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ELCA Athletics

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Team News.

Team News

9 months ago @ 9:35AM by Jonathan Gess — August 16, 2019


Charger Nation,

First off, it’s Dee’s birthday. She had no intentions on ever being a coaches wife, and to make it worse, her birthday falls during football season, basically every week we scrimmage. I told Dee last night that I don’t do anything to extravagant and post it all over Facebook because basically I consider that fake and Dee’s birthday is everyday. We have personal relationships with the man who deliver her Amazon goods. They have come into our house for cookies and dinner. One even stopped by the other day asking Dee if she was the lady who made the good cookies; his friend had told him about her. ANYWAY, love you Dee and Happy Birthday! Everyone, she is 40! And I will do something nice, sweet and extravagant.

Also, as I write this year, I am using my own style. When I was in the Air Force, they had the way they wanted things written. When I got my MBA I had to write in MLA format. When I got my MAT I had to write in APA format. When I wrote my book they told me I wasn’t supposed to double space after each sentence. Well, APA required double spacing. So APA format completely destroyed me.  I am so confused????? Why can’t there be one standard? Makes no sense so I am creating my own standards cause obviously that is what people do. So here is what I learned from all of that—write the way you want to write because there are 200 different publications telling you how to write. I write with no editor early in the morning English people, particularly my mom, I’m sorry. 

Here we go....the 2019 season is underway tonight. I know technically it doesn’t count but I have learned over the years to treat them as a game. I love the joy of competition so why not try and steal an extra opportunity. Tonight we play Marist. The head coach is Alan Chadwick. Coach Chadwick has been the head coach at Marist since 1985. He is entering his 35th football season as head coach. He has won 375 football games, been to 6 state championship games and won two of them. He is the head coach of LA Rams head coach Sean McVay. Someone asked me yesterday, “Is Marist going to be good?” And I responded, “Have they ever been bad?” When you play Marist you better be sure to buckle up and get ready for four quarters of extremely physical football. Gotta love the challenge: “how bad of a boy are ya?”

I like playing coaches like Alan Chadwick because they make me better. I learn so much from watching their film and I try and build a relationship with the coach so I can ask questions and learn. Now that I know how to do a podcast, Coach Chadwick agreed to talk with me and you can listen to our conversation here: DEMAND EXCELLENCE PODCAST.

One word I stole from another famous coach is PERFECT EFFORT. I stole it from the De La Salle coach who holds the nations record for consecutive wins as a football coach with 151. There was a documentary about them and in the documentary he is talking with his team about the necessity of playing with great effort. He discussed with his team how playing the perfect game is impossible. No matter how hard we try we won’t play perfectly (even though this is the goal). However, he told them, you can play with perfect effort. That part of the documentary is seared into my memory. This has become one of our core values. We will demand it!

At practice this week I was not happy with our Wednesday practice. Everyone of my players are showing up to work each day. The are models of commitment and consistency. But there are 5 keys to Winning the Day: Commitment, Consistency, INTENSITY, EXECUTION and PERSEVERE. No one misses a practice and everyone shows up on time. They all work out each day in weight training. I don’t know if any starter missed a summer workout. I tip my hat to our parents for having them there and I commend the boys for showing up. However, even though commitment and consistency is hard for some people, they are just the beginning requirements of becoming our absolute best.

I have defined intensity as focused effort. In order to give perfect effort it requires mental focus, discipline, and sacrifice. I expect perfect effort every rep. I expect a striving for perfect technique every rep. I expect every rep to be taken in order to improve and get better. But this is not natural for most people. Most people take every rep in order to get through and finish so they can go home. The problem with this mentality is you just spent 2 hours out here getting worse. Every time you perform something wrong you teach yourself how to do it wrong. The dangerous thing is, even though we think we are “grinding,” we are actually working to teach our selves bad techniques. For whatever a man repeatedly does, this he will become.

So of course I go into my warrior vs soft people rant and I am sure I offended some of the boys. And then of course I told them not to go whine to their momma's and feel sorry for themselves, but to fix the problem. —>Yes I know some of you moms put up with 0. Sometimes I want to let Tessie Robinson come and yell at the team. She understands my language. Keep Chopping Tessie. <— As I am telling them this I am thinking about one day when their wives are going to get on them like I am and I don’t want them running to momma or daddy complaining about their wives. Everything I do is for the 30-40-50 year old version of your son.

