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"True Grit"

By Coach Bovaird, 04/20/22, 4:15PM CDT


“Stand firm...

...and you will win in life.” (Luke 21:19)

“Stand firm, and you will win in life.” (Luke 21:19)

John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death… but saddling up anyway.” 

Each year, I like to have a motto for the program. A short phrase or a word that’s easily shared, even a hashtag on social media. This past season, inspired by a western theme, I chose True G.R.I.T. (an acronym for Gratitude, Resilience, Improvement, and Trust). 

I took influence from my time as Director of Coaches Development for the state of Kansas, the Wrestling Mindset program, 3-Dimensional Coaching, and the philosophy of the University of Missouri head wrestling coach Brian Smith. In essence, "True G.R.I.T." means:

  • Gratitude: Be grateful for the positives in life, for the chance to be here and be a part of what we’re doing. 
  • Resilience: Bounce back from adversity and continue pursuing goals; learn from the obstacles and move on.
  • Improvement: Kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” means looking to learn and improve every chance you get.
  • Trust: Keep faith and believe in the process. 

I truly feel like this motto aligns perfectly with the scripture from Luke, and it’s just like John Wayne said, “…saddling up anyway.” That’s what God wants us to do, and by no means will it ever be easy. When Luke writes, “Stand firm,” he’s talking about keeping the bigger picture in mind. God wants us to be aware of the reality of what’s around us and to see the forest for the trees. When he writes, “Win in life,” he’s not talking about any worldly honors; rather, he’s talking about the everlasting life promised by God. This passage is encouragement for us to endure to the end. 

In the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch tells his children, “I wanted you to see what real courage is… It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” All too often, today’s world encourages our children to pursue the easiest route possible or the path of least resistance. Technology, the way systems work, and so much more have enabled people to give up on challenges and have no qualms about that decision. 

So where do we come in as coaches? Anyone who’s ever wrestled knows that there’s a certain element of courage necessary to ever do this sport, perhaps more so than with any other sport. In wrestling, you’re alone on the mat when it’s your turn to compete. It seems like all eyes are on you. Every move, every step, every mistake, every reaction is like you’re under the spotlight. You have no one to cover you, and it can be the scariest thing in the world. It truly is humbling.  

Ultimately, any sport can be just as daunting, which is why your role as a coach is so vital. You’re not there to guarantee athletic victory; you’re there to help your athletes learn the true lessons of sport. For as long as I can remember, I’ve told my wrestlers that they may be alone on the mat while competing, but they will always have me as their coach in the corner, and they will always have their teammates supporting them in the stands.

It’s about patience and trusting in the process. “The best things come to those who wait,” an old Heinz Ketchup commercial used to say. True G.R.I.T. is about standing firm despite the odds, and we owe it to our athletes to empower them with this mindset. They need to be able to overcome the negative emotions that are so common in sports through mental discipline and a love for the sport. This lesson from sports can thereby empower them to patiently pursue what God has promised us all.

Moment of Kaizen:

  • How do you coach your athletes to exercise control over any negative emotions that are bound to arise? 
  • What drills, activities, etc. have you implemented / could you implement to help them build mental discipline? 
  • What experiences in your days as an athlete or coach can help you as an anecdote to help teach grit to your athletes? 

Related Passage: “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.” (Hebrews 6:15)

Standing firm and being patient are never easy tasks. Today’s world of instant gratification has ensured that the easy path will often be the more popular one. As coaches, we must strive to teach our athletes that the victory in life and the promise of God is worth the struggles and adversities they will inevitably endure. 

March 2, 2022

This article is a part of a series of Coaches Devotionals that I will be writing over the course of the next year. Please click here if you would like to receive email notifications when a new devotional is published.

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More Moments of Kaizen:

"Mindfulness and Visualization"

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“May the words of my mouth...

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yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)