Here’s Joe Ehrmann’s website: http://www.buildingmenandwomen.org/
IOWA CITY — On a segment for HBO’s “Real Sports,” Gilman School Coach Joe Ehrmann talked consistently about “loving up” his players.
You hear Ehrmann bring the players together with terms like “caring,” “sharing” and “affection.”
It’s an unconventional approach on a football field, but it’s a message that has gotten through to Iowa football Kirk Ferentz and former Iowa All-American kicker Nate Kaeding.
“The NFL hired Joe to come out and speak to some teams last season,” said Kaeding, a former Iowa City West star now kicking for the San Diego Chargers. “I’ve never seen a team more captivated by a speaker. We’ve seen hundreds of them . . . Joe just really struck and spoke to each person as a man.”
Kaeding and Kirk and Mary Ferentz talked about their association with Ehrmann and his message during a Tuesday news conference.
Ehrmann, a former college All-American and NFL star defensive lineman, will speak June 25 at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City. Kirk Ferentz and Kaeding are hosting the event. Tickets are $12 and $20 at the door. All proceeds will benefit the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, which Kaeding and the Ferentzes have been affiliated with for some time.
Ehrmann is the subject of the New York Times best-selling book “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx. Ehrmann is considered one of the nation’s leading sports educators. Many of his ideas are discussed on his Web site (www.buildingmenandwomen.org).
The “Coach for America” program and its stated mission is “To inform, inspire and initiate individual, communal and societal change that will empower men and women to be their very best — personally, professionally and relationally.”
Ferentz met Ehrmann in 1996 when his oldest son, Brian, played at Gilman School in Baltimore, where Ferentz coached the Ravens’ offensive line. Ehrmann, defensive coordinator at Gilman, left an impression, and Ferentz has internalized the message.
“I think Joe’s message transcends sports,” Ferentz said. “It’s very pertinent for sports, male and female. But I think his message would be powerful for parents, educators and anyone who’s interested in our community.”
Ehrmann challenges society’s notion of masculinity.
“He called us out as men,” Kaeding said. “Society, he said, reinforces the ‘ball field, billfold and bedroom.’ You’re a man if you’re good on the ball field, make a lot of money and have all these different sexual conquests. He laid that out there, and for me in an NFL locker room, those are three things that are out there.
But Ehrmann’s message doesn’t stop with men.
“With everyone involved in sports, if you can harness that power and get everyone on the same page, teaching the right message,” Mary Ferentz said, “and I’m paraphrasing Joe here, we can build boys and girls into men and women for others who will go out and transform our culture.”