All that being said, there is one standard and it is perfect effort. I expect intensity, focused execution, and for one to persevere. When I challenge a young man, jolting their minds back to focused effort, I expect a “yes sir” and a drastic increase in focused effort and execution. I will ride them until I get it; or, like I told Justin Robinson and Devon Dorsey yesterday, if I quit talking to you and demanding perfection then you should be real worried, it means I have given up on you. So parents when your son ever complains to you about me, I want you to know I will not apologize. I am pushing him to become his absolute best and sometimes this process is painful and arduous. Unless he gives up, I will never give up. God has given me them for four years and I am going to go to work everyday to push them and challenge them to become their absolute best!

In a much more perfect way, this is exactly what God is doing for those who have surrendered their lives to him. There is no way we can ever be perfectly righteous here on earth. We are sinners and desperately need a Savior. We cannot achieve salvation on our own. This is why Jesus came to die for our sins. BUT, as God’s children, God expects and demands that we grow in holiness and godliness. God commands that I do not slander —>( I could plug in any sin here) <— and he expects great effort by me to not slander. I will fail and I will ask for forgiveness. But I ask for forgiveness there should be a resolve to never slander again. Then I’ll do it again. I’ll ask for forgiveness and be more resolved to never slander again. Over time, with focused effort and the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, I kill this sin of slander in my life. 

I love every kid I coach, I really do. But sometimes their effort I absolutely hate. There are a lot of things that I do I hate. God loves us but he hates our sin. In today’s world everyone is saying Christ is love and he loves me just as I am. He hates your sin. He hates my sin. Sin has separated us from a the God of the world. Sin has separated us from being made in the image of God for God’s glory. Sin either tries to eliminate God or tries to use God for personal gain. Sin flips God into someone who deserves our total allegiance and we follow all of his commands to a God who embraces our sin and “loves us just as we are.” Sin has caused total rebellion against the God of the Universe, our Creator, Sustainer and Savior, and put man in his place. Don’t be fooled by the message of our time: God hates our sin! 

If God loved us just as we are and he accepted us rebelling against his commands, why on earth would he send his Son to die on the cross for our sins? Do we honestly think that God is fine that we keep on sinning, that we keep on giving poor effort in our pursuit of Holiness? Do I, a mere human created from the dirt, accept poor effort from my players? Am I ok with it? NO—how much more so the God of the Universe with my approach and attitude towards him.

Just as I am here to help a young man remove his sins on the football field —>(bad technique and poor effort),<— God wants to remove our sins. When you say you believe in Jesus and have no regard to kill the sin in your life, you don’t really love Jesus: you love the thought of Jesus but who you really love is yourself.

I’m going to end on this. I am going to write to a young man I coach and then I am going to flip it and have God saying the same thing to me. It just shows the same things we demand from our children, God demands from us. Obviously, God does in an a perfect way and we an imperfect but I think you will get the point. I hope it speak to you about what God desires to in our lives here on this earth.

Me to my players:

Young man, when you play football for us and have no regard to give perfect effort and play with great technique, do you really want to be great? Worse, you get mad at me when I demand perfect effort. Some how you find my expectations and demands offensive. You are accepting of the imperfect and undisciplined form of yourself. You wallow in self-pity because I won’t accept mediocrity; I won’t accept your football sins. I have a much greater vision for yourself than you. You are ok being enslaved to the sins of lethargy and pride, but I know how destructive those sins (football sins—effort, attitude, technique—I tell the offensive linemen when they step with the wrong foot that is a sin—when they do the wrong assignment it is football blasphemy) are out here on this practice field. I see greatness in you and I want to help you get there. We must kill your football sins. You must be willing to follow my commands. When you fail, say your sorry and mean it, may your heart be broken, and then let’s continue to chop away at overcoming that sin. Kill your pride which prevents you from taking my instruction and keeps you wallowing in self-pity. I know that if you will just follow what I am telling you to do you will have great success in this game and my way will bring you joy and peace (performing well on Friday nights). I know that if I allow you to remain as you are it will lead to your demise and destruction (getting destroyed on Friday nights). And all of this is for a much greater good: I am going to do every thing in my power to help you become a man of Jesus Christ, a man who will be a faithful husband, loving and present father, and a man who will impact the community for Jesus Christ. 

