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Feb. 8, 2022

Educating Students to Speak Honestly, Think Sincerely, and Act With Integrity.

Educating Students to Speak Honestly, Think Sincerely, and Act With Integrity.

#27. Although he is the newly named Head Football Coach at Bennett High School (Bennett, CO), Greg Koenig is not new to education. Boasting 32 years of teaching and coaching experience, 21 years as head football coach, and a Master's Degree in Positive Coaching from the University of Missouri, Coach Koenig discusses:

  • Uniqueness of coaching HS football in Kansas
  • Importance of simplicity and intentionality in messaging
  • Positive use of social media
  • Teaching mental toughness
  • Why there has to be more than just winning

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Transcript

Luke:

This is episode 27 of The "I" in Win podcast.

Coach Koenig:

What we reward gets repeated. So we have to make sure that we are intentionally rewarding, those positive steps that they're taking

Luke:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the I and win the show. Featuring uncommon leaders who invest in people and embrace the journey of changing lives. I'm your host, Luke Mertens today. We're talking with Greg Koenig, who has 32 years experience in education, 21 as a head coach, and was recently named the 10th head football coach at Bennett high school located in Bennett, Colorado. Coach Koenig gets going to share why he believes in Bennett high school's mission statement, how he teaches mental toughness and the importance of impacting lives of the young people he works with on a daily basis. Coach, nice to meet you. And thanks for jumping on this call with us.

Coach Koenig:

Hey, it's really nice to meet you. And thanks for the.

Luke:

So we follow each other on Twitter and that's how our pseudo relationship got started. But talk a little bit about who you are and how you got into the profession of education,

Coach Koenig:

So, um, I grew up in North Dakota and when I went, it was time to. Get a teaching coaching job. I ended up in Southeastern, Colorado spent 14 years there, uh, was ready for a change, spent 15 years in Kansas. And then like three years ago, my wife And I returned to Colorado, which is where she is originally from. She had followed me around Kansas, uh, you know, being a little. Spouse. And she had a great job opportunity back here in Colorado. That was too good to pass up. So it was my turn to sacrifice and be the good teammate. And that's how we ended up back in Colorado Springs.

Luke:

And that's a great way to put it, cause there's no doubt that it's really important to have that team support at home because it's a, it's a difficult job being a high school head coach, a lot more difficult than people probably realize, but let's talk about Kansas. You're our first coach we've ever had on that coach in Kansas. So tell us something unique about coaching high school football in Kansas.

Coach Koenig:

Kansas. Yes. And this will sound negative. I don't mean it negative in any way. It's almost like being 20 years ago. Um, like being in a time warp and the values that made our country great are still so prevalent in getting the opportunity to coach in three different small school locations, small towns in Kansas, um, with when the whole. Comes out to the stadium on Friday night and is dressed in the school colors and care about the invest in the kids. It's just incredible. The longer you do it, the more you realize what a huge responsibility we have as coaches to make sure that we're molding these young men in the right way, and that we're teaching the values of the community so that the young men are going to, uh, you know, when they leave our program go and be great college students. But more importantly, when they become employees, they're going to give back to the community by being great workers. They're going to be great, solid fathers and husbands, you know, down the line. I just feel like that's important everywhere, but you really get to experience it and live it in Kansas. Kansas is amazing place. I miss it in many ways to have so many friends there, uh, in the memories are just incredible. But small school football in Kansas is really overlooked. it is a treasure.

Luke:

Well, you had me at the fact that it's 20 years behind the times because I've always felt like I was born in the wrong generation. I don't know. I, I, I'm a young person still, at least I like to think I am, but I have an old soul. So you had me at that and that's a great explanation of what Kansas is. And I'm assuming there's a lot of loyalty between. KSU and K you, right. Do the people of the state just kind of pledged her loyalty and they they'll die on that hill for it.

