Personal Growth-Three Keys to Success In Life

As a coach I have attended many coaching clinics through the years to gain knowledge, experience and grow my skill set to help my athletes get better.  One of my favorite all time coaches and speakers is Lu Holtz who had a fabulous career coaching, speaking and as a broad caster for football games.  He was a program builder and did a super job everywhere he went.  I had the pleasure of meeting him and getting a picture with him several years ago at a football clinic in Atlanta, GA.  He is a motivational coach and person that has so much experience in life and is a winner.  The quote above hit home with me today as I was surfing the web to prepare for writing and I wanted to share it with my people.

In this quote he is talking about three things that are key to winning, overcoming, preparing and doing well in sports and life.  The first of these is Ability which is important as part of success and winning.  We all have natural God given ability and some that we have developed through the years as we practice, prepare, study, learn and work towards our goals in life.  We must take these abilities and maximize them to be the best we can. Motivation is the second part of this success formula and that comes from mostly within ourselves.  We find motivation from others around us, our coaches, teammates and friends.  But the final say on how motivated a person can be is a individual decision.

Football coaches stand before team and give a motivational fire and brim stone speech to the guys designed to fire them up and give  them confidence and motivation to play hard.  That fired up speech will last about the first 3-5 minutes of the game and then it becomes a game of will and who wants to  win more than the other.  Finding motivation when things get tough is the hard part.  Finding motivation when you are down is the hard part.  Finding a way to motivate your friends and get them fired up during battle is an art.  

Attitude determines how you will succeed in life, sports, work and play.  I was talking to my students today in class and we were discussing life skills and how attitude keeps us  going and helps define who we are and where we go in life.  The old saying is “you can either see the glass half full or half empty”.  I used a half full water bottle as the prop and we talked about that for a few minutes.  I want my students to understand that they determine their attitude and no one else.  We started class out with a simple paper that had five faces on it.  One was smiling, one frowning, one neutral, one crying and one really happy.  I told them to circle where they were at that point with attitude.  After we did the exercise and talked about it I had them repeat the activity.  

Several of them actually changed their picture from frowning or mad to a more happy face.  I suggest you print one of these off the internet and put it on your mirror or fridge so you have to decide how you will take on your day.  Will you start the day glass half full or glass half empty?  Take your ability and use it to become better.  Motivate yourself to accomplish great things and go after life with an attitude of excellence and intention.

Americana- July 4th Fireworks, Family and Friends

My family has been celebrating the fourth of July for many years at a pool party with friends, family and lots of fireworks. My dad loved fireworks and would always drive down to South Carolina or have someone bring some back from the beach to shoot off at the party. He would sit on the diving board at the local pool we were members of and watch us boys (me and my brothers) fire off the fireworks. He took pride in his family, friends and that pool party. The highlight at the end of the night growing up was to see those booming fireworks going off.

Once dad got a bit older and could not set them off himself as I stated we would set them off and he and mom would sit and watch and celebrate. I can see him smiling now as the beautiful colors sparkle and bang in the air. My dad passed away on 2009 and we have continued to make sure this family tradition continues. My nephews have now become the firework setter off leaders. One of them is a fireman so he is the perfect person for the job. If he sets something on fire he can grab a hose and put it out.

I was helping them this time and we were spending some time talking and I looked both of them in the eye and told them that myself and their dads were getting a little older and will not always be here. I asked them to take it and run with it every July 4th. Family, Friends, Fireworks and food are a staple of my families July 4th and I cherish every memory made all of these years. I have been hit by random fireworks, ran from them, nearly got my fingers blown off and all kinds of trouble due to setting them off.

We celebrate a day that signifies life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the greatest country in the world. I am thankful for all of my family, friends and the fireworks and hope you had a great July 4th celebrating our independence. Americana is apple pie, holidays, baseball, fire works, summers at the lake, toys, traveling and so many other things. Enjoy and make your own Americana memories and tell your story. I hope you enjoyed the story of my dad, mom, our family and how important fire works is to us and our family bond.

