Kansas Seniors: Ready To Tackle Life

Nov. 13, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas Head Football Coach Mark Mangino has worked to shape his senior football players to become emotionally strong individuals throughout their college careers.

Mangino wants his players to graduate from KU knowing how to handle the ups and down of life, whether it is in the sports world or in the real world.

“Our players are strong emotionally,” Mangino said. “The reason why they are is because we spend a lot of time in the off-season and in training camp building emotional strength. Some coaches try to develop their players on just how to deal with adversity or how to be mentally ready to play. What we have worked on here is preparing our kids to be emotionally strong that means to be ready for everything.”

One way Mangino impacts his football players is by bringing in guest speakers from the community to tell their stories and give his players advice on life. The guest speakers cover every facet of life from women’s issues, drug and alcohol counselors, psychologists and police officers.

“We talk a lot about things that are not football related over the course of the year here,” Mangino said. “We spend a lot of time talking about the challenges of life, the role of the student-athletes on campus and how he is viewed by the world around him.”

The seniors who have played here for the past four years have seen the positive effects from Mangino’s philosophies, like senior linebacker Angus Quigley who credits the team’s success in past and recent years to Mangino’s character building philosophies.

“I remember when I first got here in 2005 there were a lot guys that had attitude problems,” Quigley said. “I remember when we started doing programs like “Character First” every week it really started putting things in perspective. I think people caught on to that and they have been recruiting the right guys that have made this program better. We have gotten closer as a family and that has really helped us.”

Senior safety Darrel Stuckey who has had an impressive five years at Kansas has learned that how people perceive you can have a big impact on people’s attitudes towards you.

“It doesn’t matter what you are going through on the field if you bring it off the field it could get in trouble,” Stuckey said. “It teaches you to care about those around you and to have awareness of things that are going on.”

These programs that teach players to be emotionally strong help with the success of the team as a whole and help players to be more responsible for their actions of the field.

“Anytime you better a person you better them as a player,” Stuckey said. “Anytime you can control what they do off the field, you can control what they do on the field.”

Senior running back, Jake Sharp who has been emotionally strong this season to get through his injury, is now fully recovered and ready to get back on the field. However, the guest speakers that he has listened to over the years have helped prepare him for the pitfalls of life.

“I think hearing people’s stories are a good life experience,” Sharp said. “You learn a lot about this world and how the world works. It is something that has helped me and my teammates become more mature individuals.”

The seniors will play their last home game against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m.