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Aug. 23, 2022

The "I" in Win Genesis


Welcome to this special edition of The “I’’ in Win podcast, as we officially wrap up Season 1! Since launching the podcast last September, I have released 52 episodes, met coaches, teachers, and other leaders literally across the country, and received well over 10,000 downloads…all of which if beyond my wildest expectations. However, onne question I continue to get is “Why?"

So I wanted to share the genesis behind The “I” in Win...

Review The "I" in Win on Apple Podcast or my website to let me know what you think of the show.  Follow me on Twitter (@LukeMertens)



Welcome to the special edition of The "I" in Win podcast. Will we officially wrap up season one. Since launching the podcast last September, I've released 52 episodes, met coaches, teachers, and leaders from all across the country and received well over 10,000 downloads. All of which was beyond my wildest expectations. One question I continue to get, however, is why. So I wanted to share the Genesis behind The "I" in Win. I have to first give a really brief background of my career in education to help you kind of better understand my philosophies, my entire educational career, both as a student and a teacher has been at Catholic schools. In 2004 at only 29 years old, I was given the keys to the car to create a program from scratch and a new high school being built, which was my first experience working in a public co-ed school. Although I thought I had it all figured out. Like most first time head coaches do I quickly learned I was not as ready as I originally thought I was for this job. Our first couple years as a program, we had some success. We did all the things that good programs do year round lifting programs, summer camp discipline, high standards, high expectations, everything I've learned from my experiences in the Catholic schools. Even with that little success as a blueprint, I knew something was missing. So I started to really do a deep dive into my program. During this process, I relied heavily into my experiences in private schools, and I came up with a conclusion that there are two reasons why these Catholic schools have so much success. One has to do with their tradition. And two more importantly has to do with their commitment to development of the whole. I then met with each of my assistants to hopefully find some more answers on how to incorporate each of these two components into our program. One of my assistants, Jim Galuhn was especially helpful and he pointed out a discrepancy between what I expected for my players. And what they actually knew. His simple, yet profound statement sticks with me today. And he said, Luke, I think you forget you're not at a Catholic school anymore. I knew nutrition would eventually come after all. It was a brand new school and tradition can't be forced. It takes time Developing my players in all facets of their life on the other hand was within my control. So in 2008, while questioning my why behind my program, I studied The Winners Manual by Coach Tressel and Tony Dungy's book Uncommon, both which forever changed my purpose as a leader. It was then I decided that my players will believe in being uncommon that we're gonna create something that is not ordinary. Something will not be found in other programs. To achieve this goal, I tapped into Coach Galuhn's expertise and him and I authored a book entitled The "I" in Win. We decided to teach our players. How and why believing in being uncommon was the path to success. The "I" in Win was introduced to the team at our annual team camp each June. I really focused on the objective being uncommon in pursuit of success, not just on the football field, but in life. At first, I was able to read a lot of doubt in my players faces, especially when I told them we're not gonna use the scoreboard as our guide to being uncommon. Coach Galuhn and I broke The "I" in Win up into multiple chapters, such as attitude and effort, confidence, discipline, excellent character leadership, passion together, and vision. In addition to my own thoughts on the subject, each chapter has quotes, anecdotes, even poetry. Most importantly, there are interactive questions to be completed by the players. Starting in June and continuing through the end of the season, players are put in the groups and assign a chapter present to the team each game day. Even for those not presenting, all players had to have the sign chapter red and the corresponding questions answered prior to the game day. I purposely did not give the players any instructions or parameters on their presentations. I wanted everything to be organic and sculpted from their visions, and they did such an awesome job each week. The presentations include in movie clips, lyrics, PowerPoints, even very personal background stories that related to the topic that they were presenting. It reached a point that I couldn't wait for our Friday meetings to see these presentations. Following their presentations. We broke up any small coach led groups to discuss the answers to the questions of each chapter. In these coach led groups. I literally left it up to the coaches to decide how they wanted to run their groups. Some just went through the questions. Some just had conversations with kids and let it just kind of go where it was gonna go. Either way, both the coaches and the players cherished a sacred time together. It really brought us together as a team brought us together. More importantly, as people. The reason why it allowed us to learn things about our kids, that we may have never had the opportunity to know otherwise. I even occasionally brought in guest speakers for our Friday meetings, which also worked really well. My administration in particular loved being a part of our, I win meetings on Friday, and they were really appreciative of the life skills being taught to the players. Regardless The "I" in Win, created an uncommon Friday. The I" in Win brought focus, confidence and camaraderie to our team, allowing us to be ready to play at the highest level each and every game. Now let's fast forward to June, 2021. I was outta coaching and teaching for a multitude of reasons. Sadly, one of my closest friends and one of my first assistant coaches that I hired back in 2004 tragically passed away. This tragedy reunited me with my old players. Many of whom are adults now. And I was completely overwhelmed with the impact The "I" in Win continues to have on them today in their adult life. As I prepared for my friend's eulogy, a flood of emotions led me to do some more soul searching and self discovery. Despite liking any experience. I took a leap of faith and I started The "I" in Win podcast. My mission was simple, be a positive platform, giving educators, coaches, and other leaders of voice to share the benefits of concentrating lesson outcomes. And the more on the journey of changing lives. Make no mistake about it. This podcast is a way to honor both coach Galuhn, who is co-author of the book, The "I" in Win and coach Garza who passed away tragically in June of 2021. Both of these men were great coaches and more importantly were great friends. This podcast has also allowed me to share the stories of coaches, teachers, and other inspirational people who are focused on impacting lives. There's no agenda. I'm not searching for fame fortune. I just simply believe in people and I'm hoping to move the needle for leaders in any industry to recognize that at the end of the day, we're all in the business of people. Yes. Winning is important but there has to be more. Behind every X and O sitting in every desk in America is a person, someone who has value; someone who could bring greatness to the world. And that is The "I" in Win!. So, where do we go from here? Well, I'm in the beginning stages of lining up speakers for season two, which will begin in November. In the meantime, and going to occasionally release these bonus episodes. So you're gonna have to bear with just me sometimes and not having a guest. I'm also gonna be releasing highlights from the top five most download episodes from season one. If you or someone, you know, would like to be showcased on season two, please DM me on Twitter @LukeMertens or you can also email me Both of which I'll put in the show notes. Most importantly, please share the podcast with anyone who will find value because the point is to share, learn, inspire, and motivate. I cannot. Thank you. For listening for sharing. And most importantly, supporting The "I" in Win podcast. I went into this with zero expectations and it now be connected with coaches and leaders from around the country is truly humbling. I love learning from each of these episodes and I hope you stay with me on this journey of finding the best versions of ourselves season one was awesome. And I am confident that season two will have an even bigger.