I have collected many motivational stories, comments and sayings over the many years that I have coached. Some have been provided by my players, some have come from various magazines and others by just listening. There are never enough words of wisdom and often the source of these inspirational moments have  come as a dear price to those from who they originate and as noted, not always from sports. Please enjoy and if you have any to add, please e-mail me at wawryko@direct.ca


About Quitting:


Probably the greatest example of persistence is Abraham Lincoln.  If you want to learn about somebody who didn’t quit, look no further.


Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout his life.  He lost eight elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown.


He could have quit many times - but he didn’t and because he didn’t quit, he became one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States.


Lincoln was a champion and he never gave up.  Here is a sketch of Lincoln’s life on the road to the White House.


1816        His family was forced out of their home.  He had to work to support them.

1818        His mother died.

1831        Failed in business.

1832        Ran for state legislature and lost.

1832        Also lost his job - wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.

1833        Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt.            He spent the next 17 years of  his life paying off this debt.

1834        Ran for state legislature again and won.

1835        Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and heart was broken.

1836        Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

1838        Sought to become speaker of the state legislature and was defeated.

1840        Sought to become elector and was defeated.

1843        Ran for Congress and lost.

1846        Ran for Congress again and this time he won.  Went to Washington and did a good job.

1848        Ran for re-election to Congress and lost.

1849        Sought the job of land officer in his home state and was rejected.

1854        Ran for Senate of the United States and lost.

1856        Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention - got less than 100                 votes.

1858        Ran for U.S. Senate again and again he lost.

1860        Elected President of the United States.


Don’t Be Afraid To Fail.


You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember.

You fell down the first time you tried to walk.

You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn’t you.

Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat?

Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.

R.H.Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.

English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.


Don’t worry about failure.

Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.


Above published in the Wall Street Journal by United Technologies Corp.


Consider this:


- After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, said, “Can’t act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little!”  Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.

- An expert said of Vince Lombardi: “He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation.”

- Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique.  His teacher called him hopeless as a composer.

- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas.  Walt Disney also went bankrupt several times before he  built Disneyland.

- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and didn’t read until he was seven.  His teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.”  He was expelled and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

- Babe Ruth, considered by sports historians to be the greatest athlete of all time and famous for setting the home run record, also holds the record for strikeouts.


About Challenges: The Entrepreneur


"Money was tight when I was a child living in the tiny town of Viking, Alberta. As early as I can remember, I was taught that if I wanted something, I had to work for it.


At the age of nine, I had my heart set on a shiny-red three-speed bicycle I had seen in the front window of the town's hardware store. It cost $20. I knew that I could never afford it. I was too young to get a job, and I had little or no savings.


I couldn't get that bike out of my mind. Then I had an idea. I had often watched the trucks delivering grain from the surrounding farms to the grain elevator on the edge of town. Invariably, there would be small piles of spilled grain on the ground after the trucks left.


One morning I popped a couple of old burlap sacks into my wooden wagon and pulled it to the elevator. My best friend  and I spent the morning scooping up the spilled grain and managed to fill both sacks. Somehow we manhandled the 22 1/2 kilogram bags into my wagon, which we then pulled to the other side of town. There a woman who raised chickens paid us a dollar for each bag.


A dollar!


Everyone was happy: My friend and I made money; the woman paid us less than the grain would cost her from a store; and the elevator operator, who approved of our efforts, had a clean loading dock. By the end of that year, I had made enough money to buy my three-speed bicycle.


Becoming an entrepreneur taught me that there are opportunities all around us, and if we work  hard we can profit from them. It's a lesson that has served me well my entire life.


When I was playing hockey for the Edmonton Oilers, I was offered the chance to become both a player and a coach. I knew it was hard work - the hours were longer and the responsibility was heavy doing two jobs at once - but I jumped at it. 


When I took over in 1977, we had not yet earned ourselves a place in the World Hockey Association playoffs. But by year's end we'd won enough games to qualify.


I've seen cases in which two hockey players have the same level of talent but one makes it to the professional leagues and the other doesn't. The difference? The one who makes it sees his opportunity, hustles, trains harder and gets noticed. It's that simple."


After playing ten years in the NHL, Glen Sather coached and managed the Edmonton Oilers for more than 20 years, winning 5 Stanley Cups. He was named president and general manager of the New York Rangers on June 1, 2000.


What goes around comes around:


His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a
living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools
and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming
and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a
slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. an elegantly
dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer
Fleming had saved. I want to repay you, said the nobleman. You saved my son's life. 
No, I can't accept payment for what I did, the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer.

At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.

Is that your son?, the nobleman asked. 
Yes, replied the farmer proudly. 
I'll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything
like has father, he'll grow to a man you can be proud of.

And that he did. In time, Farmer Fleming's son graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical
School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir
Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.