Coach Koenig:

You're almost expected to be loyal to one or the other. And it was really funny because we didn't have that, you know? Here in Colorado, especially we were kind of remote, Southeastern Colorado. We moved to Kansas in the first town that we moved into, there are signs about a divided household and one's got a picture of the Jayhawk and one has the power cat and that's their front yard sign because you know, a husband and wife are married and they don't cheer for the same school. So it's like communities can be really divided by that in households are in families, but it's a fun rivalry. And man, it's just. That's a unique part of the experience. And I I've been really fortunate. We have a player who from our last stop in Cimarron, Kansas, Jalen pickle is now on the roster for K state gets quite a bit of play in time defensive lineman. So, um, we've, we've been to several of the games there. Uh when we lived in Beloit, we had friends who would invite us to the game. So we got to really experience a lot of that rivalry.

Luke:

That's awesome. And there's no better experience as a coach to see one of your players go on to the next level and get to go see him or her perform on the collegiate stage. So congrats to you on the. That's really cool. And that's also, what's awesome about a state like Kansas, that doesn't have that professional football team necessarily the support. So all the residents of the state pledged her loyalty to a collegiate sport. And honestly, I'm a bears fan. I'm a lifelong bears fan, but I I'm from Chicago. If I didn't tell you that already, but. I think college football is a much better product than NFL football, but that's a whole nother conversation that we could have later. Let's segue onto this episode and something that we both share in common. And that is our enjoyment of focus, three Tim and Brian Kight. What is it about their messaging that you are drawn to?

Coach Koenig:

I think that, um, V intentionality. Their focus is being intentional and their message is so clear. You don't have to Wade through hours of, of information, trying to? figure out what they're teaching. But the. The, the purpose behind what we do as coaches, as educators. Um, And I really think that their message can apply to anyone, you know, employers, parents, uh, w whatever our roles might be in life, but it's simple. It's straightforward. I think the fact that it just puts the responsibility on the individual. So, so there are no excuses and it's, you know, Do you want to get better? Do you want to advance? Because there there's a pretty simple path to it. If you're willing to follow the advice and follow the teaching. So I'm a black and white kind of guy. I don't like a lot of mixed messages I like to get right to the meat and potatoes. And I think that that's what. Tim and Brian Kight have done exceptionally well, their message. They branded themselves really well. And, uh, they, they use social media in a very positive way, but their message is very clear. And it's, you don't have to look very deeply beyond the surface to know what they're trying to get at.

Luke:

And let's talk about social media in a positive way. I saw a tweet that you put out recently about the positive impact that Twitter has had on you. And I'll be honest. I fought social media because internally again, I'm an old soul. I'm like, well, why do we need this? Why do we need this self promotion? And then when I realized that I control the experience of social media, right? We're not just passive. We shouldn't be passive consumers of information because then it becomes a nev negative experience. If we are engaged and active and we control the messaging, it's a very positive experience. So explain how you use Twitter or any other social media feeds in a positive fashion.

Coach Koenig:

So I'm on Facebook and we, my wife and I joined Facebook because our kids said, oh, well, you know, that'd be a good way for you to follow us. We'll send pictures of the grandkids and all that kind of stuff. So that's how we got into social media. And then I was actually. Jeanette to coach in the Kansas shrine bowl on two different occasions. And in 2014, um, I was on the coaching staff. Twitter was just becoming a really big deal at that time. And, uh, the players on the team convinced all of us coaches, I don't know if any of the coaches on the staff that week had already had a Twitter account, but by the time we left, all of us had a Twitter account and a. Honestly, the thing was to stay in touch with those coaches that I had become good friends in with some of the players. But then I just found out it was a good way to build some relationships know, my students and my players at a different level, be able to communicate with them on a different path, I guess. But now it's a network and, and I've heard so many people say that Twitter is the best professional development tool available to teachers and coaches. And it's what you said. You have to be intentional about who do I follow? What is my network going to be? I, I just been blessed to meet so many people through Twitter that there's no way in the world I would have ever met before. And you can actually learn whatever you want. So, you know, I've been an English teacher. I've been a strength and conditioning coach, a football coach track. Without Twitter. There are a whole lot of things that, that I wouldn't know that I've been able to pass on to kids that we use in our programs. And so Twitter has been a real gift to me.

