Former record-setting quarterback turned head football coach, Andrew DiDonato reveals his secrets to creating the most successful DIII college football program the school has seen in 125 years.

A Football Coach’s Proven Formula For Winning

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Former record-setting quarterback turned head football coach, Andrew DiDonato reveals his secrets to creating the most successful DIII college football program the school has seen in 125 years.  Don’t miss Coach DiDonato’s story and this proven formula for success, and learn how you can use it to start WINNING in any area of your life!

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Grove City Football

Zach Fulmer and Coach D

Grove City Football

Coach D, Zach Fulmer, Chris Rich


  • What Andrew learned from working with the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • How medical sales taught Andrew the key to successful coaching
  • The 3 most important questions for success
  • Andrew’s winning “Brick By Brick” philosophy
  • The key to emotional management 
  • How to foster healthy team relationships



Andrew is the head football coach at Grove City College and has been awarded 2018 Presidents’ Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. A native of Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, and graduate of South Fayette High School, Andrew graduated as Grove City College’s record holder in career passing yards, pass completions, and touchdown passes. He also holds the Wolverines’ season records in each of those three categories.

He joined the Grove City coaching staff in January 2015 after spending three seasons at South Fayette High School. Since taking his position as all-time head football coach in 2016, he has implemented a “Brick By Brick” philosophy throughout all aspects of the Wolverine program, successfully directing an explosive offensive system that helped the team set winning records after experiencing years of consecutive game losses. 

Former record-setting quarterback turned head football coach, Andrew DiDonato reveals his secrets to creating the most successful DIII college football program the school has seen in 125 years.


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Every one of those buildings started with a brick. Somebody had a vision for what they would look like. They were built one brick at a time. Mortar holds it together. So when we say brick by brick, we’re going to build in this area by having a clear vision, embracing a process that overflows in love.
Welcome to the M perfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on. Where women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation. One imperfect day at a time. Welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast.
I am your host on a Fullmer today. I am so excited to introduce you to not only a record set. Breaking head college football coach, Andrew de Denato. He is also one of our best friends. He ends Zack have been best friends ever since they played football together in college. Andrew coach D Denato took over a windlass college football team.
They had lost 33 games in a row and transformed them into arguably one of the most successful programs the school has ever seen. In only a couple seasons with his renowned brick by brick philosophy, sharing his secrets to success on and off the field. Welcome college head football coach, who also happened to be the best man in our wedding.
Andrew data now. Hello. Good morning. Good morning to you. Thank you for rescheduling. Sorry about that. Oh, no problem. At all. It’s a school ended a couple of weeks ago, so just recruiting now, but it’s a flexibility. So no problem at all. So you guys end, is that early or no, that seems early, uh, pretty early, usually the second Saturday and May’s graduation.
So pretty standard for us to give you a quick rundown. Well, Dive into just your story, more of your background, kind of how you got to where you are. And then the second half is where we’ll dig into the brick by brick philosophy and unpack that. Perfect. How, what point can I bust, uh, bring this into the mix.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, this hangs in my office. Have you ever seen this? I think we should bust it out right now. We could just open with that. He’d be so proud. Well, for everyone listening and watching this. Are very good friend, Andrew de natto. He was just showing me some, well, you might as well get it out now.
We’ll be so proud that he is showing up in this way. So I’ve been the head coach here at Grove city college since 2016. And this hangs right above my computer for every, I sit with around 250, the people who are just listening and can’t see this he’s showing, is that a magazine? Yeah. So, uh, we get five home games a year and they pick five seniors every year to be on Wolverine game day.
And Zach was senior year. He got his own cover by himself. So, uh, so this hangs up and, uh, not that my husband’s head needs to be inflated anymore than it already is. Confidence has not been a problem for him. So he’s. I love it. No, I get the point that out to every family that sits in this office, it’s pretty special.
Well, it is really sweet. How, you know, when you talk about sports, we’ve mentioned this so many times that as much about relationships as it is about the game itself and building those relationships. So that is a sweet example, regardless of how much he doesn’t need the reminder. So you’ve been a head coach.
This is your fifth year. Yeah. So 2016 was year one. So actually I’m going to be heading into year seven coming up, which is crazy several years behind. Yeah. I like to press the rewind button because it’s so easy to see the curated aftershock, if you will. And we like to dive into the gritty, messy stories that so often.
Are part of our lives to get us to where we are today. But give us a little bit of your background, how you ended up a head football coach and where it all started. Yeah. So I’ll start with college. I mean, I went to Grove city here with these SAC former, um, and, uh, so my brother went to Grove city. He’s five years older than me and my father’s a pastor.
And then my older brother who went to Grove city here, he went on into full-time ministry as well. So I really felt a similar call. I felt a, a pat. Towards ministry and you know, it was interesting. I, a couple of things during my time at Grove city, I got to hear a coach do a clinic talk and his whole message was coaching his ministry that you’re there to serve.
And in that same week, it was ironic. I got to hear the famous evangelist, Billy Graham being interviewed after one of his crusades. And they asked them, they said, Billy, if you weren’t an evangelist, what would you be doing? And without hesitation, he said, I’d be a coach. And the reporter was like, huh. And he made a statement.
He said, a coach will impact more young people in a season than most people will in a lifetime. And after hearing those two men speak, I remember calling my dad. I said, dad, I’m going to ministry to just call me, coach not pastor. That’s going to be the only difference. And, uh, so that really felt that led my calling the coach.
And you talk about relationships. One of my coaches here at Grove city, when he knew that I wanted to go into coaching, knew a guy at the university of Buffalo and essentially got me connected there to get my start in coaching at the division one level, which was an amazing opportunity. And then my now wife, we started, she was living in Pittsburgh and we connected.
Yeah. We mentioned my spouse. Let’s. I mean, if anyone deserves a magazine, cover it as the Andrea Dita, Nado who is second in command, really? If we’re being honest. Yeah. And you have to sweet kids. Yes. So at that time, moved back to Pittsburgh, we got engaged with coach and high school ball. And also my wife, she went to Grove city as well.
