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Franciscan University of Steubenville head basketball coach John Lamanna is focusing on 4 main virtues this year.

They are called the Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Wisdom.

The team focuses on a virtue for the week and at each practice he names a Practice Captain.

The Practice Captain has the responsibility of speaking at the beginning of that practice on a concrete example of how that virtue has been lived out either by himself or someone else on campus.


John Lamanna

This gives every player the opportunity to share what the virtue means to them in their particular life.

It helps them make the virtue more “their own” because they have to speak about it to their teammates.

Coach Lamanna does an amazing job of mentoring his players.

He dedicates about 20 minutes to each and every player every week to discuss faith, academics, family and basketball.


Here is a short video where Coach Lamanna speaks about his basketball program:


On a side note, Franciscan University will play an exhibition game at University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena in November of 2014.

We spoke with two of Coach Lamanna's players about the Practice Captain initiative to get their insight.


Caleb Knorr

Caleb Knorr - Junior Forward from Austin, MN

At the beginning of practice, everyone gathers around the Practice Captain and he talks about the virtue that we are focusing on. Then each player shares what they are offering the practice for, for example one of our teammates his grandfather died so the players offered their practice up for him and fore the repose of the soul of his grandfather. This brings our team so much closer together.

Then the Practice Captain leads the team in prayer and then we go.

The virtue I had was Prudence - right wisdom applied to action.

I shared that we need to stay focused, have a clear mind, an active mind willing to learn, every day we can become great, we can improve, we have to be active in learning and if we do it every day we will be successful.


Garrison Holmes

Garrison Holmes - Freshman Guard from Temecula, CA

We start off practice by getting in a circle and we give everyone a hug so if we got after it the last practice with somebody, well that’s over, we’re family again. We start fresh.

The virtue I had to speak on when I was Practice Captain was Justice which is always giving people what they deserve. I spoke the week before our first game so we had been going at it for about a month a half, all practices and no games so it gets rough after a while.

We’ve been working hard for about a month and a half, giving people what they deserve, it would be unjust to let up, unjust to let that month of work go to waste, whether we are up by 30 or down by 30 it is unjust to not work hard for the team we are playing against, so even in life outside it is just to give someone a helping hand when they are in need.


Doing something every day to focus on virtue and getting your players involved - you can't go wrong!

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Web Site

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What does 5 pounds of fat look like?

What does 5 pounds of muscle look like?


Well, there you go at the right.

I’m thinking we are all choosing the muscle over the fat. Muscle sounds better and definitely looks better.

I think all of us want, would like, would choose more muscle and less fat.


I’m sure the great majority of us, myself definitely included, have a pound or two of fat we’d rather dispose of.

For anyone struggling with their weight, this is meant to be a motivation to continue fighting the good fight. You can do it!

And as the picture shows, even one pound is a great improvement.


This brings me to my main comparison: Virtue is like muscle, Vice is like fat.

Virtue = Strength

Vice = Weakness

If you’d like a longer, more profound definition, the Catechism offers the following:

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

But as I’m sure most of us have experienced, getting rid of that fat and building up the good muscle is easier said than done. It takes work.


But maybe this is a good image to bring to our students, athletes, children … that when you do good acts and practice virtue - it is like putting on that solid muscle. You are strengthening your soul, making yourself healthier …

When you give in to bad behavior, bad choices, and general weakness … you are putting those 5 pounds of fat into your soul.

Maybe making that bad decision isn’t so attractive anymore.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Digital Manual

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This happened a number of weeks ago but just in case you did not hear … Graham Watson reported ...

Kansas State University head football coach Bill Snyder sent the North Dakota State QB Brock Jensen a congratulatory note after their game. The game Kansas State lost.


Most coaches would be grumpy and downright indignant after suffering a demoralized (and possible season-crippling) loss to North Dakota State.

But not Kansas State’s Bill Snyder.

Instead of stewing about the stunning 24-21 defeat, Snyder sent Jensen a note telling the senior how impressed he was with his game.


