"Football is a great game, not just because of the actual sport, but because of the character development that comes from our game. You must become disciplined, responsible, and able to handle adverse situations. Sometimes it takes a stranger to show our players how what they are doing now, can prepare them for the greater challenges in life," commented Catanzaro. "In 2008, I read the book Winner's Manual by Jim Tressel. I reached out to Coach Tressel and he outlined what the Winner's Manual at Ohio State looked like, including sending me a copy. I took some of what Coach Tressel was doing and adopted it to our Forester Football team. We obviously don't have the resources that the Buckeyes have, but we have done quite well with what we have."
Since 2009, the Foresters have heard from CEO's, Professors, Business innovators, Alumni, Olympians, and several Military officers. In the first five days of camp, the Foresters have played host to several individuals who have challenged them to think about life outside of the football field.
Eric Davis, the captain of the 1982 Final Four - PHI SLAMMA JAMMA team at the University of Houston, and former NFL Player for the Houston Oilers came and spoke to the Foresters on Sunday morning. After his professional sports career, Mr. Davis became a highly decorated veteran of the Chicago Police Department specializing in his efforts as a member of the Gang Crimes and Public Housing task forces.
Eric spoke to the Foresters about making choices and striving towards creating opportunities for themselves. His focus on "getting in the room," struck a chord with many of the players. Through stories about his interaction both with Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeen Olajuwon and the similarities that his interaction with drug dealers, Mr. Davis was able to help the Forester see that interactions aren't different, they are just important. Additionally, Mr. Davis spoke to the players about breaking down barriers within their team, while focusing on a common goal. He spoke about teams with cliques and their faults, and encouraged the players to eliminate "classism" and "position" elitism that can occur on a team. Mr. Davis challenged the Foresters to grow with a big goal in mind so that a number of little goals will be reached along the way.
Dr. W. Roy Smythe
A former offensive guard for the Baylor Bears, where he was a teammate of Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, Dr. W. Roy Smythe spoke to the Foresters on Monday afternoon. A successful speciality surgeon, and current contributing author for Forbes Magazine, Dr. Smythe currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for AVIA, and was recently named the first Chief Executive Officer at HX360. An innovator in health care, Dr. Smythe has previously served as the Roney Endowed Chair for Texas A&M's Medical School.
Dr. Smythe encouraged the Foresters to understand their "life slope." Dr. Smythe's personal experiences dealing with losses far greater than football games, authored a genuine discussion revolving around dealing with loss, and using it as a spring board for something greater. His use of visual aids, and specific experience's from his lifetime were very specific to the players in the room. Dr. Smythe also engaged in a Question and Answer session with the players about being student-athletes, how to deal with specific loss, and what type of growth they should be focusing on while in college. Dr. Smythe did not limit his challenges to just the Forester football players, he also challenged the coaches.
"When my dad died during my freshman year, it was Coach Teaff who picked me up. Don't ever underestimate the impact that you can have on the guys in this room," reminded Dr. Smythe.
Tim Connolly, returned to Lake Forest for his second experience as a Winner's Manual speaker. One of the original Winner's Manual Speakers in 2009, Tim delivered an emotional and challenging "real talk" with the Foresters. Tim currently serves as the President of Operations and Logistics at United Stationers. Tim, is also the President of United Stationers Charitable Foundation.
Tim, delved into the decisions that each player would face, and challenged them to make the right one. He spoke specifically of the "it's only" decisions that create horrible situations. He also discussed the relationships that he has forged with those that have "less" than he and his family and that each member of our team is responsible of the greater community. Tim's final challenge struck a major chord with a lot of our players, encouraging them to value their "important" relationships, and not take them for granted. As he spoke of his relationship with his late father, Tim poured into the soul of a number of Foresters. Tim encouraged the players to call and thank those who have helped make the opportunity to be at Lake Forest College and play football for each individual player.
"No set of words can describe the impact that his words had," said one Forester.
Post talk social media was on fire with commentary from Coaches and players alike:
Definitely making the right choices now. Thank you Tim Connolly— P. McD (@PiddyPat6) August 20, 2014
Best speech I've ever heard in my life.— Joel Nierling (@joel_nierling) August 20, 2014
Speaker really got to me... I was all types of choked up— King Jack (@JFishman_44) August 20, 2014
Look for more updates on the upcoming Winner's Manual speakers throughout camp.