Luke:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look at the relationship we've established. We'd never would have met each other if it wasn't for Twitter. And I just found out something new, we share something else in. Being English teachers. So I don't know. I don't know how you feel, but it's taken me a while. Cause I really believe in the power of correct grammar. I'm an, I'm an old school Catholic kid and, uh, man, it's, it's been hard to just accept the Twitter language because it breaks so many grammatical rules. Do you find those same struggles or if you just embrace the fact that you just put the letter, you as opposed to spelling it out.

Coach Koenig:

I still don't use text speak that I, when I text, I do it in complete sentence. It took me a long time to even use an emoji, but, you know, I've tried to change my perspective on it. Not be that old grammar teacher, you know, that the stoic, you know, you can, you can't end a sentence with a preposition and all those things. What I try to see it as is another language. And if, if people are able to be multilingual, it's actually a gift and a blessing. So there are. People that we wouldn't communicate well with, that would misunderstand us if we were always going to be strict rule Marion's right. So, um, the ability to open our minds a little bit and seriously for me, I, instead of looking at it as in a judgemental way, what I've tried to do is look at it more as this is another language. And it actually benefits me if I learned that language because a lot of the students that I interact with are going to speak that way at times.

Luke:

Well, I like that explanation helps me reconcile my differences with that other language. My daughter who's in high school makes fun of me all the time. Shaq. You're the only one who tweets with proper punctuation. Like just stop it, but it's just habits, you know, I can't, I can't get out of that, but

Coach Koenig:

You know, what's really funny though, about the, uh, the English teacher thing. You and I are a minority English teachers, coaching football, and especially becoming head football coaches. I don't know if I've known 20 of us in my lifetime.

Luke:

So, let let's talk about that a little bit more, because again, that intentionality piece, I went into that with the intentionality of it was going to set me apart from my peers. I knew that when I put in for a job, it was going to intrigue that principal and athletic director and say, wait a minute, we have. Teaches English that that's that's different. And anyone I meet, when I say that I am a football coach, they assume one of two things I teach PE or social studies. And when I tell them I teach English, it's like this, this whole new level of, I don't want to use the word respect, but it kinda is. And I also think that it's helped me in my mission to explain to my kids that we are, you know, we're students first. Well, when they see me in the classroom, teaching Shakespeare. I'm putting my money where my mouth is. Right. And it really backs it up. So I know it's not the path for everyone, but I enjoyed English. I enjoy reading. I enjoy writing. I enjoy speaking. And again, I just knew it was going to make me an uncommon candidate. And that's why I went into that. And I have players who are interested in coaching and they asked me my opinion. And I'm like, you know, you want to look at, so I'll have, Hey, should I go into special ed or go into PE? I'm like, that's a pretty easy decision. If you want to be hireable, that's a pretty easy decision.

Coach Koenig:

What's interesting about that. Every job, except for my current job at Ellicott, Colorado, it's been dependent on my ability to teach English. I've gotten my football jobs because of English and even at the interview for the Bennett job, uh, the principal said if you were hired as the football. Would you be willing to teach English? And I said, oh man, I was hoping you were going to bring that up. Because for the last two years, I've just been in the weight room. Full-time and it's been awesome. I don't grade papers, but I really appreciate the points you're making. I think that our students do see us in our players see us in a different light when they see us as English teachers.

Luke:

Absolutely. But the letter recommendations are out of this world because you have all of your players, they initially want to go to you. Cause you're, you're the coach, but then they know that you're an English teacher. They think you're going to just create this outstanding letters is going to get them into the school of their choice. So I was always backed up on letters of rec, but, uh, anyway, so let's transition to Bennett high school. Why Bennett high school, why did you decide to make the jump.

Coach Koenig:

