As the 2019 Football Program's start to ramp up, Friday Night Lights begin to illuminating the night skies around the country, and all the coaches are charged up for yet another run; my mind shifts to the Elite Middle School National Championship season.
Football is a tradition in the Cole household but never replaces academics. My oldest son was one heck of a football player and decided after his freshmen year that pursuing a football scholarship was not the top priority in his life. He dominated on the field but never veered off track and maintained a 4.5 GPA and used his academic prowess to get accepted into Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana. This made me so proud to have witnessed him play and make a fundamentally sound decision. I am really proud of this guy! My youngest son maintains a 3.75 GPA and was named Indiana All State as a sophomore defensive back. He will have to make the same decision and hopes to get offers this year to make it easier. No matter what he does on the field the grades are ultimately what he has to fall back on.
I preach all year around the importance of having a grades first mentality. This is the reality of the gridiron and not every youth player goes on to play in middle school, not every middle school players ever sets foot on the field on Friday Nights in high school, Saturday's are in no way a guarantee for even the most talented high school player, and only a small percentage of athletes ever play on Sunday in the NFL. This is the reality and in no way meant to crush dreams. So my advise will and will always be to study hard and compete on and off the field.
As a dad, coach, mentor, and productive member of society; I feel it is my obligation to the youth to be honest and to always keep it "100". Be a student athlete and set your goals in that order. If you concentrate your energy on the books, studying, learning, and advancing academically then football is simply recreation. This mindset will allow you to focus on the big picture which happens to be living life without the game. Football teaches players how to prepare for competition. Coaches use film, scouting reports, repetitions, game-time scenario's, lectures, and countless motivational techniques to give their teams an edge during the games. Teachers do the same exact thing and deserve the same respect when they ask you to read, take notes, pay attention, show up on time, and give you homework. The teacher is just like the coach but they are not getting "Hardware", "Trophies", "Championships", or "Making Highlight Film" because they reward students with a diploma and/or degree.
Coaches and teachers alike use sayings like: (Just a few)
1. Just say No
2. Make good choices
3. Try your hardest or do your best
4. I need your 100% effort, 100% of the time
5. Nothing good ever comes easy
6. Practice makes perfect
7. You can do anything if you put your mind to it
8. You are only as good as your goals/set your goals and aim high
9. You are better than that
10. Show me what you are made of
We have tryouts coming up for the 2019 "Elite Middle School" tournament programs and I believe that each player should be held accountable for their grades. I have to admit that talent is needed to win championships, but what kind of program sacrifices the student for the athlete. I believe we should be sacrificing athletes to make better students. If a student is getting in school suspension, tardy, abusing substances, failing classes, and still playing organized sports then there is major disconnect. This mentality of winning at all costs is dangerous and the majority of the time the student athletes are the pawns.
Indiana Select 2019 will vow to have each student who takes the field get passing grades and submit a conduct report in order to participate. This will put an emphasis on the grades first mentality and place a value on the character of the player on and off the field.
So Indiana Select is looking for dedicated, motivated, and pumped up parents that want to get into a program that will help make your son better. We want football families looking to get an edge on the competition by playing some travel football at a high level. We are looking for parents that want to prepare their players for high school by playing, practicing, and traveling for football tournaments in the winter months.
If you are one of these parents and have a player that is interested in building bonds with other student athletes from around the state with one common goal, which is to win a "National Championship", then Indiana Select would love to have you show up for tryouts.
Marcus Cole (MAED) (MSP)- Commissioner