Success To Signifigance

EMPOWERMENT / My wife will tell you that when I am captivated by someone, which is rare, my whole body is engaged; chair turned toward the individual, eyes focused, posture forward, and the persons’ voice is the only one that I hear. From the moment I met Hayden Fry, I was completely captivated. Many in College Football measure a Head Coach’s success by wins, appearances in prestigious bowl games, or the number of players drafted into the NFL. However, Hayden Fry, a fellow inductee into the 2010 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, does not measure his success by those statistics. He measures success by the coaches and athletes, who under his influence, reach their potential and are empowered to become men of Group shot at the Rose Bowl HOFsignificance. I have never heard of another Head Coach who had Twenty one of his assistant coaches’ move on to become successful D-1 Head Football Coaches after they left their program. Even more impressive, Hayden was the first coach to integrate the SWC when he demanded that Southern Methodist University allow him to recruit an Afro American player for his football team. If they refused, Hayden would not accept the head coaching job. He was a selfless leader, more concerned about empowering athletes and coaches than empowering himself. In my own journey from success to significance, I have found three concepts to be key: faith, hope and love. Hayden and I spent our four days together sharing life stories and sifting through how we transformed from a novice to a master in these three areas. We both learned through our life experiences that one cannot give away what he does not have.

FAITH / Faith is the belief that if someone did it before you, you too can do it. Faith is spiritual and yet practical. My belief in God anchors my spiritual but in the practical; I believe we are given wise individuals who have done what we dream, to teach us the steps we must follow to transform from a novice to a master.

Early in Hayden’s career, Arkansas Head Coach Frank Broyles hired him as the offensive backfield coach. He had a strong program and wanted Hayden to be a part of it. Coach Broyles became one of Hayden’s wise men who taught him skills that proved invaluable when he, too, became a Head Coach. The first lesson Hayden learned, in order to create a winning program, the program must have very talented assistant coaches and Broyles did. Men such as Barry Switzer (Oklahoma), Fred Akers (Texas), and Doug Dickey (Florida) who under Broyles tutelage went on to become legendary head coaches in great programs. Coach Broyles had a brilliant photographic memory and charismatic personality, qualities which made him a highly successful recruiter, and above all he was a selfless leader. He instilled in Hayden and his staff the value of a tireless work ethic, team effort and toughness, both mental and physical. He ran his team like the Marines and Hayden learned that properly disciplined players not only take to the discipline, they are motivated by it. Finally, Coach Broyles demonstrated that a football coach must exercise flexibility to become successful. One evening a few Arkansas players missed bed check (found eating at a restaurant) and the coaching staff stayed up most of the night figuring out how to discipline the players without hurting the rest of the team. Their solution wBrad Budde and Hayden Fry at the Rose Bowl 2010as to enroll the offenders into SC-600 which meant for the rest of the season they ran steps at 6am. Coach Broyles decided that missing bed check was not a felony offense and he allowed them to play. Arkansas won the game, but never would have been able to without them. Coach Broyles showed his trust and faith in Hayden when he gave him the responsibility of meeting with quarterbacks daily, which he had never allowed any other assistant coach to do. This act was Hayden’s knighting, demonstrating that Broyles believed he was ready to lead. Under Coach Broyles tutelage, Hayden transformed from a novice to a master and Southern Methodist University took notice. After one year with Arkansas, Hayden was recruited for the Head Coaching position by Southern Methodist University at 31 years of age.

HOPE / Hope is belief in the impossible. We become a part of something greater than ourselves and believe in it so passionately that we are willing to risk all to see it through. We “Act as if” no matter what the odds are against us.

