Leadership…”For Each Other”…
Saturday March 2, 2013 Prague, Czech Republic
As our team continues to grow, both figuratively and actually (in numbers), we look better and better. I’ve told you our American QB is pretty good. It’s been my experience coaching in Europe that the ‘mid major’ division II and division III players preform better than the hyped up division I guys. There is, of course, a lot of reasons for that. I’ve never brought a D-I guy but in speaking with those that have their comments are typically identical. First and foremost, they say, most of the D-I guys are here only for the money and could care less about getting to know teammates or learning about the history or the culture of the country. They’ve been pretty pampered for most of their athletic life from the time it became obvious they were a D-I type athlete. They don’t get much pampering over here.
Our second American is from a small D-III eastern school and played last year for the Black Hawks. He’s a running back/DB guy and looks to be an all-around type player. As a running back he has excellent balance, good enough speed and catches the ball well. After practice yesterday, only his second, he spoke to the team. You could have heard a pin drop as he spoke about respect and playing together. His points were well taken and his grammar was all D-III private college. There were no ‘You Know’s’ or other add on’s that you hear on Saturday when a player is being interviewed by the apparently mandatory female sideline reporter. This kid went to class and he is class.
As we broke up the team meeting our QB stepped forward and said, “Gather around guys and put your hands together,” as he held one hand up towards his teammates. They followed suit and then he asked, “Why are we here?” There was a pause and then he said, “For Each Other!”, and then all sixty five of them did it again in unison. The beginning of a team. You could almost feel the ‘Unity’ growing.
Leadership isn’t all about screaming and hollering. It isn’t about “Look at me”. What leadership is…is honesty. Better yet, honest emotion! I think we have that right now to a degree and I have the feeling the attitude will continue to grow. I really like what I’m seeing out of this group of young men.
Our wide receiver from Finland arrived for his first practice on Monday. He didn’t participate much, only during the agility and warm up drill time, but that was enough to see he’s an athlete. He stood close to me during our offensive team period and listened attentively, asking the periodic question that tells me he knows the game.
Another of our young kids arrived for his first practice as well. He’s a 6’6/260 defensive lineman. I saw him on last year’s game film and was pretty impressed. Even more so when I found out he was nineteen years old. He lives south of Prague, down by the Austrian border, and hasn’t been able to make it until now. He adds size and an athletic dimension that we’ll need against the good Austrian teams we’ll be playing.
I continue to learn more of the city as I spend my leisure time roaming around. It’s been somewhat difficult because of the accumulating snow piling up around the city, but not unlike that old Timex Watch commercial, I just keep on ticking. Every time I ride an escalator into or out of the subway, I have to chuckle. The angel is very steep and while heading up and out (Vystup-Exit) or transferring (Prestup-transfer) without realizing it your head is out over the front of your shoes. The commuters look like they’ve just sailed off a 100 meter ski jump flying through the air with their head over ski’s hoping to catch a draft.
Today I noticed the contrast between the old and the new. Of course there is the “Old Town”, a 10th century creation. And the “New Town”, only about 500 years old. But all around this beautiful city you see the contrast of years old buildings with new construction along side. Quite a sight.
We’ll begin Tuesday and Thursday practices next week and on the weekend we’ll head out of town for a ‘camp’ weekend. It will give us time to make sure everything we need to begin the year is in place if not perfected.