"Be A Man": What It Means on the Gridiron

Written by linebacker Van Fraser '22:

“As the Head Coach, my job is to love the players. When this is expressed, we can truly begin to build the relationships and standards that are critical to success in life and on the scoreboard.” –Kadeem Rodgers, head football coach

“Be a man” are the three scariest words for a boy to hear. Crying and expressing your emotions at a young age is unacceptable in our society. Young boys are often told to “man up,” but what does that even mean? With the recruitment of new head coach Kadeem Rodgers, the boys on the football team quickly found out what being a man really means.

In the first week of preseason, the team gathered in Sperry Lecture Hall and watched former NFL player Joe Ehrmann’s Ted Talk, “Be A Man.” The team quickly silenced and became glued to the screen. “Being a man has nothing to do with size, strength, athletic ability… Being a man is measured on how you can love and be loved; the ability to look someone in their eyes and tell them you love them,” he explained.

At first, Ehrmann’s definition of masculinity could be questionable to many, but it correlates with every single thing a man has to do in life. Being able to fully love something is the most important goal boys should learn at a young age. Not only to love people and relationships, but something. To fully understand and dedicate your love can be the greatest goal for a man to achieve.

As the video ended, Coach Rodgers flipped on the lights and began to hand out a piece of paper called “Mission Statement.” He began to read aloud: “Our mission is to impact the world by helping boys become good men. Players that matriculate through our program will understand that their role as a father, husband, and community member are far more important than any scheme or game-score.”

Football became more than just an afternoon option or sport to the team that day, and we began to work harder for each other in every drill. We started to understand how we can use what we learn on the field to become a better person in our community, friendships, and families. 

Being the football team on campus, the redesigning of what it really means to “be a man” starts with us. So many young men take part in the sport, giving us an opportunity to reshape how boys view and play the sport.
In our first home game this season, we found ourselves down 7-19 at halftime. We ended up winning 20-19 that day and I have never seen more love for one another following a game. There was no trash-talking or disrespect towards the other team; only love and respect for them and each other. 

Because of Coach Rodgers, the football team has cultivated love for each other, instead of hate for our opponent. We are keeping ourselves accountable for our jobs on the field and an unbreakable love for each of our brothers. Football has taught us how much a person can love and how powerful it is to be loved by your teammates. The ability to not only love out on the field, but love the relationships that tie tighter and tighter every day. We have the ability to love and accept love, granting us the ultimate gift, being men on the football team at Episcopal.