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Character and Leadership by Joe Hoedel, Ph.d. - 3d ago

On Valentine’s Day, a 19-year-old kid snuck into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with his high-powered gun and open-fired. He killed 17 individuals. Fourteen of the 17 individuals were students at the high school, ranging from 14-18 years of age. Aaron Feis was one of the three adults killed. He was a security guard at the school and an assistant football coach. According to several first-hand accounts at the school, Feis “selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”

Players and coaches share memories of 'hero' football coach - YouTube

Joe’s Perspective: I have written about too many school shootings in the past four years. It’s heart-breaking. It challenges the soul. I just can’t imagine the terror during and the sadness after. I continually ask myself how I would handle such a situation. In this case, the bullets started flying and almost everybody ran for their lives. Aaron, along with several other adults, ran toward the bullets. When he came face to face with the gunman, he used his body as a shield, trading his life for those students. He died a hero. Aaron, a husband and father, will be sorely missed.

There are no questions today. Instead I simply ask that you send cards, donations and condolences to the families of those who were senselessly murdered.

The post Coach Aaron Feis, Hero appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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John Cronin was born with Down’s Syndrome, but as he says, “Down’s Syndrome never holds me back.” He always wanted to form a business. After a couple of failed ideas, he and his father formed, “John’s Crazy Socks.” They sell 1,500 different types of socks.  In their first year, they grossed 1.4 million dollars. If you order a pair of socks, you get a hand-written thank you note from John. If you live in the Long Island area, John personally delivers the socks. His company employs 12 employees, most of whom have a disability. They even donate 5% of their profits to the Special Olympics. In John’s words, “We are spreading happiness.”

'What we're doing is spreading happiness' - YouTube

Joe’s Perspective: Totally inspired. 1) John inspires me as a person because he found a way to turn his passion into a business, 2) John shows us all what is possible through his example of overcoming his disability, 3) he continues in the American way by creating jobs for others and 4) he donates a portion of his proceeds to a charity of his choice. What’s not to love?

Your Turn: What does this story inspire you to achieve in your own life?

The post Spreading Happiness…One Sock at a Time appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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You might know this, but less than 2% of high school athletes receive a collegiate athletic scholarship. Yet, many adolescents believe they will earn such a scholarship.

Instead of my usual blog about a sports-related blog related to character and leadership, I am going to provide a blog that might help you understand if you are being recruited. The following was written by USA Today. I hope it is helpful.

Many student-athletes have struggled to clearly understand if and when they are getting recruited by a college coach. Do recruiting questionnaires count? How about camp invites? A phone call? Not every coach is going to show interest the same way, and interest will mean something different for every program.

I’ve laid out some of the different ways you might hear from a coach and what they usually signify in terms of interest. Look at it like a ranking system, starting with actions that indicate the least amount of interest to actions that show the most.

Haven’t heard anything from the coach or school? The coach isn’t interested yet

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you aren’t hearing from a coach or school, they most likely aren’t interested. Even if the NCAA contact rules mandate that coaches cannot start communicating with you yet, coaches will usually find a way to get in touch with student-athletes they are interested in. They may contact your high school or club coach. They also might have the institution send generic information about the school. In other words, if you’re a freshman or sophomore especially, contact from coaches can come in unexpected ways. Make sure you always follow up with the coach so they know you are interested in their program.

Received questionnaires in the mail? You may be on the coach’s radar

Coaches will send questionnaires out to a large number of freshmen and sophomores to gauge their interest in the program. Make sure you respond to the questionnaires as soon as possible so they know you are interested! You should also send the coach a follow-up email with your key information and highlight or skills video so they can make their initial evaluation. If you’re a junior or senior who’s still only receiving questionnaires, you need to immediately reach out to the coaches at programs you’re interested in to claim a spot on their list of recruits.

Camp invites filling up your inbox? The coach may want to evaluate you in person

Camp invites can be somewhat tricky! At camps, coaches usually have a set list of athletes who they are interested in evaluating, and they will spend most of their time watching those athletes compete. If the coach mentions specifically that they know who you are or that they have watched your highlight video, that’s a good indication you are on their list of recruits to watch. If your invitation is generic, you may be in the larger pool of athletes who aren’t really on their radar yet. Before you go to an event, reach out to the coach, sending them your highlight or skills video, key stats and a short introduction. Make sure you’re on that list of top recruits!