Sports: Five Stitches and a County Title- Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win

Five Stitches and a County Title- Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win

When I was fourteen years old I had a ball game on a Saturday afternoon and it was a huge game.  I grew up playing football, basketball and baseball and after advancing into pony league ball I was a pitcher for the local school team.  Back in the day everyone played for their local elementary school distinct teams regardless of age.  Most started playing coach pitch, then moved to pee wee.  Next came a little league where the competition started getting better.  Then came pony league and at the time that was the oldest ages in my county about 12-14 years old.  I loved playing baseball and was a big kid so I learned to pitch the ball when I was little so I could use my size to an advantage.  

By the time I reached pony league I was 14 years old in the 8th grade and stood 6’0 and weighed 190 pounds,  Back in the late 1970’s that was a big kid for the age.  Now kids are like 6’2 240 at that age and many claim it is hormones in the hamburgers.  I just think kids just have gotten bigger over time as advances have been made in sports training, foods, and eating habits.  Anyways here I am on the big day.  A day I had worked for since I was seven years old.  I was the number one pitcher on the team, I was the ace on the mound and had a great season going.  Well, the morning of the county championship game I was in the dirt road playing with some friends and as I rode down the road on my bike a local dog ran under my wheel throwing me off the bike over the handlebars.

If you have ever experienced that you will know that crushed granite rocks on a dirt gravel road are not very forgiving with the skin.  The skin loses that fight and my hands, elbows and face got all scratched up.  I got up and went into the house to show my dad waiting on him to get me for being stupid on a game day and not relaxing like I should have.  Mom checked me over and my left (glove) hand had a big cut.  A cut under my thumb that would require stitches.  The game was at 5:00pm across the county and it was like 2:30pm.  Mom took me to the doctors office and they put five stitches in my glove hand, cleaned the wound and sent me home.  I was mad because the doctor said not to play that day because I would tear the stitches out and get an infection.

Well, we went home dressed and all the time my dad was very quiet and not saying much,  I could tell he was concerned about my hand, but also the team as I was the number one pitcher.  I was 8-0 that season in games and was scheduled to face the best team we would see all season in that championship game.  They had a pitcher that was really good also and he could really throw the ball hard for a 13 year old 7th grader.  He was tall and lanky and could bring the heat with an occasional breaking ball.  I was a fire baller.  I threw heat and tried to move the ball around and had no off speed pitch.  

We load up, get dressed and drive across the county 30 minutes to the game site.  Back then we had home phones so none of the boys or parents knew I was hurt until we pulled in and got out and here I am standing there with a wrapped up hand.  I instantly saw the stress on my teammates’ faces and tried to field their barrage of questions as to what happened, could I play, who was going to pitch for us.  My dad and a family friend named Leon were the coaches so they started warming up my friend Chris and he was a pretty good pitcher also.  He wasn’t very fast but threw strikes.  Chris warmed up and I begged him to let me play.  She told me the doctor said no game today.  

As fate would have it I was standing there beside the other pitcher talking to him and our catcher threw the ball back a little wildly and it came right at me. Out of instinct I reached out and snagged the ball with my glove and in the process the stitches out of my hand.  And it didn’t hurt too bad (well honestly it hurt bad) but I wasn’t going to tell.  I proceeded to warm up and get ready for the game.  My friend got real nervous and started the game and after a few batters was in trouble.  All I could do was stand and watch in the dugout with my torn stitches and open cut.  Chris ended up having to come out and we were in a bind with nobody better than him. I told my dad to let me throw.  If I hurt bad enough I would walk away, hand him the ball and we could go with put #3.  

I walked to the mound, threw a few warmup pitches and the catcher threw the ball back to me very easy each time.  The umpire called the game back into action and here I am on the mound 8-0 with no outs and bases loaded.  I had a torn hand, busted stitches and was hurting real bad.  I looked at my glove and many years earlier my dad had written this in the glove.  “Winners never quit and quitters never win”..  It hit me that I had to do this, I had to take one for the team,  I had to survive and try to help us win.  I went on to pitch the best game of the season.  Struck out three straight batters to end the first inning and avoid any runs crossing the plate.  I finished the game with ten strikeouts and no hits allowed with one walk.  

