Posts Tagged ‘accountability’


Hey Guys-

As I’ve told you before, every now and then I run across a story that fits right into the message here at IronMan Strength and this one no exception. I learned about this college baseball coach a couple of years ago and as I began to research him, I began to understand why he was such a legend in the eyes of so many of his former players as well as anyone else who knew of him.

John Scolinos was born March 28, 1918-2009) in Los Angeles, California and was a Hall of Fame College Baseball Head coach who coached at Pepperdine University from 1948 to 1960 and Cal Poly Pomona University from 1962 to 1991. He died at age 91 in 2009.

Coach Scolinos had a total of 1,198 victories on the diamond and while coaching Cal Poly Pomona, he won Division II national championships in 1976, 1980 and 1983. Along with the aforementioned, he also won six California Community College Athletic Association championships and was named Division II coach of the year three times.

He was even the pitching coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Baseball team that included Will Clark and Mark McGwire, in which they finished as runner up to the Japanese that year.

This story was written a few years back by Chris Sperry and appeared on his blog,

I hope you enjoy…


“Stay at 17 inches!”

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.  One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here?  Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who, is John Scolinos, I wondered.  No matter, I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948.  He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the world is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches.  Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.  Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck.  Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible.  I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.  “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy.  The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room.  “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?” more of a question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said.  “How about in Babe Ruth’s day?  Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?”  Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

“How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked.  “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here?  How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT!  And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?”  Pause.  “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy.  You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target?  We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches.  We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it.  If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”


“Coaches …”


” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice?  When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven?  What if he gets caught drinking?  Do we hold him accountable?  Or do we change the rules to fit him.  Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.  He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something.  When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.  “This is the problem in our homes today.  With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids.  With our discipline.  We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards.  We simply, widen the plate!”


Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our public schools today.  The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people.  We are allowing others to widen home plate!  Where is that getting us?”


He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years.  Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves!  And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government.  Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves.  They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries.  They no longer serve us.  And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”

I was amazed.  At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.  From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader.  I had to hold myself and others accountable to that, which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today.  It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…” 

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside. “… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine.  Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches.  He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

Until next time guys…




Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer. Then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God that demands selflessness is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfish.

Billy Graham

So I read this quote from Billy Graham today and it hit me over the head like a hammer. In the back of my mind I may have known churches were doing this but I never fully understood the reason why. Guys simply put, if we tailor our religion to only what we want to hear, or rather only a “feel good” message, God cant help us because we are to busy enjoying ourselves to hear Him.

This idea behind what Billy Graham is saying was never Gods intent for our Christian walk. But I do think it is Satan’s. Think about it; If Satan can bend our churches into only telling us what we want to hear, then we are truly lost. Why? Because Satan can make you think there is no pain for your entire life…that is, right up until you are on the edge of the cliff, and then when you look over, you see a place that you do not want to spend eternity in…

Please listen to me here. God never intended that the life of a Christian was just perfect and great all of the time. I know I have spoken about this before in previous blogs. There will be pain and suffering while we are here on this earth. So you can either run from that or stand there like a man, be strong, and fight the fight you were meant to. Only YOU can make that decision.

Honestly guy’s that is what this blog’s purpose has been since the start. It is based upon the powerful verse in Proverbs 27:17:

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

So what I am saying is simply this and to Billy Graham’s quote above; If your church situation isn’t challenging your heart to repent each week and to live your life as Christ lived…then I would find one that does. Every single time you are there your Pastor should be causing you to think about your relationship with God. He should be challenging you to come out of your comfort zone in order to love others. There is truly no greater service than helping those around us…

Let me finish by saying this because I truly believe it. When you and I reach heaven someday, I believe that God will look for those of us who have scars on our bodies and hearts because of the fights we fought while here on earth. In eternity, God wants to be surrounded by Christians who were active for Him and not ones who atrophied while they were here.

I challenge you today to live your life fully accountable to God and not to simply feeling good…

This life as a Christian may hurt now and then, but the payoff will be amazing…

Until next time guys…


I really enjoy reading the Old Testament because I like to see the hand of God everywhere throughout the various difficulties and challenges that each Israelite generation faced. What a life these Bible characters lived; between the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Midianites, the Jebusites, the Amorites and all the other “ites” working to destroy them through one means or another…One thing is clear, if the Israelites did not seek God for protection, they surely would not have survived. These armies they faced were immense and the men themselves were huge with some of them being Giants as we shall see.

