'We value a commitment to excellence in all we do’ - part of the Neuqua Valley High School mission and values
What exactly does it mean to ‘commit to excellence’? From Anson Dorrance, The University of North Carolina soccer coach -
There is a guy named Herb Greenberg who started a company called Caliper. He is paid a lot of money to analyze athletes for professional sports. His method is relatively simple. He analyzes an athlete’s character through a battery of tests to determine:
If an athlete does not possess even one of these traits, it is recommended that a professional team not invest time and energy in their future.
We all know that a lot of athletes have talent. Our team possesses a lot of talented athletes. However, so do a lot of other teams in Illinois and the country. What separates the great teams from the good teams? The answer is the number of athletes that possess something that Dorrance calls, ‘athletic character’.
According to Dorance, “What is notable about athletic character is that it is a choice. You get to decide whether you will possess the self discipline, competitive fire, and self belief to succeed. These kinds of people are sometimes called champions. “Champion” is another word for individuals willing to do difficult and uncomfortable things on a daily basis that no one else is willing to do.”
In summary, your athletic character and value to this team is about choice and accountability. It has nothing to do with talent level; a commitment to excellence has nothing to do with talent. I am convinced it is about committing to a common ideal. According to Dorance, “It’s about making a choice to have athletic character.”
The core values written below are based off of eighteen years as head coach of this program and doing a lot of reflection after reading Dorance’s values. In many cases, our values are similar to Dorance’s because I also believe in what he does in many cases. However, these values have been written by all of the past and current athletes and coaches whether they realize it or not. They are the compilation of eighteen years of perseverance, various personalities, and a lot of experimenting on what works and what does not. Some of these values come from athletes that have graduated and what I learn later about their athletic character in college.
I ask that you embrace the core values and commit them to memory. Our culture and core values are only as strong as our leaders and what they endorse and drive as acceptable behavior.
The core values will be used to measure our progress and will be the cornerstone of being a valuable teammate. I will use these core values to make decisions on lineups, travel teams, and season-ending awards. You should hear these core values communicated often.
1. We commit ourselves wholly and unreservedly to daily self-improvement. Thus, we carry ourselves with remarkable self-discipline, uncanny industry, and uncompromising integrity. An athlete in our program fulfills every workout from beginning to end and each day plans to do something to get better. A young man with self-discipline controls all facets of his training and shows integrity by completing the whole workout whether or not the coaches are not present. He does not follow the path of least resistance; he consistently asks himself, ‘what can I do to improve?’ “The dictionary is the only place success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must all pay for success. I think we can accomplish almost anything if we are willing to pay the price. The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” --Vince Lombardi
2. We pursue a rich, balanced, and deep high school experience. We lead our lives with the proper balance between academics, athletics, family, faith, and service. “Running should be a part of your life, not be your life.” The same can be said for all other facets of our days. A well-balanced individual understands that a good education is very important and that drugs and alcohol are not needed to change or improve his mental state. He also recognizes that peer influence is powerful and places his role as a good team member above temptation and distraction. “Too many people fail because they give up what they want most for what they want in the moment.”
3. We set challenging and meaningful goals. We establish attainable, formidable, and measurable objectives as individuals and a team. We do not rest on our laurels if we achieve a goal. We recognize that success is a journey, not a destination. We learn from our experiences and realize the most important step is our next opportunity to improve. “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” --Mario Andretti
4. We choose a positive outlook on life and running. No matter what the circumstances may be, we have the power of choosing to stay positive. We love to run. We love the feeling of being part of a team and striving for common goals. There is nothing better than working hard and feeling good about what we have accomplished. “Nothing great ever happens without enthusiasm.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. We carry ourselves with poise and confidence. Because we work very hard and are extremely fit, we know that we come to the line well-prepared to do battle. Self-confidence is the intangible trait that separates the good teams from the great teams. If we get injured, sick, or fall during a race, we know we can easily rebound from this setback because ‘we have done our homework.’ Inner arrogance is a good thing. As other competitors go into oxygen debt early in the race, we hold steady due to our incredible fitness level and knowledge that we are very well-prepared. “Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.” --Theodore Roosevelt
6. We genuinely care about one another. We are a family. We treat everyone with respect. A caring person never separates himself from anyone or makes anyone feel beneath him. Despite differences in age, ability, background, religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, we recognize no rank, hierarchy, or divisions between one another. Respect in our organization is shown with a greeting of a handshake and their name. Greetings to one another are genuine and forthcoming. “I judge a person’s worth by the kind of person he is in life – by the way he treats his fellow man, by the way he wants to be treated, and by the way he respects people around him” --Calvin Murphy
7. We value positive and influential leadership. Our leaders embody our values, standards, and goals, and inspire others to pursue our fullest potential. Our leaders are unafraid to speak necessary truths, to set aside the languor of friendship for the duties of community, to hold others accountable for our shared vision and commitment. Our leaders speak the language of respect and refuse to motivate through ridicule or derision. “Not long ago, to ‘believe in yourself’ meant taking a principled and often lonely stand when it appeared difficult or dangerous to do so. Now it means accepting one’s own desires and inclinations, whatever they may be, and taking whatever steps that may be necessary to advance them.” --William Damon
8. We compete with humility and gratitude. A humble athlete wins like he is used to it. This is the person who is thankful for everything that he has been given in life and has a contagious optimism. Losing is taken in stride, and lessons are learned from the experience to be put to good use during the next race. “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” --Carlos de Montesquieu
9. We race fearlessly and with the willingness to risk failure. We will not hang back in a race while hoping for the best. We race intelligently and with a plan. We possess a competitive fire, and we will back down to no one. We deserve the rewards from our hard work, and we are willing to chance defeat while pushing through the discomfort. “I never blame failure – there are too many complicated situations in life – but I am absolutely merciless toward lack of effort.” --F. Scott Fitzgerald
10. We trust that attention to small details makes the biggest difference. Thus, our most responsible runners eat nutritious foods, go to bed at the same time every night, drink water before practice, and put out their running clothes the night before. Preparation is among our highest priorities, and regular reflection on success and failure teaches us how to modify our routine. These habits of excellence are adopted throughout the year. “One of life’s most painful moments comes when we must admit that we didn’t do our homework, that we are not prepared.” --Merlin Olsen
11. We believe in serving others and improving our community. Our runners respect the intrinsic value of each person and work to further the dignity of others by influencing them in a positive way. We seek opportunities to volunteer and invest in our community. “Always take the time to show compassion for those less fortunate, and there are many. Take the time to help a young child cross the street, or to carry a bag of groceries for an elderly lady. And every now and then, look up into that big, beautiful, blue sky and admit that there are things in this world more wondrous that yourself.” --Jack Lambert