Molding Men: Minnesota Coach Focuses on Character

By Derek Smith, FNF Coaches Contributor

Too often stories of inspiration that could provide advice and mentorship get lost in the game itself.  One Minnesota coach is building good men within his program for life after football and beyond.

It’s highly unlikely many high school coaches would take time away from practice to teach a life lesson. After all, there are only so many hours in a week to prepare for the upcoming game. In the competitive world of coaching any deviation from the X’s and O’s might raise the suspicions of the administration and the ire of the parents. Coaches have to careful and stick to the game plan or face the possibility of scrutiny to their program and even worse – dismissal.

One coach in Minnesota is not only finding success on the gridiron but is using his own unique methods to teach lessons that his players can use to be productive members of society – exemplary citizens, community leaders, reliable employees, good husbands and fathers.

Two Cornell University studies found high school athletes were seen as having “significantly higher levels of leadership, self-confidence and self-respect” and that there was a “positive relationship between participation in competitive youth sports and several measures of long-term personal success and pro-sociability.”

Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (ACGC) High School coach David Blom is ensuring those results hold true for his team by instilling core values like accountability, caring and respect in innovative ways.

“We’re doing what we can to make these kids better [citizens] in this country in kind of a chaotic time now,” said Blom, 32, who is entering his fourth year as head coach of his alma mater. “I’ve got a great administration where they are very supportive.”

When Blom heard rumors of drinking among his players, he took a page from the popular documentary “Beyond Scared Straight” to get the attention of the young men.

He found a heart-wrenching video on YouTube about an innocent teenage girl killed by a drunk driver and acted if she was one of his daughters, making the players pretend they were facing the father of the dead girl in court for the first time.

“That was our whole practice that day. We didn’t go outside on the field,” Blom said.

But, it was a video that he produced that caught the attention of parents, administrators and other coaches that validated his efforts to teach responsibility and compassion.

The team danced and lip-synced to One Direction’s song, “Beautiful,” to drive home the point that all women are beautiful and should be respected.

“I expected them to do this because that’s who we are,” he said.

Blom said he hasn’t faced any backlash or criticism for wanting to do more than just coach the game of football.

“I’m not surprised he’s doing these things because I’ve known him since he was in high school, and that’s the kind of person he is,” said ACGC principal Sherri Broderius. “I would hope all coaches and teachers would do things like this.”

Blom’s team went 4-4 in 2016 and made improvements as the Falcons try to duplicate the success of the 2001 team that won the Class 2A state championship.

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