And it was pretty interesting because during our time here, two different people tried to set us up and we never went out. So when you were in college, when we were in college, two separate people said, Hey, you two would be a, a great match for each other and neither. We didn’t for whatever reason, we never connected door in that time.
And now you weren’t interested in her or she wasn’t interested in you. I think we both have realize we both interested in each other, but, uh, for whatever reason, it just, you know, we never went out, never did anything in college, but, you know, move back to Pittsburgh. That’s when we started dating, we got engaged and took us less than a year to get engaged.
We knew the other was the one. And then. My wife teaches at Grove city. Now she teaches in the accounting department. So we moved up here. We have Gabriela, who’s six Daniel, who’s three, just, uh, bundles of joy. And you know, we’re fully immersed in Grove city, both working here. And my daughter is across the street and kindergarten.
My son will be starting preschool here at the college in the fall. And, uh, just really be blessed to be at our Alma mater right now. Yeah. You mentioned that. Weren’t dating her in college. I’ve heard these stories so many times, but Zach’s favorite memories. Some of his favorite memories are your evenings snuggling together watching your favorite chick flick.
Do you want to give this chick like a shout out? How to lose a guy in 10 days. I forget what it is now. We may or may not have watched that by ourselves. Uh, at one point during that time at first that he call it that’s something the magazine cover will not tell you that it is a true story. Yeah. Well, it’s a good thing.
You ended up with Andy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, she’s incredible. And, and it’s great. I mean, she, um, started teaching the accounting department teaching an auditing course. So she spent six years in public accounting and Pittsburgh and did auditing. So she’s teaching that course and an Excel course, and that’s pretty special to both get to do this together.
Yeah, that’s amazing. And for anyone wondering grip city as a division three D three program, right? Yep. Yep. Yeah. And it’s a, it’s a Christian college in near Pittsburgh. Yeah. Just about an hour north of the city of Pittsburgh. Yep. Yeah. In case anyone wondering where is this school that we’re talking about?
Well, we often like to highlight. The history that gets you to where you are today. But a question that I like to ask is in the process you started at college, but certainly there were plenty of stories that led up to even where you were in college. Can you think of a time specifically? We’re talking sports here, so maybe it’s just athletic career, maybe it’s football specifically, but was there ever a point where you thought, I dunno if I can do this, maybe it wasn’t high school, maybe it was.
Later, maybe it was earlier bone, it comes to football and just getting to where you are today. Can you think of a point that you thought this felt overwhelming? You wanted to quit? Yeah, actually, as you asked that question, two different instances pop into my mind. The first would be right after graduating.
So I graduated and a few days later I moved up to Buffalo and here I am coaching at the university of Buffalo at the division one level that level at the time, I mean, not. Night all day, all day and night, fully immersed, and really realized how little football I knew, you know, and I went to that level and was serving in an entry-level role.
And, and I’m a part of these meetings and hearing these discussions. And it was really, you know, I’ve been playing football my whole life since I was eight years old. I played in high school, played in college and here I am around these amazing men and the discussions that they are having and realize, wow, I really don’t know any football.
Uh, Point. And then with it, it was pretty neat within that group. We would meet on, on Mondays and Bible study of the integration of faith and sport. And, you know, it was a really, uh, just neat and encouraging time. And, but also at the same time again, man, knowing all this football and then being able to utilize football.
To impact, not just the physical development, but how to take football as a common ground to then reach the mental and social and spiritual development that became overwhelming really fast. And so that entry level role, and being. One of the highest levels of college football. That was one moment where it was.
Wow. Can I really do this? Cause I don’t know anything. A second instance would be coming here to Grove city. When I got here in 2016, we were at a point in our program where we hadn’t won a game since 2013. So taken over a winless program and in my first year going, oh and 10. So it’s a very humbling experience, you know, your first year as a head football coach and you win no games, your programs now on a 30 game losing streak.
But most we looked back and Andy, my wife will say that was the, that year was the most growth we’ve had spiritually and in so many ways, but it was difficult at the time. No question. So, you know, I think both that first coaching experience after college, and then, you know, my first time stepping into a head coaching role in an overwhelming situation and a lot of ways, and then going, oh, and 10, those were very, very trying times and trying gears, but certainly amazing to see how God has had used those.
Myself and our family and then the program, and so many ways. Now you also had an internship with the Steelers, right? I’m remembering, where did that fall into the, yeah, so between my sophomore and junior year of college, that summer, I did a marketing internship with the Steelers and it was pretty amazing because went really well.
And they asked me to stay on and work game day. And here at Grove city, we don’t do anything on Sundays football wise. So even my junior and senior year, Uh, here at Grove city, I’d go down and be able to work all the Steeler games on Sundays. And then even a year after college, after the Buffalo experience, when I came back, I went back and did some work with the Steelers.
So really ended up doing a summer internship and then working game day operations for three years, which was an amazing experience as well. How did the college environment, like the D one level and then the pro environment, did you take different things from those two different levels? Was there anything that stood out to you?
You know, it’s kind of the two highest levels and football really, in essence, do you one college and then pro sports? I just talked to me a little bit about. Well, you took away from that. Yeah. I mean, first off the Steelers. So you talk about relationships. Uh, I was so amazed working with the Steelers, how everybody knew everyone by name.
I mean, even if you go into, you know, you have a camp event and you got one of the high people in the front office come through and Hey Marie, Hey John. Hey Mike. I mean, everyone talks about the Steelers being the, uh, really the standard organization in the national football league. Uh, I think the number one thing I took away there is the people skills of the leaders in that organization.
And really just being visible and available as a leader. That’s what really blew me away about that experience. Just truly how everyone, you know, we say as a football team all the time, each of us needs all of us. And, uh, you know, one of the examples I’ll give our team when we talk, each of us needs, all of us is really learning that from my Steelers experience was pretty impressive.
