Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"small details leads to BIG SUCCESS..."

For any football player, whether on the high school, collegiate, or NFL level knows that practices are more than just going over the offensive, defensive, and special team's plays. During those practices the word 'repetition' is thrown around week in and week out. Coaches sometimes make the players go over just one play 10 to 15 times, and its not because all coaches are mean, its more because great coaches know and understand that sometimes the smallest details in the execution of a play can lead to huge success during the game. This is why coaches push their players to the limit when they are fatigued in practice, during individual drills, team drills, and even during the film sessions and meetings, so they know how to execute and respond during the games. Mental errors such as false starts, holding calls, personal fouls, and even the inability to use proper technique can be the small details that could cost a team win in that big game.

And those small details on the football field can easily be transferred to the thinking in the Cabrini Connections' organization. We are in Week 7 of our 2009-2010 season and there have been small and big details that our players and coaches have been working on to ensure success on a weekly basis and for the overall year. Some of the small details that we continue to communicate to the players and coaches are cleaning up their workspace after use, no eating or drinking in the computer lab, and using headphones when listening to music on the computers. To some, these may seem like small and unimportant matters, but as the head coach I feel that these are very important factors to creating a top-notch organization.

At any point throughout the week, there could be fans, family members of both players and coaches, alumni, and donors who take out the time to visit our facility and it says a lot about our player, coaches, and the organization if the facilities are clean, organized, and in good condition. With us being a non-profit organization who definitely tries to preserve the resources we do have, eating and drinking in the computer lab could lead to a spill that could damage a computer or the spreading of germs during this cold and flu season. So by taking the necessary precautions of just not eating or drinking in the lab can and will prevent us taking a loss on a play. And using headphones is important cause it allows others to be able to share the space in the computer lab and not have to be distracted by others on the team. This simple step could prevent an disagreement, an augment, or even a player wanting to be traded to another organization.

These are just a few of the many small details that as a Head Coach we try to encourage repetition week in and week out so all players and coaches build these small details into their weekly habits on and off the field. And for any of these small details to becoming habit forming, the underlining factor is and will always be communication, communication, and communication!!!

So from the GM, front office, Head Coach....to the Assistant Coaches, players, and even fans and donors...communication on what needs to be done and repetition on how to do it can and will turn those small details into BIG SUCCESS for the individuals as well as the entire Cabrini Connections' organization.

Monday, October 26, 2009

TWR Soldier Field Charity Hill Challenge and Cabrini Connections

Yesterday Matt "Chest" Ulrich who is a Northwestern University alum and a former NU and Indianapolis Colts' football player and the TWR organization, sponsored its 2nd annual Solider Field Charity Hill Challenge. The event was located at the sledding hill behind the southeast end zone of Soldier Field. The challenge consisted of participants running, walking, jogging up an down the sledding hill for about an hour. Last year they raised almost $8,000 for the Stephanie Burde Benefit Fund, and this year they raised money for Cabrini Connections, as many already know that we are an after school program allows these unprivileged kids to develop and work with adult professionals in the workplace to get hands on experience in a one-on-one setting. This prepares them to graduate from high school and college and be in a career by age 25, a feat statistically hard to achieve for these kids alone.

No matter what dollar amount came in, I feel as though the event was a huge success. There was great weather, no major injuries, over 50 participants, and the opportunity for people to not only get a great workout but also the opportunity to learn more about the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection organization. There were many who took part in the event because of the invite that they received, but it made it even better when they could actually get more information about who and where their donations will be going.

TWR asked for a minimum donation of $25 dollars that included the hill workout and a complimentary t-shirt, but they also encouraged participants to find sponsors to raise additional money. Although the TWR Soldier Field Charity Hill Challenge is over, the challenges of getting the necessary resources to keep this program up an running goes on. If you missed the event on Sunday, but would still like to contribute to a great cause you can do that here.

The entire Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Organization thanks Matt Ulrich, TWR Fitness, and everybody who contributed to the success of the event. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recruiting STAR Players!

In the NFL, there are many star players who have exceptional talent that they contribute to the team that can contribute to the overall success of their selective teams. You have unbelievable players with unbelievable talent such as Peyton Manning, Randi Moss, Nick Roach, and Orlando Pace in the NFL. But many people don't dig deep enough to see exactly how these players got to the organizations that they work for.

Behind the scenes of every organization there are scouts and a team of people in the front office whose job it is to bring in those franchise type of players that can and will hopefully lead their team to the championship year in and year out...creating what many call a dynasty. To any organization these people are a crucial piece of the pie when it comes to creating a dynasty. They spend hours studying tape, taking numerous trips locating talent, networking and socializing with others in the business to find that 1 guy who could be the difference maker to their team.

At Cabrini Connections we are looking for those franchise type of players as well, but the specific positions that we are scouting and recruiting for is the Donor position. We have great coaches, a great front office, a pretty nice facility, and some outstanding players in other positions, but the donor position is what we are looking for and need in order to become a dynasty.

