A Football Coach teaching Tolerance and Inclusiveness

Today I was moved by an article I read over at Delancey Place. The excerpt speaks for itself, so I won’t go into too much of the content, as I recommend going there to read it for yourself.

Having grown up in a hockey & football focused high school, I have a pre-conceived notion of what the boys were raised to be like by their coaches. I ran into aggressive, sometimes violent classmates that loved to fight, intimidate, and gang up on other kids that were not part of their small circle of like minded friends. Being a soccer player, into trumpet, and having friends in drama, I was a target myself of bullying. Luckily for me, I had an athletic streak, and had a way to talk myself out of getting the shit kicked out of me. Many other kids were not so lucky…

When I read this article, all I could think about was how I wished that this coach’s program would be taught as a mandatory course in all high schools! I was blown away…And, I really questioned some of my beliefs on why I lump everyone involved in these sports into the same box. This coach seems amazing!

Here is a short part of the excerpt. Click through the link at the bottom to read the entire article.

In today’s encore selection — as reported by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jeffrey Marx in Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood. Gilman High School in Maryland has a highly successful football team. And its coaches have a few unusual rules — such as an ironclad rule that no Gilman football player should ever let another Gilman boy — teammate or not — eat lunch by himself. And the requirement that players constantly base their thoughts and actions on one simple question: What can I do for others?:

“What happened that first day at Gilman [High School] was entirely unlike anything normally associated with high school football. It started with the signature exchange of the Gilman football program — this time between [head coach] Biff [Poggi] and the gathered throng of eighty boys, freshmen through seniors, who would spend the next week practicing together before being split into varsity and junior varsity teams.

” ‘What is our job?’ Biff asked on behalf of himself, Joe, and the eight other assistant coaches.

” ‘To love us,’ most of the boys yelled back. The older boys had already been through this routine more than enough times to know the proper answer. The younger boys, new to Gilman football, would soon catch on.

” ‘And what is your job?’ Biff shot back.

‘To love each other,’ the boys responded.

“I would quickly come to realize that this standard exchange — always initiated by Biff or [defensive coach] Joe [Ehrmann] — was just as much a part of Gilman football as running or tackling…

Click to continue to read the full excerpt!