Uh, and then at UBI, I mean, very similar. I mean, I think the relationship piece, but just really preparation. Yeah. I was amazed and I went the Buffalo, how brilliant these football coaches were and the discipline and preparation and understanding, you know, there’s so many things you can do. You can run schematically.
There’s so many different principles you can build a program on, but really the idea is, is find that thing that you’re best at find what our identity is and walk in. So I think people skills, preparation, principle, you know, those are some of the things I learned from both of those experiences. Yeah. You know, we talk about the idea of I’m hearing this consistent theme of, I don’t know, but I’m going to learn, or I’m going to prepare, I’m going to build, and we’re going to talk a little bit more about your principles in terms of just.
For success in general, but I just want to throw out. So for people listening, Andrew’s going to want to crawl into a hole here, but I want to throw out some numbers because when we talk about success, a lot of times it can feel intangible and with sports. Fun. And sometimes disheartening is that they are very tangible numbers.
You know, we can write down how many completed passes, how many yards rough. I mean, there’s so many ways to actually, and that goes for any sport. Now there’s a lot of other measures that we need to be considering when we talk about success. But when we talk about success in terms of coaching and football, I just want to run something.
By everybody so that you understand who we are talking to. First of all, in high school, you were a four-year starter. You ranked among the state’s top quarterbacks. You graduated from college as a record holder in career passing yards, pass completions and touchdown passes as well as games started. And your senior year captain, the team’s best finished in the league in nine years.
So just even in terms of playing football, You experienced a lot of success and then we haven’t even gotten into the coaching success, which we’ll talk about. Then when we look at these numbers and talk about the idea of success, if you could boil down success into one word, if you could encompass all of the years gone by not necessarily your coaching philosophy, which we’ll get into, but if you could boil it down into one word, What would it be vision, you know, everything success wise, and then we’ll get into that.
But it really, to me does come down to having a very clear vision. Does it matter in my faith, I have a visions for my vision statement for my faith. I have a vision statement for our football program. Collectively. I have a vision for our offense because I also have a hand in coordinating that. In each of those areas, having a very clear vision.
And one of the things we talk about all the time is you either live in vision or live in circumstance. So when we look at vision, it’s not just this thing, not only something we’re striving to achieve, but something we’re living in that that guides the decisions we make and something I want to operate in every day.
And you know, that’s a principle that my senior year. High school. I got to speak at a banquet and pat Williams was the keynote speaker and impact Williams founded the Orlando magic in the mid eighties and has written a lot of books on leadership that to hear him speak twice at big conferences. And he talks about the seven sides of leaders.
And he’s read over 600 books on leadership. He’s over the last 50 years. When you think of significant leaders in this country and all different industries, he sat with a lot of them and he was asked the question, if, do they have anything in common? You know, the best of the best and his response to that was they all have a very clear vision from my senior year.
Cool on that has stuck with me. So anything that I’m a part of, I want to get a clear vision for okay. What it is, what is it that we’re working towards and what’s driving the decisions we’re making. So when I think about that, which is a great question. If you had to define success in one word, it’s a little bit of background of why I would go to that word.
I love that. And we will impact that more in the second half, because there’s, there’s a lot more to be said about that. Can you think of a time that you made a mistake? This is one of my favorite questions to ask. Do you have a story of whether it be football or coaching or whatever, that it was a pretty significant mistake and you certainly learned a lesson out of it, but share with us.
I mean, your first year. Head coach. There has to be some sort of mistake at some point in there that you look back on and you go, oh, there’s a lot. There’s a lot of, we put on the old film, we found old film from our first year, a couple of weeks into spring ball this year and we put it on and all of us just put our head down, like how bad, where, what were we doing?
It’s interesting because there’s so many I could share from that year. Wait, when you ask that question, the first thing that popped into my mind actually was my medical sales experience. So when I was coaching high school football, I spent three years in medical sales and it was interesting because the way the calendar worked was I started in the 1st of March.
But usually they want to send you to training, but I didn’t go to training because I was engaged at the time about to get married in June. They didn’t send me to training till July. So here I am going to group, you’re trying to sell people stuff before you’ve had any training to do so. Correct. Yeah. So I’m thinking, uh, I’m fine.
Right? I’m going to be good. And then I later found out the company was smart. They w I think they wanted you to fall on your face, and then you believe in the training, but, you know, I went to Grove city and I thought, okay, I’m good. Yeah, I can memorize a lot of stuff. We had four different product lines. I memorized every single thing.
You know, we had smaller tradings. I could rattle off every product, everything we do, all the benefits. And when I think I so many mistakes, but I share this with some guests lecturing. I do my greatest mistake though is my first luncheon. So at lunch and essentially you, you bring lunch to an office and the physician, the doctor walks in and.
You’ll be familiar with this. So I actually not all the time that a doctor walked in, but I got one-on-one with a doctor and I thought, man, I’m ready to just hit this out of the park. I’ve been waiting for this moment. Right. And I go through our first product. I mean, I rattle everything about our oxygen, you know, everything that we do.
And he literally just said, okay, next then I went through our nebulized medications, everything how great they were. And he looks at me next home, Coumadin monitoring everything, all the benefits. Next and then sleep equipment and all the benefits of that next. And I was like, ah, those are my products. And he’s like, thank you.
And he walked out and I remember where the food was. He wanted nothing more to do with me. He’s like, get this guy outta here and it’s amazing. Cause so I go until. Embarrassing, but more so, I mean, just realize, wow, I had no clue what I’m doing. I thought I did, but I have no clue, but it was interesting because in your second half to that question and what’d you learn from it?
So they send us the training in July. So seven tests in two weeks, two role plays. They send you to Clearwater, Florida, intense training. And really the whole training was about one thing. The ability to ask quality questions and they trained you that if you’re going to be a great sales rep, all. The person you’re talking to.
