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Bird at Play: Forging a good work ethic

Cal Ripken, Jr.'s statistics are recorded in baseball history. His "Iron Man" status earned from 2,632 consecutive game streak and over 3,000 career games overall, his 3,184 career hits, 431 homeruns, and his fielding statistics that are too numerous to count. Nineteen All-Star game appearances including a MVP award at Camden Yards, Gold Gloves, American League and Major League MVP awards, Rookie of the Year and Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig Awards for his work not only on the field but in the community as well show what type of man he is.

Brett Favre was the same in football. He had more than a 20-year career in the NFL with his own version of the "Iron Man" record of 297 consecutive games played. He threw for more than 70,000 yards, 500 touchdowns, and 10,000 pass attempts. The 11-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champion had his own share of MVP awards that fill his trophy room.

David Beckham is probably more known on this continent for his underwear commercials and A-list Hollywood friend circle than on the soccer pitch as he is known around the world. Talk to any teammate or coach that has been with him during any league campaign and they'll tell you he's the ideal teammate. The English Premier League, FA Cup, La Liga and MLS champion's current run is with A.C. Milan whose coach admittedly figured he wouldn't see much field time during this two month stint with the club. But, as Ancelotti said, "Then, I saw how he trained, and I had no choice".

What makes these superstars that much different than your average athlete, even your average professional athlete is not all the titles, awards, and records they've achieved but the work they put in to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself. There's an unquestionable work ethic that they and all other successful athletes share that sets them apart from the rest.

You don't have to be a professional athlete or a superstar to have a good work ethic. One of the best compliments I've received was when I was recommending one of my players to a collegiate coach that shared captain duties with me in our college years and was talking about how strong her work ethic was. When he said that it meant more to him since I was his hardest working teammate all those years ago you could put a fork in me because I was done.

I didn't always have that level of commitment, in fact in high school I was downright lazy. It was something I developed and learned along the way from great coaches, mentors, teammates and opponents. We try to prepare our students and young athletes for life off the field of play and there is nothing more important we can show them than to put forth their best effort in the classroom, on the field, and at work.

There is no substitute for hard work if you want to succeed in sports and in life. The legendary ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, "The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day."

Isn't that how you want to be known?

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