By Portia Williams
WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg High School (WHS) football team is training players to be leaders on and off of the field. Every Friday at 7 a.m. WHS coach Rob Woodward, in conjunction with Wheelersburg United Methodist Church, host a Leadership Breakfast for the team and other members of the student body.
More than one 100 students attended the WHS Leadership Breakfast Friday, of which Woodward was the speaker.
“It is just a tremendous opportunity. We talk all of the time to our kids in education about being leaders, and we want them to be leaders, and to show leadership. Sometimes we never truly teach them how to be leaders, and they are young people and they need to know the other experiences that people have gone through,” Woodward said.
What began as small leadership group evolved into the leadership breakfast, according to Woodward.
“When I took the head coaching job here at Wheelersburg it kind of started with a small group. We read a book, Jim Tressel’s, ‘Winners Manual,’ and kind of talked about that in the classroom,” he said. “There were six to seven of us at time, and we would start it on Friday mornings. I brought donuts and milk to try to get them there, and from there is just grew, and over a four year period we got up 20 or 30 guys attending, sometimes some volleyball team members and cheerleaders.”
He opened with commentary regarding the importance of having confidence.
“I feel like I have gained confidence. I am continuing to gain confidence, but I have not always been a confident person. When I was 16, or 17 years old, if I stood up in front of a group like this, the first thing that would be happening is sweat pouring down my face,” Woodward said. “So that is how the nervousness came out in me, and my lack of confidence was shown in that way, but I always tried to put myself in situations to try to face my fears, and try to get better at that.”
Captivating the attention of every student in the room, Woodward proceeded to talk with the students about confidence in leadership.
He said Wheelersburg United Methodist Church responded to his request to host the breakfasts in the church basement.
“I reached out to the community, and the ladies here at the Methodist Church were obliging in terms of allowing us to have a venue to host. They provide us with a meal which entices those young people get up a half hour earlier, or an hour earlier,” Woodward said. They get a chance to start the day on a Friday with motivation that they are able to take from the speakers that they have.”
Wood encouraged the students to celebrate their own uniqueness and to refrain from comparing themselves to others.
“Don’t compare yourself to others.You have your own strengths, your own weaknesses. Now, it is good to look to others, and see some of the strengths that they have, and try to pull some of the ideas that they have, but always remember that you are unique, each and every person in here is unique,” he said. “You are your own person, so own that, be that own person. This year’s team, this year’s football team doesn’t need to try to compare themselves to last year, or to two years ago, we are our own team.”
He also spoke to the group about trusting in oneself. He said that leadership is trust, which must first start with trusting yourself.
Complimenting others on their accomplishments is a key component to leadership, as well as focus on who you are, and not exclusively on what you do.
He made reference to biblical scripture from the book of Matthew 7:7.
“Mathew 7:7 says, ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. This year’s theme is, ‘Find a Way.’ Be the one who knocks. Don’t have a fear of what is on the other side of the door. Be the one to push open that door, “Get out of my way. I’m pushing that door open,” Woodward said.
Mark Knapp, Superintendent of Wheelersburg School District also attended the breakfast.
“To me, it is just an outreach of the community to embrace our students, and student athletes, and to show them a lot of support. We want to guide them, and help them to develop as citizens and leaders and then that obviously carries over into the school and into the atmosphere and environment that we create in the building,” Knapp said. “We are really appreciative of the fact, that the Methodist Church here sponsors this and provides their facilities. We have one fourth of the student body that is sitting in here this morning, and we are really proud of that, and happy.”
The conclusion emphasized paying attention to your outward appearance.
“Make sure that you take care of yourself. Others see you. How you are, how you carry yourself, that is where the confidence is going to come from so recognize it. Your inward pride is expressed by your outward appearance,” Woodward said. “Focus on who you are, and the confidence will come with that. With confidence comes power, with power comes responsibility, and all of those things start to build with one another, and all of these are key components of leadership.”
All heads were bowed as Woodward closed out the breakfast with prayer, after which the students dispersed to attend classes at WHS.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-370-0712 or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.