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On September 20, after losing their game, the Union High football team from Roosevelt, Utah crowded into their locker room only to hear their coach ask them to turn in their jerseys. Coach Matt Labrum had had enough with how his players were acting off of the field. Some of his players were getting in trouble for skipping classes while others were receiving punishment for being involved in cyber-bullying. Labrum decided that the best way to teach his team a lesson was to disband the football team, requiring his players to earn it all back. Instead of practicing after school, it was required that the team participate in community service as well as character-building classes. Labrum said that if the boys participated and followed through with what was being asked of them they will have “earned the privilege to play.” To those who might hear of this story, it would be a little controversial; a whole team suspended because of mistakes that only some were making. In reality though, the coach made the right decision. “It is an honor to play sports and represent your entire school and community to other districts,” says Athletic Director, Nick McIlwain. “If a team or player is not representing the school and community in the proper light, as it sounds like with this situation, the coach was justified to take action to ensure that his players would live up to high ethical conduct and shine a positive light on the school and community.” As a coach, it is important not only to be a coach, but also a mentor and role model. By taking the steps necessary in order to teach his team a lesson, Labrum showed his player that he was only doing them good. Here at Darby, the football team has a similar motto. It is called the “DO RIGHT” policy. Coach John Santagata says that he has the policy in place so that it reminds the team to try and do the right thing all of the time. “We continuously discuss how every choice that is made has a ripple effect either positively or negatively. Therefore, it is very important that we make the correct decisions both on and off the field,” Santagata said. As for being a role model and making an impact on his players, Santagata adds, “I would like our players to develop awareness of how choices impact their lives and the lives of others. Sometimes, people act in very selfish ways and this almost always leads to problems. If we realize that other people matter and will be impacted by our choices, we become less selfish and better people.” It is a coach’s job to teach and to help his or her players grow as individuals. Coach Labrum of Union High helped to teach his team a life lesson by taking a negative situation and having his players turn it in to a positive one. In comparison, Coach Santagata and fellow coaches at Darby are also doing exceptional at this. McIlwain concluded, “Our coaches here at Darby do a great job of this; not only producing great athletes but working with kids to make them great students and great citizens in our community. We are very fortunate to have some great coaches here.”

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