Box 31; Clemson, SC 29633 with your return address.
This past June, I attended the final day of Dabo Swinney’s football camp on the practice fields in and around the indoor facility. (No satellite camp in Hawaii for Dabo!) Ten national coach-of-the-year awards will lead to a sharp increase in camp enrollment the following summer, and that was the case as over 4,000 kids who dreamed to one day run down the Hill at Memorial Stadium came to campus during a two-week period, including over 1,000 on this final day.
I was intrigued to see some of the more highly-rated players, but I was also fascinated to see how the camp was run from a logistical standpoint. I remember when former Clemson basketball coach Bill Foster had 1,300 campers the summer after he took the Tigers to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in 1980. It seemed an astronomical figure then. And, that was for four weeks.
Awards were presented this hot summer day, and then Swinney gave the campers a sendoff presentation on the fundamentals of life. It was a 22-minute dissertation that really struck me. As he usually does for one of his press conferences, he wrote down a few bullet points as a guide, but most of it was from the heart.
The message was powerful, but at the same time, it was delivered with common sense, one the campers, even the younger ones, could follow.
So, I took some notes, and here is a synopsis of what he said. It is a message that can be used as a guide for all parents and students, not just future first-round draft picks.
1. Have goals and vision for those goals.
“Don’t just write down goals on a piece of paper...have a plan to achieve them. Stick to the plan. We (Swinney and administrators) met two-and-a-half years ago and I put down a plan for this building on a piece of paper. Now we are in the process of finishing it. It came from a goal with a plan.”
2. Be involved in community, school, etc.
“You create opportunities when you are involved. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
3. Hang around with the right friends.
“Who you become can be a product of whom you hang around with. Surround yourself with people who are committed and are quality people.”
4. Your education is so important.
“I am the first person in my family to get a college degree, and that is why I am here today. Take pride in your education. Academic ability will be much more important than athletic ability over time. Only 1.6 percent of college football players make it to the NFL. You need to graduate. We had 42 players make the academic honor roll with a 3.0 GPA or better in the first semester last year when we were making the drive to the national title game. We had the highest fall team GPA in history. That is what we strive for.”
5. Have the proper attitude.
“The only disability is a bad attitude. Optimistic people can change the world. Go on YouTube and type in Richie Parker’s name. He is a Clemson graduate who works in the engineering division for Hendrick Motorsports in Charlotte. He doesn’t have any arms. But he doesn’t let that stop him or define him. You should see him drive a car or work at his computer by typing with his feet.”
6. Be prepared for the opportunity.
“Spend the time preparing for success and bloom where you are planted. Have the attitude that you are going to get what you earn.”
“Be a person of integrity in everything you do. Do the right thing in everything you do. You are who you are when no one else is looking.”
8. Have a spiritual foundation.
“God never says ‘oops.’ There are problems coming in life, and having this foundation will allow you to handle it better.”
9. Have a firm belief in what you do.
“You have to believe it can be done.”