P.J. Fleck, dressed in a Western Michigan windbreaker and carrying a cup of coffee, stormed through the entrance of the Macomb Dakota auditorium with a sense of pride, preparing to give out the first speech of the morning Friday at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp.
Fleck, hired by the Broncos in December 2012 as the youngest coach in the FBS, has quickly changed the culture of the program in a positive way, on pace to earning the top-ranked recruiting class of the Mid-American Conference for the second straight year.
Fleck, 34, began the speech by telling campers that the word “elite” gets floated around WMU, because according to Fleck, good is only for average people.
Fleck then asked the players to raise their hands if they knew everything about their great-great grandfather, which provided little to no response. When the majority of the group knew nothing about the life of their great grandfather, almost everyone shot up their hands about their grandfather.
Zeroing in on the players who didn’t have their hands raised on their grandfather, Fleck said the reason for that is because he was just average, telling them to find a reason for their future grandkids to remember them. Find a way to not be average.
“I can tell you not much about my own father, but I refuse to be average,” Fleck said. “Because one day my great-great-great-great-great grandkids will know who P.J. Fleck was. Find your how, separate yourself from everyone else.”
Passing down the microphone to fellow MAC coach Dino Babers of Bowling Green in order to catch a flight to Northwestern, Fleck left the high school feeling grateful that he had the opportunity to influence lives, even if it was for only a couple of minutes.
“Not everybody is going to hear the message the same way, but that’s not for you to judge,” Fleck said. “If you can inspire one kid to be a better athlete, better person, better friend, better son, then that’s all you can do.”
■ Meyer talk: For Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, the hardest speech to give is when the audience doesn’t care about what’s being said. He said in his speech that he hopes the high schoolers learn to be part of the solution and not the problem.
“I can’t stand kids that are part of the problem, but we have a lot of fix-its this year, ” Meyer said. “That’s who I am because I witnessed it, and this year I like to share that success because we had a lot of players who fixed the problems.
“We were not very good at the beginning of the season, but at the end we were. How? We had kids who were part of the solution.”