When you play for Harbaugh, you better be focused on winning... not just getting through it. ~Kelton Lynn
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Jim Harbaugh
Harbaugh gave a speech that made me think of the best scene in the movie Gattaca, calling us all to never save anything for the swim back. This coaching principle particularly hit home with me because I usually approached every practice with a chip on my shoulder, as an opportunity to prove myself.
However, for this type of workout I knew I had a leg up — I was a wide receiver (we ran a lot) and I never missed a single padded practice in four years. And if that doesn’t totally ruin your body, it definitely gives you great conditioning. I wasn’t too concerned with missing the goal time and planned to just cruise through. Not a good idea.
We all lined up, somebody yelled goand we were off. Pretty soon I got into a groove and at half way, I decided I could beat the 5 guys out in front. With about 600m left, I started sprinting and quickly cut it down to two. I flew by the first (and still like to point this out since since he’s a Navy SEAL and can kick my ass) and busted it as much as I could to catch the leader, Austin Yancy, in the last 100m. Unfortunately, despite moving twice as fast as he was when we crossed the finish line, I finished a half-step behind. We had less than one second between us, finishing around 5:30. He quickly collapsed and I surprisingly felt pretty good, so I ran through the line and started to cool down.
Just like every other practice, there was always a performance to be judged. Harbaugh gave huge accolades to Yancy for a fantastic run and a very impressive time. He then started asking for me: “Where’s Kelton? Get him up here.” I felt pretty good about my showing considering I ran about equal to the best time on the team with obviously much better conditioning — not bad.
“There he is! Let’s give it up for Kelton — the first loser! Exactly why we did this workout.” He went on to explain that I clearly could and should have beat Yancy. I had some left in the tank at the finish line, which is the worst thing a true competitor could ever do. When you play for Harbaugh, you better be focused on winning — even a Friday night practice — and never even consider the idea of “just getting through it.”
And he was absolutely right. The fact that I remember this so well out of a thousand practices with three different head coaches in four years exemplifies this: he deeply rooted the desire to never lose in all of his players.