The Global Guy Blog
Every week, when travel and a hectic schedule allows, Global Football Founder & President Patrick Steenberge will post a blog inspired by more than 40 years traveling throughout the world . His mission: helping to develop better Global Citizens of the world, traveling and interacting with a broad spectrum of student athletes, coaches, administrators and other dynamic individuals and Teams.
August 13, 2018… No Breaking Point
As I move through this blessed life I am constantly reminded of a few recurring themes in sports as well as life, which are commonplace topics coaches focus on and communicate to their athletes at every level. Each of these speaks to the individual, and more broadly to the Team, a mantra that can help lead to success in the particular sport. Such is the case with “No Breaking Point.”
Last night I was skipping through sports on TV, came across Nick Saban and the Alabama Training Camp feature, and decided to stop and possibly learn something about the Bama team’s upcoming season. The first segment I see is Coach Saban addressing his team prior to their first practice, as he is setting the tone for how they might meet lofty expectations this season. His theme? “Breaking Points”.
I first heard the phrase in August 1969 when my head coach at Notre Dame, Ara Parseghian, addressed the 45 scholarship incoming freshmen who were anxiously focused on our Coach, awaiting this rare opportunity to play for the Fighting Irish as we had all dreamed. I clearly remember Ara’s key point that morning, one that he reiterated to us in each locker room before every game: “We must have No Breaking Point.” He would go onto comment: “USC has a breaking point; Purdue also; players from Michigan State can break; but we-Notre Dame-do NOT Have a Breaking Point.”
I have thought of that simple statement often since then as I have prepared for and encountered various obstacles in my life, both inside and outside sports. ‘How can we NOT have a breaking point? Why would my teammates and I not have a point where fatigue, stress, emotions, pain, fear or physical restrictions cause us to break?
I believe the answer is quite simply – it is the TEAM. Each of us as an individual has many weaknesses that would cause us to stop, to meet our personal barrier, get too uncomfortable to continue, to not put forth all that is needed to reach our stated goals. However, as a TEAM our common Breaking Point can be made to not exist; nothing will stop our TEAM from winning, from achieving the goals we prepared for.
Every Individual has a Breaking Point. Be it fatigue or fear of failure, pain or stress, errors or emotions, physical weakness or mental pressure, everyone has that point where they are willing to say ‘no more’. The TEAM, however, the Championship TEAM is comprised of very special athletes who have developed the unique ability to support each individual member physically, mentally and emotionally. That support allows those persons to perform and achieve seemingly impossible tasks. Together the members help drive the TEAM to achieve its stated goals.
This does not just happen. To arrive at a level where the TEAM has No breaking point takes dynamic leadership, keen focus, commitment and training, often involving non-sports specific projects. I believe deeply in the power of the Mountain, of what can be gained by athletes who decide to hike to the summit of a lofty peak. The fact is that Mountains are tough to climb! They are easy to quit on, to simply go part way up and believe that is good enough. Those who do it as a TEAM build an outrageous sense of shared work and success, thereby insuring that each team member reaches the summit, celebrates with his teammates on top, ‘Achieves the Mountaintop’.
Winning games then become much more doable; those mountains are simply easier to ascend. A well-trained and properly prepared TEAM truly has NO breaking point.
July 25, 2018… Coaches Summits & Teammates
Every coach in every sport has a profound influence on his or her players and staff; it is one of the realities of sport. I believe each coach at every level takes that fact seriously, and works to insure the influence is a positive one. Just as some coaches are better teachers than others, some win more games than others, so too with the concept of influence. Some have a way of passing along their personal beliefs, their methods of living, their ideas of what it takes to be a winner in life as well as on the field or court in a more effective manner. I have been blessed in my life to have had a few coaches who impacted me powerfully: Bill Poux at St. Luke’s grade school in Erie, Pa.; Tony Zambroski at Erie Cathedral Prep; and Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame.
In my chosen career of event production and travel, through my Global Football business I am fortunate to travel and interact with numerous quality men who understand the true value of experiential education. They place emphasis on providing unique experiences for their student athletes and assistants, often outdoor experiences which generally take place in distinctive foreign sites. Some of these experiences though do occur here in America, in places which may be somewhat uncomfortable for the players. In either instance, whether domestic or international, the fact that a TEAM is going to be together, facing unknown challenges – physical, mental and emotional, provides learning opportunities that simply cannot be matched in the classroom or in any other comfortable environment. Through such shared experiences the TEAM gets stronger, the individuals more attuned to the needs of their teammates, with leaders emerging, dynamics coming to the forefront, all resulting in each individual better understanding themselves. In addition, each player can better clarify his or her role within the team, their own self-knowledge as a human being, a family member, a valued creature of God.
Simply stated, being uncomfortable individually and as a Team, having to operate in an environment that challenges ones senses and commitment to team goals, just makes every member better. The Team goals become more obvious, the mission more clear, the opportunities more valuable, and the attainment of these more worthwhile.
This past weekend I had the blessing to hike to the summit of Pike’s Peak, “America’s Mountain”, with 18 seniors of the Eastern Michigan Eagles football team, thanks to the invitation extended to me by Coach Chris Creighton. Chris is one of those coaches who truly gets it. The impact he has on the young men who play for him extends far beyond the successes they have on the football field. In recent years we have journeyed together on Global Football tours to Switzerland, Panama and Tanzania with his squads from Wabash College and Drake University, and now with his MAC conference team. Each trip has dramatically altered the lives of his student athletes in so many positive ways; while at the same time allowing me to similarly share in what his leadership and presence provide to everyone he encounters.
His motto for the Eagles 2018 season is: Focus, Fight, Finish. Each element was clearly visible in the minds of each individual as they, as a Team, struggled up 7400’ of elevation gain over the challenging 13-mile trail, encountering sun, cold rain, gusty winds, high altitude, anxiety and their own ‘quitter’. After 12 hours the entire squad reached the 14,114’ summit, some with great difficulty, others serving as helpers to those who needed encouragement. The same issues they faced and overcame will most certainly confront the Eagles at numerous times this season, although in different forms. I am totally confident that the lessons, experiences and obstacles overcome on America’s Mountain will help carry Eastern Michigan through the challenges of their 2018 season. And more importantly, through the rest of their lives.