Slow Reader Friday: Beating Goliath


I have been reluctant to divulge the exact location of my small town in Texas, for fear that one day, some stalker will decide to stalk me! Since this is highly unlikely because less than 200 people read this blog on a good day, let’s just say that my small town is prominently featured in Art Briles’ Beating GoliathFor those of you who are not football enthusiasts, Art Briles is the head football coach at Baylor University. And if that doesn’t send any bells or whistles off in your head, Baylor used to have one of the worst records in NCAA recent history. Until Art Briles arrived. Now, one of his quarterbacks has won one of the most prestigious awards in college football, The Heisman Trophy.

If that’s not impressive, then maybe this will get your attention: Earlier this fall Baylor was ranked # 4 in the country for football and managed to pull out an impressive win against a formidable opponent, TCU. And Art manages to do that with every program he takes on.

Why do I call him Art when I don’t even know him? Because I feel like I know him. I watched him coach our little high school football team to 4 state championships in 8 years (We refer to it as the “Decade of Dominance.”) in a state where Friday night bragging rights are the only bragging rights anyone cares to discuss. And I watched him up close. (Our season tickets seats are 4 rows up on the 50-yard line.) And he did it with class and values, which is rare these days. When he arrived here, our little town didn’t have anything close to bragging rights in football. We arrived in town after Art started turning the team around–in 1992.

I, as a Big 10 alum who watched Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes and Dan Devine all coach in my home stadium, was not intrigued when the hubby came home and said, “My clients are saying that this town’s high school football team is really something special. Do you want to go to the game Friday night?” I probably replied with a lackluster, “Ho-hum.” He went without me. He came home and said, “This you HAVE to see.” Since he was so enthusiastic, we packed up our 5 year old and 2 year old and went to the next home game.

He was right. This team was something special. The whole experience was something special. Our town is known for its “can fans” and if you don’t think a small paint can with ball bearings in it can make some noise, talk to one of our opponents some time. And when the  five year old finally became a member of the team, I was actually given a freon tank with ball bearings in it, along with his jersey number on its navy blue-painted side.

At that time I learned a faithful football mom in this town must go into “can training.” I actually got “can elbow” until I figured out that you have to shift positions and hands periodically to keep that incessant racket going to upset the opposing team. And because our youngest was introduced to this Friday night tradition at the tender age of 1, he literally grew up in the stands and even slept through some championship games, can fan noise and all.

But, I digress. Back to the man who created such a team to warrant such nuttiness for support from actual grown-ups with responsible jobs. This book is about more than football.

It’s about a man who was handed the most difficult set of circumstances one can be handed. It’s about not looking back at what might have been (As he says, “The past is last.”) and looking forward to what can be. It’s about being real with your student athletes. It’s about caring. It’s about innovation. It’s about playing with the “hand you have been dealt” even if that is one of the worst hands ever dealt. It’s about making believers out of non-believers.

Perhaps these snippets will give you a little insight into the man:

1. “Nothing good comes out of being bad.”

2. “I think every day is a turning point. I think each moment of your life is a chance to change your approach, to do something great, to get yourself on a path to a more positive outcome. Your turning point can be in practice just as easily as it can be in a game.”

3. “There isn’t just one instance that turned things around. It’s one moment building upon another. It’s the work you put in every day to make sure you’re ready for the next moment.”

When Art Briles played football in college, high school and college football coaches clamored to hear what NFL coaches said in their seminars and conferences. After Art Briles started coaching football, the NFL now hastens to hear what high school and football coaches have to say in their seminars and conferences. And Art would be the first person to say that he had little to do with that. And he would be so wrong. But, I love a successful, humble man who is in “the kid-saving business” as he says. I just wish he still coached on Friday nights in a little stadium in a little town in the center of Texas so that I could watch his innovation and ethics right from the 50 yard line.

You’ll have to excuse me now…It’s game day and we can fans prepare all day. And yes, they’re still winning…with a head coach who both played for and coached with Art. Go, Big Blue. 🙂

Monday’s Post: WOW time!

You Might Also Like: Slow Reader Friday: The Way Home; Slow Reader Friday: The ONE Thing; and Slow Reader Friday: Songs in the Key of Solomon

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 10:50 am and is filed under Slow Reader Friday. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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