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Ingredients of a Champion


What are some things that come to mind when you think of a winner or a champion? Terry Bowden, who coached Auburn to a perfect 11-0 season in 1993, says their season boiled down to one word... attitude. The following article is something Bowden carried around with him the entire season concerning attitude.

"Attitude: The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes." – Charles Swindoll

Attitude governs how you respond to every situation. It’s also the key to developing in the three areas I’m going to talk to you about today.

The Three D’s

In the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Florence Griffith-Joyner won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash. When asked what she attributed her success to, she replied, "Desire, Dedication, and Determination." Those three D’s are what I’m going to talk to you about today.

1. Desire

You need to want it. How strong is your desire for (name of sport)? Obviously, more than other students at this school who like the sport but not enough to go out for the team.

Maybe some of you can relate to this story about a 13-year-old by who went on to become the greatest scorer in NCAA basketball history:

"I began to eat and sleep with my basketball by my side. I was so dedicated to perfecting my skills that when Mom came in to kiss me good night, without fail I was lying in bed shooting the ball to the ceiling. and catching it. I’m sure she heard me repeating, ‘fingertip control, backspin, follow-through ... fingertip control, backspin, follow-through.’ As Mom said good night, she would tuck the ball under my arm, as some mothers would a child’s Teddy Bear, then turn out the light. Sleep didn’t come easily because my mind constantly churned new ideas regarding the ball-handling and dribbling drills my dad had taught me that day."

This 13-year-old boy was none other than "Pistol" Pete Maravich, who in 3 years between 1968-1970 scored 3667 points … A record that stands to this day.

Ted Williams – one of the greatest hitters in baseball history – said this: "All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say, there goes the greatest hitter that ever lived."

  • What do you want people to say about you?
  • How strong is your desire to be a champion?

The first ingredient is desire – you gotta want it!

2. Dedication

The second ingredient is dedication.

You gotta do it. This is the whole concept behind Nike’s ad, "Just Do It." Dedication is what separates the common from the champion.

Bobby Knight put it this way: "The will to win is the most over-estimated phenomenon in sport. It’s not the will to win – everyone wants to win. It’s the will to prepare to win that makes winners."

A lot of people want to win, but aren’t willing to pay the price. There has never been a great sports champion who wasn’t dedicated – Larry Bird, Walter Payton, Barry Bonds – all of these guys had or have intense regiments of training that helped them reach their desire.

What about you? Are you willing to work hard to win? If Coach were to ask you to do some extra drills after practice, what would your attitude be?

Someone put it this way: Success is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration.

Let’s review:

  • The first ingredient: Desire
  • The second ingredient: Dedication

3. Determination

Our final ingredient is determination. This is the need to stick with it because a champion will always have hurdles to overcome. The examples are endless: I mentioned last time about Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team his sophomore year and about Montana being benched at every level of his career. The true test of a champion is how they respond to setbacks, whether it be injury, defeat, or personal tragedy.

  • What is your attitude?
  • Are you easily side-tracked or are you determined to press on?

One athlete you may remember from the 1992 Summer Olympics was swimmer, Pablo Morales. His was an incredible story of determination. Pablo was a rising swimming star in the early 80’s. He was the world-record holder in the 100-meter butterfly and the favorite to win the gold medal at the ‘84 Olympics in Los Angeles. However, he was narrowly out touched and had to settle for silver. He decided to stick with the sport four more years and capture that gold medal that had eluded him. Unfortunately, in 1988 Pablo performed poorly at the Olympic trials and didn’t even qualify for the U.S. Olympic team that competed in Seoul. Disappointed, he retired from swimming. In late 1990 or early 1991 Pablo decided to give his dream one more shot. Not only did he overcome a two-year layoff and an elderly age of 27, but he made the U.S. team, went to Barcelona and won the gold medal. Pablo never gave up. This kind of determination is what makes a champion.


Let’s review the 3 D’s:

  • Desire
  • Dedication
  • Determination

Ask yourself where you can apply these ingredients to help you achieve your goals. Also, what about applying it to other areas of your life so you can excel out of the pool as well as in it.

To be a champion in life requires developing a balance in every area of your life – the physical, the mental, and the spiritual.

A lot of professional athletes have acknowledged the key role spiritual motivation has played in their success – players like David Robinson, Barry Sanders, and Charlie Ward. These guys have learned how to strike a balance in these three areas of their life.

That’s why this campus ministry is here to help high school students like yourselves achieve this same balance. After practice on __________ we’re sponsoring a team party at ________. Sort of an end of the season celebration as you prepare for the district and state meets. We’ll have some fun and take a look at the spiritual dimension of life and how it relates to athletics. We look forward to seeing you there.

(Have students complete Comment Cards and pass back to you.)

Thanks again for having us coach.

From Fireseed Productions

This material is available on the "ALL That" CD-ROM. 1.800-729-4351
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