If you don’t have what they need, then you should move on. And if you do, you need to find out features, tell benefits, sell no one cares about the features, but if there’s something where you can benefit the person you’re talking to, the only way you find that out is asking quality questions. And that’s all they trained us in for two weeks.
And it’s amazing how the Lord works because I talk about in recruiting all the time. God used my sales experience more so than anything, football to be prepared, to sit with a family and say, you know what, I’m sorry. I don’t know if we’re going to be the best fit for you because you asked those questions and maybe they’re looking for a major that you don’t have, or there could be a number of reasons, but then you realize, Hey, someone, what they’re looking for is exactly what Grove city college is.
Football’s all about. Probably my, uh, one of the worst 45 minutes of my life, that luncheon, when ended up being such a pivotal moment to open my mind and heart that I have a lot to learn. And one of those things, and it doesn’t matter if it’s sharing your faith, recruiting sales, your ability to ask quality questions is everything.
It’s the only way to truly going back to your beginning of building relationships. It’s the only way to really get to know people. And so that was my biggest mistake. And then what I learned from that if only that doctor knew. That he was preparing you for great things. Thank you for greatness. Yeah, cause he was probably in that moment.
They can, this guys still got a shot right now, but it was pretty amazing. Oh, well, we’re going to take a quick break, but we come back, stay tuned for a speed round of this or that with Andrew and learn his proven process on how you can transform your life from winless to victorious. Right. When we come back, I have tried it all worried.
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And start your own transformation story. We are back with Andrew DDA. Natto, I should have asked you, what do players call you? Coach D coach DDO. I’ve I’ve known him as DDO for the last, well, however long I’ve known Zach. So I was like, oh, what did kids call you? Coach D coach Dino. I hear both of the, so there’s a couple of semi go all the way to coach, to nada, but a lot of coach D or coach D.
Yeah. All right. Well, we’re here with coach D. We’re going to play a quick round of this or that you’ll get two options. Just pick one. You don’t have to think about it too. Hard burger or hot dog burger. Where’s the best burger you’ve ever had. I’ll say blackout, Berger, new place here in Grove city, just in the last couple of years.
But, uh, I do, I love a blackout burger burger. Yes. Next time. Next time. You’re in Grove city. Yeah, we got, yeah, let’s talk about that. We, so we, Zach and I used to go. To visit Andrew and his wife, Andy, every season. And we’d see a game and then COVID hit. I think this has been the longest run that we have not as soon as Zach season ends, then we go and watch DDoS season one of the games.
And I think it’s been a couple of years now. It’s terrible. Yeah, we have to get that back this fall. And we’re going to go to blackout burger afterwards. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re planning it. You you’ve all heard it. You can keep us accountable. Speaking of Zack and DDO and football, I should say this.
It makes me laugh because I can’t count how many times I have watched Zach watching Grove city’s film. He finishes his own film, and then he goes and watches somebody else’s film. And I’m like, what are you doing? Those? Aren’t our color. Oh, okay. Back to where we were country or pop music pop. Who’s your favorite artist?
Oh, artists. I don’t really have a favorite artist. I mean, think I listened to most right now is actually worship music, but there’s, I guess some pop in that, uh, if I had to, like this singer comes on and you can’t help, but dance a little can hope. See, I’m actually an eighties music guy. So, I mean, if you get some journey on there or something like that, you’re going to get me a dancing.
We have a lot of eighties music, I would say on our practice playlist. Uh, that’s the best form of pop that we like to go. So journey is your warmup music. Uh, there’s so many, any eighties music, you know, a little thing will, uh, you know, weekends, the local station we have has a KCK, some eighties, top 40 counts.
And if that’s on, I’m jamming to it. Anything, eighties pop and you got me dancing, eighties pop, and the Italian blood is flowing. That’s a, okay. You’re sitting on an airplane. Would you rather sit beside a crying baby or an adult who doesn’t stop talking, uh, adult who doesn’t stop talking because I probably enjoy talking.
That’s a good point. All right. Would you rather own a personal yacht or a private jet? A private jet. See the world? Where are you flying to first place? You’re going, you’re taking Andy and the kids. We’ve never been, never been, never been okay. Well, when you go let us know. There you go. Well, that could be an adventure, at least the algebra.
Yeah. All right. You’re at a movie candy or popcorn candy. And what candy are you reaching for? People are real passionate about this. Like people who love going to the movies have this one thing that they get every time chocolate. I’m an Ms. If I’m going anything else, sour patch, kids still can eat those.
Oh, so you and Zach can share the sour patch kids. That’s cute. Acting.
We’ve already mentioned the brick by brick philosophy. We talked about this a little bit and I mean, this concept that you have brought to this D three program has not only transformed the football program, but if I understand correctly has actually been adopted by the school. So arguably it has transformed an entire culture at this school share with us the tenants of this philosophy.
And as you’re sharing, give us some practical ways of how you have seen these principles, change the program, maybe even change individuals lives. So give us the actual principles and then practical ways that you have seen. Okay. Perfect. So, so the background to the principles would be, uh, how to be about 10 years ago.
Now I got to hear the Superbowl 45, the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I had heard that they were built on three principles and Alabama Crimson tide won the national title and the same three principles. We had a guy come speak at the high school I was at, who did work with both teams, both organizations, and had talked about how they were both built off these three principles.
You know, here I am an assistant coach at the time thinking, wow. If the two top organizations in which, in the industry, in which, um, I’m working in are built off three principles, I better write those. And I did. And then I love to read, I mean, I read my Bible every day and anything I could get on leadership.
I just love reading it and, and everything I’m reading on leadership. So many times Walt Disney was coming up and in Walt Disney, I’m seeing those same three principles. And then Sam Walton keeps coming. And I’m seeing those same three principles, something, well, it’s not just the Packers Crimson tide thing.
