It is NOT coincidental that I am sending you this “Mentor Memoir” #2 on LABOR DAY. That is because it comes from a football coach who greatly molded me as a man. And is a major mentor of mine.
And one of the funniest and BEST things he ever did to our championship team my senior year in high school was actually on Labor Day (More on that later!).
But I need to tell you first a bit about Coach Warren Wolf. Coach Wolf was like a God in high school football. Not only was he highly acclaimed on the Jersey Shore and all of New Jersey, but he was highly respected in football coaching circles around the entire U.S.
Check out some of his amazing stats:
- 24 Shore Conference Championships
- 13 NJ State Titles
- 6th Winning-est Coach in the U.S.—ALL TIME
- 4th in the nation of football coaches by number of seasons coached
- 51 years as a head coach at one school (Brick, NJ)
He is a living legend at the age of 87, and has influenced me greatly.
When I was young boy, I would dream of playing for Coach Wolf. I would stand at the edge of the fence at Keller Memorial Field and watch the “Silver Fox” lead his Green Dragons with the Michigan-type wing-tipped helmets onto the field. And I dreamt of someday running out onto that same field.
My older brother Paul actually quarterbacked the first NJ football state championship for Coach Wolf in 1974 when the undersized, undermanned Brick Green Dragons out-coached, out-disciplined, and out-hit Camden, NJ, 21-20. I was just 3 years old at the time but it was the first of Coach Wolf’s 13 state championships.
My opportunity to play for Coach Wolf came early as I was fortunate enough to start as a young freshman quarterback for his powerhouse program. I was scared. I was excited. I was nervous. I was pumped. And I did not want to let down Coach Wolf.
And over a 4 year career that eventually led to a football scholarship to William & Mary, I learned a ton of extremely valuable life lessons from Coach that still apply today.
Here are just a few:
1. The 5 P’s to Success. Coach would walk around at practice in his white T-shirt, long shorts, black high-top cleats, floppy hat, with a whistle around his neck and say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice produces peak performance.” How true it is in ALL facets of life!
2. “Run It Again.” Coach Wolf has positively influenced tens of thousands of young men in his 60+ year coaching career. And if you were to ask any of them, they would jokingly, but most respectfully, imitate coach barking out in his raspy North Jersey accent, “Run it again…run it again…run it again.”
Heck, we would run the darned “LK32” play 25 times over and over until it was perfect. And then we would do it another 10 times. I guess you had to do that when you were competing against bigger, faster, and stronger guys almost every game. And beating them!
It’s no wonder why coach won 361 games overall in his career.
In life, as well as sport, it takes a ton of hard work, consistency, discipline, and a ton of repetition to model perfection….and you always have to “run it again.”
3. “Loosen Up—Don’t be so robotic!” I didn’t get yelled at very often from Coach Wolf. He was a teacher, not a screamer. But in this one particular pre-season scrimmage my sophomore year, I remember him giving me an earful at the end of a dreadful first half. I was trying to perfect the “Syracuse Freeze Option” offense and just got sacked making a wrong read for about the 5th time of the half. Needless to say, it wasn’t going so well.
Coach Wolf comes flying out onto the field and says, “Durkin, you’re playing too robotic. You are thinking too much. Just play. Loosen up. Read. React. Run. Now let’s go!”
And as he was giving me this earful, I was picking the grass out of my face-mask since I had just been ear-holed.
What I have come to learn about life and business is that you need not over think every single thing. Sometimes that leads to paralysis by analysis. You have to play loose. You have to have a feel for the game/situation. Read & react. Even when you do get “ear-holed” (BTW, that is when an opponent takes their helmet and drives it into the ear-hole of your helmet. Nowadays, that’s helmet to helmet. But not back then. And yes, this is after leather helmets existed.).
In life, you need to study. Prepare. Watch tape. Do business plans. Strategize. And all that it takes to be successful in your chosen career. But you also just have to PLAY LOOSE and let your instincts take over sometimes. And when you do get “ear-holed,” wipe the dirt off you, get back up and keep playing!
4. Be maniacally focused on your best practices. Coach Wolf is a strong Christian. He got me into FCA. He would pray in the early mornings. He was always reading a book. He loved studying military history. He always attended different college football programs in the off-season. He was always learning. He was always watching. He was always connecting. He had GREAT habits.
What are your best practices? When life was working best for you, what best habits were you practicing? What were you doing? Who were you hanging out with? What were you eating? How often were you exercising? Who were you learning from? Who were your coaches? What programs were you part of? Now get practicing more of your best habits!
5. Be a solid citizen & leader in your community. Coach Wolf was not just a head football coach for 51 of his 60+ year coaching career. He was also a school superintendent. He was the mayor. He held several different political offices in his career. He was a deacon at church. He wore many, many hats and was a leader in them all.
Nothing like leading by example. Thank you Coach Wolf for being an exemplary citizen. We sure need more great leaders in our communities today!
6. LABOR DAY. I had to put it in there. Every Labor Day, Coach made us work. And we worked hard. He said if you wanted to build a championship, then you had to “Laaabbbboorrrrrr on Laaabbbboorrrr Day!!!!” And that’s what we did.
If you want to read the entire story of what happened on LABOR DAY, check it out here: http://www.todddurkin.com/tag/coach-warren-wolf/
Here is the bottom line. Mentors make you better. That could be in sports, music, in school, in business, in your spiritual beliefs, or just life. But we all need mentors.
And some of us are blessed to have athletic coaches that were so overwhelmingly IMPACTFUL 28 years later that you still talk about them. And think about them. And use the lessons they taught you in your own walk.
Thank you Coach Wolf. You taught me a lot about how to live. How to not only be a better football player, but a more solid citizen. A stronger leader. A man of faith. A husband and a father. And a better person.
Much love… and much LABOR!
P.S. My 3.5 Day MENTORSHIP starts in exactly 30 days!!!
My most intensive LIVE program I offer is coming up Oct 2-5th in beautiful San Diego, CA. Meet me, my extraordinary team, and a host of other passionate, fired-up fitness professionals for the best fitness, business, and personal growth experience of your life. Train at the legendary Fitness Quest 10, be a fly on the wall at one of America’s Top 10 Gyms, hear from over 10 other extraordinary fitness leaders that I have personally mentored, and let me guide YOU and facilitate over 15 hours of coaching to help you craft your BEST LIFE.
For all the information on my 3.5 Day Mentorship Program, click here: mentorship.todddurkin.com
Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally-recognized performance trainer, bodyworker, speaker, author, and owner of award-winning gym Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA (one of the Top 10 Gyms in the U.S.). His outstanding team of 38 professionals deliver extraordinary service in personal training, sports performance training, massage/bodywork, Pilates, yoga, physical therapy and chiropractic. Todd is the Lead Training Advisor for Under Armour, regular contributor to Men’s Health, and author of The IMPACT! Body Plan.
Todd is also the President/CEO of Todd Durkin Enterprises where he conducts motivational keynotes/presentations, educational & leadership workshops, he operates a Mastermind Group for dedicated fitness entrepreneurs, and he presents internationally on health, fitness, peak performance, and success in life.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ToddDurkin, his FB Fan page at ToddDurkinFQ10, or sign up for his monthly motivational newsletter at www.ToddDurkin.com. You can get more information on his facility at www.FitnessQuest10.com or www.ToddDurkin.com.
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There is a well-organized medical service with all necessary equipment. SCOTT & WHITE HOSPITAL- COLLEGE STATION.