Fielding emails from the coaching staff? You’re probably on their list of recruits

Email is an easy way for coaches to communicate with athletes who are on their list of recruits. They may ask you for more information about your athletics, academics and character. Make sure you respond promptly, and you proofread your emails for any grammar or spelling errors. At this stage, you still need to show the coach that you’re interested.

The coach has been calling, texting or DMing you? You’re definitely a prospect

The coach is likely quite interested if you’re receiving calls, texts or direct messages through social media. If the coach has given you their personal contact information, you can feel confident that you are relatively high up on their list of recruits. However, just because you’re on their list of recruits, doesn’t mean that you’ve secured your spot on the team yet! You need to keep putting in the work to get an offer.

Invited on an official or unofficial visit? You’re an important recruit

Visiting a school is an important step in your recruiting process, especially if the coach personally invited you! Official visits, or campus visits in which any part is paid for by the school, indicate the strongest interest from college coaches. They are using their budget to show off their school and create an impressive experience for you as a recruit. However, being personally invited for an unofficial visit also indicates clear interest from the coach. Not all coaches and programs have a huge budget, and many simply don’t have the ability to conduct official visits. Make the most of this trip by being polite and attentive, answering the coach’s questions appropriately and preparing your own questions. Campus visits are a popular time for coaches to extend an offer to athletes, so make sure you’re prepared if that conversation comes up.

Received an offer? Congratulations, you’re a top recruit

Getting an offer is the reason you started this process in the first place! If a coach extends an offer to you, remember that you can ask what their deadline is for your response so you have time to think about it and determine any questions you have. Verbal offers, while a sure sign that you are a high-value recruit, are not legally binding yet, which means that the coach can back out if they need to. Keep in touch with the coach up until Signing Day to ensure that they expect you to be part of the team.

The recruiting process is tricky and stressful—I know firsthand! And it’s easy to overthink communications with college coaches. Remember: the more personalized the contact from the coach, the higher up you are on their list. If you aren’t receiving the kind of communication you want from a program, proactively reach out to them and show why you would be a great fit.

Your Turn: Was this article helpful to you? Based on this information, what would you rate your chances of receiving a college athletic scholarship?

The post How Do You Know if You’re Being Recruited? appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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In January of 2016, a married couple, Danny and Lexi, were fed up with their weight. They were tired of being out of breath after walking to the mailbox. Life was difficult. It was taxing. They wanted to become parents and they wanted to live long enough to see these children graduate from high school. They knew this would not happen at their present weight. Lexi tipped the scales at nearly 500 lbs. while Danny weighed in a 280 lbs.

They made a New Year’s Resolution, joined a gym and swore off all fast-food. Lexi started a blog entitled, Fat Girl Fed up. This was an early entry, “We didn’t have a meal plan, surgery, personal trainer, but what we did have was each other & the motivation within to work hard every single day.” They relied on each other and held each other accountable.

Two years later, they had shed 400 lbs. Lexi went from a size 28 to a size 10. Danny’s waist shrunk from 46 inches to 32. This is what they posted a few weeks ago on their post, “We may have lost the weight but we have grown closer together. Pound by pound, step by step, day by day – we have transformed our lives and molded our bodies into the people we’ve always wanted to be.”

Joe’s Perspective: This is really quite inspiring. I feel better about myself when I lose 5 lbs. I can’t imagine how difficult this was and I also can’t imagine how healthy they must feel now. They worked hard, stuck to it and accomplished an amazing life goal.

You know the old adage, a picture speaks a thousand words. I believe this definitely applies to this story, so I won’t belabor the point with a bunch of words. Let me just say, this should really inspire you. This should give you confidence that you can accomplish something substantial in your life if you are willing to work for it.

Your Turn: What is your “400 lb.” life goal? What would you have to do to attain this personal goal for yourself?

The post A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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I typically don’t write about topics such as these, mainly because I know some middle school children read these posts. However, this topic needs to be discussed. Over the past several years, hundreds of sexual abuse stories have been reported.  Jerry Sandusky, a coach at Penn State sexually abused at least 10 boys. Comedian, Bill Cosby, reportedly drugged women and raped them while they were passed out. Movie director, Harry Weinstein has been accused by 84 women of sexual assault. A series of men have lost their jobs due to inappropriate sexual behavior, including newsmen Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, and Senator Al Franken. President Donald Trump has been accused by 18 women of sexual assault.