We dominated the game and won 16-0 in five innings of play called due to the lead being more than 10 runs after five innings.  My teammates did a great job making a few key outs when the ball was hit by the opposing team and we smashed the ball at the plate for 16 runs.  I was the #4 hitter in the lineup (cleanup hitter).  I didn’t bat until the 4th inning as a teammate pinch hit for me.  I went to the plate with my old wooden monster named bomber.  Tom, the opposing pitcher, had gotten tired and walked the bases full.  Well, he hung one of his curveballs over the plate and I got it all.  Old bomber sent it over the left field fence for a grand slam which made the score 10-0 and blew it wide open for the win.  This story is not about how great a pitcher or hitter I was.  It is about the power of positive thinking, working hard and pushing through life events that can get in the way.  Winners never quit and quitters never win!

Coach B!

Americana: Sundays At Grandma Smiths

Right After Church-

When I was a kid growing up we would all go to church on Sunday and then head straight over to my Grandma Smiths house and spend all afternoon eating lunch, playing outside, watching football and fellowshipping with family and friends.  When I say family and friends, I mean the entire extended family of at least 20-30 people.  My grandparents were not rich so I do not know how they fed all of us every week like that.  We did have some great fresh garden veggies, potatoes and corn that was grown on the property.  It was the coolest place to go and spend time growing up.  We had all the outdoor activity a child or teenager needed.  

Summertime Fun And Sports-

Summer time was my favorite season as the grass was nice and green and much softer to land on when your cousins and brothers piled on top of you playing tackle football.  Of course, we played with no pads and you got busted up good on most Sundays.  We played every sport you can think of, football, soccer, softball, baseball, basketball.  It wasn’t just the kids playing, the adults played also and I remember some collisions with my aunts and uncles while chasing a ball or going for a goal.  We would help each other up, laugh, and keep playing. 

We had a basketball goal that was about 8 feet high and you could run and jump off the little hill behind it and try to dunk the ball when you got older.  But, you had best watch out because someone older was going to try and stuff it back in your face and likely knock you down doing it. My brother Jerry loved to put it back in your face and did so to his son and daughter many times.

Cowboys vs. Redskins-

We watched football on the three main channels on that old box shaped television and if you were the closest to it, you became the remote control turning that little clicker button to change the channel.  After changing the channel you had to adjust the rabbit ears to get the signal just right.  Sometimes you had to freeze and not move so everyone could see the game or the Disney movie of the week.  The family was divided between Cowboy and Redskin fans mostly. 

Might have been a few Falcon fans here and there and we didn’t have the Panthers to root for back then.  The best seat was at the table near the television and nobody sat in grandpa’s chair.  That corner chair was his, as I type I can see him sitting in that chair eating and watching football. It got loud at times and you couldn’t hardly hear from all the smack talking going on, and sometimes we had to go outside and settle it on Grandma’s football field.

Grandma’s Biscuits-

My Grandma made the best biscuits ever.  She did not make them real big, but they were just right and tasted so good.  She wasted no batter, mix or dough and would cook every piece of that bread, even the little pieces that were left from cutting the round biscuits out of the dough.  Those little ends were fabulous and hit the spot, especially with some good gravy, home made jelly or honey on top.  You better not be the last few people through the line or you didn’t get any biscuits.  We had a a saying around the house, “last one to the trough, don’t get fed” and that was the truth.  

With all those children and teenagers the food got gone quick.  The stove would be full of food and it was a treat to look in and see what that weeks surprise was.  After lunch, we would have some nice cool watermelon that had been floating in the creek spinning as the water flowed cooling it off.  My grandpa would put the watermelon on top of the old well house and cut it and you better get it and run or it was gone just like the food.

Hair Cutting Time-

My Aunt Shirley would cut hair on the back porch on Sundays.  We would go one a time to get trimmed up and stay high and tight as young boys did back in those days.  She would talk to us, tell us stories and cut our hair.  Getting your hair cut was something you looked forward to because it meant something to the family and was an expectation.  We all got our hair cut by mom or dad with the trimmers back then. 

You sat down and about a minute later you had some short hair like an army or marine.  The girls had it a little better and Aunt Shirley kept them cut nice and neat like Marsha Brady.  Shoulder length and cut straight across and beautiful.  She could have made a fortune if she had spent all that time working in a salon cutting, but it was her way of giving back and taking care of us.