It’s Disney, it’s Walton. And then I’m going through my Bible in the year. And here’s David defeating, Goliath and reigning as king of Israel, same three principles, Moses and Exodus leading God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. Same three prints. And it’s amazing. So going back to my senior year of high school at that banquet, pat Williams said this, he said, view yourself as a leader, prepare to be a leader when a leadership opportunity comes, take it.
So I decided back then after C and all of those things and all those teams and those men and those biblical figures that those principles, which are vision process love. If I ever get to be a head football coach, we are building a program around those three principle. And August 13th, 2016 was my first camp meeting as head coach here at Grove city.
And our whole entire campus is brick. Every building’s brick. So for our guys to see it’s a beautiful campus, by the way, if you’ve not seen Griff city just Google it, it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous campus. And we’re very blessed here. And, and as you’re walking around, it is there’s nowhere on campus where you will not see a brick building for our guys.
It’s it’s that picture of look, every one of those buildings started with a blue. Somebody had a vision for what they would look like. They were built one brick at a time, no shortcuts that represents process and mortar holds it together, which represents love. So when we say brick by brick, what we’re saying is, look, we’re going to build in this area by having a clear vision, embracing a process that overflows.
So then we get to the football aspect. Here we are in 2016, we hadn’t won a game in three years and we said, look, the visions that compete for PAC championships, and it’s not just, Hey, we’re going to win championships. It’s Jim Collins wrote a book. Good to great. One of my favorite books, highly recommended plug there.
Good to great, good to great. Yeah. Essentially him and his research team studied all these companies that were average, but made a jump to greatness based off revenue stock returns. Compared to companies who stayed the same. And one of the models in there that he said that those companies that jumped a greatness did was they asked three very specific questions and they are any drew them in circles.
What can we be the best at, in the world at what drives our economic engine, which means what works and what are we deeply passionate about? And he said, if you can answer those questions and find where those three circles intersect, you’re going to build something. So we said, look for our vision. When we say compete for PAC championships.
When we think of our offense, we’re going to ask those three questions and where those three circles intersect, that’s going to be our offensive vision. So for example, we don’t ask the question, what can we be best in the world at? We asked the question, what can we be best in the PAC at? Which is our. Mm.
So some practical examples of that would be our offense. We have a specific offensive vision, which is unique to us by answering those three circles. And prior to September 24th, 2018, we had not, you know, it took us two years to answer those three questions. Honestly, we had one of the worst ranked offenses in the conference by 2019, it jumped the first 20, 21 first again.
It’s nothing special, but that’s to us, the power of a vision. So you have a vision. The process is what we call a hard effort and discipline, which are go some football things. They are with alignment, assignment retention. And love everybody has to do their job. So we’ve seen that transform our offense.
Same thing with our program as a whole, you know, we go, oh and 10 oh and 10 oh and 10, four and six, eight and three, nine and two, eight and three in 2018. Our first post season win in school history 125 years. And do it again the next year. Say that again first post-season when Andrew’s the head coach in how many.
125 years of football, 125 years of football. So keep listening because these techniques, they work, they work and what I’m hearing. I want to rewind a little bit is you mentioned that these three circles you created, you know, sort of a vision for here is how we are going to achieve success in the PAC.
And I think to expand on that and make that relatable to so many of our lives, you narrowed it down, you weren’t saying, how can we be. College football program in the country, correct. You took it down and you made it applicable to where you were and your specific goal is winning PAC championships. So I think, you know, I’m hearing that and being reminded that sometimes we look at the whole picture and it’s too big.
We need to focus in a little bit more. And once we’ve narrowed in our specific area, then you need to. Define that even more or refine that I should say, and then look at how you can be the best in that specific area. So I think that’s one of the secrets that you are so good at. Yeah. Yeah. And that, that’s an amazing point.
And that’s one of the reasons we term our vision, the way we did, because when I look at vision, I think a big part of vision is identifying what you can be the best. Uh, and when we were sitting there and looking at. Almost 250 teams and division three football. I’ll never be able to answer that question accurately of what we could be the best at what could be our niche.
When we look at only nine other teams in our conference, we can build an offense of system and identity based off, Hey, here’s what could be our niche. Here’s the thing that we really can be the best at. And we did the same thing with our defense and just a great point. You made that. Y we term our vision, the way it is compete for PAC, as it says, okay.
Here’s something that we can really zero in on and be able to answer these questions. These three questions accurately, uh, in that motto I’m referring to for anybody you can Google it. It’s called the hedgehog model. Uh, Jim Collins. Good to great. So many great resources. I use that in everything. I just talked with, uh, my brother-in-law’s company and talked to them about hedgehog.
We, we had a lot of great conversations, how they’re using it. I mean, it doesn’t matter what your field is. It’s, it’s a way to get. To have a very clear, I use the word vision, but you can use many words here, but it’s something you can use answering those three questions to get a very clear picture of, uh, of how you can operate to achieve success.
I think it’s beautiful and applicable to so many different. I think even just as a family unit, you know, vision, another word that comes to mind is perfect. And it’s, I think what you’re describing again, why we’re such huge sports fans in this family, is there so much more than just the game. There’s so many visuals for the rest of life, but I think even as a family unit or your team as a family, the same concept applies, don’t compare yourself to other people, look at your own family and determine.
How can we be the best within ourselves? And what’s our purpose as a family? What do we want to be able to accomplish parents or kids or whatever? So I, I love that within that concept of vision and. As you’re fleshing that out. What are some barriers that you have faced to these processes? Whether it be vision, process or love, can you think of barriers that have come up as you have pursued that model or that vision?
Yeah, I think a big thing would be. Just the difficulty to truly stay disciplined. There’s so many things you can be doing. And I think one of the biggest barriers is there are so many resources out there. So many things we can be doing. So for example, when we look at vision, it’s okay, identify what we can be best at.
And then discipline says, well, we’re only going to do what we can be best at. Right. So I’ll use a football example. You know, we feel we’re best at a certain run scheme while we throw on the TV and you see 15 different run schemes, that all look good. And there’s that tendency, well, should we try this?
