First of all, my hat is off to every coach, mentor, administrator, and stakeholder who has contributed to the student-athlete in the past, as well as those who continue to be involved in the lives of student-athletes and communities in America. The time and effort that goes into training is tremendous in terms of X and O and, more importantly, the personal life of the student-athlete, involving people, places and situations. Coaches are true role models and have an impact on the lives of players. LONG LIVE THE TRAINER!

Pennsylvania football is known as one of America’s greatest traditions. Players such as Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, and dozens of other big-name players have established themselves, the state, and others as the “birthplace” and backbone of high school football. Also, Pennsylvania coaches like Curry (Berwick), Bernat (Owen J. Roberts), Waller (Ridley), Pettine (CBWest), etc. they represented student-athlete leadership both on and off the field. I have personally met Coach Hank Bernat, in more ways than one, and believe me, he is a COACH! These motivational, inspirational, dedicated, and strong mentors sought to ensure that the student-athlete was successful in education and in the community. The coaches at Penn’s Woods (Pennsylvania) made sure that each player understood the realities of life and that it was imperative to become a productive citizen in America. The best all-around trainer in Pennsylvania that people have told me about and witnessed in terms of leadership, and emphasizing the treat and care mentality, was the one and only Jerry Sandusky. Need I say more?

In many successful and unsuccessful soccer programs in 21st century high school communities, educators and coaches are pressured to win positive outcomes by either undermining or acquiring true support, preparation, and education within the school setting. The question remains, what is the intention of the coach? Is he using the student-athlete as a pawn for his future success, or does he care about the student first? This has a profound impact on the integrity of his mission and, more importantly, on the student-athlete! This environment can create a weak culture as well as poor value production internally within a school society and infiltrate the American community and society. This negative domino effect is the end result of not only losing in the game of life, but it instills a vitiated atmosphere within the school institution in terms of sports and other social aspects.

A reminder, not an introduction, the Ridley Raiders continue to be Pennsylvania’s team and one of America’s traditional soccer teams. Established in 1934, Ridley’s football program reached the 500-win mark “30” years faster than any other program in the state. Also, as a testament to their tradition and success, the Ridley Raiders have the best winning percentage in Pennsylvania, as well as setting the highest winning percentage in the nation at 25 percent. A time-honored school partnership endorsed and supported by all stakeholders, including students, educators, administrators, and an outstanding community of workers. Consisting of traditional families and others who are new to the community, fans embrace the “blue collar” work ethic and the city and are dedicated to the students, community, coaches and team. This action is unheard of in many school societies in various high school educational settings. This is what makes the Ridley congregation a winner within a geographic area (Philadelphia) that is not just a tradition for football, but is the foundation of America’s history and birthplace (Statement of Independence).

Stakeholders in America’s high schools and post-secondary education must first emphasize the successes of the student-athlete and money, fame, as well as aspirations to succeed can be matched if desired. Take care of the student athlete! Just ask higher education coaches and motivators like Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, Jackie Sherrill, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden, RC Slocum, Don Nehlen, Bo Schinbeckler, Tom Osborne, Paul Bryant and many others who continue to or have motivated and taught the student. athlete to be strong productive citizens on and off the field. SALUTE TO THE RIDLEY RAIDERS!

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