Tag Archives: Hard Work

The Good Steward

The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. –Genesis 2:15

Stewardship. The job of taking care of something. Simple enough word. Simple enough concept. 

The Bible quote from Genesis speaks of stewardship. In the Book of Genesis, right after God creates the heavens and the earth, right after creating the seas, the plants, the animals, and then us humans in his own image, what does He do next?

He creates the Garden of Eden for Adam. He pulls Adam aside, shows him the place He made for him to live, and says, “cultivate and care for it.”

God tasks Adam with stewardship. God puts his trust in Adam to take care of something special. Think about it. The first thing God tasks us with as humans is to take care of Creation.

Genesis 2:15 is one of the most influential lines in the whole Bible in my opinion. This line is one that drives me in many aspects of my life. Leave things as good as you found them and, if possible, leave things a little better off.

Stewardship is the first job as humans that our Creator gives to us beyond “be fruitful and multiply.” The call to stewardship, though, kind of gets lost in the bit of Genesis that follows about the forbidden fruit. We sometimes need a reminder we are called to be stewards. We are trusted to take care of things.

Our first job from God, taking care of the gifts we’re given, might be our most important job. Yet, do we act as good stewards of our gifts in today’s throw-away culture? 

Have we allowed the things we are trusted with to rot and fall apart instead of maintaining them? It takes dedication, work, and will to be good stewards of what we’re entrusted with.

Globally, nationally, and locally, we are called to take care of the gifts we’re given, Whether it’s oceans, lakes, prairies, communities, libraries, schools, or even parks, those that came before trusted us to do our job as stewards.

Are we up to the task or do we fail at the job we were entrusted to do? Once we neglect our responsibilities as stewards, either individually or collectively, we lose the trust of others. And trust, my friends, is a tough thing to get back.

Stewardship builds community. The ground we all walk on as we go about our daily lives and share with our neighbors is a gift.

We have to take care of the gifts we’re given. We have to be strong enough to take the first step and do the job. We need to be good stewards.

Stewardship takes work. As Sirach says,

“Do not hate hard work; work was assigned by God.” – Sirach 7:15

Be a good steward. Start today with baby steps. Strive daily to make the world and community you live in a little better place.

Photo courtesy of Phil Frigon

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A Grind

There’s been so much talk about getting back to “normal”. I understand. These are strange times indeed. Home, school, work, play, even going shopping, have all been knocked topsy-turvy in 2020. 

The problem with expending so much energy and emotion trying to get back to “normal” is that, in reality, there is no normal. Things are what they are. Things have always been what they are. And, if we need reminding, these things aren’t always what we want them to be. Never have been, never will be. 

Yet, we in modern America have made a huge mistake. We’ve convinced ourselves we are in charge. We’ve done such a great job of controlling aspects of our life and society that we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking we can control everything.

We can’t.

Never have.

Never will.

Life changes. Shit happens, man.

What matters is how we deal with it.

What matters is what we choose to do every day with the situation we’ve been given. Do we rise to the challenge? Or do we whine and throw a hissy fit? The choice is ours.

Time is linear. It never stops moving forward and there is not a dang thing we can do about it. We can, however, live that next moment in the moment. We can take the bull by the horns and give that next moment in time our very best. That’s what Americans do. That’s what Kansans do. We don’t whine. We don’t point fingers. Okay, okay! I know we all whine and we all point fingers at times. Recently, though, we’ve forgotten there’s always the next step. The step where we take the cards we’ve been dealt and make the best happen after the whining is done.

Life’s a grind. It’s one day after the other. Linear time.

Our job is to wake up each day and grind it out the best we can. 

Our job is to take advantage of the possibilities that come with each sunrise.

Our job is to make the world a better place.

We’ll get through these tough times by working together. 

One day at a time. One play at a time. One swing at a time.

Every man, every play.

Be safe. Be kind. Grind it out.

By Peter van der Sluijs – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26141131


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Doesn’t Matter

It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks.
It’s what you think that matters.

It doesn’t matter what everybody else does.
It’s what you do that matters.

