What does Ohio State-Michigan mean?

Today is the Ohio State-Michigan annual end-of-the-regular season football game.  This rivalry is always mentioned in the conversation
of the best in the country.  I can’t speak for other rivalries, but I can say nothing gets my blood running hot then seeing those maize and blue colors.  I come from a point-of-view that takes tremendous pride in all things Ohio, so this rivalry is part of it.  However, I am one of ten (maybe?) people in Ohio who cares more about Ohio State basketball than Ohio State football.

On the surface, it seems rather silly that so many bragging rights, pride, outlandish expectations, and vitriol rest in the hands, feet, and hearts of 18-22 year olds  (with the help of their coaches).  As a person who works with and whose job depends on the performance of this age group, I know what a daily challenge it is to succeed.

So why does this game matter?  99.8% of the people watching the game have no ability to directly impact the game as a player or coach.

State bragging rights are certainly at stake.  The Toledo War started feelings of ill will between the two states.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledo_War.  Because of the similarities in economic production, the two states have competed with each other
for similar resources, although there is a great amount of interdependence between the two as well.

Michigan certainly got a head start in football success, so I believe Ohio State always has the “little brother’ stigma as Michigan set the
bar of success.  It took a four decades for Ohio State to be a worthy opponent at a similar performance level.

Since the two programs have been on equal footing, what has been particularly galling for me is that Michigan’s success has often been
linked to the number of Ohioans coaching and playing for the Wolverines.  It’s tough to swallow when someone from your own state
goes to success elsewhere, to the point of defeating the home state.  While I understand every choice and situation is different, it still
bothers me as an Ohioian.  I can’t personally fathom going to work at the University of Michigan if an offer was forthcoming.  I have never
understood why an Ohioan would root for Michigan over Ohio State, it seems disloyal to me!

I believe a big factor in the importance of this game is what I would call the “Rivalry Relation”.  I would argue that most of us are
competitors in some way, and we use these rivalries to push ourselvesto higher level.  The reality is that rivals often bring out our best
efforts.  We work harder, prepare more, focus more, and execute with precision to bring victory.  We want to be smarter than the smart kid;
we want to be better than the town next door; we want to have the best school; we want to be the team; we want to be the best country.  At
their best, we respect the excellence of our rival and are thankful they push us to new heights.  If we are watching a rivalry as an
outsider, it can be a source of inspiration that we take into our own pursuits.

Unfortunately, rivalries can also bring out the worst in us.  Foolish behavior, violence, hatred, cheating, and others can quickly mar the
great qualities of a rivalry.   I think most of us have done something on this “dark side” that we are not proud of.  I am amazed, and
somewhat saddened, when players and coaches are denigrated by people, who quite frankly, could not even approach the ability level of those
making history in the game.  I have been guilty of doing this in the past and have tried to discontinue this behavior.

I hope this game brings out the best of all involved, and we celebrate how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to see it.  Go Buckeyes!

I would love to hear your comments about rivalries.

Here are some great links about the rivalry:









Book Review of “There Is Only One Way To Win: Lessons From A Legend” by basketball writer Dick Devenzio

This post is devoted to a review of a basketball book that helped me tremendously in my basketball coaching.

Whenever I am in a teaching role, I am always looking for ways to simplify the message to make it easier to understand, repeatable, and memorable.  This simple repetition enhances the ability of the students to learn.

There Is Only One Way To Win:  Lessons From A Legend by noted basketball author, camp director, player, and mentor Dick DeVenzio is a book that simplifies the game of basketball.  The book honors the accomplishments of his father, legendary high school coach Chuck DeVenzio and the principles he used to be successful.  Chuck DeVenzio NEVER had a losing season in over forty years of coaching high school basketball, a remarkable record of consistency and excellence.  This record was accomplished in different school settings.  The book has an outstanding, inspiring testimonial section at the end of the book from his history students and student-athletes he worked with throughout his colorful career.

The author, the son of the coach, worked with his dad to articulate his philosophies and interpret such statements as “blaming the best player on the team for throwing a bad pass”, even if the pass was thrown by another player!  All of his principles were taught with the intention of being capable of beating the best opposition and teaching transferable lessons throughout life.

The lessons in this book can applied by coaches in all areas with modification to particular area of expertise.  I would define it as:  Singular Focus on Excellence, Unwavering Principles, Culture of Truth, and Bringing Visceral Passion.  I don’t believe you can read this book and NOT think about ways to improve your teaching and inspired about striving to be the best!


I would love to hear your comments about the book.

Happy Birthday Ryan!

Three years ago today,

You arrived to stay,

It became my first daddy day.


Today is my oldest son Ryan’s third birthday.  It is amazing how fast the time goes by, and how much he has grown.  Everyday there seems to be a new “first”.

There is quite a history with this little guy that I would like to briefly tell.  On November 1, 2008, Jen’s dad Christopher Ryan passed away suddenly.  It was a devastating, shocking event for all involved.  Fast forwarding to 2009, Jen and I decided we were going to get certified by the State of Ohio to foster and adopt. We were interested in helping out a child in need, and having a young school-age child seemed to fit better with our lifestyle and professional careers at the time. We took our classes and completed our home study.  Things were going smoothly until our home business of being a bed and breakfast caused a red flag in the wheels of bureaucracy.  Going into 2010, we still did not have approval.

