My staff and I continually strive to emulate these same principles and instill a sense of community and integrity in our program at Seaside High School. I continue to challenge all of the young men associated with our program, their families, and our community to be accountable to what is truly important.
Although this was written some months ago, I wanted to share with you a letter that was written by Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith to his team this fall in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Coach Smith was an All-American at Linfield and began his coaching career at Linfield my freshman year.
I write to you today with a heavy heart. I feel I would be remiss as your
coach if I did not address this as a team, and give you whatever grain of
wisdom and perspective I can. Forgive me if I am not well spoken in this,
this really has impacted so many of us. I am not saying I have all the
answers by any means, but this is just my honest opinion to you because I
care so deeply about this Country, this State, and this Program. I believe
we can do something about this. I know it is long, but I ask you sit
somewhere quiet and please think on this deeply.
What happened twice last week in America was shocking. This is not the
Middle East, or war torn Eastern Europe , but rather our own countrymen
killing you and I, our sisters, our mothers, our children. A line was
crossed on Friday in Connecticut that I never dreamed someone or something
could cross; the purposeful execution of 1st graders.
Why did this happen? How could this happen?
How do we fix it? Our President says “this must not happen again”. How
do we bring that about? Somehow as a people we must find a way.
If we do not understand the cause, we cannot prevent it. Band aids will
not cure the infection.
What is the cause? The bottom hard fact is that we have many messed up
young men in this world. You can call them mentally ill, or whatever label
you want. But the facts are that we as a society are failing the young men
and women your age in this country. We as adults have allowed our youth to
grow up in a culture that ill prepares them for the world they encounter
when they leave the home. We as adults in America have flat failed our
children. Why? Because we are lazy. We take the easy way, the easy road
well worn by blind masses that do things and allow things without stopping
to think what the long term affects could be.
INPUT equals OUTPUT. Never has that been more accurate.
We do not allow smoking confined areas because science has shown 2nd hand
smoke can lead to cancer. Well, that same science has proven beyond ANY
shadow of a doubt that violent movies, pornographic material, and violent
video games DIRECTLY lead to increase violence toward women and others. It
is a fact.
How can this evil act occur in our country you ask? I say it is because we
allowed it to grow.
What is the answer for prevention? Is it Gun Control? Is it more mental
health workers for teens?
I say they are Band Aids, and will not fix the problem. Look at China and
the knife attack that just occurred there in cutting 22 children. The
problem is our Culture. We don’t like the output, so the problem is the
The fabric of our Society is crumbling before our very eyes. You may not
see it, as you know nothing different. Talk to your grandparents who have
seen 3-4 generations pass. Look at the sadness in their eyes. They know
I say we have a problem when I go to pre-game meeting in Graf 101 and see
25 teammates sitting down against a wall having their own virtual
conversations on their phones! I say we have a problem when you walk
across campus and no one looks you in the eye, rather they look at their phone.
For some it is their only friend in the world. You know what speaks to my
children at home for discipline? Take their phone away.
I worry that young men of your age do not know the difference between a
virtual relationship or a virtual experience and reality. In fact, for
most young men their video game experience is much more intriguing and
interesting than their real life. If left to themselves, why would they
not spend more time in a cool virtual environment than a lonely boring real
one? You see the movie Wall-E?
The adult male brain is not fully developed for most until around 20 years
of age, so why would we fill it with so much adult information so early?
There is no question we allow our children to grow up too fast with
information they are not developmentally ready for. We have a 21 year age
minimum for alcohol consumption for the same reason. We know it is not
healthy for you, as you can’t physically process it. My wife has fought
the virtual war in our household tooth and nail with our children. She has
been made by them to seem outdated, ill informed, uncaring etc… You know
what? She has been right on. There is no question in my mind.
Even as an adult, the extent of the trash we fill our minds with is
staggering. Why would we willingly fill our minds with poison? Do you
really believe you are immune to its affects? I believe you are just as
vulnerable as I.
Besides the isolation we have created in our society, and growing our kids
up too fast, I believe fathers have flat dropped the ball with their
children. Any man that is not actively involved parenting his own children
is not a man in my eyes. He is a selfish individual that is leaving his
heavy lifting for others to do. Period. Parenting takes two parents; it is
way too hard to do the job by yourself. Most likely the kids would have
won that virtual world power struggle in our household if there was only one
parent there. No parent can meet all of child’s needs by his or herself,
and sad fact is too many women are shouldering this heavy burden alone in
our country. Where are our men? Every evil young man that committed an act
such as this; had a Dad that dropped the ball. These dads were not
directly involved shaping their sons’ lives, making sure they had the tools the
needed to be successful in life. Their selfish decisions, (I don’t care
what the reason was, they were not there) lead to other’s lives being
lost. We can sugar coat it any way we choose, but that is a fact.
So, politicians are going to point to the band aids, but I want each of
you to examine the society you belong to, and find ways to make a
difference in those around you. “To whom much is given, much is
expected” that means you and me. Put your phone down a little more, turn
off that screen more often, and engage those around you. Create meaningful
relationships and give of yourself a little more. Try watching uplifting
shows more often, or reading material that is positive and possibly
inspiring. When you become a father someday, do not take the easy path of
putting job and convenience above what is best for your children. They are
your responsibility, and they do not know what is good for them, yet. You
are the parent, they are the child. If you can’t make that kind of
commitment, then don’t have kids. Get a dog.
You are the future leaders of our society and your generation will shape
our country sooner rather than later.
My heart breaks for the families burying their children today. My heart
aches for the parents who have presents under a tree for children who will
never open those presents. I can’t begin to understand the grief they are
experiencing. Tears ran freely down my face when I read of principal Dawn
Hochsprung and Mary Sherlack giving their lives in the attempt to prevent
the killer from murdering the students in their charge. And then you read
about 1st grade teacher Vicki Soto. A young woman who in one terrible
moment faced pure evil eye to eye and chose to literally shield her young
students from the bullets with her own body, allowing some to escape and
live. What heroes those women are to me.
These acts of bravery are what I want to remember.
All of us will be weighed and measured when we are called upon to act in
many differing levels of extreme adversity our lifetimes.
Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in
moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of crisis
Phillip Brooks said “character may be manifested in moments of
greatness, but it is made in the small ones.”
I believe they are both right.
Every day, every minute we are building our character. The moments of
crisis in our lives will allow others to see the man inside us, but that
man is being built every day by the choices we make and how we spend our
time and energy, and the input we allow into minds.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do
It is time for my generation, and the one before me, to step up and start
doing something about this. It is time for your generation to take notice
of our mistake, and take steps to not repeat it.