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THE RISE OF YOUTH
I believe that there is a greater percentage of teens who are in the eleven category than ever before. The best kids of today are better than the best kids in my day.
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 2000

There are many who believe our world is getting worse. That our youth are almost frightening. I see a different picture. I see more opportunity than ever before. I see the problems and challenges our youth face, but also see much goodness. I see many wonderful examples of greatness. In fact, I believe that there is a greater percentage of teens who are in the eleven category than ever before. The best kids of today are better than the best kids in my day. But, I also believe there is more evil than ever before. The bad kids of today are worse than the bad kids in my day.
It is truly amazing kids do as well as they do. More than one million children a year have experienced parental divorce since 1970. Some 40% of all married adults have already been divorced. Married couples with children represent only 26% of all households. About 45% of new marriages will end in divorce and 60% of remarriages will end that way.
Today, the battle lines are more clearly drawn. The importance of making great decisions and choices is more important than ever before. The responsibility of teachers and coaches is greater than ever before. The need for athletics and structure in athletics is greater than ever before. I see a great need for our Be An Eleven Seminar. I talked with Ron McBride, the head football coach at the University of Utah. The Utes had just lost their first three ball games. He was down. In one game, the field goal kicker did not get into the game when he was needed. Apparently he had helmet problems. The kicker wasn’t ready and wasn’t focused. After the third loss, one of his football players got into a fight and hit another man in the back of the head with a baseball bat. The injuries were severe. The result: attempted murder charges with $100,000 bail. Again, focus was lost and principles clearly outlined in the Be An Eleven Guidebook were violated. We spend a lot of time trying to get bigger, faster and stronger. We spend a lot of time practicing the X’x and O’s. We spend a lot of energy getting our athletes to play hard. But what good is it, if our athletes are ineligible, unfocused or are in jail.
Teens are more aware than ever and, in general are making better choices just as a means of survival. The teen birthrate is at its lowest levels in 60 years. I believe that today’s teens are more sexually conservative. Violence is down, gang activity is down and drug use is down. Teens, in general, want a bright future. So, in spite of a lot of terrible things going on, our youth need to be praised and further encouraged. Let me give you two incredible examples of two teens that I met at our Be An Eleven Seminars.
At our seminar in Silverton, Oregon, one junior athlete really stood out. He was Hispanic and had this wonderful glow and smile. He was always respectful and courteous to everyone. He was an eleven. His father died in prison and all of his brothers were in gangs and constantly in trouble with the law. This kid decided, on his own, to move in with his grandparents. The smaller town of Silverton got him away from many negative situations. He took responsibility for his own greatness. When you do that, you become an eleven.
At one seminar at a High School in California, I asked about deaths in the family. A few had lost grandparents but one football player had lost his father. I asked him how his father had died. He replied, “Coach, he was tied up, taken to a remote spot in the desert and shot several times in the head.” It was a drug deal gone bad. Yet here he was at a Be An Eleven Seminar. His goal was to get better and play his song. Wow!
But, on the other side, five teenagers, who came from solidly middle class families in New York, pummeled to death a 44-year old man. These kids had no prior criminal record. They were hungry so they ordered a bunch of Chinese food. They had no money so they lured the delivery man to a vacant house where they jumped him. The man also had $600 on him. They left the money. They wanted only the food. These four boys and one girl, all under the age of seventeen, have horribly changed the lives of many people forever, including their own.
I believe our Be An Eleven Guidebook helps all teens and athletes not only cope with but thrive in today’s world. It gives teens who want to be great a better chance to do so. It helps kids be leaders. But, most of all, it sets a true course on achieving one’s highest personal destiny.

Dr. Greg Shepard
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