WELKER: The positive influence of sport and family in life | News, Sports, Jobs


I have made many mistakes in my life as an athlete on and off the playing field. But haven’t we all. Now that I am a retired teacher, coach and official, I have thought about how athletics and family have helped me deal with the challenges of living a life of personal fulfillment.

I want to share with athletes of all sports the five principles that I learned through participating in sports and gleaned from a caring family.

∫ Be humble – Always take your classes at school and sports seriously, but not yourself. Doing so is the beginning of arrogance. Arrogance offends others and has no redeeming quality.

As an athlete, respect your opponents. Likewise, lose with grace and win with class.

The late Coach John Wooden, the ultra-successful basketball coach at UCLA, put it simply: “Natural talent is given by God, be humble; Fame is given by man, be grateful; Vanity is self-given, be careful.

∫ Be Prepared – Strive to be a well-rounded student-athlete to prepare for college, trades, or the military. Plato, the ancient Greek scholar, philosopher and trainable fighter, wrote: “He who is only an athlete is too coarse, too vulgar, too savage; He who is only a scholar is too soft; The ideal citizen is the scientist-athlete; A man of thought and a man of action.

∫ Be persistent – My father was a simple but shrewd German parent who gained practical knowledge and experience on the streets, struggling to earn the respect of his teenage peers.

Without a doubt, he taught us perseverance.

He would never listen to excuses. Dad told us to set high goals in sport and in life, and work hard to achieve them.

He pointed out, “If you fall on your face, get up and keep going.”

Similarly, my grandmother often insisted with my brother and me: “No matter how bad things look, the sun will rise in the morning. A new day to follow your dreams.

She was a firm believer in Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking philosophy.

∫ Be patient — During my early years as a teacher and coach, I was getting very frustrated that I wasn’t making more money to support my growing family and that my athletes weren’t performing better in competition .

My wife, Peggy, put me in my place.

“Bill, don’t rush things. Be patient. Nothing worthwhile in life happens overnight.

Later, I came across a little-known quote from Mark Twain. I have to say it really touched me.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born – and with patience – the day you find out why.”

∫ Being able to kneel — As soon as my brother and I were old enough to understand, my mother explained to us the importance of God and prayer in our lives. But she didn’t stop there.

Although she was never an athlete herself, Mom taught us how to pray before our sports competition.

“Boys always pray to do your best and that no one gets hurt.”

She went on to tell us that we shouldn’t pray to win because God has no favorites. Mom further stated that praying to win is a form of arrogance, suggesting that we were “best born” than our adversaries in the eyes of God. She pointed out:

“If your athletic ability is better than your opponent’s, that should be the winning factor.”

To be honest, there have been times in my life where I felt my prayers were being ignored by God. But then I learned from an individual I never imagined would enlighten me on such unanswered prayers – the famous late actor, Kirk Douglas.

Douglas found God later in life and was a strong believer in the power of prayer. He was once confronted by a friend who suggested that God doesn’t answer all prayers.

“Kirk, there have been things I’ve prayed for throughout my life, and none of those prayers have ever been answered. How do you explain that?”

“It’s easy, John. God answers all prayers, but sometimes, for your own good, the answer is “NO”.

In closing, I would like to share with all athletics enthusiasts a prayer that I wrote, promoting fair play and sportsmanship.


Dear Heavenly Father,

Bless all athletes so that they can perform at their best on the field of play, in the classroom and throughout their lives;

Bless all coaches that they may emphasize the highest standards of good sportsmanship;

Bless all officials so that they can keep the safety of the participants first in their thoughts;

And finally: Bless all sports parents that they can understand – win or lose – that their child learns a lot about life through sports competition.

In the name of Jesus we pray,


Author Bio: A former Pennsylvania state champion in the sport of wrestling, Welker is a prolific writer, publishing nearly 600 articles and four athletic-focused books over the years.

He received the prestigious Jasper N. Deahl Award from West Virginia University for his achievements as an educator. Welker is also a member of five athletic halls of fame, including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (West Virginia Chapter), the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame and the OVAC Hall of Fame.

His email is [email protected]

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