The Turnaround – Even Tough Guys Cry

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Football Coach
Follow @WestTXCoach

Jason Strunk Lubbock high school

One of Strunky’s favorite photos — his dad “Pops” and his gradndaughter Kennedy at Purdue after a game.

As a football player, you think you are tough. As a football coach, you think you are tough. As a retired player or coach, you think you are tough. It’s just a tough guy profession. That’s how it is.

But where to we learn this toughness and resolve that carries us through the tough times?

To me, we learn to be tough by going through the tough times. Tough times make you tough. You learn how to tough it out. Rebuilding programs takes its toll on you at times. You need to be mentally tough. Without mental toughness, you have nothing.

I learned mental toughness on a specific date. It was January 12th, 1995. That was the morning my mom died while I was a senior in high school. From that moment forward I had to be tough, mentally tough. That doesn’t mean I was never weak. It just means I learned how to navigate some tough times and keep my head above water. It’s all about surviving. I have done that.

The point of all this is that no matter how tough you are there are going to be times where you are tested. I am being tested today.

My dad is going in for open heart surgery, unexpectedly. It’s testing me. I lost my mom twenty years ago. It still stings. I’m not about to let go of my dad. It’s difficult. My office is full of manhood. Pictures, medals, plaques and all the tough guy items a coach has hanging on walls. But in the chair in that office today is a coach who was just reduced to tears. Hardly the actions of a tough guy. But on this day, that is alright. We can cry when we need to.

I will rely on what I have learned to make it through today: tough times are built for tough people. Tomorrow will be a good day. Just make it to tomorrow. It’s all you can do.

I will lean on my staff and the Westerners to help me get through this. We are rebuilding this thing together. We have taken our lumps together. But it has fortified our resolve and toughness. I know my staff and team will carry me through today.

At the end of the day, we are all tough guys. But it doesn’t mean we don’t cry.


Editor’s Note: You can read all of this year’s The Turnaround blogs by clicking here.


About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.