Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Larry Fedora, the head football coach at the University of North Carolina, challenged more than 600 people Feb. 18 to answer five questions:
Why is it much easier to be negative than positive?
Why is it so difficult to motivate ourselves?
Why is it so difficult to say thank you?
Why is it so hard for so many to realize that winners are usually the ones who work harder, who work longer and never give up?
Why do we dread adversity?
Part cheerleader, part preacher and total motivator, Fedora was the keynote speaker at the Coastal Area FCA annual spring banquet, and lost no time in giving credit to the sponsoring organization for his own success.
“It is safe to say, I would not be here tonight, I would not be the head coach at the University of North Carolina, were it not for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Fedora said. He also credited his father, a barber outside College Station, Texas, for motivating him. He recalled that when he was 13, his father decided that it was time for Fedora to get a job, and he got one, working for a bricklayer.
“My dad told me that if you learn a trade with your hands, you’ll be able to feed your family for the rest of your life,” he said, holding up his hands to show the callouses.
I look back, he said, and I realize that now, there is no job to small. “I’ve laid brick, I’ve dug ditches, I know.”
And his first challenge to the crowd was to recall the person in their lives — “back to when you were young and making mistakes” — who had an impact on who they are today.
For Fedora, it was his ninth-grade football coach. “John taught me about goals. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning,” he said. “I set long-term goals and short-term goals.”
He said that he kept his goals in his Bible, because he knew he wanted to see them every day. And he can see how he’s achieved them – things like marrying a Christian woman, becoming a head football coach and being 6-4, which brought a laugh from the crowd, looking at the 5-9 man.
He thought back to his introduction to FCA. “My coach said that I needed to go, so I went. It was social, but that was my introduction to Christ,” he said.
And he proceeded to recount how the FCA affected him in his career, laughing as he recalled his first offer to coach at the college ranks. Grant Teaff, then the coach at Baylor, offered Fedora a graduate assistant’s job at the age of 28. After accepting the position, he found out his wife was pregnant, so he called and tried to back out of the job.
“I remember Grant told me not to worry, that God would provide. And you know, he did, although I still don’t know how,” Fedora said.
Fedora said that when he got to Carolina, “things were not good.
“The players were walking around with a sense of entitlement. We needed to change that to a sense of pride in wearing that interlocking NC on their chests.”
So he instituted 6 a.m. workouts, and to hold everybody accountable. And he admitted that he gets on his athletes. “We need to know who is going to step up, who is going to want the ball and who is going to walk away.”
The staff votes each day. If they get eight out of nine, they get a blue jersey; if they get three thumbs down, they get a red jersey. The rest wear white.
“We have a commitment,” he said.
“I gotta tell you that winning football games is not my main responsibility. The winning will take care of itself. What I am responsible, is turning those 125 young men into full-grown men. The winning will take care of itself.”