On April 2, Boston College Head Football Coach Steve Addazio visited my school, St. Joseph Elementary School, in Needham, MA. His inspiring talk was part of SJS’s Leadership Speaker Series for fifth graders.
Coach Addazio spoke about football, of course. But before he got to sports he shared some important lessons he has learned in his life.
First, Addazio shared his motto: “Good things happen to good people who work hard.” He asked the audience to say it three times so that no one would forget it.
He also remembered a homily he heard at a BC mass. He explained that it was about “going down and helping to pick somebody up.”
He used that message to challenge students to think about what they could give of themselves. He encouraged everyone to do simple acts of kindness to make someone’s day better, like giving a nice compliment or leading a helping hand.
“No matter how young or old you are, you have to be kind,” he said.
Since Addazio’s visit was part of the Leadership Speaker Series, he spoke to the students about why it’s important to be a leader for younger kids in school.
“You set an example by how you act, how you carry yourself, how you treat each others, and how you show respect to your teachers,” he said.
He stressed how much he valued hard work. He gave credit to his father for being a great role model for him.
“My father did not have an easy life, and he had to work hard,” Addazio remembered. “He was very smart, and he became a professor.”
But there were unhappy moments, too. He shared a very sad memory of his father’s sudden death of a heart attack.
“I regret not hugging him and telling him I loved him enough,” Addazio reflected. He urged kids to tell their parents that they love them.
In the end, it all game back to the gridiron.
“Does this have anything to do with football?” he asked the group. Then he answered his own question. “I think it does. It has to do with coaching and keeping a team together.”
At that point, he invited the students to ask questions. Here are some:
Q: Did you play football and other sports as a kid?
A: I played baseball, basketball, football, and track and field. I think kids should play everything rather than specialize in one sport.
Q: Who are some of your mentors?
A: I’m lucky to have worked with great coaches like Paul Pasqualoni and Urban Meyer. I learned a lot from them.
Q: Who do you think is the best football player you’ve ever coached?
A: Tim Tebow. [Addazio was an assistant head coach, offensive line coach, and offensive coordinator at Florida.] He has a will to work hard, a will to lead, and a will to win. Also, he’s a great role model and a good person.
Q: Which team is your favorite?
A: I love my BC football team. They are a great group of young men who care about their athletics, academics, and faith. Also, I’m glad to be in Boston, close to Farmington, CT, where I grew up. BC feels like “home” to me.
Photos: Charles Krupa/AP Photo (coaching), Maxwell Suprenant