Time and time again we see examples in scripture of a no possible way for victory and yet Israel survived through divine intervention Do you remember the story of Gideon in Judges 7 where God tells him that he has too many men to fight the Midianites? When was the last time anyone heard that before a battle? “You have more men than is necessary to accomplish this task”…so then after he pairs down his army to a “are you kidding me” number of 300 men, he goes out and wins a huge battle with trumpets… In our eyes, the Midianites should have destroyed this small band of men. But as was in most of the cases with Israel, the worse the odds seemed for any victory, the better God liked the scenario…because when Israel was ultimately victorious it was absolutely clear to ALL opponents, the God of Israel was truly ALL POWERFUL.

Now, we have another example in Dueteronomy with Joshua, Israel’s great General, where if you were a betting person, this battle was the ultimate long shot. In fact, the odds were so bad against Israel in Deuteronomy 3:22, God had to remind Joshua to move forward in faith and He, God…would fight the battle for them. You see from Joshua’s point of view, just counting soldiers, they would have been destroyed. But God had the situation right where He wanted it. He told Joshua:

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.

Can you think about that for a moment…”God himself will fight for you”.

Could you use some help right now with someone fighting your battles for you? Here is something I want you to think about when you are facing a difficult situation; have you considered that God may want the situation you are facing to seem overwhelming, insurmountable and frankly impossible?

Why…because God wants you to be fully dependent upon Him in all of your life circumstances and especially the difficulties because he wants there to be no doubt in your mind that you achieved victory because of Him. God prefers situations and circumstances that have no apparent (human) solution…at least to you and me…but just like in Deuteronomy 3 where the children of Israel had to face Og (who was a real guy, a predecessor to the famous Goliath of Gath…Og King of Bashan who according the Bible, was even bigger than Goliath read Deuteronomy 3:11) they moved forward in faith on the battlefield and was victorious…not on their own power, but with God right their beside them fighting…you must move forward in your own faith and take the first step. I don’t care what the odds are for victory, I only know what Paul tells us in Romans 8:31:

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Honestly guys, those are odds I can live with…

Until next time Guys…


I don’t know about you, but I like to use those digital reminders that are available in online calendars so I don’t forget those critical dates and other important things. So in honor of this new and upcoming year of 2014, this last post of 2013 will fall under the category of “critical” due to its utmost importance for you and I as believers. This is my last friendly reminder to all of us for this year…and it is simply:

All of us who have ever lived or died on this earth…Not one of us will be left out of ultimate accountability with God.

So I will pause for a moment while I let that statement sink in…

The reason we find the accountability idea difficult is that no one wants to think about the future because it makes us uncomfortable…it “cramps our style” in our everyday life.

Being completely transparent, I can identify with the “uncomfortable with accountability” point of view. In fact, I have held that point of view before in my own lifetime.  Because the truth is, when life is going your way…I found little reason to be at church or for that matter, to focus on making the “right” decisions that might make God proud. And why should I?

The answer is simple; Because while the world is going on about its own business, you and I are trying to live out Christianity in the present…and at this very point in history…it is very hard not to get tangled up in ourselves.  Between what you see advertised as “right” and our natural tendency to fall in love with ourselves; Satan slowly and masterfully weaves his work until we have lost our focus…and our anchor. When we shift our gaze from God to man…It is NOT a good ending.

Guys, I am NOT telling you a new story. It is one that has been told many times throughout human history, it’s just a new generation that gets to learn it all over again. So here is the important point I wanted to remind you of today.


Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

For those of you who are reading this verse for the very first time and are skeptical, look it up…I do not make this stuff up…it’s in the Bible for all of us to read and apply to our lives.

So here is my $1,000,000 question of the day:

When you read this verse, does it have the impact of getting smacked right in your face?

If it does, that is good…because that means the Holy Spirit is within you and telling you that you must change…you have to change…

Guys…I encourage all of you to look away from the mirror and up to Him…

Get focused back on God by getting on your knees and try humility.

God understands everything you are going through and I assure you, He wants you back…but YOU must take the first step towards Him…Prayerfully consider these words today.

They are not my words, but Gods.