You know, if I could only give you one word, I'd say opportunity. We've really struggled at Ellicott. The program was struggling before I took the job. I actually got hired right. As the pandemics. Their numbers were really down finished the season before I took the job with 13 players. We in Colorado were offered the opportunity to either play fall or spring. Um, last school year and we opted for the spring because we only had eight guys who had turned in physicals and we're ready to go when practice started in August. So we opted, we pushed back to the spring and we actually ended up 28 guys at practice the first week, which was amazing. You know, we had doubled our numbers and And, we fought. So we played three games and then COVID and other injuries got us in the spring. And then over the summer, well, actually going back to may, uh, of last spring, I had 32 guys signed up there. There was an excitement. And then over the summer guys just fell away. Some moved away, literally. Um, others just said football wasn't for them. And it was a real struggle. And, we never had more than 14 guys at practice in the. And to be honest with you of those 14, seven of them have no business playing in a varsity football game. You know, safety is a big issue there. There's such a spotlight on player, safety and football right now. And so we made the very difficult decision to, to not play a season because we D we knew we might have made it through the first game or two, but it wasn't going to happen. And unfortunately, as much as I would like to think. That things are going to turn around in that school. It's not likely. So I needed to coach and years ago, uh, my wife's uncle who was a high school baseball coach and a defensive coordinator for the football team gave me some great advice. He said, if you can be happy, not COVID. Don't coach. Well, this year I found out I can't be happy, not coaching. I have to coach. So when the job opened up at Bennet, I did some, some calling around, um, coaches in the area that I knew that competed against them. And it sounded like a pretty good opportunity. It's a growing community. In first semester of this school year, they gained 70 students in grades nine through 12 because of their, you know, uh, proximity to Denver. It's going to continue to grow. Anything east of the Rocky mountains, right on the you know, I, 25 corridor is just exploding right now. So it's all about opportunity. So I, I think it's going to be a good fit for.

Luke:

and what is the size? What's the enrollment of benefits.

Coach Koenig:

Uh, currently they're at 405 in grades nine through 12. So they started with 335 at the beginning of the school year. Uh, what's really interesting is they bounce back and forth between a one a and a two way. And I know Allstate's classifications are different this year. They were with. For the next two year cycle will play in the two-way classification. Their growth is happening so fast that the administration actually thinks we may skip three, eight and become a foray in the following cycle.

Luke:

And how far are you from Denver?

Coach Koenig:

It's 25 miles east of Denver, right on Uh, I'm sorry. I said.

Luke:

So you posted about the mission statement of Bennett high school, which was educating students to speak with honesty, think with sincerity and act with integrity. You said this is a mission worth pursuing why.

Coach Koenig:

Um, those things are just amazing. You know, schools spend a lot of time on vision statements and mission statements. And, um, in my opinion, the more simple that they are the easier it is to be successful with them. Can we measure. And then can we implement programs to teach those things? At a school in Kansas, it was producing positive and productive citizens. It was awesome. You know, those are things that we could actually track to see if we are being successful. So, um, educating students to speak with honesty is a major issue in our world today. I think, that that's a challenge. You know, we watch TV. If you watch the news, we see that politicians on both sides of the aisle. Don't speak with honesty. We see that the media doesn't speak with honesty. Um, if we know as adults, that if you're honest, You might offend some people at times, but it's going to serve you really well think with, with sincerity. It's not just critical thinking, but it's thinking that matters being sincere about what you're thinking about. Gosh, that one there's, there's so much hidden in that part of it. Think with sincerity, if someone would have taught me to do that as a, you know, high school, Junior senior, whatever the case is, it, my life could have been a whole lot more positive and productive early on, I think. And then act with integrity. Do your words match your actions? Do you walk the talk. I just think this is a pathway to success. If, if students leave a school, knowing how to speak, honestly, knowing how to think sincerely and knowing how to act with integrity, they're, they're on the path to success in whatever adventures or, you know, challenges, whatever avenues they choose for themselves. That's going to lead to some.

Luke:

Well being a follower, Tim and Brian Kight, you know that these are just words on paper. That's that's a big part, right? It's got to turn into action. So how do you plan to take these words that you did a great job of explaining and put them into action?

