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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Redefining Courage
SportsLeader event in Lexington, KY opens promising horizons for a program that is transforming the lives of young men.

Dan Burch
Dan Burch, the emcee for the event, introduces the speakers.

April 30, 2009. Lexington, KY. Several years ago, Dan Burch was hitting a wall. He was coaching tennis, basketball, and football, and in spite of his best efforts, something was going wrong.
“I found I was just missing something,” he said. “When my kids were in the sports season, they did great. But as soon as the program was over, they got into trouble like any other kid.”
By chance, he ran into a coach named Paul Passafiume, who was piloting a new program called SportsLeader with “incredible success.” So Dan decided to implement it on his own sports teams.
One day, one of the boys’ parents called him on the phone.
“What have you done to my son?” she demanded.
“He’s respectful, he’s helping out – he even offered to carry in the groceries for me the other day! I don’t know what you’re doing,” she said, “but keep it up.” She urged him to tell as many coaches as he could about the program.
He took that request seriously and joined forces with several other coaches and businessmen in the Lexington area, including Duncan Taylor, the CEO of Taylor Made Sales
Approximately 60 participants attended the event. The great majority were coaches.
Approximately 60 participants attended the event. The great majority were coaches.
and Horse Farm, and a key promoter and supporter of SportsLeader.
Together, the two of them organized the Coaches’ Clinic held on April 28 at Christ the King’s Hehman Hall. The evening meeting gathered 60 guests. About 45 of the attendees were coaches of hockey, tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball, baseball, and football teams in the central Kentucky region, mainly from high schools and middle schools in Louisville, Lexington, Richmond, and Paris.
The evening event included dinner and three guest speakers.
The first speaker was Pat McCaskey, a co-owner of the Chicago Bears and a generous supporter of the SportsLeader program. He spoke about his experiences growing up close to his grandfather, George Halas, who was one of the founders of the NFL and an owner of the Chicago Bears, and warmly recommended the SportsLeader program as a way to form virtue in young men.

Paul Passafiume, the founding coach of SportsLeader, gave a talk explaining what the SportsLeader program is, what values are behind it, and how it operates in the context of a sports team.
The third speaker was Nate Allen, a Louisville public school sophomore who is now a veteran of the SportsLeader program and one of the leaders of his high school football team.
The proof is in the players
Nate Allen’s talk was where the fruits of the program became evident. As a participant in SportsLeader at a public school, Nate was able to share his own experience of deepened values and ideals.
Speaking without notes and from the heart, Nate told the coaches, “I want to have the virtue to be a man at 18. I don’t want to wait until I’m 35.”
“When I´m 40 years old, I don´t want to look back at my life
Nate Allen, a sophomore at a Louisville public school, gave his personal testimony of what SportsLeader has done for him.
Nate Allen, a sophomore at a Louisville public school, gave his personal testimony of what SportsLeader has done for him.
and think that my glory days were spent playing high school football,” he said. “I want my glory days to be as virtuous husband, father and coach. I want to be a football coach when I grow up - a SportsLeader football coach. A coach who impacts thousands of lives, a coach who changes boys into men. Those are the glory days.”
Nate’s first experience of SportsLeader was with Paul Passafiume, the founding SportsLeader coach. That was where he first heard virtue defined as “the strength of a man.”
It was also where he discovered the meaning of charity, humility, and courage as the three touchstones of the SportsLeader program. Charity, according to SportsLeader, is “the strength to do good.” Humility is “the strength to put others before yourself.” And courage is “the strength to conquer fear and negative peer pressure even in the most adverse and difficult circumstances, no matter the consequences.”
For Nate, these were lessons that stuck with him, changing the way he thought about fulfillment and success.
 “For me,” he said, “courage in a football player is not making a great hit or scoring a touchdown, because that is done mainly through ability. Courage is to be willing to speak about SportsLeader in front of 60 strangers, telling them that they need to run the program in order to change the world for good.”
Immediately after Nate sat back down, several coaches stood up and approached Dan Burch to find out more about how they could get the program started on their own teams.
“I have never heard a sophomore be able to speak like that,” said one coach. “If that’s what SportsLeader produces, I want it.”
Unleashing true potential

As Nate and the other coaches have been able to
a few good men
Left to right: JJ Everage, head football coach of Paris High School, Dan Burch, Pat McCaskey and Duncan Taylor.
attest, SportsLeader has changed teams.
In Dan Burch’s first SportsLeader coaching experience, he saw a noticeable change in the athletes within the first 45 days.
On Nate’s football team, charity has united them more deeply. The emphasis on willpower led his fellow teammates to get better grades in school, and they have acquired a new positive spirit.
Coaches have seen that these virtues enhance the true competitive spirit on the team. For example, the boys learn that instead of hoping for their opponent to fail, the true competitive spirit is to strive even harder to be the best they can be. And instead of trying to stand out at the expense of their own teammates, they learn to work together for the victory, even if it means that someone else gets the spotlight.
And that kind of inner strength, says Dan Burch, is the key to a brighter future for all the people these athletes will touch in the future.
“These kids are future leaders in society. They will go on to do great things, but with this strong core of virtue that will make the difference,” he said.
“Some of them will become coaches one day. And if you have one good coach, he can touch the lives of hundreds of kids.”
For more information about how SportsLeader can change the lives of athletes and teams in your area, visit the SportsLeader web site at



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