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  • Writer's picturePeter Miller

Author Bryan Stevenson observed that, “You can't understand most of the important things from a distance...You have to get close.” SGG's "Football in Wisconsin" special series gets close to football through conversations with coaches, competitors, and others connected with the game in the Badger state. We aim to deepen our understandings of coaching -- and of football's impact on and off the field.

Jeff Patterson –widely known as “JP” – is one of the most impactful leaders in the Madison area. JP’s barber shop “JP Hair Design” is a high performing organization that offers resources well beyond its doors. And JP’s dedication as a youth football coach in the Madison Memorial program adds another layer to his positive impact on hundreds of lives. In this SGG episode, we discussed:

1.  His dad’s dedication to coaching and positive leadership in North Chicago.

2.  A street in North Chicago that is named after his dad. (see photo below)

3.  “Everybody knew him.”

4.  His dad as a coach: “He had fun with the kids…He didn’t take any junk…He wanted to teach them something… He wanted to be sure that if he had them, they were going to be better than they were when he first got them.”

5.  The youth center in North Chicago was the place where people connected.

6.  The importance of the “Warhawks” mascot on JP’s journey to attending UW-Whitewater.

7.  The significant impact that Bob Eschman, his sophomore basketball coach in high school, had on his life. “He did more than just coach.”

8.  His first priority in coaching youth football: building a relationship with the kids.

9.  His emphasis on growth – both as players and as young men.

10.  Always finding positives in each situation.

11.  Stopping practice to have life lessons.

12.  The importance of communication and transparency with parents.

13.  Working through conflict in youth sports: be transparent and establish guidelines.

14.  Academic progress cards that team

15.  Football can’t be played individually. “Success in football depends upon the team.”

16.  His “pencil activity” that gets kids to understand the importance of team: “If we can stay together as a team, it’s hard to break us. But once you get individuals trying to go off on their own, the team can easily be broken.”

17.  His son Jairus’ growth in and through football.

18.  The collective impact of multiple coaches on young people’s trajectories.

19.  “We’ve got an opportunity to shape what they’re doing outside of the gridiron.”


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