I love you, Coach Gess


The Holy Spirit to me:

Jonathan, people call you coach but you are my creation for my glory and my honor. I formed you and your creation was known long ago way before I created the heavens and the earth. I am more powerful than your finite mind can even imagine. I control all things; I AM all things. You have sinned and rebelled against me. You deserve my wrath. You rejected me, the Almighty God, you have sinned against me, the Creator of all things, you deserve Hell. But, have no fear, I have sent my son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. He came to the earth and lived the perfect life that you could not live, then died the death you deserved to die and took on the wrath of God which was yours to take. That is my love for you. When I called you to myself and put my Holy Spirit in you the goal from that point forward was to grow you in holiness and godliness so that you might be a light in this world for the Gospel. You are now my representative. I will not tolerate and accept your sins. When you sin, you must repent with a broken heart and strive to put to death this sin. You will fail often but never give up. I will never relent in my demanding perfection and you must accept my challenges and my sharpening of your faith. I will use any means necessary but I will not give up on you and I will keep you until the end. I will grow you in your faith daily. I called you in the midst of your rebellion against me, when you were totally enslaved to sin. This is where I called you but not where I was going to leave you. Since you are now a child of the God, you are to strive daily to kill sin in your life and be conformed into the image of Christ. You are to love your wife and serve her. You are to love your children and raise them up in the fear of the Lord. You are to take the young men I give you to coach and teach them about me and work with their parents to be leaders in this world for my glory. You are to be a light in this world for me. You are to spread the good news of Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world. You are to do this daily while you are on this earth until I call you to glory. JONATHAN, I love you. Finish the Race—race with intensity and persevere until the end. I will be with you. I


Chargers, I’m fired up to play today! This is just the beginning of a long journey!

“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



Team News

9 months ago @ 6:46AM by Jonathan Gess

What is Your Brand? - Game 1

Chargers Nation

I’m excited….wish we could play right now! 

“Your brand is not what you say it is, but what you deliver day in and day out.”

-Nick Westbrook – Owner/Operator Chic Fil A

Last Spring, I started the DEMAND EXCELLENCE podcast. I have actually really enjoyed it as I get to interview great coaches and leaders. I have learned so much by talking with different people. One of my favorite interviews was with Nick Westbrook who is an Owner/Operator of a Chic Fil A. (You can listen to the Podcast if you click this link) I have always been intrigued by the success of Chic Fil A and I read about them as much as possible because they are one of the most successful service businesses in the world. You might argue with me that they are not in the service industry as they deliver a physical product. But when you study Chic Fil A, you will find out they pride themselves on their service to the customer and the community. Nick said many profound things on that podcast, but this is what has been ringing in my ears all summer: “your brand is not what you say it is, but what you deliver day in and day out.”

We live in an era where kids can proclaim all types of nonsense on multiple social media outlets. Through Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform, we all can create a fake reality; we can make ourselves look like something we are not. However, even though we are not what we say we are or what we portray ourselves to be, we actually start to believe the lie that we have created as our fake reality. 

For example, you may be a very miserable person, but you portray yourself as happy. You may portray yourself as the perfect husband, but in reality, your addicted to lust and unfaithfulness. You may portray yourself as confident and strong, but you are actually very insecure. Or my favorite, you might portray yourself as a winner and a hard worker, but I see you get beat every single day at practice. 

One particular young man came to practice this week and one of the assistant coaches was giving him a hard time because he never stops running his mouth and he picks at people. I happen to like the kid so I told him: “I don’t care what you say or how much you run your mouth because I don’t hear any of it. I hear with my eyes.” Now, he knows where I stand on his picking at people and I don’t commend it. This kid is smart and he has heard me say many times: “Your actions speak so much louder than your words.” He instantly got what I was saying. The kid busts his tail at practice. He does whatever I ask him to do. We can run him into the dirt and he keeps on going. He has gone from just a soft wimpy kid when I met him in the 8thgrade, to one of the strongest kids on our team and a relentless worker.  (He is not the best football player yet and not a good leader yet, but he potentially will be one day.)