It doesn’t matter what everyone else talks.
It’s the walk you walk that matters.

Be the best you that you can be.
Every day.

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Sometimes you do all the right things and still fail.
Sometimes you work hard and still sit the bench.
Sometimes you study until your brain explodes and still bomb the test.
Sometimes you practice and practice and practice but still strike out.
Sometimes you squeeze words to paper and they still sound like donkey doo.
Sometimes you give it all you got and it takes all you have, then laughs.

Keep working, stay true.

There will be a time you will win.
A time you’ll play and dominate.
A test score of an “A”.
A screaming line drive you hit into the gap with baseball loaded.
A story that rings true and honest.
A time when you give it all you got and get back more than you need.

You can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat.

Hard work is the magic.

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When Everyone Wins, Nobody Wins.

There’s a trend in amateur sports which threatens a healthy future and perhaps even their survival as we know them. This disturbing trend is the misconception that competing means winning.

Behind this philosophy, we are eroding the joy in competing. We are smashing the inherent joy of working hard for a goal, by lowering the bar to give everybody the “win”. We continually are diluting the competitive structure to allow the most winners. Let’s hand out a ribbon to everybody, whether they earned it or deserved it. That’s unhealthy.


One of my favorite movies is THE INCREDIBLES. One of the best lines in the movie is when the antagonist, Syndrome, tells Mr. Incredible he is creating superpower technology he’ll eventually sell to normal people. Syndrome says, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

Is that where we are going? Are we headed in the direction where only winning matters, so we need to make sure we create a system where everyone wins? That, my friends, is not a system which promotes the values and life lessons intended by sport. Teamwork flies out the door and the disciplined and dedicated approach to self-improvement soon follows. The reward for preparation is severely discounted. Using failure, or the potential of failure, to drive a desire to improve is swept under the rug.

Honestly, most of the true innate joy in sports is in competing. The joy of competing is in the working of one’s tail off to get better day after day in practice. The joy is in the going out on the field to give every last milligram of fight and intensity to compete with purpose, pride, and passion, win or lose. That’s what competing is.

Wins and losses will fall where they may, the competitive effort awards the athlete to a higher degree than any medal or trophy or ribbon. In fact, as much can be learned about oneself from a defeat as from a victory. Three of the most talked about football games in our tenure (even years after the games were played) were against 4A state powerhouse Holton Wildcats. These three games were massive, epic battles, games which felt like two rams rearing back and hammering horns together for four quarters.

These boys, now men, still talk about those games with a gleam in their eye. Do you know the common factor in those three Holton games? We lost. We played out heart out, we fought against the odds, we ignored the preconceived notion we were underdogs and vastly over-matched. We still lost. We ENJOYED those games enough to remember every detail ten years later, despite the final score.

THAT is what I am afraid to lose as we slide down the gravel slope to the pit where competing = winning.

In fact, I felt we found out more about who we were as human beings in how we responded to a defeat. We found out so much about ourselves as players and coaches by how we picked ourselves up from the muck of failure and worked to become something better. And for us adults, who’ve survived our share of hardships in life, isn’t that a great lesson for young athletes to learn?

Athletes remember the competition. The defeats and the victories often fade over time, but that feeling of having competed to the maximum of one’s abilities leaves a trail of satisfaction and has staying power.

As parents, coaches, and administrators let’s turn the tide, let’s once again turn our focus to the promotion of competition, instead of a focus on winning. We don’t need to eliminate losing. We don’t need to a ribbon or a trophy to be a winner.

We need the joy of competing to the best of our ability to make us winners.

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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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Coach Hays Rant: EASY Button?

I think at one time or another, we all wish for the EASY button. Pleasant dreams in which our lives will be made easier by some means of magic. Well, haven’t you ever wished that? Sure you have.

But here’s the bubble-bursting truth…there is no EASY button. If you want to get something done, then it’s time to get to work. There is no EASY button. There, I’ll say it again just for emphasis.
Things worth having are worth working for. Things worth accomplishing are worth working for. Dream big and do the work necessary to achieve your dreams.