Should we try that? And while the vision says we’re best staying in our lane, I mean, having the discipline to stay there and then rally 18 to 22 year olds and all of us to stay there. And certainly one of the biggest barriers, which is why. You know, we talk about brick by brick every day, you know, a vision, isn’t just something we put on the wall and don’t refer to, we start every meeting with our vision because for all of us, for myself, for our staff, it just so easy to, Hey, well maybe we can chart doing this.
Maybe we can start doing that. And that’s where that hedgehog model of saying. The success we’ve had and the fact show, you know, this is where we need to operate. So, you know, certainly, you know, the barrier, you know, you could use the word busy-ness there. You could use the word distractions. Uh, just so many things that you can be doing, and that’s always the biggest barrier is to, to the difficulty, to stay disciplined, to stick into the vision.
How do you see emotions as a barrier? One of the things that I’m thinking through as you’re talking is I think so oftentimes what we struggle with in discipline is that we rely too much on our emotions to fuel. So, you know, I said this many times, but there’s a quote out there that passion feels purpose.
And my belief is that purpose more effectively fuels passion and cause you’re taking the emotions out of it. And it’s kind of what you’re alluding to. What I’m hearing you saying is it’s it is, it’s all about purpose. Be really, really clear on your why, and that is going to drive your what as opposed to the sense that why.
Like, this is what I want to do. So then when that thing comes up, that you don’t feel like doing it’s really, really hard to stay the course in state disciplined. So talk to me a little bit about. With your players with your staff in your own college experience. Because again, it is so easy, you have that horrible game, you know, and you come out and you’re just like your emotions start to cloud your sense of discipline.
So talk to me a little bit about that, your own experiences, how you coach staff or players. Through that. Cause I think that’s one of the biggest hurdles for all of us. Yeah. Well, I mentioned earlier about asking quality questions and you’re really good at that because that is such an important question.
And I love how you talked about that. We always say live in the why not the what? And I thought that was how you unpack that, but the role of emotions and how purpose drives. I think a story we use with our guys all the time will help paint this picture. And then I think we’ll bring clarity to how we talk about, you know, exactly what you asked.
There’s a story it’s about James Stockdale. So he was a prisoner of war for seven years in the Vietnam. And we talk about this story every year in camp, because of what you’re saying, because in football, you’re going to have highs and lows and lose games and the emotion they’re going to want the emotions to drive decision.
And we talk about, so James Stockdale here he is prisoner of war seven years, Vietnam. And. Jim Collins. This is again in that book. Good to great. Got to interview him and said, James, you know, when I read your biography and the letters you were writing to your wife and went, you went through, I mean, I knew you were going to get out.
I know the end of the story. I know you were going to get the medal of honor, but when I read it, my heartbreaks of what you went through and everybody around you who was dying, how did you do it? And he said, essentially, he’s like, well, first of all, I never lost faith that I would prevail in the. While confronting the brutal facts of my present reality.
He said I had to live in that paradox. And Jim Collins asked him, well, who didn’t get out? And he said, well, that’s easy that the optimist, the ones who would say we’re going to get out by Christmas, then Christmas would come and go. And we’re going to get out by Easter. Easter would come and go. We’re going to get out by Thanksgiving.
And Thanksgiving would come and go. He said, well, they didn’t. Because of did they just lost hope. And then he said on the other side, there’s those who didn’t make it because all they saw was the brutal realities and that discouraged him. He said, so what I had to do was retain faith that I would prevail in the end while confronting the brutal facts of the present reality that I didn’t know when that would be.
I didn’t know. What that would look like. And so we talk about that, that Stockdale’s paradox. So when we look at losing a game, it’s always, even when we talk about our vision, my first year, I told those guys here’s the vision compete for PAC championships, seniors in the front row. You’re not going to do that.
Like we got so much to do. You’re laying bricks, so other could achieve it. And it was, and we said, because emotions, you can start saying, this is going to happen by Christmas. This is going to, or now this is going to happen. And we said, That’s fine. You need to have that belief that you’re going to prevail.
Just make sure we’re always confronting the brutal facts. And again, we never only focus on the brutal realities because then we’re going to lose hope. So the way we talk about that is, um, you know, with our vision is, look, we believe in what we do, but you know, when we lose a game, we’re going to confront the brutal facts.
Let’s not just. Hey, this happened, that happened. Let’s let’s wait until we have the facts of what happened. And when we look at those facts, stay encouraged that we’re going to find a way and make the best decision towards our vision with it. So the way we try to handle the PAs, it’s such an emotional sport.
It’s just that picture of Stockdale paradox and just making sure we never get too far in one of those directions, but always remember retain that faith, have that optimism. Let’s always be ready to confront the brutal facts as they come up. And, and that’s how we’ve tried to manage emotions in our programs.
And it is such an important takeaway for all of us in life. I mean, you and I have had this discussion before. I remember it sitting on your sofa, but this idea of living in the very difficult tension of. Joy and suffering are not mutually exclusive hope and hardship are not mutually exclusive. Trial and success are not mutually exclusive.
This idea. That’s like the sooner that we can live in this tension, as opposed to living in one extreme or the other is the sooner that will thrive really and see success in any area of life, which you have fleshed out well in a football program. Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s an everything. I mean, I knew when you said that, I think of a verse, it says sorrowful yet, always rejoicing and teaching guys to, you know, guys, this spring went through some hard things, sorrow, you need to cry, you need to release that.
And at the same time, you know, we know. Just like Stockdale, we’re going to confront the realities of what we’re feeling. We’re not going to ignore that. And while we retain faith, that will prevail in the end. And, and that’s another example, you know, one of the phrases we use all the time is focus on your vision, not your circumstance.
And we share with our guys, what that means is we’re not ignoring the circumstance. We’re just saying we’re going to bring our vision to the circumstance, meaning. Hey, we’re Owen 10 program. We’re not going to deny that we’re just going to bring our vision and say, okay, well, what can we do in recruiting or what?
