Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Standing Up

 On September 20, 2013, Coach Matt Labrum of Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah, stood up.  In an amazing act of courage, he met with his team and told them all that they were suspended; all 80 of them.  As of that moment, there was no longer a football team in Roosevelt, Utah.  In a small town where Friday night football and the welfare of the local team is on everyone’s mind, this is amazing.

Some parents were upset with the coach, but when they heard the coach’s explanation, they supported him.  Coach Labrum suspended his team because of reports of physical and cyber bullying, and attitude problems both in and out of school.  The coach did not like what he was hearing about his players and decided that there were more important lessons to be taught to these young men than playing football games.  The entire team needed to refocus their priorities.

So, how did the coach do this?  The day after the suspension (a Saturday), he met with his team and explained to them that if they wanted to play for him, they had to sign a contract in which they agreed to do the following:

  • Perform acts of community service such as pulling weeds in flower beds around the school, go to nursing homes to talk with and read to the elderly, clean school hallways, and wash windows.
  • Attend character building counseling sessions
  • Take classes on character
  • Memorize a poem about character
  • Do more things with and for their families

By the end of the week, all but nine players had signed the contracts and were reinstated to the team.  The newly reinstated team elected new team captains for a new beginning.

The Union High players who are going through this experience may not fully understand what Coach Labrum has done.  At a time when they needed him most, he stood tall for them.  When they were at a crossroad, Coach Labrum pointed them to the road less traveled; the road that leads to success not necessarily on the playing field, but in the field of life.  When the going got tough, Coach Labrum stepped up and put his job on the line for them; risking his livelihood and the financial security of his family.

One day each of these boys will know the full extent of Coach Labrum's sacrificial love for them.  And I hope they look him up and shake his hand.

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