Ohio has a lot of big high school football games. But none of them were bigger for two teams and a kid by the name of Jake Porter than the one on a Friday night a few years back. Let me tell you the story. Jake Porter has a disorder called Cortisol Fragile X. That means he is cognitively challenged. But Jake loved football and turned out for the team. He went to every practice, every workout, and suited up for every game. He did this all despite knowing that he would never get in a game. It simply was not safe and would put him at risk.
That all changed the last game of the season. His coach wanted to put him in a real game. He went to the opposing coach before the game and explained Jake’s condition. He asked if the game got lopsided if it would be okay to put Jake in for just one play. They had practiced taking a snap and handing the ball to Jake who would then knee it down with no risk. The opposing coach agreed. As fate would have it, the game did become one-sided. It was a brutal 42-0 blowout (Jake’s team was down) with only five seconds left. The coach sent in Jake and the crowd erupted! Just then the opposing coach came sprinting across the field. He said he did not just want Jake to get in the game, he wanted him to score.
Now in football a shutout is a big deal. This coach decided that it was a bigger deal for him and his team to let Jake score. Jake’s coach said, “Wow, we didn’t practice that!” The opposing coach assured him. If he gave Jake the ball, they would make sure Jake scored. So Jake’s coach called his team together in a huddle and said boldly to Jake, “Big boy you’re going to the house!”
They lined up. Jake started jumping up and down. The quarterback took the snap and handed the ball to Jake who slowly began to knee it down while the coaches, the crowd and the players collectively yelled, “NOOOO!” Then, teammates, coaches, refs, and opposing players all started pointing towards the end-zone.
21 players opened up like the Red Sea before Moses and Jake took off for the Promised Land.
Slowly at first and then faster he ran! A 49 yard touchdown run! Number 45, Jake Porter had scored. Players celebrated, fans hugged and big, manly coaches cried.
A lot of young men played football that year, lots of games with lots of big plays, but of all the moments in that season, Jake Porter’s 49 yard touchdown dash will be the one they will always remember.
What Jake’s coach showed, that is belief.
And belief in others is the #1 quality exemplary leaders possess.
- Leaders who lead with belief say, “You belong here and you can excel here!”
- Leaders who lead with belief say, “I’m glad you are on my team and you’ll make an outsanding contribution.”
- Leaders who lead with belief say, “You might find all of this a struggle. Well, so do I. Let’s make something extraordinary together!”
- Leaders who lead with belief say, “Big boy, big girl, you are going to take it to the house!!”
- Leaders who lead with belief say, “I see leadership in you!”
Who can you take to the house?
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