If your kid plays sports, at some point they’re going to need some inspiration to play harder, run faster, or just put on their dang cleats and go to practice when they’d rather watch cartoons. That inspiration will likely have to come from you, whether or not you’re among the 85 percent of youth sports coaches that are dads coaching their own kids. You could watch Rocky for the millionth time, but you’d be better off pulling some choice quotes from these real-life coaches and athletes. Truth is always better than fiction, and the truth is nobody’s running through a wall just for the participation trophy.
When Things Don’t Start As Planned: Apollos Hester’s Postgame Interview
East View High’s Apollos Hester has been coveted by college scouts for his incredible speed and agility, great hands, and optimistic attitude about life’s limitless potential. This speech marked the first time in history a teenager thought they knew more than every adult in the world, and actually did.
Bulletin Board Material: “Regardless of the situation, regardless of the scoreboard, you’re going to be successful because you’ve put in all the time, all the effort, all the hard work, and you know that it’s going to pay off.”
When They Lose The Big One: Dave Belisle’s Little League World Series Speech
Eleven- and 12-year-old boys aren’t gracious losers, so when the Cumberland Americans were eliminated from the 2014 Little League World Series by just one run, a national TV audience could have witnessed an all-time adolescent meltdown. Instead, coach Dave Belisle delivered an all-time “Heads up high” speech that turned tears of sadness into tears of joy. Whatever, tough guy — watch this and act like it isn’t dusty in here.
Bulletin Board Material: “It’s OK to cry, because we’re not going to play baseball together anymore. But we’re going to be friends forever.”
When The Coach Needs A Pep Talk: Darrel Green’s Hall Of Fame Speech
Green’s NFL Hall Of Fame acceptance speech is remembered as one of the most passionate of all time. It’s sure to motivate your kid, but it’s got a great reminder for you, too. Plus, it rhymes, so it’s easy to remember.
Bulletin Board Material: “They said, ‘No,’ and he said, ‘Go.’ The best encouragement you can ever get in life is when a dad encourages his son. Encourage your son. That’s what he did for us.”
When It’s Time To Smash The Wall: Coach Flowers’ JV Championship Speech
Playing “Last Of The Mohicans” as your personal background music while shouting scripted notes like DMX to fire up the JV squad might seem a little overboard, but … okay, it was way overboard. Still, admit you’d love to see a gang of 6-year-olds scream “I AM A CHAMPION!” before tripping over a soccer ball for 40 minutes. For real, though, coach — decaf.
Bulletin Board Material: “No one will deny me, no one will define me. And no one will tell me who and what I am and can be. Belief will change my world.”
When The Game Hits Hardest: Jim Valvano’s ESPY Speech
At their best, sports can teach life’s greatest lessons. That’s what Jim Valvano delivered in his acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first ESPY Awards in 1993. Ten years after leading NC State to an NCAA championship in the greatest upset ever, battling late-stage, terminal cancer, Valvano outlined his blueprint for a fulfilling life. Craig Sager, the late Stuart Scott, and others have since followed suit, all inspired by 3 simple words uttered by Jimmy V.
Bulletin Board Material: “There are 3 things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number 2 is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number 3 is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that 7 days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
When They Fall Down: Kid’s Speech After Learning To Ride A Bike
If your kid won’t take it from you, let ‘em take it from one of their own. Hell, you take it from one of their own. If you believe in yourself, you will know how to deliver an inspirational speech to your kid. If you don’t, just keep practicing! Also, shout out to the dad who perfectly set the kid up to deliver the ultimate attaboy for every training wheel-hating kid. If they don’t play this before every Balance Bike World Championships, someone should lose their job.
Bulletin Board Material: “Thumbs up, everybody! For rock and roll!”
When They Taste Success: Kevin Durant’s MVP Speech
Not all sports speeches are about getting pumped up. Some, like Kevin Durant’s 2013-14 NBA MVP acceptance speech, are about acknowledging the family, friends, coaches, teammates, and everyone else who helped you achieve your dreams. It’s the sports version of “It takes a village,” but when an NBA player says it, your kid might think it’s cool to thank your mom after you mess around and get a triple-double.
Bulletin Board Material: “So many people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. So many people doubted me and motivated me every single day to be who I am. I failed so many times and got back up. I’ve been through the toughest times with my family, but I’m still standing.”
When They Try To Put The “I” In Team: Tony Arcuri’s Pregame Speech
An important lesson for your kid, who almost certainly will face an opponent (or teammate for that matter) who is bigger, stronger, faster, and generally more evolved than them. Physically speaking. Your kid will long-divide circles around that goon! Sidebar — when did high school football coaches all become motivational as hell?
Bulletin Board Material: “They’re bigger. They got athletes, they got guys going to Division 1 schools. Alright? We can see that and so can everybody else. But nobody can see the intangible in us … be the intangible tonight!”
When The Other Kids Have Mustaches: Herb Brooks’ Miracle Pregame Speech
Yes, it’s from a movie, which violates this list’s only rule; Herb Brooks’ speech before the 1980 Men’s US Olympic hockey team pulled off the Miracle On Ice happened behind closed doors. But none of that matters because Junior can’t lose — not this game, not tonight. Also because Miracle led to this kid reciting Brooks’ speech. Woah, inspiration-ception.
Bulletin Board Material: “This is your time. Now go out there and take it!”
When You Have No Words: Jason McElwain’s Scoring Spree
Because your play should speak for itself.
Bulletin Board Material: [Crowd loses its mind as autistic team manager rains threes to score 20 points in 4 minutes]