By Caroline Weihl
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — FFA students are very involved. Whether they are in service clubs collecting donations in their local community or competing for state championships on competitive sports team, members are eager to be involved and excel in what they do.
Many busy students view attending convention as a hiatus from their commitments at home. That does not always prove true. Attendees did not anticipate they would receive a coaching lesson within their first few moments in the city.
University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino joined students to inspire them as “recruits” in life and to live by his “one-day contract” at the first general session of the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, Ky.
Pitino spoke to FFA students in 2005 at the last national convention held in Louisville. He said he enjoys speaking to this group of students because of the dynamic audience demeanor.
“I’m impressed with the passion and enthusiasm these students have,” Pitino said. “Most times, I don’t deal with passionate and hungry people. These youth understand it and are eager to learn.”
Pitino shared his relentless passion for basketball through coaching 28 seasons. He learned from those years that in order to succeed, ‘you have to start at the bottom’. Pitino stated in a witty agriculture reference, “failure is the fertilizer to help you.” From his failures personally and professionally, Pitino was inspired to share his leadership experiences with audiences across the U.S. through speaking engagements and writing books.
His presentation focused on various personal stories and shared five ways to be a leader:
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Live by a one-day contract
- Know the time and place for technology
- Listen to be an effective communicator
- Look at adversity with great courage
Pitino’s most recent publication, “The One-Day Contract”, serves as his daily motivation to live day to day and integrate his other leadership models continuously. He directed these components to the audience he nicknamed, “the generation of distractors”, because of its devotion to the digital age. The challenge he posed was a simple one: live for the present.
“The past is to be learned from and cherished and the future is to look forward to,” Pitino said to the crowd. “The unique and special thing we are given is today.”
Caroline Weihl is a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communication. Originally growing up on a beef and grain farm in Bowling Green, Ohio, she is an alumna of Otsego FFA Chapter, a 2010 National FFA Band participant and 2011-12 state FFA officer. Find Caroline’s social media sites about.me/CarolineWeihl.