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Leadership is key to successful season

With the start of the 2019 football season on the horizon, many questions loom pertaining to what powerhouse team will be able to fulfill its championship goals.
Historically, the football teams in our area have more often than not offered up exciting, successful seasons.
This week, the guys of each area team are working hard in full pads in the heat of the South Alabama summer in anticipation of the start of the season.
Starting this week, those same young men will find themselves in the middle of a warzone as they compete with rival teams in the first games of the year or in preseason tune-ups.
Seasoned players who followed the leadership of last year’s seniors now find that the role has been reversed. These players are now tasked with leadership responsibilities.
This group of young men will have to take every single lesson, character trait and play learned from their coaches and turn them into productivity.
Young players will attempt to make a statement as they enter the high school football arena under the leadership of these older players. Successful and positive leadership will play key parts during the season for each team.
So that begs the question.
What is leadership and how will it be the key to a successful season?
Leadership can have many different definitions. Webster’s dictionary defines leadership as the act or instance of leading. Beside that definition is a single sentence that speaks volumes: Leadership molds individuals into a team.
So, if the senior members of each football team are looked to as the leaders, then they are tasked with helping mold their teammates into a team.
To be an effective leader, one must place the team before himself. If an individual is too focused on what type of game he (or, in some cases, she) will play on a particular night, he or she eliminates the “we” in team. Therefore, the “team” in teamwork is also eliminated and is replaced with an “I.”
Well, football does not work that way. Football requires teamwork to be successful.
Much of the time, the player that receives the most glory and spotlight is the quarterback. In rare cases does one see a defensive end or a tackle receive the most attention.
Joe Montana, Steve Young, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning have become household names over the years. They were, of course, all quarterbacks and icons in the sport.
Names such as Reggie White, Deacon Smith and Bruce Smith are rarely mentioned, but they are ranked as the top three NFL defensive ends of all-time.
The reality is that every superstar quarterback in the game would be squashed if it wasn’t for the rest of his teammates that protect him. A leader must bring a team together to reach a common goal.
One individual does not win the Vince Lombardi trophy, the entire team does. A leader must demonstrate positive character on and off the field of play.
Why is that important?
To be a leader, you must lead by example. When someone decides to act like a clown off the field, it spills onto the field. Even with high school players, the eyes of the community are examining the example that is being set.
When small kids who dream of one day being in a high school player’s shoes see negative examples from the older players, those youngsters think it is okay.
When I was young, I adored hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky. If Wayne Gretzky had made obscene gestures on the ice, I would have as well, because I was following and mimicking every move he made.
Every single aspect counts when you are in a leadership role. Those lessons begin with the coach, who is the team’s ultimate leader. If a coach promotes negative behavior and leadership, a team is doomed before the season even begins.
Players and coaches alike should make the decision from Day One to be good leaders on and off the field.