There is a tension that exists in the mind and body of an athlete before any game. The heart pumps a little harder with anticipation and the mind rehearses game plans and a multitude of scenarios, in preparation for both the expected and the unexpected. The tension is transformed into performance the moment the game begins. First pitch, first serve, puck drop, opening tip, call it what you like but that's what happened tonight at Wendy's International, Inc. in Dublin, OH, where 50 coaches, 40 high school juniors and parents from 32 different schools gathered for this year's Handshake America 2017 Kick Off.
Every athlete learns and grows with coaching, practice, and experience in their sport, but this is different. This is happening on another plane. We spend a relatively small amount of time on the field of play and the balance of that time in real life: working, going to school, having a family life, and building relationships with people outside the scope of our chosen sport. So, as Handshake launched into it's sixth and largest year, there was a little sizzle in the air. Coach Ron Ransom, of Nationwide Insurance, laid down the expectations; from demonstrating a handshake done right, down to presenting ourselves well to others (even if it means learning how to iron a wrinkled shirt!). The night was full of motion and buzzed with conversation as the students were challenged to get up, to move, circulate, meet each other, meet their teammates, meet their coaches, and practice the quintessential handshake.
They also heard from Handshake Volunteer and Wendy's Associate, Suzie Thuerk, who reminded us that Dave Thomas made square burgers, not because it was different, but because it was a metaphor of his philosophy that he would not "cut corners." Founder Doug Probst, and Handshake student alumni encouraged the Class of 2018 to make the most of this experience. Teams gathered and broke the ice, and some even flexed their muscles (an intimidation tactic, no doubt).
Others showed us that there is room for some finesse. Either way they play it, coaches and students will be bringing out the best in each other in a spirit of commitment, competition, and serious fun.
This year is going to be packed full of awesome coaching sessions and speakers with a focus on the 5 P's: Perseverance, Passion, People, Positivity, and Presence. And we have the most experienced team of coaches in Handshake history who are ready to build on the successes of years passed. So as the Handshake season gets underway, we look forward to the challenges ahead to build us up, broaden our horizons, and build lasting relationships. Here's to the success of the students of the 2017-2018 class!