Ignite what matters

What’s behind the shirt?

Posted in bold leadership by ignitewhatmatters on July 13, 2010
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


For the past 9 years a very special gathering has taken place on a large field just outside of San Jose, CA.  Hundreds of boys and girls aged 8 – 14 meet for five evenings of learning, growth and discovery.  I have been a supporter of this event, the Myles Brinson- JR Adams Fundamental Football Camp, ever since the day I learned of it… 6 years ago now.  While I do love football, here football is merely the platform on which the true learning is built.

Myles Brinson and JR Adams are the camp’s heroes. Every camp participant wears a t-shirt with their numbers on it.  These 2 young men were taken from this earth far too soon… Myles at age 8 by leukemia and JR, as high school senior, by a teen-aged drunk driver.  In memory of their sons, their amazing parents have created an environment where character rules over physical ability.  Respect… Discipline… Family… evident in every corner of the field every minute.

Here is a minute I will not forget: on Friday during a skill development session a boy on the team that was practicing closest to me (maybe 13 or 14 yr olds) began bucking against what the team was instructed to work on.  He let out a string of cuss words.  The coach of the team, a young man I recognized from previous years of camp, heard the outburst and called out to the boy.  It took a few calls to get his attention.  The coach is likely just 17 or 18 yrs old and by my estimate a good 50 pounds lighter than the cussing boy.  No worries.  Without hesitation, the coach laid it out there:

  • … No, not while you are wearing this shirt
  • … We don’t act like that here… we don’t treat each other with disrespect like that
  • … That’s not what wearing this shirt is about
  • … You need to honor this shirt
  • … Don’t forget that

I was blown away… not just by the words/actions but also by the authentic delivery of the message.  The message I heard: the irrefutable stand the coach has for “who we are” and “how it is around here”.  Respect.  Discipline.  Family.

Later during the camp’s closing ceremony I realized the young coach is JR’s little brother… a young man of rare character… one you know will be a great gift to this earth.

Think about your corner of the field.  What is on your “shirt”?   What is behind it?


7 Responses to 'What’s behind the shirt?'

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  1. Sue:
    Yet again you find a way to inspire! Thank you for sharing this story! It’s so amazing to hear stories that put things in perspective, our life, our love, and our character. I will forever think about what is on my shirt and honor it!

  2. Kim said,

    This really made my morning and got me to thinking, too. As I reflect on the recently ended fiscal year for my company and the amazing challenge that was set before me last yet which I met and exceeded, I’ve found myself drifting in recent weeks. What now, what do I rally around? I will definitely spend some time in the coming days thinking about what is on “my shirt” and what is behind it and put that into play. Thanks for the inspiration to get over my personal hump.

  3. Ronnie Noize said,

    Sue, again you inspire me. Today my T-shirt says: GRATEFUL!

    Thanks, gal.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Veronika Noize and Sue Melone. Sue Melone said: What’s behind the shirt?:   For the past 9 years a very special gathering has taken place on a large field just ou… http://bit.ly/9t1fNc […]

  5. bridgette143 said,

    I am wearing my INSPI(RED) shirt today! I tried to explain this lesson years ago to my kids! They get it!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Abby Rodriguez said,

    Sue –
    Today was a challenging day for me . Thank you for your inspiration….My t-shirt says : “Stability “

  7. Patrice Cook said,

    Thank you for inspiring me to think about who and what I represent, with such an inspiring story. You are a master at the telling and the asking. I appreciate your sharing.

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