When Southern Methodist University negotiated with Hayden Fry to become their head coach, he made one demand, “Let me recruit an Afro American and I will take the job.” At first the school was set against his request but finally they succumbed, allowing Hayden to recruit one Afro American player. After he arrived at SMU, he was surprised that the university required the player have a 1,000 SAT score which meant whoever this person was; had to be a terrific player and a good student. After Hayden had been on the job almost a year, assistant coach Charlie Driver believed he found the recruit they were looking for. Jerry LaVias hailed from what recruiters call the “Golden Triangle,” a 25 mile area between the Texas towns of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange. This big oil refinery area produced an incredible number of major college and pro players. Jerry LeVias was special and he had proven he was able to overcome tough obstacles placed before him. At the age of 12 he suffered a stroke and was unable to walk for 5 years. When he recovered, he became the quarterback of the Hebert High School, and showed that he was a great athlete although only 5’9, 177lbs with great speed. Jerry LeVias was on Hayden’s recruiting radar. During Jerry’s first meeting with Coach Hayden, who came to his home to recruit him and his first question was to Jerry’s mama, “Is that turnip greens I smell cooking?” Coach Fry and Jerry’s mama had a lengthy discussion and the rest is history. Coach Fry offered Jerry a full ride football scholarship to SMU. Hayden’s assessment of Jerry had been spot on. He said that Jerry was a quiet and introspective young man, but he was also a trailblazer. Prior to signing Jerry, Hayden explained to Jerry that there would be difficult times ahead for him just because of the color of his skin. During these times Jerry would have to summon all of his intelligence, patience and most of all his mental toughness to survive. During the difficult journey, Coach Fry shared these words with Jerry, “”Levi, things are going to happen around you and things are going to happen to you, but the most important thing is what’s going to happen inside you.” Coach Fry and Jerry LaVias united and changed the landscape of SWC football forever. Both men faced taunts and ridicule. During football games, after the whistle blew, Jerry would be pummeled. During the season, Hayden was questioned by his peers. They asked him what was wrong with him. But Jerry and Coach Fry could not be deterred because they believed in the impossible and would not give up on their hope that the SWC could change. Both men had determined to break down the walls so that other young African American men could compete in the SWC. Their quest was never about themselves and that gave them the courage and strength they needed to see it through. Despite criticism and harsh treatment, SMU became a force and won the SWC title for the first time in 18 years. La Vias became a star. He made athletic and academic All-America teams, MVP in the Senior Bowl and although, said to be too small for the NFL, he became rookie of the year for the Houston Oilers. Coach Fry chose the right young man who never missed a game and excelled as a student near the top of his class in spite of taking both mental and physical beatings but Jerry never complained. Coach Fry and Jerry understood that the journey though tough, was about more than themselves and through it they transformed from novices to masters of hope bringing many with them.

LOVE / Give people what they need versus what they want.

Hayden Fry was born in 1929 in a remote oil town in Eastland, Texas to John and Cora Fry. Eastland was a small oil town hit hard by the depression. Hayden’s parents went to work early in their lives creating in them a tireless work ethic and a sense of responsibility enhanced by their good character. Neither attended high school. His dad became a grocer and a butcher which provided for his family during the depression. Although the Fry family may have been poor in possessions, they were rich in love. The Frys raised their children with high expectations, including a tireless work ethic, discipline and respect. Both Hayden and his sister Margaret were excellent students as well as athletes. From a young age his parents instilled the message that love is giving your children what they need but not necessarily what they want. As a child Hayden learned that there is no such thing as a free lunch. This meant if he wasn’t working at the grocery story for his dad he chopped grass for 10 cents an hour. Hayden and his family were regulars at the Baptist church where he developed his faith. These experiences instilled a powerful discipline in him which would later prove invaluable. At the age of 14, Hayden’s father at the age of 53 died suddenly of a heart attack. The void left by his father’s death was great but the need to provide was even greater. With little time to mourn, Hayden’s mother picked up more jobs and Hayden at 14 began rough necking in the oil fields to help earn money. His mother provided love and guidance throughout this time. But it was during a difficult time when Hayden was a freshman at Baylor University in Texas that his mothers tough love and influence made the greatest impact. Many World War II veterans were returning from the war and entering college in 1947 which Brad Budde and Hayden Frywas Hayden’s freshman year in college. A lot of these individuals played football and they were older; some had children and wives along with beards. The competition he faced was not just humbling it almost proved to be a game changer. Only months prior, Hayden had been an All-State quarterback who led his High School team to a 14-0 season and Texas state championship which had given him confidence. That confidence was rocked when he discovered he was no.14 on the quarterback depth chart. Feeling sorry for himself and disillusioned: Hayden went home. His wise mother gave him what he needed versus what he wanted. She sat Hayden down and spoke straight. She told him, “The cow eats cabbage,” which in West Texas means, “This is how it’s going to be!” His mother explained to him that he could not always be No. 1 and that he had to compete. She explained that she and his daddy worked hard for Hayden and if he never again played football, he was still going back to Baylor to get an education. Following the talk, he took his mother’s advice, and hitch hiked back to Baylor the next morning.

Hayden Fry has a life brimming with successes, awards and honors, but that is not what has given his life meaning. It comes when one hones his skills to become successful, then one becomes significant, and only then can he pay it forward and help others. He was a witness to 21 of his assistant coaches, Jerry LeVias and so many young men who became empowered, reaching their potential and beyond, fighting through challenges, embracing change and now they are not only successful, more importantly, they are men of significance.

One Reply to Success To Signifigance

  1. Denise says:

    Thank you Brad for writing this blog, it’s great to get to learn more about you through your incredible journey. I especially appreciate your definition of the word “love”. I have never heard it defined this way before and it is so right on! I love you and your family lots & so happy to be able to do life together again.

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