FERENTZ: You have to persevere
By JUDY SCHLESSELMAN
Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz brought his game plan for success to Belle Plaine last week.
His appearance at a high school assembly May 13 came after student body president Tony Jones doggedly pursued the head Hawkeye for a speaking engagement at the school.
Initially invited as commencement speaker, the busy coach found an open spot on his calendar last Thursday to honor Jones’ invitation.
Jones said he was nervous when Ferentz arrived at the school’s main entrance, but nerves soon gave way to excitement as he introduced the coach to the cheering crowd.
“It’s not every day you have a football coach from Iowa in your school,” Jones later observed.
Ferentz spoke about what it takes to achieve success, both on and off the field. Of prime importance are having a vision, goals, and a plan to achieve the goals.
“The most successful guys are the ones who put their plan into action with discipline. You have to persevere,” Ferentz said.
He stressed the importance of good citizenship and conduct. These are topics the coach said he talks to his players about on a continuous basis. His athletes also hear plenty about being good students.
“We play in a tremendous conference and have some great stories, but at the end of the day the most important significant accomplishment any of our players achieve is to earn a degree,” Ferentz said.
Motivation, mental toughness, hard work, caring about people and being good at the basics of what a person wants to do are key components to success, Ferentz told his audience. Persistence also pays off.
“You got to stick at it and realize it’s a process, and it gets back to doing your best day after day.”
Ferentz said every successful team has strong, positive leadership with a good work ethic and a team- first attitude.
The coach tipped his hat to two Belle Plaine natives he considers examples of success ¬– businessman Henry B. Tippie and former Hawkeye football player Kyle Spading.
“What a fascinating gentleman and a great, great, talent,” Ferentz said of Tippie. “He’s a guy who grew up on a farm and ended up serving in World War II. He went to the University of Iowa on the GI bill, stuck his neck out and took a shot as an accountant in Delaware with a small company that grew into a great company. I think he’s a great story.”
Although Spading never started a Hawkeye game, he was on Ferentz’s football team four years. “The attitude I described earlier about being a leader, being a positive guy, a guy that worked hard and cared about others, Kyle filled that bill,” Ferentz stated.
Jones presented the coach a Belle Plaine cap and other school apparel at the end of the presentation. Ferentz ended his appearance with an autograph session.
Jones later said he received plenty of positive comments from his fellow students.
“In my opinion, the assembly was very successful, interesting and historic,” he stated.
Jones also had another observation. “Honestly, he was taller than I figured,” he said of Ferentz.
UPDATED May 18, 2010 10:12 AM