Here’s the text in case you’re having trouble reading it:

Congratulations Brock. I was truly impressed with you & your teammates. You played so very well, virtually error free & with such poise. I wish you a great year & hope you achieve all you desire. Please share my thoughts w/ your teammates. 
Warm regards, 
Bill Snyder


Snyder has been around a long time (since the leather helmet days, I think), so he can appreciate when a team gets lucky and when a team actually plays better than his on that night.

North Dakota State scored a late touchdown to claim the win and notch the first of seven FCS upsets during college football's opening weekend.

Jensen said after the game he was proud to be part of the biggest win in North Dakota State history, and this classy move by Snyder probably makes it even more memorable.

This is VIRTUE in action.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Web Site

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Wisdom from Coach John Wooden: “A coach is someone who can give correction without creating resentment.”


Questions to ask ourselves:

  • When I correct a mistake in a player do I concentrate on the mistake or the skill I am trying to teach or am I more about "getting after the player?"

  • When I "get after a player" do I always follow that up with some praise and positive reinforcement?

  • Do players leave practice angry with me?

  • Is it always the player's fault or am I humble enough to consider whether or not I am teaching the skill properly?

  • Are the players not listening or am I not communicating well enough?


Let's keep improving as coaches and as communicators.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd

Would you like some great quotes?

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"Lord, I could really use some HELP." Have you ever heard yourself utter this prayer?

I think I say this prayer, DAILY! In fact, I KNOW I say this prayer, DAILY.

Help me be a better father. Help me be a better husband. Help me be a better coach. Help me say the right thing. Help me pay my bills. Help me CARE. Help me to stay strong: strong enough to win, to lead, to be a strength to others. Help me make it through the day!

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My wedding day, July 10, 1993….and my best "men"!

As far as I can remember, I've always had a group of people that have helped me. Maybe, it was because I was the baby of the family, or because I had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis much of my childhood and needed help every day, or because I've never been afraid to ask for it, being a so-called "mooch" (that's what my wife tells me!). Who knows? Whatever the case, I've always had GREAT friends and family that have been there to help me and love me no matter the circumstance. They have given me financial help, terrific friendship, inspiration, invaluable advice, discipline and a personal love that went far beyond the hijinks of my immature adolescence.


I will always have those friends and family and I will always love them for the times we have shared. But with every new year, every new stage of life, new problems occur. Struggles at work. Struggles of a new home. Struggles of a new family. Struggles with the new things that are happening in our new lives. And many times, I need NEW help from NEW family and friends. People that are an integral daily part of my NEW life. People that God has put into my new life for that very reason; to be a support in the here and NOW. God has, indeed, blessed me, because He has placed so many more of these type of people in my life, at every turn, helping me no matter the conflict or crisis. One of those first people to help me when I first ventured out of the great state of Michigan, 21 years ago, really the first guy to know me as a coach, and a young man trying to be more, was and still is my dear friend, Tim Odom.

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Tim and I with our boys in front of Touchdown Jesus, in South Bend.

Tim and his family, welcomed me and my beautiful wife when we came down here to Cincinnati in 1992. I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into when he hired me as his D-Coordinator at Simon Kenton! For, I can't count the number of times Tim and his family have emptied themselves to help our family. To name a few:

-He has given us money(too many times!). 
-He has given us loyal friendship 
-He has given us a family away from home. 
-He has given us opportunity. 
-He has given us a place to stay…twice! 
-He has given us God.


Tim has been an instrument of God, helping a young coach who didn't know what he was doing. And he continues to be used by God, to so many more than me. He has given selflessly to the wrestling team at Winton Woods when I coached there. He has given to countless sports programs, because he knew what it was like trying to start up a great sports program himself. He has given to countless charities, when he didn't have money, relying on God to take care of the details. God has blessed his faithfulness and helped him create a steel fabricating business, Odom Industries. And he continues to give, supporting SportsLeader, helping us to HELP coaches and athletes across the country.


