University of South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin has developed an expertise on toughness.
Not from his background as a nightclub bouncer in Miami, Florida. Not from the comeback victories he has directed from the bench. Martin asserted that he has learned toughness from his commitment as a husband and father.
"We can’t call in sick to those jobs. You can’t take a two-week vacation,” Martin said with laugh Tuesday evening, to a crowd filled with some of the toughest students in Greenville County.
Martin affirmed the importance of consistent and persistent toughness as the guest speaker at the Coaches 4 Character Ace Awards. Sixty-eight students, from eighth graders to high school seniors, were honored as “Unsung Heroes” during a ceremony at Redemption. The students were recognized for their positive impact on classmates, teachers and counselors while overcoming personal challenges.
“When I was your age, I thought toughness was who could go out back and knock each other out. That’s got nothing to do with toughness,” Martin told the students. “Toughness is who’s willing to do their job, who’s willing to make those around them better, who’s willing to put their personal feelings aside so they can help the group. That’s what toughness is. And do it every single day regardless of how you feel.”
Martin encouraged students to remain accountable to their dreams and to inhibit any detractor from persuading them to discount those dreams, regardless of how many mistakes they make or how many hardships they face. “Tonight’s a celebration for their achievements,” Martin said, “to let them understand as they continue to get older, they’re going to have more challenges, not less challenges. Life gets more complicated the older you get, not simpler. Dealing with the initial challenges they’ve been hit with, them being able to overcome those to continue to strive and be great is going to help them deal with problems as they move forward.
“The important thing is we continue to celebrate their accomplishments to this moment and to let them know that our greatest duty as we get older is that we learn to give, not take. If we learn to give, we start impacting the world in a positive way.”
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“I was honored that I was even nominated for this award! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that someone actually noticed my hard work and dedication. Winning this award meant so much to me. It gave me hope, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment just when I was worried my effort wasn’t going to be good enough. My good friend Jennifer Slattery (former ACE Award winner) nominated me, and I could not have felt more special and blessed to have been able to share this experience with her.””