Coach Koenig:

I think the most important thing that we as educators, that we as coaches have to do is model it. If I tell kids here's our mission statement. But they never see me or hear me speak with honesty. If they, if it doesn't look like, I think things through, if my actions don't match what I've been telling them, then it's all a waste of their time to be perfectly honest, we have to model it first of all. But then I think we have to be intentional about teaching it, whether it's in the classroom. Or on the practice field. I really spend a lot of time when I'm making my weekly practice plans thinking about how can we have a theme for the week. So let's say that it's speaking honestly. And what challenges can we have for our players? Uh, and then how are we going to follow through to make sure that that lesson has been taught? So, It's very important, obviously for us to teach, blocking, and tackling and schemes and all that kind of stuff. But I really do work very, very diligently to make sure that we also have some kind of a character lesson. And I try to make themes throughout the season that are easy for our players. Understand to, to latch on to, and then to take those from practice into the hallways, into the classrooms, you know, taking it home. So we talk all the time about being a good student and being a good son at home and doing what you're supposed to do. So again, it gets back to what we talked about. Intentionality. For me, one of the things that we talk about all the time is what's our purpose and our purpose is to get better. And that doesn't just mean as blocky, a blocking and tackling or as a football player. But I want them to get better as students and to get better as sons and, you know, to be a better friend and be a better big brother and you know, all those different avenues that, that, that they might be facing in their lives.

Luke:

I totally agree. And one thing I would add on to that being a head coach, I want my assistant coaches to be fighting that same fight. I want them to go get better. I tell my coaches that you want these kids to embrace the daily process of being their best selves. We have to embrace it. There's ourselves, right? Like if they see us struggling through it, cause let's be honest, it is a struggle to be at your best. They're more likely to. Go at it as best they can as well. So love your explanation. And you're a veteran coach starting at a new school. What's your plan to begin that process of building relationships with your new players?

Coach Koenig:

Well, the first thing I did was just this week, um, put a message on our huddle. W, uh, fortunately the athletic directors already added me to the huddle account, put a message to the players, just some encouragement, some things to take a look at and shared my cell phone number within five minutes. I had a text from one of the players, and actually when I interviewed at Bennett, there was something really cool. It was a seven member interview committee that took about an hour. And then they followed that up with the, at, for football. Who gave me a tour of the facilities. And we were able to ask each other questions and interact. And one of those players is the one who reached out within five minutes of my posting that I posted it at, like, I don't know, six 30 in the morning. And this kid five minutes later is sending me a text. So. I think you have to technology, you know, we talked about social media, how it can be positive or negative huddle can actually be considered a social media platform if you use it in that regard. So, so it had a positive. Technology allows us to communicate your, where, when I started my career, I wouldn't meet those kids until I got there for summer workouts, probably. So I'm reaching out to them in that way. I'm going to try to get up there and go to a basketball game. Cause I'm about an hour away. A wrestling tournament, just so they get to see me and they know that I support what they're doing as multi-sport athletes. Actually we don't have school at Ellicott Monday, but Bennett has school. So I'm going to drive up and spend the day in the building, meet with assistant coaches who are currently on the staff, meet as many of the players as I can sit down with the Ady and go through some stuff. And then as soon as possible, I really want to have a parent meeting. But also meetings with the returning seniors, the rising seniors, and that one's fairly short, but I just want them to know I'm not throwing away their senior year trying to rebuild something. We're going to do the best we can for them, uh, that I'm going to depend on them to be leaders of the program. Here are the expectations. This is what's going to, you know, allow you to have a successful senior season and then have a meeting with anyone who wants to play football next year. And go through expectations and standards and, uh, get that headed in the right direction sooner rather than later, so that hopefully they can start to implement those things. Uh, our standards, our expectations as student athletes right now. So as soon as possible, we're going to get those things scheduled and then I'll be up there all summer for, for the weights and, uh, get, get everything.

Luke:

Well, one platform that's important to you as mental toughness. So can you define what mental toughness is to you?

Coach Koenig:

