Insightful Football Coach Builds Character Through Compassion

We all want our children to develop character traits that will help them succeed in life. As parents, we do our best to guide them along the way. However, it’s also a parent’s responsibility to surround our children with good role models when possible.

Sometimes these associations are by design and sometimes you just happen to be at the right place at the right time. That was the case with a story I recently read about one extraordinary high school football team and their amazingly insightful coach.

You don’t always have control over who your child’s teachers are but after what Coach Brett McLean and his team did, many of the parents of Ohio’s St. Clairsville High School kids are thanking their lucky stars. You can also bet that oodles of parents across the nation are wishing they had a role model like Coach McLean in their school system.

Basically, what happened was that in the fourth quarter, St. Clairsville player, Michael Ferns, was end zone bound, with nothing standing between him and a touchdown. Ferns began to slow down as he neared the goal line. At the 1-yard line, Michael Ferns intentionally walked out of bounds. Needless to say everyone cheering him on was shocked and even the referees were confused.

Why on earth would Ferns do that when he was so close to scoring? The short answer is that he did it out of compassion and respect for his team mate, Logan Thompson, a dedicated freshman player who had yet to make his first carry into the end zone. Logan’s father had passed away only 2 days before the game, yet Logan was suited up and ready to do his job, although a freshman’s job on the varsity football team usually consists of holding down the bench.

It seems that once Coach McLean found out that Logan Thompson would be suited up at the game, a plan began to form in the coach’s mind. Maybe with a little teamwork (in more ways than one) they could give Logan a special gift, enabling Logan to score a touchdown in memory of his father. McLean enlisted the help of key team players, encouraging them to pull up short of the end zone, if they got the chance. That would allow them to call Thompson in and get him in a position to make a touchdown in honor of his father. Thankfully, everything worked out despite the confused referees who initially called Ferns “setup play” a touchdown but that call was reversed.

To me, the really cool part of this is that character building never really figured into the plan. It was simply a byproduct of doing something nice for a friend. Nevertheless, I can see a lot of lessons learned from all of this.

  • Selflessness – Logan was more important than the individual members’ personal glory on the field.
  • Compassion and consideration – The team showed how much they respected Logan, his feelings, and circumstances.
  • Dedication – Most people wouldn’t have suited up for the game. Logan’s dedication to football and love for his father really shine through.

I can also see lessons we can learn about honor, pride, cooperation, generosity, kindness, love, loyalty, and so much more. What do you get from this story and how can you use this inspiring story to make a difference in a child’s life?

Don’t forget, if you’d like to learn more about building your child’s character, check out the Character Counts Workshop. Can’t attend? Grab the audio!

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