In this week’s blog post, we hear from two Gridiron dads– one a commissioner, the other a coach. In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss (flag) football and fatherhood, the influence each has on the other and their kids. Prepare to be moved, inspired and laugh a time or two. We’re honored to have thousands of fathers and father-figures throughout our organization, mentoring and encouraging the next generation– in football and in life.
Gridiron Commissioner: Meet Ryan. Radio account exec, husband, coach and father to three (one of whom plays Gridiron Football).
Gridiron Coach: Meet Cory. App developer, photographer, husband and father to three (all of whom are coached by their dad and play Gridiron Football)
What’s one piece of advice you’ve given your kids?
Ryan: I just texted my 12-year-old this last week before his practice: "Be the first one back in the huddle, the best listener and the hardest worker on that field today." Those things might not make the highlight reel, but they'll make him a leader on and off the field.
Cory: Always try your best and give it everything you have. That way no matter the outcome you can walk away with your head held high.
How have you seen your kids grow through flag football? What life lessons learned?
Ryan: Flag football has shaped him in so many ways, but the two most obvious ways are in his confidence and his worldview.
As he's grown as a player and experienced some success on the field, it has poured over into every area of his life. He has seen what can happen when you have the right attitude and the right effort, and it's made him confident both on and off the field.
He actually just lost in the championship game a couple week ago. As we were walking to the car he said, "It's ok... it doesn't actually bother me because I know we did our best." A year or two ago he would have been bawling, but he's starting to see that some things are more important than championship rings.
Cory: Through flag football I have seen my kids learn:
- How to deal with adversity
- To honor their commitments
- How to work together as a team to overcome obstacles
- How to fall down and/or lose, get back up, learn from those mistakes and keep going
What’s been your proudest moment as a father watching your kids play?
Ryan: My proudest moment has been watching him take a leading role with our Pre-K Fundamentals group. He's only 12 years old, but he's already a fantastic coach and mentor for the younger kids.
Ok, I'll be honest... I was probably the proudest when he won his first championship a couple years ago. He led his team to an undefeated season and undefeated playoff run, and I was 100% living vicariously through him the whole time haha!
Cory: The proudest moments for me as a father have been when my kids do something they never thought that they would. I have seen them slip through tackles, catch receiving touchdowns, get running touchdowns, block huge passes, chase runners down to pull flags and save big plays, take leadership roles to get their team aligned on the field and more. My kids amaze me with their growth every single time they step on the field.
What do you hope for your kids’ future?
Ryan: As far as how football plays into his future, I hope it gives him memories that will last a lifetime. I hope he looks back and always remembers how these football teams, and this league we're running, really brought our family and our community together. I hope he sees all of this as a gift, something that was unforgettable, and something that set him on an incredible trajectory.
Cory: I hope that my kids continue to challenge themselves and grow throughout their lives. I hope that they learn to take these skills of competition, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and more and apply them to other areas of their lives.
How has football made you a better father?
Ryan: There are so many parallels between coaching and parenting! The one that stands out to me the most is the need for a unique plan for each kid. Whether I'm coaching nine flag football players or raising my three kids, football has helped me to understand that every kid is going to have unique needs, unique strengths, and will need to be coached and parented in unique ways.
On top of that, coaching has taught me that the game is won way before it starts. As a coach, if I don't put the energy into creating specific plays and a thorough game plan, we're going to get whooped. The same is true about being a dad- you can't just wing it! Raising healthy and happy kids requires a game plan as well. Football teaches you to think critically, to overcome challenges, and to always keep the main thing the main thing. That's the kind of coach and father our kids deserve.
Cory: Football has made me a better father by reminding me that we all start our paths with different skill sets and with different goals. I have had to learn to be patient at times, understanding and compassionate, and also when tough love is needed. I find coaching a lot like being a father in that as a coach I can offer guidance, opinions, experience and try to prepare my kids for the battles ahead, but ultimately, it's up to them to head out on that field (or into life) and do the best they can with what I've taught them.