 So, for me, all of this kid’s obnoxious character traits don’t bother me a bit, because, for one, he is 16 and then each day he delivers from a work ethic standpoint. He gives his all each and every day in the weight room and on the field. Yes, he has some pride issues he needs to kill and some other character traits that the Holy Spirit needs to reform (I’m not sure if the Holy Spirit is working in him yet), but as a football coach I have great respect for his tenacity. Is he the perfect football player? No. He has attention to detail issues but they aren’t intentional. His effort is there and his desire is there. From an effort standpoint, this young man delivers day in and day out. I can work with this.

 Now, a few of my players are the opposite. I believe they have a desire to be great and they will tell me they want to be great. They say they want to be great but I do not equate them with young men that truly desire to become their absolute best. They want to create an illusion of hard work and discipline with their mouths, but all I know is what I see; their brand is not what they say it is. They aren’t workers. They cannot discipline themselves in adverse situations and push through. They sit back and allow life to happen instead of taking ownership in the pain and sacrifice required to become our absolute best.  I am here to help them through this and hold them accountable to actually deliver on their proclamations. I think they despise me for it but I can’t give in. 

 As Christians, we are the exact same. You can post a Bible verse on your Facebook or twitter, you can go to church every time the doors are open, but your relationship with Christ is not what you say it is, it is what you deliver on a day in and day out basis. I talk with many coaches and they seem to say the same thing a lot of times: “I need to be a better Christian.” Well, be one!  If one of my players came up to me and said they aren’t giving their best effort and they need to do better, it would enrage me. Of course, they would never say that to me because I would have already seen it and be yelling at them, but why is our pursuit of Jesus Christ less than our pursuit of winning or success in this world? Good coaches don’t sit around and fret over not working hard enough as a coach. Good coaches work. That’s true for anyone who desires excellence in any profession. 

 As a football coach, every day is an opportunity. Every day is a chance to improve upon our mistakes from yesterday. If we want to win, each day has its own sense of urgency towards improvement. If we look the same as a football team at the end of the year as we do right now then we are horrible coaches. Let me ask you this…let me ask myself this: “Why do we not live with this same sense of urgency as Christians?” 

 When God called you to surrender your life to himself, when he opened your eyes to the truth of God as Creator, Sustainer, and Savior, your brand changed. You were once a brand of the world. Our father was Satan and we served and worshiped self and the things of this world. We looked and acted like the world. Our mouths were full of filth because our minds were full of filth. Our actions were disgusting because our thoughts were disgusting. Our brand maybe was appealing to the world but despised and hated by God. But, when Christ called us, we became sons and heirs to the eternal Kingdom of God: 

 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, the heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” Romans 8:16-17

 So now, as Sons and heirs, we are to be transformed in the image of God: 

 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

 Before Christ, even though we were blind to our reality, our brand was sinning against the Almighty God. Our brand was rejecting the commands and laws of God. Our brand was self-righteousness, pride, envy, greed, covetousness, jealousy, anger, wrath, etc. Our brand was disgusting. But now, in Christ, we belong to the best brand: Christ. And we are to put on Christ and we are to work hard to represent Christ in the right way. I challenge us all: To be diligent and faithful workers for the Kingdom of God. To be men and women who strive daily to be the best ambassadors for Jesus Christ. To be men and women who strive daily to get into God’s word and pray. To be men and women full of love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness. To be men and women who are humble and count themselves as insignificant. To men and women who do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit. To be man and women who count others as more important than themselves. To be men and women who are faithful to our husbands or wives, our families, and service to the community. What a beautiful brand this would be: “Your brand is not what you say it is, but what you deliver day in and day out.” Make no mistake, this brand I just discussed only comes from a diligent pursuit of Jesus Christ through his Word, Prayer, and the power of his Holy Spirit working in our hearts. 

 Me to players: Quit sitting around and talking about being a great football player---BE ONE!

 God to me:  Don’t sit around and proclaim to “want to be a better Christian.” BE ONE!

Fired up and ready to play tonight!!!!

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

Proverbs 21:31

Lord, Sovereign God of all things, Creator, Sustainer, and Savior: May we represent you and bring your name honor. May we give our very best effort and play to the best of our ability. Give us great attitudes, a spirit to work, and may you protect us. Your will be done. Amen.

Wholly for Christ,

Coach Gess

Jonathan Gess
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