride to a University setting. But, if your name does not hit the electronic bricks then alternative routes must be utilized.

At our large and rather sophisticated High School, the Coach of our Varsity has a goal simply to win the state championship and place 20 plus students on a full ride scholarship. He has tapes that he, or his staff, mails to Colleges and Universities every week. He wants to start the advertising tsunami first. At a very small school in Georgia he had 18 full ride scholarship out of his program in one year. Why does he do this work. Well, frankly, if you were a parent who had been going to Pop Warner football games since your boy was five and hoped and prayed that he stayed healthy and believed he could participate first in High School and then had the skill sets for a University career, where would you want your boy to attend High School at the school which has no facilities to help him out or one which proactively believes in touting their talent. Granted in our fair community there are homes in the millions but a lot of these young men are like us who can afford to get a car for their youngster but not hire a professional scholarship magnet. Already, several fine athletes have come our way seeing a program that wants to win and take care of their athletes.

Then, how do you find the balance to encourage these athletes to work hard and become disciplined. When I went to High School, in the late sixties, there were no questions. It was the Coaches way or the highway. Our coaches were punitive. When you made a mistake you paid for it later in practice or the next practice after a game. My vision of what or who Nero or Caligula was came directly from my high school football coach. Going off sides or a downfield block after the play was over would have been terminally unacceptable. The behavior very close to spitting in the coaches face during a practice. You just didn't do it.....ever! Or even think about it. I still shudder thinking about a hundred up downs and having to run after practice for going off-sides during a scrimmage game. The coach standing over me and watching me run around the practice field five times. I concentrated after that and was rarely ever penalized. Mental acuity, yet I am told even marine drill sergeants are much more friendlier these days. A "New generation".......has come our way.

I see the same lack of ability to handle life issues in the classroom every week. There are youngsters in my classrooms who cannot control themselves and who look upon those who ask of them to be disciplined, namely me and consider them to be out of step. I work at a very affluent school. It cost parents about $10,000 dollars a year to send Dick and Jane to this institution. Most of these youngster come from the side of the tracks where they ARE hiring personal trainers and advertising agents in sport. Yet, I find the desire to break rules or to challenge authority a far greater issue than I ever experience in the crazy sixties. Yet, once the parameters of behavior are identified, enforced and done with a smile a good number of these young men and women are far happier and find themselves accomplishing a great deal more. If you ask it of them, they will deliver.

When one of these High School students catches the vision and commits to working hard, their advantage is extraordinary. What transpires is that they earn A's and start on athletic teams. It is what money cannot buy that brings success, momentum and maturity. Not particularly complicated but this simple notion eludes many.

News for me: I am being moved in my parochial school of choice. From being a jack of all subjects to teaching U.S. History and World History. I love the stuff.......my desire is to infuse the energy and clear thinking that was gifted to me from my mentors to these young minds full of mush.

By the way, did a survey of 118 seniors in our economic classes and 66 had been involved in a car accident in the last year-73 had received at least one ticket. Know you know why the charge so much money for auto insurance and even more for a high school student......ya think!!

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