High School Football — Lessons Learned

Today the UIL announced that Gunter Football will be able to start their season on time. I wanted to share something I wrote back in 2008 for the Gunter Times-Review aka “The Gunter Paper.” GT football wasn’t quite as well known back then, but the teams were just as “TPW” and fun to watch and cheer on! I hope the post below can serve as a reminder of the value of high school football, beyond the field of play.
Below is the article as it appeared in the paper with the addition of supporting Bible verses.

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The Gunter Tigers wrapped up their football season with a hard fought loss to the Bearcats of Pilot Point. Friday nights just won’t be the same. But while the season is over, there are many things that future football teams as well as all of us can learn, and hopefully apply, from this year’s team. Here are just a few of the many:

Five things we can learn from the 08, Gunter Tiger Football team:

1. Class: in a day and age when showboating and flashy plays can overshadow genuine talent and effort, this group of young men and their leadership gave us an example of the way a really good team can still play with class. Our Tigers did not receive one personal foul all season. When an opposing team member was hurt, they displayed genuine concern.  When they won, they congratulated the other team for their efforts. In the rare occasion when they lost, they lined up and did the same to a worthy opponent. This team was truly a class act.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 ESV)

2. Diligence in the face of adversity: This year’s team came into the season with the knowledge that they had lost a ton of talent and leadership from last years graduated seniors and a lot of people doubting what they could accomplish. But that did not seem phase them. If anything, it made them step up to the challenge that much more.  

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

3. Playing like a team: You didn’t have to follow this team long to realized that they knew it was not an individual effort. Many of our athletes, who had their name announced over the intercom on one side of the ball, filled a much less noticed, out of the spotlight position, with the same diligence on the opposite side of the ball. Offense, defense, special teams, whatever the role, it was filled with the same precision and intensity. I remember the week they were scheduled to face Melissa’s high powered offense, I mentioned to one of our secondary starters that Melissa may underestimate our secondary and he might get some interceptions. Skipping an opportunity to brag on himself, he very quickly informed me that it was our defensive line that was making opposing quarterbacks rush their throws and make interceptions possible.  Just one example of an overall TEAM mindset.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV)

4. Commitment to hard work: Those of us who have little ones who practiced soccer near the varsity practice field, take Kerfoot Road on our way home from work, or just happen to cruise by after a Sonic run for dinner, know that this team practiced hard, long, and often.  All those fundamentals: hitting and wrapping up, drawing teams off sides with hard snap counts, the filling of every lane on special teams, etc, they don’t happen without commitment to hard work, and lots of it.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

5. Ability to cast and catch vision: This one is a big pat on the back for the Tiger coaching staff. You don’t have a season like what we witnessed this year without leaders who are able communicate what they are trying to accomplish, and how it needs to be accomplished.  That was obviously communicated with clarity and in such a way that the players “bought in” and made the coaching staff’s vision their own. Leadership is influence and these coaches had it this season.

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand. (Psalm 78:72 ESV)

Thanks guys for a great season of football and hopefully some lessons learned.

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Looking forward to more great football and lessons learned in 2020!

#TPW

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