We run off offensively defensively to move closer towards being the best at what we do in the PAC. And that’s such an important point, you know, there, and that’s why we tell our guys, look, don’t ignore the circumstance. Just bring your vision to the circumstance, living in that Stockdale paradox. We have talked about the vision or the purpose being really, really clear on your, why we’ve talked about process, how we take that purpose.
We take the why, and then we intentionally and strategically create a plan to be the best that we can be. Talking about those three circles and figuring out how you can accomplish your why and be the best at it. But the third principle we haven’t really dived into yet, which is love and more specifically relationships.
And it’s interesting. This is part of the principles of a football program, because I think too often we lose sight of in any, any aspect of success. We lose sight of the importance that relationships play in success in anything. So talk to us a little bit about. The relational importance, not just of success, maybe specifically here in a football program and how you have seen that transform a windlass program into the most successful program in 125 years.
Yeah. With love, couple of things we talk about all the time. We had one of them. When we do say each of us needs all of us, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a nice saying, but we really drive home with our guys, you know, what are we saying here? And the picture we give them, heard to pilots. Yeah. When you’re flying planes over enemy territory, no matter how sophisticated the plane is, every plane has a blind spot, which is means you never fly over enemy territory without a wing man.
We really talked to our guys about that in each of our areas. Doesn’t matter if it’s spiritually, socially, mentally. And the football aspect, we all have our blind spots and we really do need to understand that. And once we say each of us needs all of us football, it’s an easy picture. If a quarterback doesn’t have the left tackle, protecting him, he’s going to be on his backside.
Well, it’s no different in life. Who’s that person who’s protecting your blind spot. And, you know, first thing we always want to do with our guys, when we get to the. Portion of vision process law is truly understanding that, that you need a wing man. Secondly, how you love one of those ways we use the phrase be where your feet are, again, a simple thing, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish in a day.
If your mind and heart are always present where your feet are. You know, I think about our game day, my son and daughter wake up and they want to play. And I got recruits come in a game to call at 7:00 AM. Andrew just be dead. If you really want to thrive in all of the relationships in your life today, Andrew, you really just need to be dead.
Don’t think about the play calls be dad. And when you come to the school and you’re talking to recruits and these families, if you want to start building relationships with them on a busy game day, just be fully present in that 45 minutes with them. And then you get on the field with your guys and a player is talking with you on the.
Be fully engaged with that player. So another strategy we talk about with relationships, because as a college athlete, when you’re a student, you’re in the dorm as a friend, you’re a football player. I mean, think about the relationships you have. And we say, if you want to thrive in relationships, one thing is just truly being where your feet are and being fully present, you know, final thing I’ll maybe throw in there with.
And why the order of vision process love, you know, one of the things I heard someone talk on trust before and trust us so big and relationships and love, and they define trust as ability and intent. If you trust someone, you believe that their intentions are pure and they have the ability to get you to where you want to go.
So when we talk with our captains, we tell them if you want another player to trust you and build that. Well intentions vision. If they know that you’re working towards the vision and you want to help them get towards the vision and it’s not self-seeking. And then the process you’re working, a process that works vision can be that intention, peace process can be that ability piece, which then overflows and love.
And the picture we use as a biblical example. John 15 five, whoever abides in me and I, and him, he, it is that bears much fruit for apart from me, you can do nothing. And we give that picture that love overflows from getting that vision right where my eyes are on him. It’s going to overflow and fruit and the fruit of the spirit is love.
So we tell our. You know, don’t think more of yourself. Don’t think less of yourself. Think of yourself less. You know, if you’re pursuing a vision, then wait, say that one more time. That was, say that again. Uh, don’t think more of yourself. Don’t think less of yourself. Think of yourself less. You know, you catch a touchdown.
Don’t think more of yourself. You drop the ball. They’ll think less of yourself. If you just think of yourself less, you’re going to be in a position to have great relationships with those people who are around you. And those are some of the principles we use in the love portion of our program. I love that.
How have you practically applied? I’m just thinking, you know, if there’s a coach listening to this or a middle management, you know, in business, the, what you’re communicating is applicable to really. Any area, but how do you foster those healthy relationships to help encourage this foundation of success?
Because I think it is so crucial and in some ways I think it is probably the area that we lack the most. I can think in medicine, we often have the vision. We often have a process, whether it’s good or not, but one of the reasons most people leave. Hmm, any job is because of the management and the terrible relational quality that exists.
What are practical ways that we can improve relationships? Yeah. And, and really taken all three. I’ll just use an example. I just used the other day with a guy who called me about his academics. I have nothing to do with football. And you know, where he was at. And I said, okay, first of all, what’s the vision to earn a degree.
Okay. So live in the live in that. Remember, keep your eyes on that. What’s the process manage time efficiently through class involvement, study habits, utilize resources. So you have a process and we needed to clean up that process. Cause we weren’t doing all those things, but, and then. You know, professor office hours, how often have you gone?
Uh, not really coach. Okay. Uh, your advisor. I met with him once, right. Academic resource center. And, and that’s so many times is knowing that those people want to help you. And we can coordinated that. And we’ve done that with many guys and we go through vision, process love, and they get things turned around.
But that’s the key of knowing, you know, in that area who wants to help you no different than if someone’s in the spiritual aspect of our program. All right. Vision glorify God. Find my joy and satisfaction in him. Process, word, prayer worship. Absolutely. But who are you doing that with? You know, our, our study groups.
So we have Friday Bible study. Our leaders do that. They break up into smaller groups, get involved in one of those groups. And so it’s pretty neat. And again, what we use, what I find with relationships is when someone has a vision or a purpose, they get excited. And when you go down the line, they start to realize I cannot live in that purpose or vision without others.
I need those professor office hours in my face. Who’s keeping me accountable. So one of the practical ways that we, like I said, we do that is no matter what the area is, we start with the vision and they get excited. And then we point to, you’re not getting anywhere without these specific people. And here’s the thing in each of those areas, we give them those examples.