I consider it an honor to be friends with Tim Odom, he is a great man. If we take the time to think about it, we ALL are indebted to somebody like him. Thank God, Tim learned at an early age that we were meant to be a help to each other. We, as parents, as coaches, as friends and leaders, as followers of Christ are meant to be that helping hand to the people we meet EVERY DAY. And, especially, as adults, we are meant to be a HELP to the young people we coach, teach, encounter every day. SportsLeader urges you, yet again, to be that HELP, that help so many people are groaning for from God, every day. For God works miracles through the people He created; We are meant to be those miracles to others!

Thank you God, for answering MY prayer and making Tim Odom a miracle for me!

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The Odom's and Willertz's celebrating Easter together. Friends FOREVER!

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Coach #1: "These kids, these days! How can I be expected to get them to learn anything? How can I get them to win? They are so soft, hard work is definitely not in their vocabulary! And they never LISTEN! It seems every time I try to coach them up- 1 on 1- nothing improves. Why should I even try?"

Coach #2: "You ever think that maybe if you changed your approach, you might get different results? Dare, I say, your approach might be part of the problem."

Coach #1: "Are you kidding me??!! I AM definitely NOT the problem!"

Getting through to our players (teenagers for all you parents out there!) is no easy task. However, to DISMISS THEM because we aren't communicating can't be the only solution. We were made to live in community, to work together, to build each other up, to interact…it's how we are made, and that includes the TOUGH people in our lives, including our players and our teenage children.


Pat Summitt won 8 National Championships at University of Tennessee and 1,098 wins total in her coaching career!

Successful coaches find a way to win. And they don't win by themselves, they win with the people around them, no matter how dysfunctional those people are. It doesn't matter what their personality is, they find a way to win. They can be the high achiever coach-AKA-"the mover and shaker". He/She wants results and is strong-willed enough to make sure it happens, whether that means pushing, pulling, directing, persuading, whatever. Sure they can appear insensitive and harsh, but that doesn't mean they don't care about their players, they just want them to get it done….to make plays!


Jimmy Valvano and Dereck Whittenburg after North Carolina State's "impossible" win over Houston in the 1983 NCAA title game.

But coaches come in all shapes and sizes. Although, for many, the stereotype of the "driver" coach is the norm, there are many types of coaches, coaches that win plenty of championships as well. Some have tons of personality and charm. They are engaging, supportive, persuasive and relationship-oriented; a player's coach. Of course, we all love playing for coaches like these men and women, they are devoted, trustful and loyal to the team.


Nick Saban and the University of Alabama's football team has won 3 of the last 4 BCS National Championship games.

Some coaches are so smart, so into the game, it's just hard to get a grasp of them. The game is their life! And with the game getting more and more complicated, especially at the professional levels, these coaches are becoming more and more numerous. Precision and perfection is what wins games, they'll exclaim. And if they appear withdrawn, quiet or even sullen at times, it's not that they don't like their people, it's just that their mind is in another place.


No matter what type of coach we are, we are all expected to "reach" our players. Because no matter what our personality type is, there is a team full of personalities that need our love, direction, support, instruction and expertise. They need it so they can be the best players they can be for your team, but they also need it so they can be the best people they can be, for the teams they will lead in their lifetimes. We need to be the SOLUTIONS for our kids. We need to want to HELP THEM as much as we want to WIN. And we should expect problems to occur in this process. For, indeed, all of us can be the problem from time to time. Instead the question should be, Am I a Part of the SOLUTION? Because as coaches and parents, if we aren't part of the solution, what are we?


Personality Test---Social Styles Survey

It's always enlightening to discover more about ourselves as people. Above is social styles survey that SportsLeader uses in training sessions with coaches and players to help teams understand the various personality styles on the team. Take a look and give it a try, for as Thomas a Kempis said,

"A humble knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than a deep search after learning."

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Pope Francis took the time recently to do one simple thing that has now captivated the globe: He embraced and prayed with a man covered in tumors in St. Peter’s Square.

