I was speaking recently at an event near Atlanta, Georgia. During the evening social I met a new friend Mike Rother, and he shared several stories that relate to my bully prevention, positive behavior topics and with his permission I want to share them with you.
Over the next few months I plan to offer up a few of Mike’s stories. At the end I will be giving you some tips and suggestions from those stories you can implement with your student, scouts or team members.
This story took place one afternoon as I was getting my 12-14 year old boys soccer team ready for the fall soccer season. I remember it was at the beginning of a practice session, while I was assigning kids to their appointed positions so we could play a scrimmage, when one of the kids, who I had assigned to play a defensive position, came up to me with had an attitude. He demanded that he be given the goalie’s position as he was deserving of it over the kid who had been assigned to play that position. I responded nicely but firmly that he takes the position I give him. He was a good defensive player as I remember and I wanted to see how he performed as a full-back. He then threatened me that if I did not allow him to play goalie, that he would walk off and not play. He said something along the lines of “we can’t win without him.” I told him I was not changing my assignments regarding positions and if he wanted to leave, to leave. I believe, he dared me one last time while he started to walk away and I just waved at him with a friendly sign of goodbye. I believe some of the kids who overheard the conversation were stunned by this as he was a strong player. I watched him walk back to where the cars were parked and where some of the kids kept their bikes. After that, I diverted my attention and energy to the rest of the kids in coaching them as we played our scrimmage.
I can’t remember the exact time frame, but it was a good half hour or better when the kid with the attitude came back, walked onto the field and came up to me with a total different attitude and respectfully and humbly asked me if he should go out onto the field now to play the defensive fullback position I originally asked him to take. Without a beat and if nothing ever happened between us, I said no and that I wanted him to play goalie and while pointing to the net, I gave him some pointers of what I wanted and expected for him to do as our 1st string goalie. He said yes sir and immediately ran to the goalie net and the scrimmage went on. Nothing was ever said about the incident again and this kid became the best goalie I ever had.
In the classroom, during the den meetings, on the field and at home we are going to get tested by our students/cub scouts/team members/children. If we quickly give in to their demands in short run we quiet things down, but in the long run we lose respect. As one school principal put it “we lose our ability to lead.” What Mike did was demonstrate two things. One that he was the leader/coach the one who makes the decisions for the team. Secondly he refused to backdown and the young man as well as the other team members got the message. Being a leader is being someone who is open to suggestions, but in the end, makes the final decisions that are beneficial to the group as a whole.
Copyright Richard Paul 2013