This post is the fourth in a 5-part series dedicated to team themes. In each post of the series, I am covering two themes and a few quotes in support of them.

For many years I have established, taught, and developed team themes with my teams. Whether it be our team’s core covenants, values, & standards, Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, or just random life lessons that I believe are important to discuss with our kids, I have chosen various themes that we focused on throughout the season. For our discussions of those themes, I always had quotes supporting them.

As it is now graduation time, I thought this would be a good time to do these posts because all of the themes and quotes that you will see in these posts make up the ten sections of my gift book for graduating seniors called Inspiration for the Graduate. The book is an excellent gift for coaches, teachers, and parents to give to graduating seniors. While the book covers the themes in more detail, and it has more quotes supporting the themes, these posts will give you a glimpse into what the book is like.

Winning & Losing

Too often young people and people involved in athletics focus way too much on the scoreboard as a determiner of success. While the scoreboard is there for a reason and winning the game is a goal of competition, there is so much more to success than just winning a game. With all the teams I have coached through the years, I tried to instill in them a focus on many more things that determine if we were successful: how hard we played, how smart we played, how well we played together, whether we achieved our potential. 

 People often compare themselves to others.  I tried to instill in my players the idea that they should compete against a vision of their best selves and that we should compete against a vision of what we could be as the best team we were capable of becoming.  Every day that you wake up and get out of bed, you will be moving one way or the other – toward success or failure.  The choice of which direction you go is one that you make every day.

“Handle success like you handle failure. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.” Pat Summitt – College Basketball Coach

“Success isn’t something that just happens — success is learned, success is practiced, and then it is shared.” Sparky Anderson – Professional Baseball Manager

“I pray not for victory, but to do my best.” Amos Alonzo Stagg – College Football Coach

“The wonderful thing about the game of life is that winning and losing are only temporary — unless you quit.” Unknown



The ability to adapt to the various situations one finds oneself in is important in all aspects of life. In athletics, it is critical to team and individual success because athletic endeavors are fraught with adversity, and the adversity comes in many forms. On any given day, in any given situation, a person may have to deal with a myriad of problems and dilemmas that could affect his or her focus on the task at hand. The ability to adapt to problems is crucial to getting through those problems and growing from them.

Another important part of adaptability is the idea that people need to adapt to each other and to the teams or groups they are part of. When people are selfless and they give up a part of themselves for the good of others, they are showing their adaptability to something bigger than themselves. Everyone, including the leader, needs to have the flexibility to adapt for the good of all. When all members of a team, group, or family understand the importance of maximizing their strengths while giving of themselves selflessly, anything is possible.

“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”  K. Okakaura – Japanese Author

“You have to adapt what you do based on who you are.” Mike Krzyzewski – College Basketball Coach

“Learn to adjust yourself to the conditions you have to endure, but make a point of trying to alter or correct the conditions so that they are most favorable to you.” William Frederick Boyd – Psychology Professor

“Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.” Nolan Ryan – Professional Baseball Player


This is just a sampling of the kinds of themes you can use with your teams and a glimpse of some of the ideas you can talk about with your teams when discussing these themes. Next week I will cover the final two themes in the book – Courage & Leadership.

As I said above, each of the ten themes in this series is discussed in my gift book, Inspiration for the Graduate. There are also many more quotes in support of each of the ten team themes covered in the book. Also, the first page is set up for you to write your own personal message to your graduate. The cost of the book is just $7.95 plus shipping, or you can get a 10-Pack Bundle for just $70.00 plus shipping. Click here to order Inspiration for the Graduate.