|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
“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
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
and Horse Farm, and a key promoter and supporter of
|Approximately 60 participants attended the event. The great majority were coaches.|
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
The proof is in the players
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.|
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
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
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
As Nate and the other coaches have been able to
|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 www.sportsleader.org.