Did you hear about the High School coach and his staff, who decided to suspend the entire football team because of what he referred to as exhibiting “poor character?”  His name is Matt Labrum and he believes that as a coach of young men that he needs to instill qualities that are positive and lifelong.  It was that belief and desire along with his passion for the game of football that led this head football coach and his staff to suspend all 80 members of the football team because of off-field behavior.  Some of the behaviors stated were disrespecting teachers, skipping classes, failing grades, and cyber bullying.

Not all members of the team were guilty of those behaviors, but the coach and his staff felt that the majority of the team knew about these behaviors and did nothing to try to stop them…thus they were all guilty.

So the coach and his staff gathered the team together after Friday’s night game and he told them that he was concerned about some of the players’ actions and behavior off the field.  He then instructed them to turn in their jerseys and their equipment.  He also informed them that there would be no football until they earned the privilege to play and that a 7:00 am meeting was scheduled for the next morning, where they would have the opportunity to re-earn a spot on the team.

Most of the players reportedly left the locker room in tears and shock.

During Saturday’s team meeting, Lebrum gave the suspended players a letter titled “Union Football Character,” explaining what the team members needed to do to win back their jerseys.

The following is a copy of that letter.

 

Gentlemen,

We are not pleased with how our football brothers are representing our family, school, community, alumni, family and yourselves.  It is a privilege to play this wonderful game! We must earn the opportunity, to have the honor to put on our high schools jersey each Thursday and Friday night!  The lack of character we are showing off the field is outshining what we are achieving on the field.  We want student-athletes that are humble to learn and grow through adversity and success on and off the field.  We want a team that others want to associate themselves with and support; winning isn’t the most important criteria for that to happen.

Humbleness, thankfulness, humility, respect, courage and honor are much more important than winning ballgames!  We can achieve both if we start to act with others’ feelings in mind and focus on how we can make someone else’s day instead of just wrapped up in ourselves.  WHEN WE ARE WORKING ON THIS AND ACHIEVING THIS WE WILL BE MOLDING OUR CHARACTER IN A POSITIVE WAY!  Right now we are way off as a collective group.  We want change and are going to make changes now.

As of tonight we are no longer playing football until we meet certain criteria!

TURN YOUR JERSEYS IN NOW!

Saturday: 7:00 a.m. electing captains “Attitude Reflects Leadership” — Remember the Titans.

Monday: 3:30 we will be doing a service project during practice time, come prepared to work, and then we are all required to attend the Cougar Legend Banquet.  Find ways to serve during this event.

Tuesday: We will be performing more service in lieu of practice.

Wednesday: Study Hall begins at 3:30 and we better have specific items to work on.  We will be in there for the duration of practice.  You must have enough work for 2 hours.

Criteria to EARN jersey back for Friday’s Game

1) Attend all practices that we have planned and any others that may come up.

2) Be on time and totally prepared

3) No F’s or discipline problems

4) Do an individual service project for your family, give me a typed report of it and pictures and have your parents sign it.  (Due Wed. before study hall)

5) Memorize and pass this quote off to one of the coaches at some point during study hall

“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent.  Most talents are, to some extent, a gift.  Good character, by contrast is not given to us.  We have to build it, piece by piece — by thought, by choice, courage, and determination.”

If you meet ALL criteria by Wednesday night, you will have earned the privilege to play in the games on Thursday and Friday.  If you fail then you will miss this week’s game.

Signed,

Your coaches

 

Instead of practicing during the days leading up to homecoming this coming Friday, they were told to perform community service, attend study hall, and attend a class on character development.  They were also required to perform a family service and write a report about it.  All needed to attend all classes and those with poor grades needed to show improvement.

School administrators heard about the decision to suspend the team the day before it happened and fully supported the idea.  They felt that this idea was more of an opportunity, rather than a punishment.  Though there was some initial questioning, none of the parents complained and most expressed support and gratitude.

Of the seven original team Captains, only two were re-elected after Saturday’s meeting.

A senior running back on the team summed it up, “I knew that some of my teammates were skipping classes and doing poorly in their classes, but I was not always saying anything to them and I was not holding them accountable, both on and off the field.  As a leader it is my responsibility to do so.”  He also says that he now has a new outlook on what it means to wear his high school football uniform.

This should be every coach’s number one goal and I applaud this head coach, his staff, the school administrators, and the parents in this community.  You all just gave this nation a lesson in character.

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