September 9, 2019

Are You a Champion?

By Jack W. Rolfe 

Contributing Author: Kristin Sheehan


A dear friend of mine, Kristin Sheehan, is the program director of the Play Like a Champion Today Character Education through Sports initiative. She is very passionate about helping youth achieve their full potential, and we have worked together on some events. The following dialogue was written by Kristin to assist me with one of my book projects, and she has given me permission to share it with the readers of this magazine. Please take a moment to reflect and enjoy!

A familiar slogan in Notre Dame sport’s lore is “Play Like a Champion Today.” Using only the phrase “Play Like a Champion” would provide a robust mantra, but the inclusion of the word “Today” packs a more powerful punch and provides the hidden ingredient for a virtuous life. The Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is chronological time that can be measured in minutes and months, but today is likened to kairos, which is the here and now—God’s time. Whereas chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. It measures moments, not minutes. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment, the perfect moment. 

When we hear the word champion, our minds might jump instantly to the image of the elite athlete with remarkable statistics or the highly-skilled team holding the trophy at the end of a tournament. This vision is much too narrow. Every person can be a champion as they strive to become the best version of themselves. Becoming a champion in life does not happen automatically; you must believe in yourself and set a plan in motion to realize your true life potential.

Champions care about excellence of character and have a strong desire to succeed—but always with integrity. Champions love to compete and thus honor the “game of life.” Champions are self-motivated and take responsibility for their actions. Champions make mistakes but persist in the face of failure. Champions are other-centered and devote their life’s work to the good of our world. Champions are made not born. The cardinal virtues of fortitude, prudence, justice, and temperance are the central human qualities that mark excellence of personal character, and champions strive to embody these virtues.

Fortitude is pursuing your goals with courage and persistence. Research reveals that when you write your goals on paper, you will be more motivated to strive to achieve them. Dream big and set a plan in motion to make your dreams a reality. Write your goals and strive daily, weekly, and yearly with fortitude to reach them. 

The cardinal virtue of prudence means sound decision-making. Living a prudent life is doing the right things for the right reasons, even when no one is looking. Discover your special talents that urge you to take action to bring these talents and skills forward by making prudent decisions in your life. 

The cardinal virtue of justice is treating others with care and respect. Being highly motivated and becoming successful in life mean nothing if you do them for self-aggrandizement. You must give back to others in order to lift each other up. The mandate that justice requires is to “bless the world.”  

Finally, the cardinal virtue of temperance is leading a balanced life and maintaining control. Living with temperance means rooting your life in your faith and recognizing God’s ultimate plan for you. Find perseverance, persistence, hope, energy to fulfill your dreams, power to overcome, strength to achieve as the underdog, and dedication to accomplish what others say you cannot. Resolve to win in life!

This epitomizes a virtuous life…the life of a genuine champion…your life. Take a deep breath, and in the pause before you exhale, believe that you can find your inner champion and strive toward living a virtuous life. Find your today moment to touch the world so that the world will be forever altered in goodness.


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