Years afterward, the nobleman's son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him?

The nobleman's name? Randolph Churchill. His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill.

Someone once said: What goes around comes around. Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.  Play like there is no tomorrow!


An old favourite.


A Master's Touch




“Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer

Thought it scarcely worth his while

To waste much time on the old violin,

But held it up with a smile.

“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,

“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”

“A dollar, a dollar,” then, two! Only two?

“Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?

“Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;

Going for three....” But no,

From the room, far back, a grey-haired man

Came forward and picked up the bow;

Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,

And tightening the loose strings,

He played a melody pure and sweet

As a caroling angel sings.


The music ceased, and the auctioneer,

With a voice that was quiet and low,

Said: “What an I bid for the old violin?”

And he held it up with the bow.

“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?

Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?

Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;

And going and gone,” said he.


The people cheered, but some of them cried,

“We do not quite understand

What changed its worth? Swift came the reply:

“The touch of a master’s hand.”


And many a man with life out of tune,

And battered and scarred with sin,

Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,

Much like the old violin.

A “mess of potage,” a glass of wine;

A game - and he travels on.

He is “going” once, and “going” twice,

He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd

Never can quite understand

The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought

By the touch of the Master’s hand.


Motivational sayings:


The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything either as a blessing or a curse.

 Don Juan

 Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.

 Henry Ford

 People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.


Experience is not what happens to a man.  It is what a man does with what happens to him.

 Aldous Huxley

 I am only one.  But still, I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.  And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

 Edward Everett Hale


It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

 Theodore Roosevelt

Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; un-rewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

 Calvin Coolidge


Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.

 Helen Keller


 Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

 Mark Twain


 If you treat an individual....as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.



The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

 William James.              


The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.

Benjamin Franklin               


Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

Hellen Keller               





Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.

Josh Billings                                                 



Victory belongs to the most persevering.



Pick battles big enough to matter,  small enough to win.




Your hands, your mind are like any other set of tools, they don’t do anything by themselves --

you have to use them.


Thinking is the hardest work there is,  which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.



“Winning starts with beginning”.


“People are not lazy.  They simply have impotent goals - that is, goals that do not inspire them.”

Anthony Robbins


“Nothing has power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts.”

Anthony Robbins


“Don’t find a fault, find a remedy.”


“Our doubts are traitors,

And make us lose the good we oft might win,

By fearing to attempt.”

 William Shakespeare                                              


 “They can because they think they can.”   



“He who knows much about others may be learned, but he who understands himself is more intelligent.  He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”



And a few extra for thought:


“The most important single ingredient to success in athletics or life is discipline. The definition of the word is as follows: 1. Do what has to be done: 2. When it has to be done: 3. As well as it can be done: and 4. Do it that way all the time.”
“There’s no such thing as luck. Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.”
“The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a man’s determination.”
“Some men may be bigger, faster, or stronger, but no one man has a corner on dreams, desire, or ambition.”
“You don’t ask for respect. You earn it.”

 "Things won are done"

"The one who complains about the way the ball bounces probably dropped it"

"Its not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog"


Following contributions/collections by Ashley Bradford, many thanks.


"Let up for a second and that is where you will finish" - author unknown

"Be committed to your dreams. Rather than to your fears" - author unknown

"The vision of a champion is someone bent over dripping in sweat when no one is watching" - Anson Dorance

"Talent is great but overrated. Determination, which stems from a belief in one's ability to succeed, is usually what separated the winners from the losers" - author unknown

"Dreams are challenging, but challenges are what we live for" - Travis White

"Champions are people who carry on from where others let go" - Author Unknown

"No feat facing us is as important as our attitude towards it....for that determines our success or failure" 

"A successful team is a group of many hands but of one mind"

"Sometimes that we stare so long at the door that is closing that we see to late the one that is open" - Alexander Graham Bell.

"Rather the pain of discipline, than the pain of regret" - Bob Andrews

"Stopping at third base adds no more runs than striking out"

"It is quite possible to work without results but never will there be results without work"

"The only job where you start on top, is digging a hole"

"He who is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else" - Benjamin Franklin

"Tough times don't last but tough people do" A. C. Green

"I hated every minute of training but I said don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion" - Mohammed Ali

"Pain is temporary, accomplishment is forever"

"The dictionary is the only place that success come before work"

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought" - Buddha

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act, but a habit"

"Do just once what others say you can't do and they will never pay attention to your limitations again" - James R. Cook

"The only difference between champ and chump is 'U'!"

"Obstacles are challenges for winners, and excuses for losers: - M.E. Kerr

"They don't give you gold medals for beating somebody, they give you gold medals for beating everybody" - Michael Johnston

"The more you sweat in practice, the less you'll bleed in battle"


 “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”-  Vince Lombardi

 “Sports Do Not Build Character...They Reveal It “ --John Wooden