FROM THE BLEACHERS: Herald-Banner Column

Jack Welch has served as a high school and college football coach for 39 years. He holds a Doctorate in Education. He can be reached at

I have always told players and coaches to aim for the stars.  Dream big and do not settle for less.  Keep pushing and striving for goals.

Many years ago, while serving as a head junior college coach, I had a player during his exit interview for the summer share his goals with me.  

This player wanted to finish his junior college career as first team All-Conference and get a four-year scholarship.  Those were great goals but there was one major problem.  This player finished spring training as the number two guard.

Ron was a good offensive lineman, but his size limited the recruiting attention he would receive from the major colleges.  Ron stood about six-foot-one and weighed 268 pounds.  His size was not attractive for colleges giving scholarships.  

I tried to explain to this young man the difficulty he would have in reaching this lofty goal.  First, he would need to become the starter, then because of his smaller size for being a college lineman, he would have to be dominant.

   The players reported to fall camp in August.  It was customary for our first fall practice to start with a one on one challenge between the offensive and defensive linemen. The first morning practice started before the sun came up and like you see in the movies, we didn’t have lights on our practice field.  

So, we lined the field with our cars and had the car lights on to see the start of practice.  After we warmed up, it was time.  Wow, you could hear the excitement of the players.  

Everyone knew it was time for the offensive and the defensive linemen to line up and challenge each other.  Whichever group had the most wins, (the offensive team or defensive team) would have less running at the end of practice.  

Ron was the first offensive lineman and the biggest toughest defensive lineman (Odie, already committed to a D1 college) was his opponent.  The players were hollering and excited to get started.  

When I gave the cadence to start, you should have seen Ron come off the line.  He hit Odie (defensive lineman) and pancaked him on his back.  Ron had explosion and rolled his hips perfectly.

I immediately asked for two more players to get in line.  Both Odie and Ron wanted to go again, though.  I thought it was probably luck that Ron whipped Odie, so I again said to give me two more players for the drill.  

Neither of these guys were going to relinquish their spots, so against my better judgement, I said let’s go.  Folks, it happened again.  Ron beat Odie for the second time.

We went on to practice and it was obvious Ron was a different player.  He told me after practice that he worked hard all summer.  During his summer month workouts, he imagined whipping Odie every day.  He was prepared.

Well, Ron did earn the starting spot that season, made All-Conference and received a four-year football scholarship.  I learned a great lesson.

It is important for us to remember, dreams with plans can have attainable achievement.  Obstacles prevent most people from reaching their goals.

Thought for the week:

 “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

 Author unknown

Dr. Jack Welch is a college football coach.   He holds a Doctor of Education degree and has been a college and high school football coach for 39 years. He can be reached at   


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