Monthly Archives: June 2013

Tenets of #TigerFamily

History. Tradition. The age-old tenets of the Clay Center Community High School Tigers. It is our way of doing business. It is who we are. It is what we do. It is us being defined by our predecessors, following the character and the expectations passed from generation to generation, from decade to decade, and from season to season.

A young man lamented to me last month about how he felt they had no traditions at the high school anymore. He was frustrated. He didn’t seem to fully comprehend what it all means or how awesome it is to be a part of this wonderful tradition. #TigerFamily means more than a hashtag; it means more than just a catchy slogan.

There is a deep, historical standard in Clay County, KS. Not being a native citizen, I tried to learn as much as I could when I was an active part of the Tiger sports coaching family. I’ve heard the stories from former athletes, young and old. I’ve studied the Blackie (Lane) Book and Coach Otto Unruh’s How to Coach Winning Football more times than I dare count. What follows is my feeble attempt to distill all this tradition and all this history into a list of principles and beliefs on the meaning of Tiger Family.

Current and future Tiger Family members, we sit in the middle of a rarefied tradition in Clay Center. The torch is passed. The flame of tradition and history is now in your hands.

What are you going to do with it?

The Tenets 

  • Outwork everyone.
  • Earn everything. Expect nothing to be given.
  • Hit your opponent like a cannon shot, from the opening gun to closing bell.
  • Never back down, never give up.
  • Every man, every play.
  • Get better every day.
  • When the opponent puts their head on the chopping block, cut it off.
  • Hustle everywhere. Hustle is an attitude. Intimidate with hustle.
  • Take care of your own !@#$ business. Do your job.
  • Think explosive, train explosive, play explosive.
  • Be who you are while being part of the whole.
  • Earn respect, command respect.
  • Challenges, direction, discipline, and limits will make you better. Accept them.
  • Be relentless.
  • Luke 11:23 “He who is not with me is against me.”

(There is no order or rank of importance. All are equally important.)

Interlocking CC

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Coach Hays Rant: The Questions?

Recently, I read “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler). It is the first book in the new All the Wrong Questions series. You may remember the author’s previous book series, the wonderful A Series of Unfortunate Events. The new book chronicles the career beginnings of the 13-year-old Lemony Snicket.


The new series is called All the Wrong Questions for a good reason. The young Snicket, according to his recently appointed chaperone, S. Theodora Markson, is always asking the wrong questions. The book is very entertaining and I recommend it highly, but it also raised a question is my coaching mind:

For a player, teammate, coach, or parent, what are the right questions?

I have been pondering this practical and philosophical question rattling about in my head for the past few weeks. I still don’t have a concrete answer. Maybe it would be beneficial to start with some of the wrong questions and then consider what the right questions may be.

The WRONG Questions

  • You lost? Again?
  • Why did you strike out?
  • Why don’t watch this videotape of your miserable performance with me?
  • Do you believe those umpires/referees/officials so bad?
  • What in the world was that idiot Coach Hays thinking tonight?
  • Can’t you ever do anything right?
  • Why didn’t you win?
  • What in heaven’s name were you doing out there?

The RIGHT Questions

  • Do you enjoy the game?
  • Did you give your best?
  • Do you feel you prepared yourself properly?
  • Are there things you’d do differently?
  • Did you get better?
  • Are you a good teammate?
  • Were you respectful of the game?

Next time you are involved in a sporting event, either as a player, parent, or fan, stick to the RIGHT questions and avoid the WRONG questions. Attempt to promote the sport in a positive manner, win, lose, or draw. I know it is hard, very hard. But I think you will be surprised how much more you can enjoy the sport by sticking to the spirit of the RIGHT questions.

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Coach Hays Rant: Supplements

I am not a big fan of supplements for average high school athletes. I am in a minority. I’ve been jeered, deemed old-fashioned, and dismissed for many of my beliefs in regard to supplements. 95% of all athletes don’t need them. Many of the supplements you see advertised, as well of a huge chunk of the supporting data, are designed and tested for the upper level athlete. These are the top 5% college and pro athletes who work and train at such a high level, their diet cannot completely help them recover.

I wrote an article for Gridiron Strategies football coaching magazine ten years ago about the Performance Triangle philosophy we used in our rural high school football program. Since many of our athletes also participated in other sports throughout the year, my hope was that they would take these principles with them throughout the year.


The Performance Triangle consisted of the three prong approach of nutrition, hydration, and rest. After years of coaching high school male athletes, I came to realize the majority of these kids have poor nutrition, poor hydration, and don’t get a proper amount of rest. Which brings the million dollar question…if you don’t eat right, if you don’t drink enough water, and if you don’t get enough sleep, why are you (or probably your parents) spending hundreds of dollars on supplements?

Protein supplements, muscle milks, shakes, drinks, powders are a mega-dollar industry. Do you know the human body only absorbs about 15% of the protein ingested? The other 85% is eliminated by the kidneys in the urine. So, for every $100 you spend on protein supplements, one’s body eliminates 85 of those dollars down the toilet. Now, does that sound like a wise investment?

Former Kansas State University Strength and Conditioning Coach Rod Cole, one of the best in the business, used to tell his players to eat two peanut butter sandwiches with a glass of milk every morning and night to cover the athlete’s extra nutritional needs. The first place an athlete, their coaches, and their parents should look is at the athlete’s nutrition, hydration, and rest before even investigating supplements.

The folks who push these supplements on kids without education, prescribed need, and exploring basic nutritional options are, in my opinion, pushers. They sell a bottle, not belief. It is the greatest sin a youth coach or youth mentor can commit.

The pill begins to control the player. The mentality which comes with this perceived need is deadly to the success of an athlete. It is the protein shake, not the hours of hard work that become the reason for gains. Shortcuts make long journeys. In the case of supplements, these journeys wind through the lands of self-doubt and dependency, neither place fitting for the ideals and dreams of young athletes.


Looking for the edge over your opponent? I suggest looking in a mirror. What you will see there is your greatest asset. You will find in that reflection the number one, most effective tool you have in your arsenal…YOU.

Believe in yourself, not the chemical. You will soon discover the difference when you are asked to perform and the game is on the line. There will be no doubt in your mind, or your teammate’s minds, about whether or not you have what it takes to get the job done. Belief trumps bottles every single time.

Be the best you that you can be. Dedicate yourself to the person in the mirror. Give that person in the mirror the very best of your mind, body, and heart. Do the work. The shortcuts are filled with pitfalls and traps, as murky and dangerous as quicksand.

There is no magic bullet.

Hard work is the magic.

Believe in yourself.

Be the best you that you can be.


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