Mental toughness is really, I think, difficult to define. I think it, it, it's very similar to grit and they're really good. A lot of there's a lot of good information out there about grit from John Gordon. Angela Duckworth. you? know, Angela Duckworth did a great study there. There's a really cool Ted talk that she presented about grit. Grit is basically the ability to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity, not losing our enthusiasm, even though we might have some setbacks in the only way that we can do that. And this is where the mental toughness comes in is being focused on the outcome that we want. But. Living through that process and growing through that process as football coaches, we know that football is a great vehicle to teach young people how to deal with adversity, to embrace that adversity and to grow through it. I took a master's class. Uh, I got my master's degree in positive coaching from Mizzou, the university of Missouri, and, uh, finished it in 2017. And one of the things that we talked about in one of the classes was resilient. And resilience. Most people think is just the ability to bounce back, but it actually is growing through the process and, and, uh, Dr. Brandon, or was a professor in that class. He's an incredible guy. He used the example of a rubber ball. If you squeeze it that's adversity. Right. And when you let go, it goes back to it. It's original form, but resilience is more than that. That ball. If we're going to really talk about resilience would actually grow. And if we can understand that when we go through tough times and again in football, you're going to have tough times almost every time the ball is snapped, right. You've someone's trying to knock you down. Someone's trying to get in your way, whatever that the adversity. If we can learn to embrace that adversity and see it as a teachable moment, what, what am I supposed to learn? What can I gain? How can I grow from this then just like that rubber ball that gets larger by squeezing it, we can grow in the same way. And if we never face adversity, we don't know who we could be in.

Luke:

So 32 years experience in the profession of education, do you see a difference in the mental toughness of kids today versus kids 25 years?

Coach Koenig:

I hate generalizations. So, um, I think. So much of it is dependent on the home that, that the young person comes from. And we know that 20 or 30 years ago, we had some students who were very blessed to come from great homes with it were, you know, two parent homes Christian values, American values, but others weren't. And I just think maybe it wasn't as, we didn't, we weren't aware of. Of of the struggles that some people had as much as we are aware in today's world. And again, I don't know if that's because of the internet or just better research. I think we're much more aware and alert to those students who come from really challenging places, really challenging backgrounds, to say that, you know, 30 years? ago, or even 20 years ago, all of my students or all of my patients. We're more mentally tough than the ones that I have now. I couldn't make that statement. I do think that society, and in some cases, parents don't go out of their way to teach kids and hold them accountable to things. And so by the time they get to high school, they don't have some of the tools that we would like for them to have. And So, then that's our job as educators, right. That's what we're there for. And we've got to. Go back and build those, those tools for them build those systems for them. And that's the real challenge, right? It's easy for us to coach a young person who has come out of a great home to, uh, you know, two parents and great income and, you know, upper middle class. Those are usually the easy ones, unless those parents have shirt, their responsibilities, but you know, those, the kids who are coming out of broken homes, Who are coming out of poverty. Sometimes we can actually learn lessons from them because they're incredible survivors, but do they know how to embrace that adversity or has it just been survival, survival mode for, you know, just about their whole lives. So, um, that's where it's so important to get to know kids and know where they're from, know what they're about, and, and do that in a nonjudgmental way so that, you know, Have that positive impact. Cause if they don't trust us, we're never going to get to that point. Anyway,

Luke:

So, how do you teach it? How do you teach mental toughness? And we use the word intentionality to start this conversation. Are there some things that you intentionally do as a teacher and a coach to implement mental toughness into your kids?

Coach Koenig:

I think it's probably easier on the football field than in the classroom. To be honest, I think the weight room might be the best place that we can teach mental toughness. So let's say that we're going to do, you know, parallel school. And we're going to do a 10, 8, 6 workup. Okay. So at, at 10 reps, they start with a certain amount of weight and they're probably pretty comfortable until they get to eight, nine and 10. And you know, we've got to encourage them to, to maintain perfect technique you know, eyes on. Spread the chest be tall, work on your breathing push the floor away, all those little cues. I think we can do that with mental toughness. I think that we can teach self-talk. For instance, in football, we talk all the time about next. Uh, when, when something bad happens, make something good happen. And if we just have those little phrases and they hear them all the time, but we also, you know, we'll, we'll teach double-team blocking and, uh if your feet stop it. So we've, we've got a drill where we have a, uh, hand shield between the blocker and the bag holder, the defender in this case, if the bag falls, because we don't let the defender hold the bag, we have their hands out. If the bag falls, we know that the blockers feet have stopped. So, we're teaching mental toughness. Are you going to go 12 steps or until the whistle blows? Are you going to do it right? Every single time? What we reward gets repeated. So we have to make sure that we are intentionally rewarding, those positive steps that they're taking, even, you know, as an English teacher, if a student doesn't know how to write a paragraph, when they come into our class, we have to reward them when they write a good topic sentence so that we can get them to continue. To, to work on those skills, right. So we have to make sure, and I'm not saying you'll throw them a candy bar or something like that. I'm saying, put your arm around him, celebrate that success, make sure that they understand in a self-evaluation way that they are growing, that they can see that growth. Um, and again, that's why I would go back to the weight room. They can see their improvement in track their improvement. There's a reason why football coaches love the weight room. And I'm not saying it's the be all magic bullet kind of a thing, but we can teach so much value in the weight room that carries over to the field that carries over to life that carries over to the classroom, whatever it might be.