The encounter between the pontiff and the unnamed individual took place after Francis addressed his general audience, when the man approached the Catholic leader and asked to be blessed.

The man suffers from neurofibromatosis, which according to the Mayo Clinic is a “genetic disorder that disturbs cell growth in your nervous system, causing tumors to form on nerve tissue.” It is not contagious.

While individuals with neurofibromatosis are sometimes shunned because of their appearance, Francis wasted no time kissing the man’s face, embracing him and offering up a blessing.


Since taking over as the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, the Pope has highlighted the need to reach out to the poor and afflicted.

"True charity requires courage: let us overcome the fear of getting our hands dirty so as to help those in need," he tweeted.

And he is practicing what he preaches.

In one of our previous emails we talked about virtues and feelings …

Maybe Pope Francis did not “feel like” embracing this man. Maybe he “felt” scared or hesitant or worried.

But what has captivated the world is what he DID.

He displayed virtue: Compassion, Charity, Kindness, Courage, Empathy, Love, Humility, Selflessness …


We have also been blanketed by the coverage of the Miami Dolphins fiasco.

So many of the people defending Richie Incognito and/or blaming Jonathan Martin have mentioned the concept that Martin was not “man enough” … that he needs to “man up” … that he is not “tough enough.”

Their concept of “manhood” is substantially flawed.

I think a much better example of manhood is Pope Francis.

“Being a man” = being virtuous.

Being strong enough to do the right thing even when you may not feel like it, even when you are pressured or tempted to do the wrong thing … no matter who is watching. That is a man.

The idiocy coming from the Miami Dolphins locker room is anything but manhood.

We need our boys and young men to see what Pope Francis did and is doing. We need to show them THAT is manhood.

I want my own sons acting like Pope Francis, Not the Miami Dolphins.

Pope Francis is making the world better. What are the Miami Dolphins doing?

Let's create a real vision for sports, leadership and manhood in our board rooms, locker rooms and family rooms.

Virtue = Strength, Lou 
SportsLeader Strength for Life Coach Manual



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No, I do not have actual stats on this. Only God knows how many times each virtue has been asked for in prayer.

But my guess is Patience.

I’m currently reading a book titled “The Noticer Returns” by Andy Andrews. There was a paragraph that really grabbed me.

“Despite the ebb and flow of our feelings, we can control the way we act. Patience is not a feeling. Patience is the description of a behavior. One can choose to act patiently even while the feeling of frustration tempts him to choose inappropriate behavior. It is impossible to feel frustrated and feel patient at the same time, but one can be inundated with feelings of frustration and still display patience. Patience is a discipline. It is an action. Patience is a chosen response.”


So because we don’t feel patient, we can easily think that we are not patient.

The dangerous part of that thinking is equating feelings with virtues. They are not the same.

In our increasingly immediate gratification driven society, feelings are behind the wheel.

This is what formation and training are all about. Learning to conscientiously move our feelings to the back seat and have our willpower and intellect in the drivers seat.

We can use our will to control ourselves and exercise virtue.

Virtue = Strength, Lou 
SportsLeader Manual to Teach Virtue

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Love is the most powerful and the most important virtue of all. It is also the topic or theme most talked about, sung about, "storied" about, "movied" about …

At our most intimate and vulnerable core, Love is what moves us.

Love is often spoken about in the team environment as well.

You especially hear it during moments of euphoria in the midst of a win, a score, a great play. Not so much after you've lost by 40 or you missed an assignment.

So what does love have to do with sports?

Love is wanting the very best for the other person or persons.

Love is being more interested in the happiness of your teammate than about yourself.

For example:

When an Offensive Lineman blocks with all his heart, mind, soul and strength totally focused on wanting his Running Back to go untouched.

And when that Running Back refuses to go down, strains for every possible yard because he knows how much his Offensive Lineman has sacrificed for him and he wants those yards and that TD for him.

When the Power Forward sets that pick so her Guard can take the shot and when the Point Guard drives and then makes the beautiful last second pass because she wants her Power Forward to lay it in.

