The “Coach”

In the olden days a coach served as a vehicle that transported a person from point A to point B. Today this definition still holds true. A coach is someone who helps a willing participant transform from their current state to where they desire to be and most of the time beyond.

Last evening Ethan Labouf was presented with the Don Cockroft Award for Excellence. This award is given to only ONE senior boy in Northeast Ohio who demonstrates the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) values of Integrity, Service, Teamwork, and Excellence through their athletic and personal endeavors. I recently met with an underclassman and we were talking about the legacy people leave behind. I asked him, “who is the hardest worker from last years team?” Before I could get the sentance out of my mouth, the player answerd, “Ethan LaBouf.”

Ethan was not the biggest strongest or most athleticly gifted player on his team but started at running back and was voted captain by his peers due to his LEADership abilities. After a big run or scoring a Touchdown he would humbily thank his offensive line and point to heaven realizing that his personality and athltic abilities came from God. Unfortunatly, Ethan was injured toward the end of the season and was unable to play on his “senior night”. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he became an assitant coach and helped his team from the sidelines. His positivety and commitment to the team never waiverd.

Unfortantly this is not the only athletic adversity Ethan would face his senior year: After being replaced in the starting lineup by a sophmore this past baseball season, Ethan choose not to BCD (blame, complain, defend). Instead he took it upon himself to warm up his replacement every inning and also got his equipment ready to go when it was the players turn to bat. He was the first to praise the young player for a positive performance and more importantly the first one to pick him up after comitting an error. Instead of becoming bitter he choose to focus on what he could control-being a great teamate.

I have had the pleasure of serving as Ethan’s football coach for the last 3 years, but I’m not sure who the real coach has been. Ethan has taught me to care more for others. He commonly will ask me, “how can I pray for you?” What kind of kid does that and truly means it? He has inspired me to work harder by modeling a work ethic that is simple unparelled to any athlete I have coached. Through more personal and athletic adversity than any boy his age should have to deal with, he has remained positive. Most importantly Ethan understands the importance of using his platform as an athlete to impact those around him for Jesus Christ.

When I grow up, I’d like to more like you Ethan.

I love you,

Coach Nelson

Col 3:23

Coach Nelson serves as a high school football coach who is pursuing his doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology. He has worked for division 1 athletic departments, professional sport franchises, a Fortune 100 company and has won numerous awards for his Leadership abilities.

His mission is to positively influence the world through Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline (#LEAD). To learn more about the LEAD Philosophy follow him on Twitter Levi Nelson or reach out via email at He’d love to learn about or help you in your journey!

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