Thursday, December 06, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Football Coach

This morning Charlie Strong, Head Coach of the University of Louisville football team, officially announced he was staying as coach here in Louisville.  The sporting news has been all abuzz about the courting Charlie has received of late from the likes of legendary football schools (i.e. Tennessee).  As I listened to his press conference this morning, I have to say, I love me some Charlie Strong.  Whether you bleed blue or red in this state, you can't help but see the quality that is there.  And so, as I often do, I wanted to share the lessons I learned...

1.  It matters who you work for - Charlie sang the praises of Tom Jurich, Athletic Director of the University of Louisville, for being an amazing man to work under.  Back when Louisville was 9-10, Tom extended Charlie's contract because he believed in him.  He's not forgotten that.  And although this contract extension could place Charlie in the top of the ranks in football coaches' pay scale, the final contractual agreement hasn't been discussed.  But, Charlie knows it will be fair.  Often times when we are lured by a bigger and better offer, we don't consider the current situation we're in.  Charlie has.  He knows Tom believes in him and that matters more than coaching for a legendary SEC team.

2.  Family comes first - Charlie said it had been a tough week with him being approached by Tennessee and contemplating the decision about his future.  He said he talked to his daughters and they emphatically said, "Dad, we don't want to leave Louisville." He said, by far, this was the deciding factor.  I remember when I was very young, my Dad was approached to take a position with his company in Pedricktown, NJ.  It would have placed him as Plant Manager, in a position to fix a very broken plant location.  After a few visits up there to help out, my Dad had to make a decision.  My Mom didn't want to move from Louisville because her Mom was here and she loved it here.  The cost of living was incredibly high in New Jersey at that time, and unemployment there was on the rise.  Dad knew moving there might get him a short-term win, but long-term it wasn't a good move for him or our family.  I'm thankful that advancement didn't win over family in that decision.  And one day, those Strong girls will say the same thing.

3.  Finish what you started - One of the things Charlie pointed out that made leaving Louisville difficult was that he felt like he hadn't taken the team all the way to where he'd hope to go with them.  He's definitely made great strides with this team in the short time he's been here with this year being invited to a BCS bowl.  But, in his heart, he wants to see a National Championship for Louisville Football.  We live in a world of people who don't finish well.  It's way too easy to throw in the towel and move on than fight the good fight.  I hang with most situations to the bitter end...sometimes to my own detriment.  But I'm not a quitter and I never want to give up.  The world could learn from Charlie that just because a prestigious position at a top school is dangled in front of you doesn't mean your work is complete where you are.  

You could read my post and be thinking, "Right, Rose, I'm sure the increase in pay had nothing to do with Charlie's decision."  I'm not blind to the fact that a significant increase in pay has an impact here.  But, if that was the only reason, I'm sure Tennessee would have matched or beaten his price if he played that game.  And he didn't.  I, for one, am glad Charlie is sticking around.  Well played, Mr. Strong, well played.

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