We need someone who can step up and not only make big plays on a consistant basis, but a player who can lead others in the position to play to the best of their ability. And we are also looking for the starters in the donor position to assist us with our recruiting of other donors for this position. Just like in the NFL, we are looking high and low, using technology, making phone calls, taking trips, networking with other scouts, and really using any and all of our resources to find some donors to lead our team not only to a winning season and a conference title, but donors who can and will put us and keep us on the top of this tutoring/mentoring league.

If you are person who can and will step up and take on this position we would love to get you a workout with our team, and hopefully get you a roster spot. Provide your combine times here. And if you don't feel that you have the necessary talent to fill the position but have the skills to be top notch scout for us who knows or can connect us to those type of players, that is just as helpful to our organization.

There are MANY MANY people out there that can become stars at this position on our team...we just have to find them and get them to sign with us!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How the Workplace and Its Employees Can Support Youth

Last Thursday I had the opportunity of visiting Northrop Grumman to tell the "Cabrini Connections' Story" to their employees during lunchtime as part of their Employees Charity Organization (E.C.H.O). During that time, I along with representatives from nearly 15 other organizations, shared information about our programs, our history, our plans for the future, and how the employees of Northrop Grumman can assist Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection by becoming volunteers, advocates, and donors; and it was a great experience.

Hopefully the people that I had the opportunity to meet with and share the story with will take the information and say "what can I do to make sure these stories continue?" And the answer that I would provide is simple; Northrop Grumman and its employees can assist in continuing these stories by taking advantage of the E.C.H.O. program and start or continue making contributions to the ECHO fund through payroll deductions. Employees are able to support a wide variety of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and abroad. Northrop Grumman pays all administrative costs, ensuring that 100% of employees’ donations go directly to our organization.

But Northrop Grumman is not the only place of business that can assist in supporting programs like Cabrini Connections. During this time of the year especially, the campaign for workplace giving and overall volunteerism is at a peak, and there are many organizations that take part in promoting workplace giving and charitable donations to its employees.

As a leader of one of these non-profit organizations I think it is great that organizations are encouraging the employees to 'get involved,' and I'm sure many people who are in similar positions as myself would love the opportunity to visit these places of business to again tell the story about our program and all that we do. From Northrop Grumman, to the Postal Service, to public transit companies...there are a variety of career fields, businesses, and organizations that have the potential of setting up opportunities for non-profit leaders to come in and provide information to the employees. And give those who truly care about helping youth, tutoring/mentoring, or those who just love to give back some tips on where and how they can do just that.

Although this is the time that the workplace giving campaign and the promotion for this movement peaks, youth and the programs that provide resources for these youth need resources throughout the year. So make an effort to not only get involved and support now, find ways to continue to support now and in the future. From the youth and as a leader of Cabrini Connections, your support is not only appreciated but it goes a long way!

"Hope, Build, Believe, and Achieve"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2009-2010 Cabrini Connections' Captains

Year in and year out in the NFL, there are those players on the team who step into leadership positions because of their play on the field, but also because of they way they conduct themselves off of the field. They serve as role models, subjects of inspiration, and in many cases the 'faces of the organization." And this is just an informal role that these players take, but there is a formal process in which these players are officially selected to be the Team Captains. And if you look closely on game day you will see these leaders because they wear the letter C on their jerseys, and if you catch the pre-game activities you will see the leaders walking to the middle of the field to complete the coin toss procedure before the game begins.

At Cabrini Connections, for the 2009-2010 season, we have just selected our Captains!!! This year we have 6 captains that will be leading our team for the season. Returning to the ranks of captain for the second year in the row are:

De'Sean Hale 12th grader at Wells fifth year in the program

Sean Mayfield 9th grader at Rauner third year in the program

and Savon Clark 9th grader at Lindblom third year in the program who also is our student representative for the entire Region 2(our conference)
And joining the returning captains will be:

Ashaunti Roby 9th grader at Providence St. Mel third year in the program

Victoria Rivera 11th grader at Lincoln Park fourth year in the program

and rookie to the program Israel Dosie7th grader at Andersen first year in the program.

The Youth Leadership Council will meet bi-weekly to discuss policies and procedures at Cabrini Connections. The Council may influence field trip destinations, the tutoring schedule, the points system, and more. They will also devise strategies to increase youth involvement and attendance (particularly in Winter months). And what makes this accomplishment for these 6 students even more special is that they were voted into the position by the coaches (volunteers) and their teammates (other students). We are truly excited to have these 6 students as our chosen leaders for this year and we hope that they can rally the entire team, organization, and the fans into truly believing in the team concept and lead us into victory this season.

Congratulations goes out to Savon, Israel, DeSean, Sean, Ashaunti, and Victoria on being selected as the 2009-2010 Captains of the Cabrini Connections' team!!! Instead of seeing the patch with the letter C in the NFL that signals Captain, these 6 players will have "CC" on their Jersey to represent the leaders of Cabrini Connections.