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Friday, September 29, 2023


Coach passes words of wisdom

It was a different kind of pep talk UH football head coach Kevin Sumlin gave Friday to ROTC cadets from local area high schools.

"There’s a big difference between leadership and management," Sumlin said. "Managing is telling people what to do. Leadership is showing people what to do."

†Sumlin said students should always stay true to their character and listen to their conscience despite negative circumstances.

"The first (thing) is to always be yourself. As a leader… there are going to be times that things aren’t going right. There’s gong to be times when things are going absolutely the other way," he said.

Sumlin said leaders must stay true to themselves so others will follow during times of adversity.

"If you’re not yourself, up to that point, I guarantee you, when that happens, you will be," he said. "And when the people around you see you act like something they’ve never seen before, they will not follow you."

He also told the students to listen to their "moral shot clock."

"You guys have been selected by people in your school to come here today to get better, to learn, but obviously to get to this point, somebody has affected you and talked to you about the way to do things, right and wrong," he said.

Sumlin said decision-making is an important part of being a leader, since many people are affected by the outcome.

"As you make decisions that affect other people’s lives, as you make decisions that affect your lives, never forget your moral shot clock – that thing inside you that tells you what’s right and what’s wrong," he said.

Sumlin said he looks for these qualities in his players and strives to follow them himself.

"When… there’s a tough decision to make, as long as I have been myself and I get back to my moral shot clock, I know what is the right thing to do," he said. "No matter how difficult that is, the right thing to do is always the right thing to do. And at the end of the day, you’ll be able to sleep at night."

Sumlin’s appearance at the first conference, developed by the UH Center for Applied Leadership, is part of an outreach program for local high schools, Capt. Albert Chapman of the UH Air Force ROTC said.

"You have a lot of students out there who don’t necessarily get exposure to different leaders in the community," Chapman said.

Milby High School senior Melissa Jimenez said she has been in ROTC for four years and that listening to Sumlin speak was "encouraging."

"They inspire you," she said. "They want for you to make something better of your life, and they’re telling you, ‘Here it is, just follow your heart.’"

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