Personal #STATEMENT A letter to the safeties from their new coach

Dear Jarius, Tim, Zay, Dexter, Shawn and Will,

Could you tell from our first meeting that I’m excited to be your new coach?

I know I’m not that much older than you, but even though we don’t know each other that well yet, I want you to know that I can relate to each one of you.

All of you want to finish school and get your degree. All of you want to play in the NFL. All of you want to be an All-American.

I’ve done all of those things, so when I talk to you about them, it won’t just be lip service. I can relate to each one of you. I know that I will have to show you. Words don’t mean anything without action to back it up.

I want to keep getting better as a coach. You want to keep getting better as a player. And all of us just want to be better men. That’s something we’ll keep working on for the rest of our lives. We’ll learn some of that together.

But there is one thing I have learned that I really want you to know as we begin this journey:

Nothing just happens.

I’m a small-town, country boy from Immokalee, Florida. We’re known for tomato pickin’ and rabbit chasin’ but there is also a lot of good ball down that way.

I know what it’s like to struggle to succeed.

I was raised by my grandma. My mom was living in Ft. Myers and my dad was incarcerated. When I went to live with Grandma in the third grade, I could barely read or write and I had a speech impediment. I was an introvert because I was embarrassed.

Then one day I stepped on the football field. It was finally something where I was ahead of everybody else instead of behind. A place where I didn’t need to be embarrassed. And I loved it.

But my grandma saw my report card and told me I couldn’t play any more if my grades didn’t get better. I had to work hard, but by the next report card, I had straight As. I learned to read on Dr. Seuss books and the catalogs that my grandma would get in the mail. I read those catalogs all through middle school.

I ended up graduating from high school, college and graduate school. I was Academic All-Big Ten ... three times. But it didn’t just happen. I wasn’t really smart. I had to work at it. Nothing just happens - you have to love something enough to be motivated.

I know what it’s like to be disappointed.

I remember sitting on my Grandma’s front porch, waiting for my mom to come and pick me up. I would wait all afternoon, all evening, way up into the night before I would finally realize that she wasn’t coming. I know it broke my Grandma’s heart, but she knew I had to go through it. That disappointment made me stronger. But that little boy waiting for his mama grew tougher because of those disappointments. Because, nothing just happens

I know what it’s like to work.

The foundation of my family was built in the fields under the blazing hot sun. This is hard, painstaking work. My grandfather led by his actions and showed me the definition of hard work. He worked in the fields and the packing house, and he’s still working now and he’s 86 years old. That’s all he knows and that’s all I know. Nothing just happens - you have to work for it.

I know what it’s like to be eager and hungry for success.

I can see this in each of you and know that you’re ready to be even more successful. But I’ve learned that there are many different routes to being successful. My grandfather used to tell me that success is a moving target. I think every day you have to have a workman’s mentality. If you’re not on point and locked in each day, that’s an unsuccessful day.

If you’re off one Saturday, that can ruin your chance of winning a National Championship. If you’re off two Saturdays, that can ruin your chances of going to a big bowl game. If you’re off five Saturdays, that can be the difference between you going to the NFL or not. You see, nothing just happens.

I’m a firm believer in my faith and I believe the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. What are YOU doing to make sure that the plan for you is ensured? That’s a question you should ask yourself every day, because nothing just happens.

Nothing just happens. There is a reason why I’m here. It’s not a coincidence that at this particular point in your lives, you’ve run into a young man who is just as passionate about this game and about you having success on and off the field as you are.

I’m here to develop you as a football player. I’m here to help you grow spiritually. I’m here to help you mature as a young man. By the time you graduate from here, if you’re not better in all of those areas, I didn’t do my job. But I’m beyond confident that you will not only grow, but that you will flourish.

And you will help me to do so as well. From this point forward, we are in this journey together.

Because nothing just happens.

Sincerely,

Coach Henry

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