Reminder: You, me, all of us, will ultimately be held accountable for everything we do, everything we think, and everything we say in this world…I hope you recognize this is something none of us can afford to ever forget…


Until next time guys…

Over the last couple of years, I have been trying to convince a friend of my to guest post on the Ironman Strength blog…up until just recently I have been unsuccessful until now…My friend, Albert Gardner who is a Husband, a Father, and a leader of men has been moved by some athletes and coaches who have announced their retirement in recent weeks and he has decided to share his thoughts on the subject. I know you will enjoy his insight as he delves into the greater meaning of his post…

True Greatness     by Albert Gardner

baltimore-ravens-american-football-team-ray-lewis 10013981_HSGT_DLS_LOCAL_REACT_0105_

This past weekend, two football greats announced they were stepping away from the game they love, Ray Lewis and Bob Ladouceur. Though even the most casual of football fans knows of the name Ray Lewis, Super Bowl MVP, guaranteed first ballot Hall of Fame, He is not the one who defines greatness for me; Bob Ladouceur has coached De La Salle Spartan High School football team for the past 34 years by taking them from obscurity to national prominence…even dominance. Under his leadership, the Spartans have never had a losing season, in fact they’ve enjoyed 20 un-defeated seasons, established a record 151 game winning streak, and enjoyed an overall record of 399 wins, 25 losses, and 3 ties. Yet it isn’t the wins, or records, or trophies, or championships that make Bob Ladouceur great;

Coach Lad, as he is affectionately called by his players, has always loved coaching high school football. In his prior life, He had worked as a probation officer but his job brought him mostly frustration because he felt he was getting these young men too late to help them. He believed he had no affect on their lives. But high school, he said, gave him the best opportunity to do something of value, even saying once in an interview, “that he believed he had the most important job in the country, molding young men”. In the process of molding these young men Ladouceur built a dynasty but ironically he never focused on winning. He said they won because he emphasized doing things right. The Spartans “out worked” every team they played so as a result, they beat every team they played. But in Ladouceur’s own words, and the words of his players, “the Spartans didn’t win just because of their hard work, they worked hard and won because of their love for one another”.

That’s right, Love. He wrote about this in a letter titled “What is a Spartan?” A copy of this letter was given to each member of his 1998 National Championship Team and it was later published in a local newspaper in response to all the criticism of his winning program. In the letter the coach wrote:

It’s upsetting in so much that (the criticism) questions the integrity of school officials and coaches sworn to uphold the ideals of our founder St. La Salle. What’s worse, it completely nullifies the hard work, sheer grit and determination of our student athletes at De La Salle. Society has its share of pessimists and sceptics, many believe that success cannot be achieved without dishonesty. It’s hard for them to see our success and not assume that it was achieved by cheating, stealing, or just blind luck. But I don’t care what society believes. I know the truth and I sleep every night with a clear conscience.

He goes on to use words like “commitment, relationship, responsibility, accountability, and trust.” He speaks of being vulnerable and of the self-reflective process in which real growth can occur.I wish I had a coach like that. You may wonder if he personally walked the walk or just talked the talk or maybe saying one thing when the cameras were rolling, and another once they were packed up and gone? Here is your answer, current rival and former De La Salle player Patrick Walsh, recently weighed in on who Ladouceur truly was; “Coach Lad is one of the most important people who I’ve ever come across in my life,” Walsh said. “I’m thankful that my mom and dad paid the tuition and sent me to De La Salle and gave me the opportunity to meet a guy like Bob Ladouceur, who’s affected my life profoundly.” Walsh, a 1993 De La Salle graduate who ran for over 2,000 yards his senior season, gushes about Ladouceur. “Outside of my mom, my dad and my faith, just being a spiritual individual and believing in God, he’s next.” The quotes and accolades from former players to Super Bowl winning head coaches are too long to list, but his impact will not be fully measured in this life.

By now you may be asking yourself “What does all this mean to me?” I’m glad you asked. In his letter, “What is a Spartan?” Ladouceur quotes Jesus Christ and the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30, he then concludes with this:

The assumption here, is that each of us has some sort of ability: talent. Now it’s our responsibility to discover what that is and what’s more, have the courage to use it.

I know most of us won’t be called to coach football, but I believe that if each of us will commit to using our talents humbly…Psalm 25:9, and courageously…1 Cor 16:13, we have no idea how far God will take us…Ephesians 3:20.

Just ask a retired Spartan, who just wanted to make a difference in the lives of a few young men….

Yep…True Greatness…

Albert Gardner, great contribution…thank you.

Until next time guys…