It’s surreal how a simple conversation between sports parents about sports, success, and kids can spark an idea that evolves to the point of a published work. After eight long years of work, writing, queries, waiting…more work, more writing, more queries and more waiting…etc., Becoming a True Champion (#BATC) has been published.
No more, “Hey, how is the book coming?” (with some likely thinking “it will never happen”) and having to answer, “still working on that,” as publisher Rowman & Littlefield has released the book one month earlier than its target date. Finally, a dream turns into a reality, that’s a good feeling.
I’d assume that it might be a good idea to give a little synopsis on why I wrote BATC, what its purpose is, and how it sets out to accomplish that purpose. At least without giving too much away, right?
Plus, the title of this blog is “The Athlete’s Sports Experience: Making a Difference,” something that Becoming a True Champion has direct connection to.
Let me start by saying that I had a very unique experience as a high school athlete. One of those “no you can’t,” “oh, yes I can” type of experiences that teaches you a lot about life; about what can be accomplished through sheer will and grit.
It was taking what I learned through that high school experience (and the success that came out of it) into college athletics, then into teaching and coaching (building on those successes from high school), and raising two very sports-minded daughters through the quagmire of our current sports and youth sports culture, and into their college careers, that I began to recognize a pattern. And not necessarily a good pattern.
Better stated, as an adult, I started to see a gradual and pervasive loss of perspective on what sports should really be all about. Along with that, actually congruent to it, I saw an attitude that embodied a “winning at all costs” frame of reference. One that slowly, but ever so gradually, trickled down from the very elite levels of sports and into our youth sports programs.
This trickledown effect has brought with it an overemphasis on the “winning” aspect of competitive sports and diminished concentration on the most important learning piece of sports participation…one that encompasses a complete process.
And that is exactly why Becoming a True Champion was written, to refocus efforts for athletes on that process piece of sports, and all the learning, intrinsic value, and life-long lessons that come with that type of experience.
You see it’s really not all about those medals, trophies, scholarships, or any of the other external rewards that can come out of becoming a successful athlete; these are all outcomes of something else. An aspect that, once understood and personally adopted as an integral and primary part of success, extends its value far beyond the athletic arena.
And it is in developing that “something else,” that aspect, the process, that BATC is truly committed to addressing. This, in combination with the book’s inspirational and personal style, is what gives Becoming a True Champion its unique approach. An approach that encompasses three different, yet closely interconnected phases.
The first phase, or section, centers its focus on the mental aspects of sports success. These build the foundations for everything the athlete does, for without a solid foundation efforts can easily go unrewarded. At the end of the day, it is the way a person thinks that ultimately determines their actions.
The second section details how to break down the athlete’s sport into its most important and essential parts. Using relevant, perceptive, and interesting examples and activities, it creates a successful training thought process applicable to any sport. This section then ends with what I call the COA (Circle of Achievement) which fully demonstrates the essential interconnectedness of every piece discussed throughout BATC.
The final section tells the inspirational true story of a mediocre high school athlete whose epiphany sets him on a path toward supposed athletic impossibility. A goal is set, a belief is tested, and a boy grows into a man through the trials and tribulations that his choices place upon him. Here’s what professional athlete Phil Wunderlich, minor league infielder for the Tampa Bay Rays organization, had to say after reading this section of the book:
The 'My Story' section of the book...completely vindicates and validates all portions of the book up to that point.
Basically, this last section puts everything in perspective by giving readers a real life example that lends solid credibility to all concepts and principles discussed throughout the book.
And there it is, the why behind the book, the purpose it hopes to accomplish, and the how it sets out to achieve its goal of making a difference.
As Super Bowl Champion New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford puts it:
I read it, I loved it, I live it. As a professional athlete in the NFL I've made many sacrifices in my personal and athletic life. Becoming a True Champion is an inspiration even to me now. It's a great reference for the passionate athlete willing to make sacrifices to achieve true greatness.