I was reflecting on my last two weeks of football training camp/practices and all of our challenges and successes. I can remember looking at this huddle of athletes. In this huddle I could see the look in their eyes as they strived to persevere and to fight and maintain focus despite all the distractions that come during a practice. I loved to seeing the smiles on their faces when they executed a play successfully or as they learn a new skill. This huddle is a very special place on an athletic field. My encouragement to us all is to find a love for our athletes that goes beyond the X’s and O’s… and in these moments… in these huddles, look… take a deep breath… and remember that the impact of a coach goes far beyond the numbers on a scoreboard.
Please take a moment to watch this video on the power of the “Huddle”:
The Huddle - By Bill Curry
The football huddle is a metaphor of our culture; imperfect like all metaphors. In that huddle are a bunch of folks that are black, brown, white, red, yellow, liberal, conservative, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu. We are slim, fat, short, tall, fast and slow. We are analytical people, and we are impulsive people. We have some of the finest men on Earth, and heaven knows, we’ve got a few rounders.
We have been through the fires of Bear Bryant and Bo Schembechler, or some such coach that knows how to extract every ounce of our energy. Americans see all of that, and they resonate with it. They crave it. They take it and us into their hearts. The men who have earned a place in the huddle have experienced the miracle of a team. The training camp experience is unbelievable. It is day after day, week after week, two-a-day, three-a-day practices in the heat, often with 14 pounds of equipment. Many drop out. Numbers thin, and everyone starts thinking about quitting. Trust me, everybody.
For those who do stay, there is the opportunity to participate in the greatest team sport ever devised. It is the only sport in which every player needs every teammate on every play just to survive. We learn ever so slowly that our differences do not matter in the huddle. After we trudge in after every internable workout, we know that sweat smells the same on everybody’s body. When we get busted in the mouth, that blood that trickles is the same color. Everybody’s tired. Everybody’s hurt.
It is in this process that the miracle occurs. Men who have been raised to hate each other’s guts become brothers. I’ve seen racists reformed. I’ve seen the most unlikely hugs after victories or losses. I’ve seen inner-city kids invite country boys to the mountains to go home with them for Thanksgiving Dinner, and I’ve seen those invitations accepted and reciprocated, thus affecting parents’ lives. Our players become brothers for life. It is what America is supposed to be, could be and might be in our best dreams.