Playing in the Creek-

We had a small creek on the property that always flowed well and had some minnows, small fish and crawdads in it to catch.  We would build up a damn on the creek so the water would get a few feet deep and then swing on the rope and fall into the water or see if we could swing all the way across the creek and land on the other side without getting wet, especially in the winter when the water was freezing.  We would slide around on the ice in the creek during the winter playing hockey and laughing at each other for busting our tails. 

When it rained real hard the creek would flood and the yard pitched in so all the water would lay there and I remember it being 2-3 inches deep and man we had a good time in that flood water.   It seemed like a lake when you are a child, even though it was just a few inches deep.  Either way, it was nice and cool, dirty, sloppy and fun to roll around in.  I miss those days and the flooded yard on rainy days and Sundays.


We took our wrestling serious and you better not tell my grandpa it was fake.  We would watch wrestling on television and then go outside and bust each other up with the moves.  I have been body slammed, back dropped, closed lined and every now and then caught a kick off a tree limb or a running drop kick.  Yes, it was rough and we didn’t know how to fake it very good so some of us ended up bruised, battered and occasionally broke an arm or got a few stitches.  Of course, when someone got hurt nobody would tell how it happened, even though the adults knew it was the result of kids being stupid.  

We were invincible back then, well at least we thought we were anyways.  My brothers, cousins and myself did some high school wrestling so there were a few of those matches in the yard also.  I remember my uncle Robert challenging my brother Dale to a match and I don’t think it worked out too good for him.  

Pecking Order-

There was a pecking order back then.  The way it worked was by generation and age.  We ranged in age from toddler to twenty five and if you were the little brother, little cousin or youngest you got busted up, beat on, picked on, knocked down, dragged around the yard, buried in the garden head deep and other stuff I better not mention.  If you got hurt, you better not go cry to mom, dad or grandma or else.  It would be worse for you once they found out who snitched and the older ones got in trouble.  

When we ran over into the neighbors garden to grab a watermelon, it was always the young ones that got sent into enemy lines. The older ones were the commanders and the younger ones were the grunts.  We all knew our place in that pecking order until we got old enough to fight back or be promoted from grunt status.  This continued for many years as we were all close in age and typically there were 3-4 of us about the same age all the time. My cousin Russel (I hope we did not scar you for life) got it bad when he was little.  I apologize to you on behalf of Scott and I for carrying on the family traditions on you.  I know you pushed it on down the line as well.

GI Joe, Hot Wheels and Tonka Trucks-

Man we had a good time with GI Joes, the old 12 inch kind that I wish I had to this day.  We setup camps and everything to play with GI Joe, Big Jim and other action figures.  Once they started making the smaller ones, I remember my cousin Shane and Nephew Jeremy playing with those toys on Sundays.  Us older ones would throw firecrackers into their GI Joe camp and blow up the Joes and vehicles.  You could sit in the creek or dirt pile and play for hours with hot wheels, GI Joe, Tonka trucks and other toys. 

Junk Yard Finds and Dirt Clods- 

Right across the street from Grandma Smiths house was a junk yard.  Actually it was a trash dump and you would be surprised the cool toys, finds and contraptions we found raiding the junk yard every weekend.  We were young and knew there was some cool stuff over there and the owner, even though he had a sign up saying to “keep out” was a family friend and distant kin so he knew we were going to be in there.  There was lots of dirt piles from his construction company and we would hide behind them and play war. Some reading this may remember being hit by a dirt clod in the face, neck or back a few times.  If you stood up to throw and a cousin timed it right, you were going to get hit and hit hard.  You shook the pain off, rubbed the dirt off your face and attacked back.  Man I miss those dirt clod wars!

I could go on and on about those good old days and probably make it a book.  My friends, family and neighbors made so many memories on that property and in those woods.  The main thing it taught me was that God gave us nature to explore, enjoy and experience.  My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles taught us to work hard, play hard, have good moral values and how to take care of one another. 

I still to this day want a property with an awesome stream that flows so sweetly.  So I can Oneday watch the next generation play in the water, the mud, the woods and have the awesome life experience my family did. I wrote this one in honor of all my family, friends and those that grew up playing outdoors, in the creek, in the woods making all those wonderful memories you now can share with your kids.

God Bless!  KB