Retired football player seeks to inspire youth
By Michele Chan Santos
Former NFL player and longtime motivational speaker Mike McCoy delivered his message to many teens in the Diocese of Austin in February.
The core of his message was what he called the Three Ds – Decisions Determine Your Destiny.
“God has given every one of us unique talents and abilities,” he said. “It might be sports, or math, or biology, or theater. Find your talent and set your goals.”
McCoy, 66, was the number one draft choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1970. He played in the NFL for 11 years, beginning with the Packers, then going to the Oakland Raiders, New York Giants and Detroit Lions. In 1986, he began his speaking career, visiting public and private schools. For the last three years he has primarily focused on Catholic schools and travels around the country several months each year.
During McCoy’s visit to Austin from Feb. 22- 24, he spoke with children and teens from St. Thomas More Parish, San Juan Diego Catholic High School, St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School, Holy Family Catholic School and St. Theresa’s Catholic School in Austin.
He said the biggest challenge for today’s teens “is our culture. Teens compromise a lot of things to have friends. It’s a spiritual battle that we’re in.” His advice to parents of teens was to “know who your child’s friends are.” Both teens and parents benefit from reading Scripture every day, he said.
McCoy encouraged parents to “pray with your children every day. Pray with them at mealtimes, be grateful leaders, love one another.”
During his appearance at St. Michael’s on Feb. 23, he addressed an assembly of students in the gymnasium during the lunch hour.
He showed a slideshow of some highlights from his athletic career and spoke lovingly of his late wife, Kiara McCoy, who died of cancer on March 28, 2012. His late wife was a figure skater. After her death, his son Caleb McCoy edited his mother’s hundreds of journal entries into the spiritually uplifting book “Angel on Ice.”
Kiara’s uncle is Father Ray Dowling, a retired priest who lives in Austin. Father Dowling celebrates Mass regularly at different parishes in the Austin area, and he arranged the details of McCoy’s visits to the schools.
At St. Michael’s, McCoy warned the students about the dangers of sex, alcohol and drugs. His father was an alcoholic, and he was going down that same path in college until he let Christ into his life.
“I asked Christ to come into my life and my desire for alcohol was gone,” McCoy said.
He encouraged students to participate in a national program that encourages teens to take a pledge to abstain from sex until marriage.
At the end of the presentation, he had the students write their comments or concerns on index cards, which they gave to him. McCoy said that in the last three and a half years of doing presentations around the country, he found 135 messages from teens who were considering suicide. In each case he notified counselors at the schools, who intervened to assist the students. Other dangerous situations, for example students who cut themselves or were in a crisis situation, have also come through on the cards; these teens were also given counseling.
Brian Moreland is the director of athletics and transportation at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy. He was impressed by McCoy’s presentation.
“Any time our kids can take a little pause and hear something inspirational, they soak it up,” Moreland said.
“Hearing a speech like this may affect one student, or it may affect all of them,” he said. “Hearing someone share about their life experiences, it’s nothing but good.”
For more information about Mike McCoy Ministries, go to www.mccoy77.com.