Sometimes We Do Not See When the Writing Is On the Wall
Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, motivation is more than decoration.
Motivational quotations grace the walls of the majority of weight rooms in America. When you put something on the wall there is a purpose. Placing it on the wall is meant to affix it in the viewers mind, to inspire, direct and to instill. Motivational quotes are not decor.
Lloyd Carr the former Head Coach at the University of Michigan placed a quote on the door headed into the main meeting room, “Only Your Best Is Good Enough”. The statement said it all, if you were going to play football at U of M ‘only your best’ was expected and the expectation of excellence began upon entering the main room for your very first collegiate meeting.
When the new freshman met, Lloyd would ask “What did the sign say as you entered the door?” One athlete would always reply, “I didn’t see it Coach.” The entire group of incoming freshmen would then be instructed to get up, march into the hall and read the sign. A wonderful message to the young men about the message.
If I placed a sign on the wall it was for all to read, know and learn. There was a purpose, it was thought out, there was a meaning. If a message was to grace the wall it was certainly important. It was to be put to memory.
I placed a Fielding H. Yost quote about ‘Spirit’ on the partition as you entered the weight room. Fielding coached at Michigan in the early 1900’s and won 10 Big Ten Championships and 6 National Championships. An incredible career. The words of Coach Yost’s are worth reading.
I had been enamored by the word spirit. I took Latin in high school and a 700 level Latin class in Graduate school. The Latin word ‘Spiritus’ (spirit) enriched many of the stories that I read. Spiritus translated is “to breath”, but in the stories it was likened to soul, vigor and courage. It was said a man with great spirit had mettle, he had a temperament, a certain liveliness. I loved the word, for me it reflected not only these characteristics, but toughness.
Fielding Yost thought about the word “Spirit” and knew that it was an attribute necessary to play the game of football, especially at the championship level. When I read Fielding’s quote I had no mental choice, it had to go up. I also wanted each athlete to know something about the old coach who brought the winning tradition to the University. I wanted each player to have an insight into how he thought about his athletes and the game. He could speak to them through the walls.
Challenging yourself is a true joy in living. The verbiage posted was to be put to memory. All were required to know and recite the quote. No different then singing the fight song or knowing the Alma Mater. Failure to memorize was not an option after all it was college.
Yost believed that to be a player you must have ‘Spirit’ and he amply defined what spirit was below.
“… no man can be a football player who does not love the game. Half-heartedness or lack of earnestness will eliminate any man from a football team. The love of the game must be genuine. It is not devotion to a fad that makes men play football; it is because they enjoy their struggle.”
Memorize or Run
Michigan Pendulum Racks with Pit Shark Belt Squats Attached