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Two Football Coaches and Two Approaches to Motivation

Mike Howerton describes how different were the motivational methods of the two men who coached his high school football team—Coach Crow and Coach Rush. When his team was losing during halftime, the two coaches would give two very different "pep talks."

Coach Crow would come in growling, spitting disdain in his words at us: "What a bunch of losers. Whaddya say let's get your girlfriends suited up; they'd do a better job. Your flimsy arm-tackles make me wanna puke. I'm gonna go look for some diapers for you babies to wear in the second half; maybe then you won't embarrass yourselves so bad." He'd leave, and absolute silence would descend, virtually no sound except for the muffled sobs of Monty, our kicker, in the corner.
Then our defensive head coach, Coach Rush, would come in. He'd look each of us in the eyes with his steely glint. When he began to speak, you could feel strength flow into your limbs. He would begin with something like this, measured, masculine, and building in intensity: "I don't see high school students. I see lions. This locker room is filled with lions. A bunch of lions is called a pride. A pride of lions hunts together. A pride of lions kills together …. Lions are majestic to behold …. Lions are the kings of the land, and this is your land. You are the pride here. But there's one thing I haven't heard you lions do tonight. I haven't heard you roar. Now we're gonna go out there … and everyone in this two-bit town is gonna hear you roar because you are LIONS and LIONS ROAR!" And we'd erupt in an ear-splitting roar (even Monty) because we weren't seniors or juniors; we were LIONS and LIONS ROAR, and we'd go out to inevitable victory. When Coach Rush died unexpectedly a few years later, he was so beloved that there was a motion to name the stadium after him.

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