Last week I was asked why I look at the positive side of things. If something did not turnout like I desired, I was asked why I always say it happened for a reason and then head in another direction.
I explained growing up in athletics and music, I was taught to learn from mistakes and understand a mistake is a sign of trying.
Right after I had this conversation, I saw an article on a friend of mine. This man is one of the friendliest people you will ever know. I got to know him through the coaching profession.
He recruited players from where I served as head high school football coach. I was always impressed how honest and forthright he was recruiting our players.
Ronnie Vinklarek is the oldest of five brothers and lost both his parents at a very young age. Through this difficult beginning, he persevered and worked his way up from being a junior high teacher-football coach to a coach in the National Football League.
He worked at five different high schools around Texas and then started college coaching at the University of Houston under legend coach Jack Pardee. From Houston, Ronnie coached at several colleges including Rice under another legend, David Bailiff.
Ronnie also coached in the Canadian Football League in Birmingham, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Continuing his pursuit to the top of the coaching profession, he coached with both the Tennessee Titans and the Buffalo Bills. This hard working, never give up attitude, assisted Ronnie in achieving his professional goals.
How did Ronnie learn how to be so positive and persistent? After losing his parents, a judge allowed the five boys ranging in ages 12-17 to remain together under the care of Ronnie. The only stipulation was the boys could not get in trouble.
Relatives as well as the community of Flatonia helped the boys. Ronnie called those helpers guardian angels. The boys worked different jobs to make ends meet such as changing tires at a 24-hour truck stop, hauling hay and cleaning the post office.
All five brothers had one thing in common: football. It was through football, Ronnie said, that he and his brothers were taught discipline. His coaches encouraged him to go to college. Matter of fact all five brothers went to college and earned degrees.
Besides Ronnie, how did the boys turn out? Darrell is a probation officer in Travis County. Victor is boy’s athletic coordinator at Westview Middle School in Pflugerville.
Larry is an agriculture teacher at Round Rock McNeil High School. Felix, the youngest, lives in Houston and specializes in aviation sales for corporate jets.
Former Rice and now Texas A&M-Commerce head football coach, David Bailiff, said Ronnie’s life story is amazing. Ronnie has coached at every level; NFL, CFL, college and high school. Ronnie says he always tried to follow his grandfather’s advice and not see a problem but understand a problem is only a challenge.
Ronnie said his brothers are his hero’s and wishes his parents were around to see what he and his brothers have become. He would like to tell them, “Mom and Dad, we made it.”
Thought for the week:
“The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.