Right? So in academics, it’s professor office hours, academic resource advisor position. You know, football football-wise it’s the captain, it’s the position coach. It’s the coordinator. I think what we find is at least our guys, they get excited. They want to achieve that vision. And when you go down the line, they start to realize they can’t do it with others.
Being able to give them those specific people that they can connect with has something we’ve found that that has been helpful for them to really buy into. Okay. Yes. We need those relationships. I’m hearing. I can’t even tell you who said it and I’m probably going to misquote it, but it’s the ideas it’s like, if you want to achieve success quickly, you do it alone.
But if you want to achieve greatest success, you do it with others. I think I just butchered that, but it’s that concept that to do something quickly, you can do it alone, but the. It’s probably not going to be sustainable. Yeah. And that’s where that you had me recite that phrase again, but I got that. I think it was from Tim Keller on humility, but don’t think more of yourself.
Don’t take less of yourself. Think of yourself less. Um, that’s hard for a lot of all of us to do some, you know, and it’s it’s look, are you a willing to ask for help, but also willing to be vulnerable and yeah, I heard, uh, I’ll share this too. Cause it’s helped with relationships we’ve shared before. A Bible study leader I’ve had wants to talk about the vital signs, the acronym vital.
Oh, you’ll like this, there you go. The health side, vital signs, but he said vulnerability, intentionality, true seeking accountability and love. And he would always argue and challenge that if you don’t have all five of those vital signs, So in any workforce, it doesn’t matter if it’s in health and business.
And are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to seek the truth? Even if it means you have to admit that you’re wrong, you know, are you accountable? Do you have someone that you, that you have opened it? Welcome Ben, to say, keep me accountable. And I’m going off the rails. His argument was if you have all those vital signs present in any industry.
It’s impossible for love not to be flourishing, you know, but those are hard things to do, but things that at least gives you a practical, absolutely principles that can help foster those relationships that are so needed in any industry. And I think as leaders specifically, It is almost harder. It’s like easy to teach, but it’s harder to practice yourself because you’re either exhausted.
You’re busy or it’s like why you see pastors so quickly fall into these horrible situations because they haven’t been practicing what they preach or you see leaders, middle management CEOs, corporate executives. I mean, the list goes on and on. Yeah. So it’s challenging, I think for all of us, but I think especially those of us in leadership positions, it’s a good reminder to make sure that there’s at least one or two people, you know, in our own lives that are meeting those, that you’re not just shepherding everyone else to do it.
And making sure that we are protecting ourselves with those same. Yeah, same principles. Well, I know for one that I can speak my gratitude. You are certainly one of those people for Zack. And again, the beauty of sports, they both went to Grove. City. DDO is coaching at the college that he played football at, which.
So special. I know it is. Zack has said many, many times if Grove city wasn’t Grove city, he would be out there coaching with you in a, I tried to convince him many times. I’m not, I will never keep trying. I will never stop trying. Oh, well, he, that in many ways would be his, his dream job. But tell us, I want to give you this place for anyone.
There’s a lot of women listening who may have. Boys or grandsons who are coming up the ranks or are there, or there images who knows, but I want to give you a couple minutes to just throw out why somebody should consider the football program at Grove city. If we haven’t already given you enough reasons to consider.
Give us your spiel. I’d say first that whole idea of whole person development. I mean, you hear that probably a lot of time, but I mean, look at our vision for glorify God and the pursuit of earning a degree, building lasting relationships and competing for PAC championships. You know, a lot of times I use the phrase with our guys for 44.
I mean, we want to develop you in football, the schematics of football, but those specific techniques will last you for years and we’re winning games. We’re going to have fun doing that. You know, you’re going to get a degree from a school. Our career services office was ranked top 10 in the country. I mean, just amazing for job placement companies coming to recruit on campus.
So when we say that, earn the degree or that mental portion, and it is going to prepare you for the next 40 years and your vocation. But then most importantly as it, all those things build to faith and relationships to spiritual and social, those things that are going to last forever. And I think about my wedding day, you know, there’s our free safety, Zach Fullmer, there’s Aaron Talbot at guard there’s Chris rich or Titan there’s J Yannick our receiver.
Right? I mean, those relationships were, and that’s true for Zach’s wedding, by the way. Yeah. I mean, it would be the same thing. Like basically those, a lot of those guys from, from college and would still be some of his best friends today. So to make your point, Zach would be in the same position, friends, relationships for life.
Really? Yeah. And I think that those relationships, I mean, we had, you know, going into year seven now, guys, we recruited, they graduate now they’re getting married and they go to a player’s wedding and it was one of the greatest honors. I walked his mom down the aisle, read scripture and his wedding. One of our professors got up officiated their wedding ceremony.
You know, and then I’m watching our guys, they’re all hanging out. And I just think that relationship with coach player, professor, it changed my life here. And I know it’s changed our guys. So you have the physical, you have the mental, you have this. But then ultimately, you know, having that spiritual formation, uh, understanding that walk don’t derive fulfillment from football or your career, bring it to those things.
Those things will never satisfy, but we’re going to show you where fullness of joy and peace that surpasses understanding and freedom can be found. And then how we bring it into those areas. Yeah. If I had to sell Grove city or to share it, it would be a spiritual, social, mental, physical with a mindset of four 40 forever.
And I think that’s what makes this place special. It is special and we need to get ourselves out there, here in the near future. Hopefully this season, hopefully this season we can get, get back out. Well, we love you guys. It is an honor being able to chat with you. It’s so fun having you on here, and I pray.
God’s continued blessings on everything that you’re doing out there, your program, your family, you’re changing lives. We’re grateful for you. Awesome. And thank you. And I just, it’s an honor to be a part of this appreciate so much. You have me on and the blessing you all have been to us as the same. So thanks, Andy.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I would love to hear you. From today, head to your preferred podcasting platform and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined only redeveloped one imperfect day at a time.
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