Across Texas tonight thousands of young men will strap on the pads, lace up the shoes and cross the white line onto the field. When a player crosses the white line on the field there is a very special transformational moment that takes place that few have been able to capture with words. Anyone that has ever played the game, or entered the field of battle knows exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s a rush of blood and emotion that seems to come from deep inside.
It comes from the core of who you are as a man. The sensation can be felt. Your heart begins to pound harder and the mental images of dominating an opponent becoming a single overwhelming thought. Your mind then briefly thinks back to the amazing amount of days spent training for the task you’re about to perform. Not just training, but giving every ounce of effort and energy you have. Often feeling like you can’t possibly make on more step, or achieve one more rep, but you do. You look beside you and you see and hear your brother. You think to yourself I can’t stop, I can’t let them down.
You snap back to the present. It’s game day. The lights are on and the fans are beginning to flood into the stadium. You can hear the band playing and the cheerleaders cheering. Then inevitably the drum corps begin their cadence. It is a signal to every man who has ever spent a moment giving all for his brothers that, “it’s time”. Time to give…time to give all that you are in an effort to leave the field in celebration of a great victory that was not won that day, but was won and earned in the hundreds and thousands of sunrises that came before it.
For all those who have ever “given all” for a single cause you feel at home with these words. They bring back to memories of games played, and battles fought. This driving force you feel is not new. It has been with countless generations before you, as men entered the field of competition and battle.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”
Was written in the book of John and brings to light the efforts shared not by one, but a team that leads to victory.
This week I wanted to get into the mind of Cedar Hill’s coach Joey McGuire to talk about what it takes to be “UNDENIABLE” on Game day.
In Coach McGuire’s early days at Cedar Hill in 2003 and 2004, he went 6-4 and 5-5. He new that the way things were being done had to change. He had to instill in his team that winning on Friday nights doesn’t happen on game day, it happens in the offseason. Away from the fans,away from college scouts and from the media. He needed the solitude of just him and his team—thats when great teams are truly born. Coach McGuire new that some of the greatest “teams” out their come from our military, specifically special operations teams. He began to study the Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Green Berets to learn how, and why they train the way they train. He then ventured out to meet with some of the elite fighting forces to digest their routine and curriculum. The day he took that knowledge to his team is they day they began to be the UNDENIABLE team they are today.
It’s not magic, on the contrary it’s simple. He began employing a “boot camp” mentality with the young men under his command. Discipline became the order of the day. Dedication to become the best version of self, dedication to service to the greater team and task and hand.
Coach McGuire tells his young men, “If you can make it through this…you can make it through anything.”
It’s a tactic he infused at the younger levels too. when I asked coach McGuire why he thought it was important he said, “Winning is learned, I align my kids top to bottom and bottom to top to have a winning mentality. It starts in the middle school and with my freshman. Middle school games are just as important to me as varsity games, they are our future.” Coach McGuire goes on to talk about the details, the finer points that often get overlooked.
To achieve something truly great you have to pay attention to the details, coach summed it up with this, “It’s the small things that you can hang your hat on. You don’t cuss in church in church, and you don’t walk on a football field.”
Cedar Hill’s offseason training program started with a whisper, “what does greatness on Friday night feel like.” It feels like grinding out endless repetitions in the weight-room, running so hard you’re going to puke up a lung. Driving the man next to you, driving the man within. Greatness however is not achieved overnight. Coach McGuire goes on to say, “you have to have trust between the kids and parents, because in this day and age they all want it now! Patience will make you better team.”
We went on to talk more in detail about the offseason, and the fact that he requires all of his athletes to play another sport. In a day where it has been hammered home to parents and their kids alike to only play one sport and master it, Coach McGuire is bucking the system. When asked why? He said, “I want my boys to compete. Even in the best programs you can’t recreate the last leg on the 400 relay! Either way, he’s pushing his athletes to expect themselves to be the greatest version of themselves on and off the field.
One of the great attributes of Cedar Hill, and why Under Armour chose them to represent the brand as an UNDENIABLE team was because of the absence of fear. Cedar Hill doesn’t fear an opponent. They don’t hesitate to rise to the challenge and schedule teams lesser schools would run from. Coach McGuire’s attitude of always pushing his players to compete, and compete again has no doubt been the catalyst to their success. So when I asked him why he chose Under Armour to play such an integral role with
his team he didn’t hesitate a second to say, “They have so much (UA) energy, and driving force to be the best! It made me want to be a part of them. I knew they understood me, and I understood them.” he went on to talk so highly about them you would have thought he was talking about another football team, “their drive to be the best” he said, “it’s contagious”.
Coach McGuire’s success at Cedar Hill has caught the eye of a lot college coaches over the years. We went on to discuss wether or not he would like to coach in the college ranks. He didn’t hesitate to take the conversation right back to his family, and team right there at Cedar Hill. He talked about being there for his son Garret, and the fact that his father has never missed a game wether he was playing or coaching. He concluded with, “One of my favorite things in life is the walk from my office to the practice field.”
This leaves no question in my mind that the players under Coach McGuire will undoubtedly win a lot of football games in their life. More importantly are the lessons learned that will lead to victories throughout their entire lives.
Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”
Thanks to Coach McGuire, that message from long ago has been burned into the hearts of a whole new generation.