One of the books I require the team to read is “Uncommon” by Tony Dungy. I think the book offers great advice for young men. It is a time in life when many of our guys are learning to make adult decisions. There are lots of potential pit falls in life. It can be difficult to do the right thing. I am often amazed at this time of the year when guys have to own up to some of the bad decisions made. Often, as humans, we try to hide our mistakes. We often convince ourselves no one will find out or rationalize ourselves into believing what we are doing is acceptable. With final exams just ending, the truths about the efforts made in the classroom are being revealed. My hope, for those who have not done what is required, is they will learn from the mistakes made and not repeat them in the future. I hope they have not made mistakes they won’t be able to overcome. One of the great things with being a coach is seeing guys make the needed changes to be successful in the classroom. This week I have met with guys on the team who have made positive changes. They have learned to show up to class on time, pay attention, and actively participate. They have learned to turn in assignments on time while meeting the requirements of the professor. Some have even seen the benefits of sitting in the front of the classroom, meeting with professors and working in study groups. Some have learned study hall and tutoring can be beneficial when they take advantage of the resources offered. It is a joy to see them succeeding.
For me, final exam time is stressful. I remember the effort it took when I was a student. I know as a head coach, my job performance is based upon the results of my athletes in the classroom. It is a time of the year, I hope the guys have prepared for and perform well when the chips are down. Sadly, some will learn the hard way, but I also celebrate those who have finished the semester well.
During exam week, we had no required practice. Nevertheless, I was pleased by the turn out at optional workouts. The guys worked hard. I believe their effort in their preparation was rewarded last night when we wrestled the University of Virginia at the Rumble at the River event in Richmond, VA. We lost 7 matches to 3, but our attitude and effort was at a much higher level than the last time we stepped on the mat to compete.
After the dual, I asked the guys what was different. We need to capture the effort level and be consistent with it throughout the season. We did some self-review and left the locker room a better team.
Consistency is a key to success. We need to be consistent in our training. We need to consistently make good decisions on and off the mat. We need to be consistent in the effort we put forth in competition.
The day before we wrestled UVA we finally were able to be together as a group. After our tough outing on December 9, I tried to not burden the team with working on mental skills due to final exams. I decided to wait until we were together as a group and the stress of final exams was behind them. I think I made the right decision. It gave me time to consult with others, do some self-review and try to do some learning on my own. Last weekend, I was on the road recruiting. I spent several hours in airports, on planes and sitting in a hotel room by myself. I was able to put the time to good use. I decided to read Coyte Cooper’s new book, “Make Your Mark.” Coyte’s words made me think, challenged me and also affirmed that I am doing many right things while leading this team. Some of the examples he used in the book are things I have shared with my team on many occasions. When we met as a team, I made sure to remind the team of the concepts, expectations, and road map to success contained within our team document the “Mason Way.” I also shared some of the insights offered by Coyte in “Make Your Mark.” My hope was to make sure the guys were on the correct path. Some were not, and I needed to try and steer them. We need to be on the right path headed in the right direction as a team. I had planned on having a 30 minute team meeting before practice. I was embarrassed when I looked at my clock and realized I had spoken for over an hour to the team. I guess I had more things to express to them than I had thought.
Guys are now headed home for a few days to be with family. After a semester of school and half of a college wrestling season, it is a good time for them to take a quick breath and spend time with their loved ones. The fun part of the season will be here soon enough. I can’t wait.