Author, motivational speaker and NCAA record breaker, Dr. Emmet C. (Tom) Thompson II, and his former college football coach Ronnie Gage, along with collaborator Alice Sullivan, are celebrating the release of their new book, The Life Coach: Small-Town Lessons on Faith, Family and Football. Part inspirational memoir, part Texas football history, and part motivational guide for leaders, The Life Coach releases to retail today, November 5, 2109, from Clovercroft Publishing.
On November 14, 2009, Austin College Coach Ronnie Gage stood on the sidelines and watched a football sail between the uprights. Dr. Emmet C. (Tom) Thompson II had just kicked his way into the record books. At 61, Thompson had become the oldest football player in NCAA history and the oldest NCAA football player to score a point when he kicked the PAT (Point After Touchdown) in the second quarter of the game between Austin College and Trinity University. While that kick made history, and put tiny Austin College on the sports media map, the event was never designed to be a publicity stunt. In fact, Coach Gage had initially assumed Thompson was "a wacko with an agenda" for wanting to play college football at 60. But as the season wore on, Coach Gage realized Thompson's heart was in the right place.
"There are plenty of football players with exceptional talent," Coach Gage explains. "But sometimes you have a player who is an inch too short or 1/10th of a second too slow, but they have heart . . . they have passion. If it comes down to a choice between talent or heart, I'll go with the heart every time. That's one thing I learned about Tom Thompson--he wasn't talented, but he had heart."
"We didn't really develop a personal friendship until after the season was over," says Thompson. "I didn't presume because we were close in age that I could engage him in any topic other than football. The man is a legend in Texas football history--one of the winningest coaches ever at the high school level--and it was important to me that my teammates see me treat him with the respect he deserved. He told me flat out that he was not giving me any special treatment. And I appreciated that. But I knew when I first got to know Coach Gage that we would do some things together."
"Hardship doesn't have to put you in a hole you can't crawl out of," Coach Gage muses. "As a coach, I was harder on kids who tried to use hardship as a crutch. Life is about working as hard as you can, and being the best you can be. If you do that, you have a chance to win. If you don't prepare hard, it cuts your chances of being successful. At the end of the day, our legacy will be determined by a culmination of the choices we make along the way."
"Coach Gage is a quiet, humble guy, and his faith has been a big part of his life," Thompson explains. "He's gone through some of the worst things that life can throw at you, including the loss of his daughter to a brain tumor, and is still able to cling to the goodness of God."
Each chapter in The Life Coach includes some of Coach Gage's life story, which includes his marriage to his high school sweetheart, 42 years' worth of wins, losses, and ties in one of the most competitive football environments in the country, along with the trials, tribulations, and ordinary victories of a life well lived. Thompson adds a special "Huddle Up with Tom Thompson" section to each chapter, gleaning lessons for leaders from Coach Gage's story.
"My part of the book is sharing leadership principles based on Coach Gage's story, and then showing how they apply to everyday life," says Thompson. "For me, the most powerful part of the book is when he was dealing with his daughter's illness. Most of the team didn't even know she was sick. In February of that year, we had a football player collapse and die. When Coach was notified, he left his daughter in the hospital, drove to the college to address the team about the goodness of God, then drove back to be with his daughter. That's the kind of man Coach Gage is. He has the unique ability to encourage people when they are going through hard times, and to help them realize that life is better with God."
The Life Coach is published by Clovercroft Publishing and distributed to the trade by Ingram Content Group, the world's largest distributor of printed content. For more information on Coach Gage, Thompson, and The Life Coach, visit 91kick.com, like on Facebook at facebook.com/91kick, Instagram at instagram.com/91kick, or Twitter (@91kick).