Posted on Sep 18, 2017
The Reverend Sean Rogers, Pastor of Healdsburg's Saint John's Catholic Church.  He was introduced by Dennis O'Neel after explaining about the Blue Noses from Nova Scotia and a local wine made by Paul Brasset locally.  Dennis claims the wine is named for the same reason people in Nova Scotia are called Blue Noses -"... not brown but blue." 
Then he introduced Sean.  Dennis met Sean about 4 years ago when Sean showed up to say, "I'm your new priest."  Dennis said no one could believe we could have a priest that young.  Sean is a native of Sonoma County having grown up in Santa Rosa as the oldest of 6 brothers and sisters.  After graduating from High School, he attended a "...small parochial school in the middle of the country called Notre Dame.  Later he did graduate work in the Catholic University in Washington
DC.  Because we are at the beginning of NCAA football season it seems appropriate that he talk about his time playing football under Lou Holtz. 
Sean started by saying he didn't know he was going to present a talk, but thought it would be a conversation.  He came here in the Summer of 2013 when father Walter retired.  When he first came he walked around all the classrooms and the kindergarten classroom.  He sat down in chairs made for children, not a former Norte Dame football player.  He sat down and introduced himself to the kids who just stared at him like deer in the head lights.  When it came time for questions, Jack on the first row raised his hand.  Sean recognized him and he said, "You must have a really big bed." then a girl said, "You must have really big pants."  He had to get out of there. 
Being a priest is really great.  He graduated from Piner High School 1992.  It's a small world, Paul Cronin was their quarterback, who is now at Cardinal Newman.  He claims he was more of an academic kid and a pretty good player.  When he got to Norte Dame he learned they were holding tryouts for football and decided to give it a try.  He claimed he was trained to play on the offensive line, center, left tackle, etc.  But then said he mostly played center bench and guarded the water.  He was always good at remembering stuff.  He was on the scout team - [In sports, the practice squad, also called the taxi squad or practice roster, is a group of players signed by a team but not part of their main roster.]  The team was Sean and a lot of the freshmen because he could remember all the positions and play he was kind of King of the Freshmen.  His best buddy on the team knew about electricity and could adjust the cable boxes on road trips so they could watch "whatever."
The first time they played USC they had a commanding lead, the score was like 42 to 7.  Holtz ordered the scout team onto the field.  He holds Sean on the side line to give him the play.  Holtz grabbed his face mask   to tell him the play.  He was concentrating on remembering the play and started to run onto the field and realized he needed more information and yelled back at the coach, "What position do I play?  Coach Holtz looks at him and say, "Quarterback."  The whole team started laughing, the first five rows in the stadium started laughing, so he turned around and ran onto the field. 
Things in life happen.  Norte Dame was a glimpse for him into a whole different life.  Many of the players were blessed to be stronger, faster or bigger than other guys.  One sees fellows who are talented players and sees how much work it takes to do what they do.  He has much more respect
for what College Football was and what Pro Football is.  One sees just how much it takes out of people to perform at that level.  During the season or even off season classes start at 8:00 or 9:00 and after lunch at noon, one goes to the training center.  The next event is getting taped up, put on your football pants, then 2:00 to 2:30 walk over to the meeting rooms for meetings that last 30 minutes to an hour.  3:30 go back to the locker room to put on shoulder pads and helmet to start practice at 4:00pm.  Practice lasts 2 hours followed by a 20 minute work out.  Dinner at the training table is at 7:00 - 8:00 and by 10:00 players are in the library for 1 1/2 hours of study hall - each player has to sign in.  His point is these players are really working. 
He went on to say most of the players who go to the pros have basically the same talent.  What separates those who make it in the pros is opportunity and mental toughness.  For example, look at Tom Brady, who didn't start until his senior year at Michigan.  Some of the best athletes he ever saw never got on the field.  Talked about Ken Berry, big, fast running back from Kansas.  When he didn't start playing he became disillusioned and just faded out.  When he "...walked into the locker room for the first time there were there were men and there were boys."  He was sure some of those were much older than they claimed.  He couldn't believe some of the players were 18, they looked like grown men.  Little kids look up to College and Pro Athletes aspiring to be like them.

Coach Holtz was wonderful.  He had three tenets he taught.  "Trust", he said "the first thing one asks when they meet is 'Can I trust this person?"  The team would be a team of trust.  When the players look at each other they have to know they can trust that person.  The individuals in every organization have to be able to trust each other.  The second tenet is "Commitment" to excellence.  You may not be an excellent person but we're going to be excellent as a team.  One has to be committed to being the best you can.  One may not be perfect, but one must try their best.  The third tenet, "You have to care about each other."  Lou Holtz believed if one has those components, one can achieve.  Sean uses those tenets in his work.  When looking at the issues facing him, he asks the questions, "Is this a break down in trust, is this a breakdown in commitment to excellence, is this a breakdown in caring for each other?"  It has helped him in the rest of his life.  The dynamics of a team is very much the dynamics one has in everyday life.  Holtz was good at spotting it.  Coaches are pretty motivated people and are very much on the ball.  One can't run a program with 100 kids without being on the ball.