The Foresters were hard at work at practice again today, hoping to beat the heat and continue to forge their individual skills into a collaborative team effort. While the Foresters’ performance on the field is important to Coach Cat, it is not the only thing that he is focusing on. Throughout the course of fall camp, the Foresters begin each morning with a Winner’s Manual session. When I caught up with Coach Cat, this is what he had to say about this incredible program:
“The Winner's Manual is our spin on an idea that Jim Tressel at Ohio State does with his players. We have changed it to be appropriate to the Lake Forest College Football players. We bring in speakers (past include Capt. John Malfitano (commanding officer at Great Lakes Naval Base) and NFL Hall of Famer Dave Casper) and have them talk to our players about different characteristics that are important to refine while in college. Some examples are becoming servant leaders, humility, professional communications, a sense of patriotism, being civic minded, etc."
The program focuses on training our players to think about their actions both on and off the field. When asked about how he starts the program, Coach Cat said, “Our players each receive a 400 page book with various quotes, speeches, and images that inspire, speak to, or educate on the different points. This helps our players refocus on those character traits when they are on their own time."
He continued by explaining his personal experience with the program:
“It was something that I started almost immediately after I became the head coach, and something that I think a number of our players really benefit from. It also allows them to share different feelings and talk to each other about important things outside of football."
When asked about why he thinks the program is so important for his players, Coach Cat explained the impact that it has on their lives:
"It’s important because as coaches, we are entrusted with helping these 18-year-old freshmen leave college as 22-year-old men who are ready for the world outside of academia. My goal is to see our players become better husbands, better fathers, and better members of the greater community. That is easy lip service, but it takes a lot to try and influence that. I am excited about how our team has embraced the idea of making this an integral part of the Forester football team’s foundation."
Tomorrow night, the Foresters will be welcoming former professional hockey player Steve “the Cat” Alley to campus. I’ll be able to sit down and talk to Steve, as he drives home the message that there is more than one definition of what it means to win.
We’re officially three weeks out from GAME DAY! Let’s go Foresters!
-Elise Beckman, contributing author