JUNCTION CITY HIGH SCHOOL
Making the Right Connection
By Kim Goss
Published: Winter 2002
Randall Zimmerman is a head football coach with an attitude, a great attitude. He knows it's vital that athletes have a positive outlook, set goals and develop action plans to achieve them. An effective way he found to instill this attitude in his athletes was to hold a Be An Eleven clinic.
“I was looking for something to help our kids grow a little bit more,” says Zimmerman. “We went to a two-day leadership camp last year, and this year we wanted to try something different. I had read about the Be an Eleven clinics in the BFS magazine. After reading the Be An Eleven Guidebook for Success, I felt that its concepts really fit into what we're trying to do with our kids, which is to help them grow up to be better people and more productive members of society.”
Located next to Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas, Junction City High School educates 1,300 kids in grades 9 through 12. The proximity of the army base makes Junction High School a very transitional school -- the kids are from all over the country, and some attend the school for only one year. “Because we are a military community it's very tough to pull our kids together, and there's a lot of ‘averageness’ among our students.” That's where Zimmerman thought the Be An Eleven clinic would help the most.
“I constantly talk to our kids about how hard work and self-discipline will always pay them back, and how they need to take advantage of what they have right now,” says Zimmerman. “I talk to them about making good choices, and that's what the Be An Eleven program is all about.”
Their clinic was presented on August 21 by Jeff Sellers, and approximately 115 students attended representing several sports, girls' sports among them. Because Zimmerman felt so strongly about the Be An Eleven clinic, he encouraged parents to attend. “I wanted the parents to see what their kids were getting with the seminar and to be involved in the program,” says Zimmerman. “Coach Sellers did an outstanding job presenting the program, and the kids really responded to him.”
A Parent's Perspective
“The Be An Eleven seminar exceeded anything I could imagine,” says Nathan Butler, who attended the seminar with his two sons, Ryan, 14, and Jason, 16. Jeff had the kids pumped up and sitting on the edge of their seats for the whole evening. More importantly, he has the ability to put ideas across to the kids in a way that they can understand. The Be An Eleven seminar was very good money spent by the school. It's something that other schools definitely need to look into sponsoring.”
According to Nathan, the most important aspect of the seminar was Coach Sellers' emphasis on goal setting. “It helped us think about setting achievable goals. To this day my sons still talk about being an Eleven and about setting their eyes on the goal to achieve it.”
Nathan says that Ryan, who is a freshman and enjoys sports, has as one of his goals lettering in wrestling for four years, but his emphasis remains on academics. He wants to graduate from high school with a 4-plus GPA and become an aeronautical engineer. We don't know if he'll achieve those goals, but at least he has set them.”
Jason, who is a junior, is more intense about athletics than Ryan, says his father, but is still very serious about getting a good education. Jason has his eyes set on the Air Force Academy, or earning a scholarship through the Air Force ROTC. His ultimate goal is to go into physical therapy. “Jason has been talking to the Air Force Academy's wrestling coach. He wants to attend a good school and believes the Air Force Academy will provide the opportunity to help him achieve his goals.”
Having his sons take goal setting so seriously is important to Nathan. He even got to wondering how a Be An Eleven seminar might have changed his own life. “Although I have always wanted to do well, I actually didn't know what I wanted to do until I was well past high school. When I graduated from high school I joined the military, and ended up staying 22 years. I think that if I'd had something like the Be An Eleven program when I was younger, it might have changed some of the things I did.”
One of the highlights of the Be An Eleven presentation was the response to Coach Sellers' words on how drugs influence young people. “Jeff did a good job of bringing across how drugs can take away from not only your athletic abilities but also your academic abilities. During that part of the presentation a parent stood up and applauded, and soon just about everybody in the whole place stood up and clapped.”
Although the Be an Eleven seminar has been over for months, Nathan says that the positive effects haven't diminished. “I've gone to pre-game meals with the kids and watched them at Blue Jays' practice, and someone will always say something along the lines of, 'Let's think about being an Eleven, let's keep this energy going!' and it charges the kids right back up.”
And that is music to a Blue Jay's ears.