If you want to play big, train big.
If you want to learn big, study big.
If you want to play explosive, you need to train explosive.
If you want to play slow and sluggish (even if you are static strong), train slow.


Easy doesn’t require an investment.
Easy doesn’t require a commitment.
Easy accepts minimal effort and laziness.
Easy allows shortcuts and shortcuts make long, miserable journeys with unfulfilling endings.
Easy becomes a lifestyle.

Never lose sight that things worth having are worth working for.
Never allow yourself to be seduced by the shortcut and the EASY.

Dream it and do it.

Hard work is the magic.

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Coach Hays Rant: Summertime!

Summer conditioning time is coming around the mountain, boys and girls. Time for a few Coach Hays rants to get the ball rolling. Of all the things about coaching high school sports I could miss, the sidelines, the dugout, the practices, etc., the one one thing I miss (besides the kids) is summer conditioning. I don’t think too many summer programs across the state did things the way we did back then. Every minute of summer had to be intense, focused, and productive.



  • The professional teams draft the cream of the crop and then develop them.
  • College programs recruit the best they can find and then develop them.
  • High school programs (except for the few private schools) take what walks through your door and then drive and push them to develop into the best they can be.

We had to do things different. We didn’t have big kids, we didn’t have fast kids, and we had very few superstar raw talents. We had to work our butts off. We had to maximize what we had, which was tough, hard working kids. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade our kids for anything, though I wish we could have had their 22 year-old bodies when they were 17. Late bloomers.


I miss it. I miss the groans and moans at 6:30 AM. I miss the energy of 50 kids working hard. I miss pushing them to do things the right way, every time. I loved it and I did it every day from June to mid-August for nine summers for a whopping cumulative salary of $0.00. Best job I ever had.

I will always be extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish with the resources we were allocated and the meager school support. I am proud to have achieved the results we did through the incredible effort, the desire to improve, and the high level of buy-in from the kids.


Man, alive! It gets me excited just thinking about it. Get busy, Kids of Summer 2013. Take advantage of your opportunities. Get in touch if you have a question or need some help. I’ll be glad to help if you have something you want to work on.

Hard work is the magic.

Here’s a little something to roll around in your head until the next rant on “Easy”:

The Coach Hays High School Sports Roles

The Athlete – Show up everyday with the desire and effort to get better.

The Coach – Show up everyday with the desire and the plan to make athletes better.

The Parent – Be your athlete’s biggest fan and supporter.

The Official/Umpire – Please be patient and take into account that Coach Hays is an idiot.

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Just Do It

Advertising campaigns are mostly fluff. The slogans and jingles may stick in your head initially. But, like a syrupy pop song, they eventually fade into a distant memory. Some have more staying power. Take, for example, “Where’s the Beef?” or “Leggo of my Eggo!” or perhaps, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”  Catchy little phrases, but not much substance.

But, there is one ad campaign that runs deep. One that not only has grown to identify its product at its very sight or mention, it can also evoke a deep philosophy for life.

Just Do It.

You know the company. Not my favorite company, nor my favorite brand of athletic shoes or wear. Even so, I immediately identify the company from these three simple words. Just. Do. It.  Effective advertising, but how does that evoke a life philosophy?

Just Do It. If you want something to happen or something to change, how do you go about making that happen? Simple, just do it. If you want to transform yourself or accomplish a great feat, how do you go about it? Simple, just do it.

I love the saying “Every journey begins with a first step.”  Yeah, that’s good stuff, but how many first steps have you taken that are the ONLY steps toward your goal. One step and done. No goal, no dreams, just standing in the same spot.  I have a million of those.

“Just Do It” is more universal, it is more encompassing.  The total package. It covers all the bases.

Have a dream? Just Do It.

Want to write a book? Just Do It.

Want to be the best coach? Just Do It.

Want to be a better father? Just Do It.

Want to be a better athlete? Just Do It.

A “Just Do It” attitude and hard work can accomplish practically anything.

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