Last week I finished a new chapter on Simone Biles for the new athletic program designed to teach character and leadership on the athletic field – www.characterandleadership.com/student-athlete-program.  I am absolutely amazed with her story. Her father abandoned her and her mother was addicted to crack. She lived in foster care until her grandparents formerly adopted her. Simone went on win the women’s all-around competition in women’s gymnastics at the 2016 Olympic games. She overcame so much to become a champion, and now we learn that she had to endure sexual abuse too.

Yesterday, Simone reported that she too has been sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar. Nassar was a long-time physician at my alma-mater, Michigan State University. He worked in the athletic program and gained a positive reputation. He was hired by USA Gymnastics as the medical coordinator. In each position, Nassar had access to girls and young women and abused them.

Gymnast Maggie Nichols reveals she was first to report Larry Nassar abuse - YouTube

In total, 126 women have accused Nassar of sexual abuse. Almost Eighty four testified against him in a court of law. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Joe’s Perspective – What a shame: This man misused his trust to violate girls, over and over again. If a girl complained of any injury, he would use this an opportunity to touch their vagina, breasts and the buttocks. Whenever athletes or other practitioners would doubt his “medical procedures,” he would use his title to diminish their claims. He continued his perverted ways for over 20 years. Virtually every female gymnast that you watched in the Olympics since 1996 was sexually abused by this man. How sad. I say this man should rot in a prison cell for the rest of his life. Scumbag is the best adjective for him.

Joe’s Perspective – Report Abuse: People like Jerry Sandusky and Larry Nassar perpetrated their crimes over decades. In both cases, victims told people in trustworthy positions about the abuse. In the Nassar case, coaches told the gymnasts to keep it quiet and university officials discounted the abusers’ stories. This can no longer happen. It is not okay to fully trust a person based on their title, degree or job.  I still believe the accused needs to be found guilty in a court of law, but once someone alleges such a claim, we need to take every measure to ensure that a person can’t repeat such an act.  At the very least, MSU and USA gymnastics should have mandated that Nassar never treated another athlete without another female in the room after the first allegation in 1996. They didn’t take this step, and as a result, a serial pedophile violated a lot of innocent girls. We need to be better than this.

Your Turn: What do you learn from the Larry Nassar situation that you can apply to your own life?

The post A Sensitive Topic – Sexual Abuse appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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Yesterday was the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birthday. He would be 89 today, had he lived. As a person who wrote about Dr. King, I know a thing or two about him and the Civil Rights Movement. I want to take a moment to provide a few lessons that might register with you today.

Lesson #1 – Leadership is Timeless: I sometimes forget just how young Dr. King was during the Civil Rights Movement. He was just 24 when he accepted his first ministerial job at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was just two short years later when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery. King was just 26  years old when he was nominated as the spokesman for the Montgomery Improvement Association, leading the first organized boycott of the Civil Rights Movement. He was only 34 when he gave his, “I have a dream” speech in front of 1 million people and his life was ended before he could turn 40.

Lesson #2 – Courage has no age-restriction: Dr. King was the voice and the recognized leader of the Civil Rights Movement, but please understand that it took an army to make the necessary changes. For instance, in arguably the most segregated city in America – Birmingham, Alabama – King organized sit-ins, marches and protests to break the will of Governor George Wallace and police commissioner, “Bull” Connor. Over 2,500 children took part in these protests. When “Bull” Connor ordered the fire hoses to be turned on, the children knelt down to pray in the streets. Even the most hardened men could not follow those orders. Consequently, city and state officials were forced to open negotiations and change policy.

Lesson #3 – Stand Up For Freedom: When I looked at that photograph of Dr. King giving his “Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., I was amazed that the only black person I could identify is that of Dr. King. This reminded me that this was not a just the fight of black individuals. It was a fight of right vs. wrong, freedom vs. intolerance and love vs. hate. White people had the choice of which side to line up, and while many chose intolerance, many others lined up on the side of freedom. As Dr. King said himself, “The enemy is not white people. The enemy is segregation itself.”

Your Turn:

Young people led the Civil Rights Movement and the protests against the war in Vietnam. Young people changed the course of the world. For what cause would you be willing to lead a protest, give freely of yourself or risk your life?  Remember, Dr. King was arrested 30 times.

