Committing to your football family

October 1, 2017 /
At Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tradition runs deep.

The varsity football team has made 17 playoff appearances, 11 of which were consecutive. The 2015 team set 18 football-related records and finished as the 4A state runner-up.

They truly are a Kennedy family.

“A family sticks together,” said head coach Brian White. “We’re not always going to be the best of friends. We’re not always going to see eye to eye. There are going to be times where we struggle with one another, but at the end of the day, we are family and we will always have each other’s back.”

After attending a coaching clinic at Kansas State University in the spring of 2015, Coach White decided to take their family approach to the next level; the “Family Block” was born.

On one side of the block, “Family” is written in bold, black letters. Another side displays the team’s 16 principles for success. Each and every year, those principles are the following.

  1. Commitment
  2. Unselfishness
  3. Unity
  4. Improve
  5. Be tough
  6. Self-discipline
  7. Great effort
  8. Enthusiasm
  9. Eliminate mistakes
  10. Never give up
  11. Don’t accept losing
  12. No self limitations
  13. Expect to win
  14. Consistency
  15. Leadership
  16. Responsibility

“It’s a focal point for the team,” White said. “It goes where the team goes. A different player takes it home every night. The kids have latched onto it and enjoy being a part of it.”

At some point throughout the season, White has each player on the team sign the Family Block. This year, 65 athletes etched their name into the wood.

“By signing the block, they are committing to the 16 goals through good times and bad, no matter what is happening around them,” he said. “They are committing to this family.”

White is teaching his players the value of sticking to their word. It’s so easy for young people to quit, so he and his staff are teaching them to finish the job, finish what they started.

Sometimes there are exceptions, like players facing serious injury. This year, two of White’s players tore their ACL. Instead of walking away from the team — the family — they decided to hold up their end of the deal. They are committed and plan to attend all practices and games.

“It’s a nice thing to rally around, to focus on, to direct our attention on,” said White. “It’s our go-to and we can refer to it in good times and in bad. It’s really a quite helpful thing and I can’t thank Kansas State University and Coach Bill Snyder enough for introducing it to me.”

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