By Randy York
Less than a month after his official “retirement” from Nebraska Athletics, Tom Osborne will be sitting in a chair on the same stage with a friend who is credited with having the most wins in NCAA Division I college football history, plus another colleague and longtime friend who has been the executive director of 12,000 members of the American Football Coaches Association for nearly two decades. Osborne, a true legend/leader in more ways than football, will join Florida State legend Bobby Bowden and Baylor legend Grant Teaff in a Wednesday, July 24, noon roundtable discussion at the Nebraska Coaches Association’s (NCA) annual Multi-Sports Clinic in Lincoln.
Olympic gold medal gymnast Kerri Strug will deliver the keynote address to Nebraska high school coaches the day before those three College Football Hall-of-Famers assemble, and she will certainly set the tone for an inspiring three-day clinic. But even one of the most gut-wrenching performances in U.S. Olympic history from a face that’s been on countless Wheaties boxes, not to mention graced every magazine cover and talk show before she ever attended a class at Stanford, will be hard-pressed to top the impact of Osborne, Bowden and Teaff sharing their interactively collective wisdom.
The goal of this rare discussion was the lure that gained Osborne’s agreement to participate. Teaff’s vision is for all football coaches to take their players “Beyond the Game” and to teach responsibility at the same time they’re coaching X’s and O’s. Osborne and Bowden share Teaff’s vision and are more than willing to discuss how coaches can lead by example and show their players what defines ethics and integrity. All three coaches are authors, motivational speakers and determined to use their knowledge and experiences to help equip today’s coaches with what it takes to handle social issues, understand attitudes and improve behaviors.
If that sounds like inspiring guidance from a unique late July program at Lincoln North Star High School, that’s exactly what Darin Boysen would like to see. The NCA’s energetic but low-key executive director has his roots in coaching and was heavily influenced by coaches who affected him deeply as a person. “Coaching is one of the most noble professions,” Boysen said. “Teaching is coaching, and coaching is teaching. We need to give more coaches more tools to be successful.”
Boysen has done just that with a website and a print and digital magazine that keeps Nebraska prep coaches connected to resources that can help them take their student-athletes “Beyond the Game”. Osborne, Bowden and Teaff will address the consequences of a changed society, the responsibilities required to succeed in it, the power of influence, the keys to success, the need to self-motivate and the skills and traits necessary to turn leadership into action.
The theme falls in line with coaches accepting their roles as mentors and explains why Boston-based MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership announced Osborne as a member of its Board of Directors on Wednesday. Throughout his career, Osborne has led the drive to expand quality mentoring opportunities for young people. He and his wife Nancy founded the TeamMates, now the largest school-based mentoring program in Nebraska and a leader nationally serving more than 6,200 young people with additional chapters in Iowa and California. The program is proven to drive better attendance, behavior, and achievement as well as identify the natural strengths and talents of young people.
“The impact a quality mentoring relationship can have on a young person is real and measurable, and it benefits all of us, but right now the programs that exist cannot keep up with the demand to match every child in need,” Osborne said. “MENTOR and its Mentoring Partnership network serve a critical role in driving the quantity and quality of mentoring for young people by providing resources such as evidence-based standards, training and technical assistance, and public campaigns to raise awareness and secure funding. I am proud to join them in this effort.”
“Tom Osborne understands the value of quality mentoring for young people but also for our communities, our culture and our collective success because he has lived it in practice,” said MENTOR President and CEO David Shapiro. “Dr. Osborne was a mentor to thousands of players throughout his years as a coach, building a program to not only achieve at the highest levels but serve the community with rigor and innovation, and as an elected official who advocated for public policies that give young people the support they need to succeed. We are honored that he will bring his passion and expertise to our board of directors.”
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