The post A Few Lessons from Dr. King appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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I have never been a huge fan of Sylvester Stallone. I didn’t not like him, but I certainly didn’t love him either. He talked slow and he moved slow. However, after watching this video, I changed my mind completely. I love underdogs. I love someone who comes from nothing, suffers, perseveres and then succeeds. Watch this video and try not to be impressed.

An Inspiring Story About Sylvester Stallone - YouTube

And, he’s not the only one. There are many stories just like the story above.

An Inspiring Story About Jim Carrey - YouTube

Joe’s Perspective: We all start somewhere. We all struggle. We all have difficult moments…weeks…years… maybe even decades. The important thing is to believe in yourself and keep pushing forward. While, none of us will ever go on to make millions of dollars as a movie-star, we can all find our way. It’s difficult to know this when you are in high school, but it is true.

Your Turn: What can you take from these stories to improve your life?

The post The Story Behind the Story… appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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Can’t believe it. Unbelievable. Down 13-0 at the end of the first half of the national championship game, Coach Nick Sabin decides to sit down his starting quarterback, a quarterback who had a 25-2 record. In his place, he starts true freshman,  Tua Tagovailoa, who has never started a college game nor played meaningful minutes.

Despite his inexperience… Despite his youth… Tagovailoa led Alabama to an overtime victory.  Alabama roared back with 26 points. Tagovailoa threw two touchdowns in the second half to tie the game at the end of regulation. In the overtime, Georgia hit a 51-yard field goal to pull ahead by 3. On Alabama’s first play on offense, Tagovailoa took a nasty 18-yard sack. On the next play, he threw a bullet on the money to another freshman streaking down the sideline for a touchdown. Game over!

ALABAMA WINS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN OVERTIME - YouTube

Joe’s Perspective: How does a freshman who had never played a meaningful down in college football, come in and do that? Poise… execution… clutch… And, he wasn’t the only one. Alabama’s running back was a freshman. The wide-receive was a freshmen. The Georgia quarterback was a freshman as was one of their star running backs. Each and everyone of them stepped up big-time. This is not supposed to happen, but it did. Most impressive.

Your Turn: The question is simple. When your opportunity arrives, will you be ready? Explain.

The post When Your Moment Comes…Will You Be Ready? appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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Steve Harvey, best known for hosting The Family Feud, provides an impromptu talk to the unsuspecting audience before the show. The message of this talk is that every successful person has jumped. He further argues that if you want to be successful, you too will have to jump. It’s scary, it’s dangerous. Your parachute will not immediately open and you might get a lot of cuts on the way down. However, he promises that your parachute will eventually open.

Steve Harvey 'Jump' Motivational Speech - YouTube

Joe’s Perspective: This video spoke to me. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s easy to play it safe and stay on the cliff. Most people do. There are all kinds of reasons to play it safe. I remember how difficult it was to quit my job and jump. Starting my own business was scary. So many people told me not to jump. My parachute opened. It’s been a great ride down. I recommend it to anyone.

Your Turn: Do you have the courage to “jump”? If so, for what reason will you jump?

The post Every Successful Person has “Jumped” appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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Steph Curry plays for the Golden State Warriors and is widely considered one of the best basketball players in the world.  It is important to note that he, along with all athletes, are human beings first (yes, I just wrote that sentence). We forget. These athletes have parents, they went to kindergarten, graduated from high school, fell in love, got their hearts broken, set goals, failed at times… just like many other human beings.

Steph Curry Prays With Devin Harris' Nephew, After The Nephew Loses His Father - YouTube

Steph Curry met a little boy, Brayden Harris, who just lost his father in a tragic car accident. The boy cried uncontrollably. Steph began to hurt too. He empathized with this 8-year-old. He did the only thing he knew to do in this situation. He prayed with this child. He then hugged him and gave him words of encouragement. He did what other human beings would have done in a similar situation.

Steph is a product of his parents and his formative years. His parents brought him up in the Christian faith. As an adult, he provides his philosophy on life. “I know why I play the game,” he said, “and it’s not to score 30 points a night, but it’s to use the stage I’m on. I’ve been put here for a specific purpose: to be a witness and to share my testimony as I go through it.”

Your Turn: Given your background and experience as a human being, what would you do and say if you met a young boy who just lost his father under similar circumstances?

The post Steph Curry Being… Human appeared first on Character and Leadership.

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