Luke:

Yeah, there's no question that building strength is secondary to what the weight room truly prepares kids for. And I don't think coaches who embraced the weight room regardless of the sport, but they make it a platform or their program. I don't think they get enough credit for the self-esteem. The, you know, just there's so many things that help kids develop into better versions of themselves through weightlifting, but that's a whole another conversation maybe, maybe we'll have to have again, but you know, one thing that you posted on Twitter was that it's kind of viral, not your tweet, but the thing that you retweeted was I blew as the university of Cincinnati. What university was, it doesn't matter, but there was a basketball. Who picked up all of this garbage from a Gatorade table at his coach, ironically kicked over because a coach was mad that they lost and this player just took it upon himself to pick it all up. And you tweeted out a simple phrase, do the right thing. Why is it so hard to do the right.

Coach Koenig:

Oh, it might be because of social media and the judgment that comes with social media. Everyone's trying to win a popularity contest instead of being a good person. We've just, and again, I don't like generalizations, but in our society, a large portion of our society has lost focus of values that have made us great. And you know, whether someone wants to. Profess to be a Christian or not is not. I hope everyone comes to a relationship with Jesus Christ, but that's a different story as well. Here's the thing, the things that are in the Bible, the 10 commandments for. Teach us how to be a good person, how to be successful in the world, how to get along with others. Jesus said, love your neighbor. As you love yourself, if we would just follow those basic things. And maybe if they weren't in the Bible, maybe if we found a way to, to put a non-Christian spin on them, maybe we could get people to, to understand that value. Are so important for who we want to become, you know, focus three, uh, Tim and Brian Kight, both talked about, are your habits in alignment with your goals? Well, hopefully our goal is to be a good person in this world to leave it better than we found it. Right. So if. Aren't going to lead in that direction. I either have to lower my goal or I have to improve my habits. And so that's something we'll talk about in our program all the time. Back in Kansas, one of the greatest things that I was only at Cimarron for two years, but in the second year, Our kids understood. Leave it better than we found it to the point that when they got done with a shower after the game, on the road, they would seek a broom and a dustpan. And this was not prompted by the coaches. We had talked about all the time, leaving things better than we found them, but on prompted senior captains would go get a broom and a dust pan. And when everyone else was out of the locker room before they would get on the bus, they would clean up the floor, make sure all the trash was picked up. That's doing the right thing, that if we do that, how many games we win becomes really not, not very important compared to the kind of people that were going to produce. But I think what we both know is when you teach those skills, leave it better than you found it, do the right. thing that carries over to success on the field as well. And usually if you're creating a better person, you're creating a better football player.

Luke:

I completely agree with you. And I get frustrated with the term, the little things, because maybe again, that's just the English side of me. There's implication that it's not important. So we say, well, the little things are important, then we need to stop calling them the little things, right. I mean, we need to get rid of that adjective. That's a terrible additive to use, and we need to just eliminate that. I tell my players, I tell my students everything's important or he wouldn't do it. I would not waste your time with this, if it wasn't important. So don't even say, let's do the little details or know everything. Every detail is important because your name is attached to that. you said, the locker room, your team, and every individual member of that team is attached to how that locker room is left. So what do you want that opposing school to say about you? As a school, as a program and as an individual, so kudos to you and your kids for recognizing that, because that is so important and it's just completely missed just like a kid walking down the hallway. And I know you experienced there's, there'll be a piece of garbage and you tell the kid, Hey, can you do me a favor and pick it up? Well, it's not. I, I didn't say it was that wasn't even, that's naming within the, so, because it wasn't yours, just leave it, sit there. And, it's not that they're bad kids. I think it doesn't matter if it was 1962. I think you would've gotten the same response from a teenager at that point, but just this idea of just do the right thing, just pick it up and put it in the garbage. But we had to do the right things as adults. So how this whole conversation started with the coach kicking the Gatorade table over there in lies the. there in lies. The problem that the adults who should be the role model did exactly what he probably instructed his kids not to do, which is self-control and composure and carry yourself with integrity. And then boom, within the moment he lost it and I'm not judging him. It's, you know, it's a high stakes game. I get it. But hopefully he at least address with the steam man. I was way wrong on that. And thank you to that individual. That picked it up. So yes, a really, really good conversation on that, on that piece. And also we talked about the 10 commandments. There's a great poem and I'm probably going to butcher the name of, but it's like everything I need to know in life. I learned in kindergarten. I don't know if you're familiar with that poem. So to your point, I love that poem. And because if you read it, it's so true. You think about what these kids learn in kindergarten. It's applicable to adults more than kids. And for some reason we become adults and we love to preach it, but we don't love to walk it. Right. So, uh, I'm right with you there. So, 32 years in the profession, if I mentioned a couple of times, hopefully 30 more years you have in you,

Coach Koenig:

amen.

Luke:

how do you know if you've been successful?

Coach Koenig:

My wife and I just last weekend, went back to Kansas for a wedding. Two of my former students, one of whom is now going into English education, sat in my English classroom. I think when you get invited to weddings, when you get birth announcements, when Thanksgiving break. Uh, one of my former players that I'm very proud of. He was our first at Beloit, Kansas in, in the time that I was there to go on and play college football. And now he's, he's coaching in the Kansas city area on the Wednesday. So we didn't have school on, on the Wednesday before. Thanksgiving. And that morning I got a text from him. He said, coach, I'm headed to town because he's married to a young lady from Colorado Springs. He said, uh, what are you doing tonight? And he brought a. Brought us, uh, you know, six pack of beer and we sat and ate chicken wings together and just reminisced and talked about coaching and teaching and life. You know, that you've been successful about 20 years down the line or 15 years down the line. Winning matters. And I don't want to pretend that it doesn't there's success on the scoreboard success on the field, but those things are going to pass the things that last or the impressions that we made. The difference that we made, the positive impact that we invested into young people. And when we see them having success, whether it is in their job, whether it's as a spouse, whether it's as a parent, that's how we know that we were successful? in, in our bigger.

Luke:

Well, I love that story. You told of just sitting there and talking with one of your players. Did they become adults that literally like goosebumps, because those are such special moments that coaches get to experience that really reinforced. Despite the long hours, despite to sometimes feel under appreciated that you are making an impact. So thank you for 32 years of a given of your time and your services to making kids better people. I love it. And I really do hope you have 30 more years in you, and I wish you the best of luck at Ben in high school. And it's very clear. They got a great coach and more importantly, a great person. So thanks for being on and for sharing your wisdom with our listeners.

Coach Koenig:

Hey, thank you so much, Luke. This has been a blast. I appreciate your positive comments And uh you know, keep doing what you're doing. Cause cause you're having a ripple effect and that's what the internet allows us to, to reach a much broader audience. So thanks for what you're doing.

Luke:

And speaking to that broader audience that or any handles Twitter, Instagram, anything you would like to share. Email addresses for people who want to network.

Coach Koenig:

Probably Twitter's the easiest way. Uh, at DW coach K DW for double wing, I've been running the double wing offense since 1999. So, uh, at capital D capital w capital C on coach, uh, coach K.

Luke:

Okay, awesome. And to our listeners, I will share that in the show notes and don't hold them against him. That he's a double wing guy. Cause you know, sometimes that could be kind of, uh, people have an adverse reaction to that statement, especially in today's spread world. But thanks so much, coach. It was really nice to get to talk to you face to face rather than through, uh, just Twitter and look forward to following your success at Benton high school.

Coach Koenig:

Thanks a lot. Take care.

Greg Koenig Profile Photo

Greg Koenig

Coach

32 years of teaching and coaching experience
21 years as head football coach
Master's Degree in Positive Coaching from Mizzou
New head fb coach at Bennett High School