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November 19, 2012

HUNTER: A book you will not put down

SELLERSBURG — This past winter, co-worker and former Henryville and Silver Creek boys’ basketball coach John Bradley told me about a book that his brother, Orleans boys’ head coach Tom Bradley, had given John’s son as a gift.  

The book was “Lead ... for God’s Sake.”

John told me about the book and I decided to buy it and read it. I can honestly say that it is one of the best books I have read when it comes to leadership and one I recommend to anyone from coaches to business leaders to parents, and one I wished I had read 20 years ago.

The book is a parable about a high school coach from Kentucky who is one of the most successful coaches in Kentucky history.

Coach Steve Rocker is falling short of expectations with his current team. It is a team that has returned many players from its Sweet 16 run the previous season and its top player is heading to the University of Kentucky.

From the book jacket: His team has lost the will to win, their love for their teammates and their passion to play. Coach Rocker’s motivational methods that have always worked before are now failing and he doesn’t know why.

Struggling to understand what is happening, coach seeks the counsel of a successful friend, CEO Grant Steffin, who, while fighting his own battles, offers advice based on his own leadership experiences. Coach Rocker also stumbles upon some unexpected insight from — of all people — Joe Taylor, the high school custodian.

As coach’s season spirals downward, and as he continues to interact with these two intriguing men, the “why” questions become louder and louder in his head.  

Why does he do what he does?

Or for that matter, why does he even exist?

These questions eventually push him to go deeper into his own heart than he ever imagined possible to determine his purpose not only in leadership, but also in life.

The author Todd Gongwer spent nearly 20 years developing leadership skills.  He has worked at the highest levels in companies ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to public entities.

He also has served as an assistant college basketball coach for more than a decade. He lives in Indiana with his wife and can be contacted personally at todd@leadforgodsake.com.

After the March 2 tornado that hit Henryville, Todd personally reached out to me and was an encouragement. Later, I met him at the Final Four in New Orleans, and we have stayed in contact since. My only complaint is that Todd is from Indiana, but the coach in the book is from Kentucky ... he said he hears that a lot.

This book will resound with just about anyone who reads it, especially if you are reading the sports section right now. It is a book that has been given to many coaches, who have to wait until their spouses have read it.  

It is a “I can’t put it down” book that will be read within three to five days if the time permits.  It is a book that has a couple of twists at the end that will have you shaking your head, and it is a book I highly recommend so get a copy and read it.  

I don’t care if you buy or borrow a copy because I make nothing off your purchase, but read it. I don’t think you will be let down.

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.

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