Saban and Croyle address students on character

Saban and Croyle address students on character

On April 13, Coach Nick Saban and John Croyle addressed students about making good decisions and developing a more positive atmosphere around campus.

Adrienne Burch

Speakers at the first annual Coaching Character Initiative drew from personal experiences to teach students about the Capstone Creed and how they should work to better practice what it says.

Featured speakers at the event, which took place Thursday night in Coleman Coliseum and was hosted by the Student Government Association Judicial Board, were John Croyle, a former Alabama football player and owner of Big Oak Ranch, and head coach Nick Saban.

Croyle was introduced to the audience as a man who found out early in life what he was put on earth to do. At age 24, Croyle gave up a career in the National Football League to follow his passions and start a camp for abused, neglected and orphaned children.

Croyle has been running the Big Oak Ranch for 37 years. He and his wife have helped more than 1,900 children, with their first child now at the age of 57.

Croyle said he is the richest man anyone in the audience had ever laid eyes on, not because of the money in his wallet, but because he figured out why God put him on this earth, and he is now fulfilling that purpose.

“Choices create circumstances. Decisions determine your destiny,” Croyle said. “Don’t ever let someone else write your destiny.”

Croyle encouraged students to figure out what God is calling them to do and then to do it. He told the story about when he approached Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant about raising money to start the ranch as opposed to joining the NFL.

“[Bryant] said, ‘Don’t play pro football unless you are willing to marry it. Go build that ranch you’ve been talking about.’ I walked out of his office, and I never looked back,” Croyle said.

After Croyle finished, Saban addressed the students about what he has learned about character through his coaching career.

“I always tell our players, ‘Who you are is more important than what you do,’” Saban said, “Because who you are is your character.”

Saban spoke about one of his favorite commercials that aired during Michael Jordan’s prime. It featured Jordan listing off the number of games he had lost and the shots he had missed, but then at the end, Jordan says, “But because I fail is why I succeed.”

“How you manage the negative things that happen to you are most important,” Saban said.

The Alabama football team experienced this same process of overcoming adversity this past season in their loss to LSU during the regular season. Saban said he had to convince the team after the game that they could win the next one if they did not make the mistakes they did to beat themselves.

Saban also spoke on the character quality of giving to others. Saban said the happiest day for him is on the first day of camp, when they host the Nick’s Kids luncheon for the children from the different organizations they give money to.

“You get a lot more when you give than when you get,” Saban said.

Saban said he and the team spend a lot of time focusing on bettering their character on and off the field. They have psychiatrists and character coaches who meet with the players on a regular basis. Saban said he has been coaching for 37 years now, and one thing he has learned is that you have to be a champion before you are ever going to win a championship.