Todd Graham and his Arizona State staff hosted their Sun Devil Youth Football Experience on July 31, and the Devils' head coach gave an inspired, steam-of-consciousness, and honest 13-minute talk to the youth coaches and parents in attendance. Thanks to YouTube user Renee Coyle, we can now share Graham's particular brand of Texas wisdom with the world.
Graham touches on a number of subjects, but the main themes of his message were this: kids need love and structure and discipline are necessary avenues to deliver that love, kids deserve high standards, and parents and youth coaches' influence on young people can not be understated. In sharing bits and pieces of his life message, Graham says that his success is thanks to the confidence and boundaries instilled in him by his single mother and youth football coaches, and he wants to pay that forward on the parents and youth coaches of today. He invites youth coaches to bring their teams to an Arizona State practice or to have a Sun Devil speak to their team or classroom at multiple points throughout the 13-minute video.
There are many, many coaching points within the video, and we've grabbed the main ones below:
- "Kids need discipline. Kids need structure. Got me? But discipline and structure's no good, it'll never work, unless you love them. So 80 percent of what we do as teachers, and I think as parents, should be inspiring and teaching, and 20 percent is that discipline and structure."
- "You can not have success in life without sacrifice. There's nothing in this world for free. Reap what you sow. You get what you work for. You can do everything right and still get your head kicked in. What do you do? You get back up. I want my kids that I raise, I want my kids that I coach to understand that."
- “Everybody shouldn’t get a blue ribbon. There’s a winner and a loser. Sometimes you are going to be on the wrong end of that. It's your values, your character."
- “Set high standards. Too much in our society is about compromise and tolerance. Expect the best. Set the standard at the top. Teach them to work, man. I love to work. Why? Because my mom and my granddad instilled that in me."
- "Don't put parameters on your kids, no matter what it is. They're not all going to be football stars. Whatever it is that they do, man, teach them to do it with a passion. Everybody's got talents. Figure out what that is."
- "I had a kid when I was 17. I did not pass the ACT test coming out of high school. The school I went to, I only made three B's in high school. They didn't teach me anything. But you know what? That ACT test don't tell me I'm smart. I'm doing pretty good for myself for an 'ol boy who didn't pass his ACT. And not many people are going to stand up and tell you they flunked the ACT test. That strength that you see in me, that confidence, was born in me from my mother.
I remember my seventh grade football coach, who really inspired me and changed my life. He said, 'Hey son, let me tell you something.' I was feeling sorry for myself because I didn't have a dad and things were tough, and he says, 'Son, quit feeling sorry for yourself. Man, you're blessed. The lady you go home to at night, the home you live in, you are blessed.'"
- "Teach your kids the greatest thing they're going to do in their life, the greatest thing I've done in my life, has nothing to do with football. Let me tell you something, football is important, winning is important. I love it. I'm going to compete until the day I die. I love it. It's my passion. But that's not the most important thing I've done in my life. Dads, the most important thing you're going to do in your life is to be a husband, and be a committed husband, and a committed father. Moms, same thing. Greatest thing you'll do in your life, man, is be a mom."
- "When you're the giver, you're getting twice as much as the person that's receiving."
- "Our program is about faith, family, and football. If you don't like that, don't come here. I've never met somebody that has great character that don't have great faith."
- "I get up in the morning, I surround myself with people that bring out the best in me and won't accept the least in me. We say, hey, we want to be held to a higher standard, right? That's what we say, and most days I fall on my can. And then I get right back up the next day and I strive for it again."
Finally, Graham's last point is the most important, specifically for our audience.
- "I played for hall of fame coaches like Gene Stallings, Pat O'Neal, Gary Childress. Those guys were great coaches. They didn't change my life. It was my seventh grade football coach. Every one of you is significant. You guys that coach little league, man, I'm telling you, you're a difference-maker. Mike McCarron and David Harper were my pee-wee football coaches that came and picked me up every day. They took me to football, they took me to basketball, they took me to baseball, and they took me to track. I don't know why they did But if they wouldn't have I wouldn't be standing here."
(HT Sun Devil Scoop)