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be Inspired. be a Leader

July 18, 2012

I have always considered myself an athlete. I am not paid to play a sport, nor was I ever but that does not change the fact that I consider myself an athlete. I played football all the way through high school and baseball all the way through college.  I woke up at 4 am in the middle of winter snowstorms to head to practices and I ran countless miles in the sweltering heat during summer conditioning sessions.  Even though my competitive playing days are long gone I still consider myself an athlete. I still get up before the sun to work out and my mind is still most clear when sweat is dripping off my body. I am an athlete.

Athletics has provided me with many wonderful moments in life: I’ve hit walk off home runs, been featured on radio stations and in newspapers. I even broke a few records along the way.  I’ve received awards and was the captain of every baseball and football team I’ve ever played for. One of the things that these captaincies required was the ability to motivate my peers. In order to be a leader sometimes you need to push others to be more than they think they can be.  I was never blessed with the most talent on a team but I made sure that no one ever outworked me.  While I always made sure to lead with my actions, one thing I have been blessed with is the ability to inspire those around me with my words.

In fact, motivational speeches are one of the things I miss most about athletics.  Whether it was a coach pushing us to give everything we had for the last two quarters, to ‘be perfect’ just one time or a late inning powwow to try and spark a rally; these moments are times that I’ll never forget and, unfortunately, cannot reproduce.

The interesting thing about the two sports I played is how polar opposite their speeches were. In baseball it’s all about taking everything slowly and staying calm, relaxed even. Often times we’d be playing four games in two days and so it was essential to remember that it’s a grind. Each pitch and play can mean the difference but you’re never truly out of a game.  There is no time limit for baseball.  As Roger Angell said, “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.” The whole point of a baseball speech is to keep the team from tensing up. With baseball there’s always time, until of course…there isn’t.

Football speeches are just the opposite.  In football, a team busts their ass all week for that one opportunity; that one chance to shine under those bright lights.  Whole cities might come out to see a football game.  In fact, it’s more than a game, it’s an event; a moment in time.  Football is all about treasuring what is in front of you and ‘being perfect’ if only for that one moment.  It’s about harnessing all of the adrenaline, stress and strength in your body and focusing on expelling it all in one instance.  To play football the right way you have to play it like there is no tomorrow.  You’ll have the rest of your life to dwell on those moments; and trust me you will.

A great speech can affect the outcome of an event.  While the words spoken can’t make a player catch a pass or hit a breaking ball it can motivate them to give that little something extra, to work harder than they thought possible. A great speech can inspire, bring goosebumps and even move one to tears.

My initial idea was to write out the speech I would give as a coach of a team but seeing as how the meaning and purpose of a speech depends on the situation I decided to provide you with some videos of my favorites instead.  Enjoy…and be inspired:




And finally, Coach Lou Brown, showing us the difference between a football and baseball speech…



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