Varsity Football Coach Steve Monninger Offers Chapel Talk on Beating the Odds

Upper School students headed into a three-day weekend with an inspirational chapel from Mr. Steve Monninger, a man who wears many hats at the school, including Varsity Football Head Coach, Director of Fitness, Strength, and Conditioning, and college counselor.

He opened with an extraordinary advertisement, more of a flash-fast documentary, about Lauren Woolstencroft, who beat the odds to win eight Paralympic gold medals. The 60-second ad takes viewers through the life of an athlete who was born with legs that end just below her knees and with one arm that stops just past her elbow; she became a downhill skier.

Even if few individuals have the astonishing willpower and drive of Woolstencroft, Monninger noted that everyone can learn from her story about beating the odds.

First, you must “discover your passion,” he said, noting that Norfolk Academy offers an array of opportunities to do just that, and that more adventures await after high school. The second secret is to “find your cause,” he said. “If your cause for doing something is big enough, you will perform any task.”

Finally, beating the odds requires mental toughness, which is “not natural,” he noted. Many of us hear an inner voice that offers a barrage of self-defeating criticism. It is necessary to counter that inner voice with positive self-talk; he drew laughs with his example photo of a kitten staring into a mirror and seeing the reflection of a lion.

He closed by noting another key to mental toughness: Selfless love for friends, for family, for the influential people in your life, and—as befits a coach—for teammates.