They're not doing it out of duty, because it is their position or their job. They are doing it with a full heart.

And the greater joy is seeing the joy on the other's face. The joy is in the happiness of the other, not in yourself.

So how do we know when we are in love?

When our heart "aches" to see our loved one happy. When it "aches" even more to see them sad or disappointed.

When we are loving we have reached the highest point of humanity. We are truly Being.

It goes for off the field as well. The teammate who is all emotion after the big win in the locker room, expressing his undying love for all involved … but then proceeds to get high or drunk or abuse women or all three an hour later … does he really LOVE his teammates?

What was that in the locker room speech? Was it genuine? Possibly but also quite possibly it was just emotion. Emotion generated by feelings centered around oneself… I feel good so I tell others I love them. But it is hollow because the subsequent actions speak louder than your emotive words.

Maybe this is why divorce and infidelity are so common amongst athletes and coaches. Because the love never left the sphere of emotion.

But when you have a teammate who in the face of very strong and persistent temptation says no to drugs, violence, gangs, theft, cheating, abusing, VICE and WEAKNESS … because they truly want to GIVE something better to all those around them, because they LOVE them, because they want what is best for them … that is where sports and team can become one of the best "teachers" of the greatest life lesson of all - the lesson of loving.

Because in the face of temptation and weakness, we desperately NEED a person, a reason to overcome that temptation. Yes, we can overcome certain things for love of ourselves but even there it is the love of a person - yourself - that motivates you.

The teammate who truly learns this lesson … years later they will LOVE their spouse more than themselves and they will sacrifice for them. They will put their children before their own needs or wants. They will LOVE them. Not just when it is easy but all the time. Because they have learned to love.

That is formation, teaching, COACHING. That is priceless. That is worth all the hours of your time, your volunteering, your unpaid sacrifices. That is a WIN!

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
SportsLeader Web Site



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My family and I welcomed a new member this week, our sixth child and fourth son: Maximilian Xavier Judd.

Baby Max and Mom are doing very well and we thank everyone for their prayers. We experienced a bit of a miracle during this pregnancy so we think God must have big things in store for this little guy.

My wife and I went were out at a restaurant the night before the delivery and it was a very unique and moving experience. It seemed like almost every elderly couple in the restaurant was coming up to my lovely wife to comment on her pregnancy and such. For many it was as if they had never seen a pregnant woman before … the amazement, the respect, the awe if you will.


It reminded me of something Pope John Paul II spoke of quite often: that the meaning of the human person is to be a gift.

"Man finds himself only by making himself a sincere gift to others" (Gaudium et Spes, no. 24).

Yes, my wife and child in womb were a tremendous gift to others that evening, filling some people with joy and hope and I was honored to witness it.

Today the Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day … a day to celebrate people throughout history who went about doing good basically 24/7. They are clear examples of people giving themselves as gifts.

That is why we named him Maximilian Xavier … after two men who spent their lives doing good for others: Maximilian Kolbe and Francis Xavier.

If you are not familiar with them I encourage you to look them up.


In the sports world there was another recent event where some young middle school football players did something amazing … being a gift to a member of their team.

Please watch this 3 minute video … especially the last minute. It is very inspirational and share it with your players and families.


Every coach can learn a lesson from this middle school team

A middle school team from Olivet, Michigan got together to create a special play, for an even more special player, behind the back of the entire coaching staff earlier this month.

Now normally, a player calling his own play on the field wouldn't fly with 99% of coaches, but even the most intense and hard headed coaches would get goose bumps if this ever happened on their watch.

You see, the team banded together in order to get as close to the goal line as possible without scoring in order to get their special needs teammate Keith Moore his first ever touchdown. The coaches had no idea, and even Keith's parents almost missed out on the moment.

CBS has a really good look at the story, and it serves as an excellent reminder of the power that football (sports) has in the lives of young, impressionable people (and their families), and the life lessons that it can teach at every age.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd



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