Two boys in football uniforms posing for the cameraBy Matt Penney, CAPP

With the close of the spring semester and the onset of summertime, there is a brief window for a sport called “7 on 7.” It’s a modified touch football game for high school students. There are no linemen, no running plays, and no rushing of the quarterback. Every play is a passing play. Some credit 7 on 7 with the rise of pass-happy college football offenses (now even seen in professional football).  It’s fast-paced and fun to watch.

The fan atmosphere is small and relaxed. So I find the best spot for my folding camping chair on the fringe of the field. It’s the last year my boy will get to play and I’m just trying to soak it all in. My son is more fortunate than he realizes–his coaches are both good coaches and good men. It’s a rare combination.

In these fast-paced games, there are no timeouts, no team huddles, and the players call their own plays. There isn’t time for lengthy explanations or the drawing up of movie-famed special plays. There is little opportunity for coaching interjections, but three distinct phrases are repetitive and noteworthy:

  • Focus:  Trash talk is a challenging distraction to ignore. This applies to athletes on a field or to adult staff in a parking lot. Focus–pay attention to the things that matter and execute those things without reacting or being distracted.
  • Next Play:  We all make mistakes. A blown coverage resulting in the opposing team scoring or a missed software detail resulting in a more public embarrassment. Next Play–getting lost in a fog about what could have been doesn’t change the past. Learn and stay in the game, look for opportunities in the next play.
  • Find a Way:  Tired, against the wall, don’t know how to get it done? Welcome to life. Find a Way–to overcome, to adapt, to rewrite the script. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even pretty.  All that is needed is a way to get the job done.

At some point the season will end and the cleats will get hung up. If these young men were listening, there were a couple of good nuggets of wisdom that would benefit them beyond the field they were playing on.

Matt Penney, CAPP, is director of transportation services at Baylor University and an IPMI trainer.