Sports, especially team sports, gives participants, everyone from players to coaches to trainers and all others, multiple opportunities to sacrifice individual wants for the greater good. Because we know that in the longer run, that greater good will make us better individuals. But just because we are sacrificing, that does not mean we are abdicating responsibility, nor accountability. It is not a passing-the-buck situation. It is about taking ownership of one’s choices, and making the right ones, whether in the context of sports or life in general.
A friend sent us a piece about Tom Walter, the Wake Forest baseball coach (and fellow Georgetown Hoya) who donated a kidney to one of his players. We covered Tom and Kevin Jordan’s story a couple of months ago – as did a multitude of media outlets. We wanted to do this follow-up because the story from Wake Forest Magazine is based on Coach Walter’s own words. It is great to hear about his relationship with Kevin Jordan but also his thoughts about “taking ownership” and personal character.
So I was in my room last night. It was 3 a.m. or so and I was awake and probably a little nervous about this, certainly, but I do a lot of my best thinking at night. I usually sleep a couple of hours and then I’m up a couple of hours and then I sleep a couple of hours. As my assistants can tell you they get emails from me at 3 a.m. most every day, with general thoughts about the program or forwards and things like that. It’s my best thinking time. So last night I came up with a little saying on character that I think is pretty appropriate. I think character is taking ownership of who we are and also taking ownership of who we are not and using that difference to make a difference. And when we at Wake Forest talk to our players, we talk to them about ownership all the time, because in this world there are a lot of reasons to fail, a lot of excuses to fail but at the end of the day we want our players and our program to be judged on ourselves. When we walk away from the program we want to walk away with no regrets.
Athletics as a platform
So moving forward I don’t think there are more or less opportunities in athletics to display character. I think that in any profession there’s opportunities, any walk of life there’s opportunities, at home there’s opportunities every day to display character. But I do think athletics gives you an easy and obvious platform and a national platform to display character … a very public platform to demonstrate character. And that’s why in my mind it’s so important in athletics to have the right people because we’re given so many opportunities. It’s so important as coaches to make it our mission to not only display character ourselves, but to make sure that our players demonstrate character, to make sure we’re recruiting players with character and we’re instilling character into players.
To read the rest of the story at Wake Forest Magazine, please click here.