In early 2010, Jen told me she wanted to try to get pregnant.  In February, Jen told me she had a positive home test.  Soon after, we got approved by the state to adopt, which we decided to hold off on.  We found out Jen was due on November first, and then we found out we were having a boy.  During one of our doctor’s visits, there was trouble detecting a heartbeat, which caused a huge lump in our throats.  Fortunately, another test revealed all was well.

Because of the due date and being a boy, we decided to name our son Ryan Christopher (the reverse of Jen’s Dad’s name).  We certainly felt her dad had a hand in this miracle, and we wanted to honor his legacy.

Through the quirks of pregnancy, birthing classes, the heat of summer, the anticipation, November came closer and closer.  Well…..our little guy kept us waiting…..and waiting.  Our doctor said if he went ten days past his due date, labor would be induced.  November 11 came, and we heading off to the hospital early in morning.

Eighteen + hours later, through a bad reaction to the inducing-medication, to be face up instead of face down, through watching Jen go through the grueling pain with admiration and sympathy, Ryan came into the world.  Incredible!

It has been a privilege to watch you grow Ryan every day.  Thank you for being our little miracle!



photo (19)

Powerful messages that make the journey seem purposeful….

This past Tuesday, I heard two messages that were so powerful….that boosted my energy like a rocket fuel booster.

Ryan and I began a custom over the last month and a half of walking to preschool, then I go to work from there.  It is about a one-mile walk, which is a challenge for my almost three-year old.  I frequently tell him how proud I am of him for getting this valuable exercise and his toughness to complete the journey.  On the rare instances when he says he wants me to carry him, I praise his perseverance and tell him he is doing what no other kid in his class is doing, which makes him special.

Words cannot describe how much I enjoy getting to spend this time with him.  I was not able to walk with him to school today, and it really bothered me.  We have great conversations and I have so much pride in our connection.

I know Ryan enjoys the time as well, because he always asks to walk and he wants me to take him to school.  During our Tuesday walk, out of the blue, he said “I love walking to school with you Daddy”.  I was so choked up and honored that it has impacted him this way.

This was a great moment, and I was on cloud nine.  Later in the day, one of my university student staff came into my office to chat.  I treasure when Suze comes in to speak to me, she is a rock star on our staff.  She is always there for the team, is enthusiastic, takes great pride in her work, and accomplishes remarkable things.  She is a person who is a beacon for others.

She shared with me that she recently had a valuable “ah-ha” moment.  She realized last week that she was responsible for her attitude and choices, and no one else.

HOW EMPOWERING!  When you hear someone own their life in this way (especially because you are trying to live your life that way), and not willing to give into “victim thinking”, it is INSPIRATIONAL!

I don’t know if I helped Suze get to that state of mind or not, but we have spent enough time together that I believe I contributed at least in some small way.

Hearing these two messages really made me feel like I am living a life of purpose and serving.  I am thankful that they shared their thoughts with me.

I would love to hear what messages have inspired you recently.  Take care.


The value of athletics teaching life lessons

I believe athletics are a great teacher of valuable life lessons.  It is also just as easy to substitute another extracurricular activity that people are committed to personal excellence.

On October 12, Matheus was pumped and committed to run his personal-best cross country time of the year.  He had been progressively improving on his best times through late September and early October and was getting tremendously inspired by his progress.  The October 12th race was the state district race, with individuals and teams advancing to regionals based on best times.  We were realistic that Matheus did not have much chance to advance, but running his best time seemed easily in reach.

We were a little concerned when his right leg became tender the last two weeks of the season.  He received a trainer treatment the on October 11 and felt he was ready to go.

The morning of October 12 was cold, rainy, and muddy.  Jen, Ryan, Sawyer, and myself hauled ourselves to the meet to root Matheus on.  We pushed the double stroller through the muck and waited for the runners to make the first pass by us.  The herd came rumbling by, and we didn’t see Matheus.  Jen and I became concerned that his leg was bothering him, and our fears were soon confirmed as we saw Matheus running with a severe limp as the last runner in the race.  Jen and I became teary-eyed as we watched him run by us, trying to encourage him to finish.

Fifteen minutes later, most of the runners had completed the race and we did not see Matheus.  We waited…and waited…and waited…

Our hearts sank when Matheus was hauled to the finish line and first aid station in a John Deere Gator.  He told us he just could not go on, he could not put any weight on his right foot.  In the matter of 40 minutes, his goals went from running his best time to simply just finishing the race…and he wasn’t able to do that.  I was proud that he changed his goals, and proud that he tried to gut it out as long as he could.  This was a display of tremendous mental toughness and intelligence when he stopped before sustaining too much injury damage.

I was so impressed by watching athletes giving their all to run their best times for themselves and their teams, to the point of getting light-headed and throwing up or dry-heaving upon crossing the finish line.  These young people had my admiration for being willing to push themselves so hard.  I hope these youngsters can take this commitment to all areas of their lives.  If they do, they will be tremendous contributors to their families and communities.

Matheus has been resting and rehabbing his leg, and it is slowly returning to full strength.  He has learned he needs to stretch and strengthen his leg muscles more to run effectively.  He is learning how to deal with adversity, develop mental toughness to push forward, and how to balance his exercise activities.  He listened to his coaches throughout the season, pushed himself hard in practice, and focused on continuous improvement.  These lessons will serve Matheus so well.  He also got to make valuable friendships that have eased his transition into the high school.

This incident was painful, but I think the lessons learned will serve him well.

I would love to hear lessons others have learned through extracurricular activities.  Take care.