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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Chicago Bears Athlete Speaks to LTP Boys
At Leadership Training Program event, Eric Peterman spoke about leadership as following Christ.

Eric Peterson talking to LTP boys
Chicago Bears player Eric Peterson speaks to LTP boys at Marian Catholic High.

April 7, 2010. Flossmoor, IL. Being a positive leader is no easy task for today’s young men. Negative peer pressure is an omnipresent reality, and it is often easier to follow the crowd than to do the right thing or even just to be oneself.

That is why the Leadership Training Program (LTP) is working hard to give boys older role models to inspire and guide them on their path. Every year, a select group of high school students serve as mentors for younger boys and lead weekly activities designed to strengthen the boys’ leadership skills.

“The heart of the program is leaders forming leaders, and its pillars are public speaking, teamwork, virtue formation, and sports,” said Fr Jacob DuMont, LC, who works with young men in the Chicago area.

Originally founded in 1997 in Bethesda, Maryland, LTP has been active at Marian Catholic High School in Flossmoor, Illinois, for the past 5 years. This year, 15 high school students served as mentors for 60 boys in 5th through 8th grade, guided by two dads, Dennis Cortes and Bob Grossi, who organize and run the program.

Eric Peterman on leadership in God’s plan

On March 28, the LTP at Marian Catholic High took the idea of “leaders forming leaders” a step further, inviting Chicago Bears athlete and Northwestern University graduate Eric Peterman to speak to the mentors and the boys about his faith.

In his talk, Peterman gave a quick survey of his own
Eric Peterson speaking
Peterson spoke to the LTP boys about faith, perseverance in reaching their goals, and leadership.
personal story. After graduating from Northwestern University, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears, but then was cut just before the season began. This year, he is again training with the Chicago Bears, and if all goes as planned, will play as a wide receiver in the upcoming season.

Life gives you reality checks, Peterman told the boys, commenting that getting cut from the Bears at the last minute made him realize that he had left God on the sidelines of his life. Since then, he said, he has done his best to put God back at the center.

He also told the boys about his own work as the executive director of the Beyond Sports Foundation, which is a program that provides social, academic, and athletic support to athletically gifted, underprivileged student-athletes so that they can pursue a college education. In his talk, Peterson commented on the personal rewards of mentoring high school students in the program.

“In the end, it’s not the years of your life that count. It’s the life in your years,” he said, quoting Abraham Lincoln. He urged the boys to remember that life is short, that we only walk the Earth once, and that what we do here counts.

While encouraging the boys to set high goals and work toward them with perseverance and sacrifice, he also reminded them that the journey is even more important than the end result, and that the process matters more than the product. The goal is not just to become a great football player, but to become a better person, following the example of Jesus Christ.

All in all, it was a message that fit perfectly with the goals and ideals of the Leadership Training Program. In the end, as Peterson said, true leadership is not just a set of skills or a finely honed talent. True leadership is following Christ.

Learn more about the Leadership Training Program at this link.



Related links

LTP Philadelphia
Leadership Training Program
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