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ELCA Athletics

Go Chargers!


ELCA Athletics

Go Chargers!

ELCA Athletics

Go Chargers!



5 months ago by Jonathan Gess




I want to congratulate our JV for winning a very tough game at Rockdale County last night.  They won 12-6 and it was a war. It was fun to watch. I want to thank our JV coaches for the tremendous job they do. Joe Bryan, Clayton McClure, Stanley Zephir and Ray Walters: those guys sacrifice a lot of time to invest in those boys. If you see them make sure you let them know you are thankful for them. I have a little boy and I know that to have someone invest in your son to teach them how to compete is important. I pray God put men in my son’s life that will demand excellence from him. 


When I sit down and get ready to write these game day devotionals I feel like I say the same thing each time. I also feel the same way when I pray. Life is a battle and a war each and every day. We have the same struggles each and every day. We are making the same mistakes each day even though we do not want to make the same mistakes each day. But this is life. For those who want to grow and be successful, we struggle mightily with overcoming ourselves.


We call Wednesday practices “Game Day Wednesday.” We want to run every play we might run Friday night on Wednesday. We want to defend every play we think they will run. We want it perfect because to us it is the game. It is ELCA vs ELCA. In life, rarely does our opponent line up and beat us, we find ways to beat ourselves. The mistakes we make get us in huge trouble. So, on Wednesday, we are making sure ELCA does not make mistakes that gets itself in trouble Friday night. As a coach, I want the same sense of urgency and focus that would come on Friday night. I want the scout offenses to run as many plays as fast as possible and our defense to react with precision. Every play I want perfect effort and I want 0 missed assignments. I get myself all worked up with these demands. We are simulating the game and in my head, we are winning or losing on Wednesday.


I want it perfect and those are my expectations. I always go to practice and as I walk to practice I tell myself I’m going to be nice and I’m not going to say mean things. But then we start practice and I get very intense. I want perfection and then a kid blows an assignment. All of a sudden, I’m not nice and I’m saying mean things. But honestly, sometime the boys make mistakes that blow my mind. When you have rep’d something 100 times and they have watched film of themselves at practice and then they still mess up I just lose it. And even when I am losing it I’m trying to not lose it too bad.  I like Coach Collier’s quote from Wednesday: “You guys are really about to make me cuss.”


You see, we don’t want to get mad at the boys. We want them to perform well and do everything right. We are for them to do well. Coach Collier was being patient. He was trying not to get mad. We both are striving to coach with love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Then they do the dumbest things. And seriously, we don’t want to cuss and we don’t—no coach has ever coached at any of our boys ever in the 13 years I’ve been here—but their dumb mistakes are driving us close to sinning.


I do not apologize to the boys for having the highest of standards. I want everything perfect and I’m going to coach that way. If it isn’t perfect then it is wrong and we will do it again…and again…and again. (I seriously wish we could get done with practice in 2 hours and that is my plan…but I didn’t account for having to run the same play 10 times…but I’m not going to leave it wrong on the field. When we practice for longer than 2 hours it is your sons fault J) I get on the boys and I yell when they drive me to the point of yelling (even though I am doing a very good job this year of not losing it…kind of…).


I also tell the boys that the intensity I have at practice stops when I leave the field. I don’t treat them the same way off the field as I do on it. But I do not apologize for wanting every little inch perfect while I’m out there on the field. I tell them: “When we watch film and we practice I’m the guy that demands perfection. But when we are not doing those things I’m back to having a good time with them. We have to be able to transition our focus and the intensity with which we relate to each other. Just because I got mad at you on the field or in film, when we are away from those things, I am not still mad at you.” They know my love for them is unconditional from their performance on the field. 


Ok, hopefully you get the point of what Wednesday are like and then we call Thursday’s “Fix-It Thursday.” All the mistakes we made on Wednesday we are going to fix and try to make perfect on Thursday. It is the constant chasing of perfection that is unattainable. But we are trying.  **If only Adam and Eve would not have eaten that fruit…but here we are in the midst of the curse…the toil is real:


“Because you have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19


So, if you ever wonder why life is so hard, just go read Genesis 1-4.

I want to share with you my conviction Thursday morning after Wednesday’s practice. The Holy Spirit whispers to my soul through prayer and reading his word. If God were talking to me he would have said this:


Jonathan, I demand perfection at a much higher standard than you do. I demand it every day. You fail every day. I have laws and commands that you know backwards and forwards and I demand you obey them perfectly.  You fail daily. So, when you get mad at your players for failing to do something that you think they should know how to do, just remember my patience with you as you fail to do the things that you know I command. Life on earth is a daily struggle against sin and temptation. **Make sure you do not fall in love with this present world but long to be with me in heaven (Colossians 3).** Even though you know the right way to do things and you have a desire to serve me and live for me, you are at war with your flesh and evil. Your biggest opponent is yourself and your ability to remain in me the entire day. For by yourself you can do nothing and you will fail miserably. Then, there is evil forces (Satan and his army) lurking to cause you to sin and entice you towards evil. As soon as you lose focus on me and fail to abide in me by allowing my Holy Spirit to dwell in you richly, you make mistakes that are ridiculous. For the things you know not to do you do anyway. You get angry at your players mistakes, but remember, I watch you make the worst of mistakes daily. But take heart, my love is patient and steadfast. Just as your players heart’s desire to do well on the field, I know your desire is to be my servant. Do not give up; do not give in. Be strong in your spirit:


“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10


Just as I love you and I am patient with you, you are to love the boys and be patient with them. You are to show them the love of Christ daily. You are to never give up on them. That doesn’t mean do not demand excellence. Be fanatical in demanding excellence, but when they fail, do not give up on them and lift them up. Encourage them, love them, and motivate them. Show the love of Jesus Christ daily as you interact with these young men I have put in your presence. It will be hard and a grueling process. The toil is fierce. Just as I do not give up on you, do not give up on them. Continue to demand excellence, but do so with grace and love.  When you fail to show them grace and love, make sure you apologize. Because of sin, the toil is fierce, but do not lose heart….


“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


All the toil and struggle of practice…now it is time to go and see the final product. I am excited for tonight. We have worked hard. We have been diligent in preparation…


“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31


Wholly for Christ!

Coach Gess

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