Inspiring Speaker

awileman@sierrastar.comOctober 8, 2013 

Every Thursday night following practice the Yosemite High School Football team comes together to eat dinner and host a motivational speaker as a way to develop team camaraderie and unity.

According to the Badgers JV coach, Pat Lynch, this gives the team an opportunity to spend quality time with each other and grow together as a team.

"The goal is to teach the players why it's important to be a well-rounded individual," Lynch said. "Faith, family, school and athletics are the four basic groups we're focussing on. The goal is to change an individual in order to help change a family, a friend, a teammate, a team, a school and a community."

Every week inspirational speakers, including athletes, pastors, coaches and youth ministers, come from all over the state and country to encourage the Badger players to better themselves on and off the field.

Second year varsity head coach, Kent Lincoln, believes the dinners are a positive way for the players to get to know each other better, as well as encourage growth as an individual.

"Thursday night dinners give us a chance to eat together, spend time with one another, and learn something about yourself," Lincoln said. "We host these to build a family environment, spend time together away from football, and to create better young men."

Last week Lynch and Lincoln were able to grace the players with the presence of Boston College's all-time leading rusher and Cleveland Browns 2002 first-round draft pick, William Green.

Green, who lives in New Jersey, spent much of the time talking to the players about his life experiences and what football and Christianity have taught him along the way.

Green's parents died from AIDS when he was only 13 years old and he was able to incorporate some of his struggles and experiences with his family and friends into a message that touched many who were in attendance.

Green discussed with the Badgers the importance of team work, being a leader, standing up for one another and the importance of having a vision of the future. But most of all, Green enjoyed talking about his relationship with God and how he credits his new found life to Christianity.

The Badger players and coaches were honored and excited to meet the man who is widely known for a touchdown run in the last game of the 2002 season that catapulted the Browns to their first playoff appearance in eight seasons.

In a message from the heart, Green explained to the players how at the pinnacle of his career, his life was not complete and it wasn't until he developed a close relationship with God that he truly became comfortable in his own skin.

Green repeated one specific statement with sincerity, in reference to life after death — "Eternity is a long time to be wrong," Green said.

Green retired in 2005 after being released due to injury and said motivational speeches are a way for him to use his platform as an ex-NFL player in a positive way and at the same time, spread the word of God.

"I had an encounter with God and he put it on my heart to go out there and reach the young men that were like me," Green said. "I didn't have anyone to point me in that direction ... I wish I would have known at their age but I'm glad I know what I know now."

Green now spends much of his time traveling the country with other players spreading the word of hard work and the gift of God.

Lynch is the "Huddle Leader" for Yosemite FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and through the program, he arranges different speakers every week to come and talk with the players.

"It's a new idea we are working on to create the best program in the mountains." Lunch said. "To change our program and to create success for the future. Athletes have the opportunity to be leaders on campus and it's important for them to be leading in a positive direction."

Since bringing in speakers, groups around the school and community have shown outside interest.

"With the positive model of team dinners the football program had started, other Yosemite high sports programs are coming forward asking how to get involved," Lynch said. "That's a positive step forward for Yosemite FCA," Lynch said.

Lincoln and Lynch hope by bringing more speakers like Green, the players will get the message of encouragement, hard work, discipline and good will.

"I think they received the message well, some will take it to heart now and others hopefully will get it later," Lincoln said.

The Thursday night dinners for the Badgers is held every Thursday at different locations depending on the availability and potential turnout of the events.

Last week, the dinner was held at Living Way Foursquare Church in Oakhurst, with the help of Pastor Steve Myers and his wife Peggy.,

Tonight (Thursday) Cameron Hiller, a football player who once attended Holly Spirit High School (New Jersey), will join the Badgers for dinner and afterwards the team has invited the cross country team to come to hear the 7 p.m. presentation by Hiller and Mallory Gilbert from Soar Intentionally.

On Oct. 17, the speaker will be Ryan Colburn, former Fresno State quarterback, who will speak about motivation and what it takes to be a great athlete.

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