Enterprise football coach Rick Darlington met with the Enterprise Lions Club on Wednesday, Feb. 27, and shared his history as a coach with the group but also shared the six core values his football team will live by.
Those six core values include are brotherhood, honor, humility, discipline, perseverance and faith.
Darlington said that after winning a pair of state championships and finishing runner-up in another season at Apopka High School, his team went undefeated in the regular season for the first time in his career in 2016.
Despite that success, Apopka lost in the first round of the playoffs and Darlington said a problem his team faced was what he described as “cancer” in the locker room.
“We had some kids that were very much two-faced that would be one way to your face and another behind your back that basically split the locker room,” Darlington said.
Following that season, Apopka lost a big senior class along with 18 underclassmen that transferred out.
“Those were guys that didn’t want to buy in,” Darlington said. “I basically felt like we were starting over.”
Darlington said that he contacted 30 of his former players and asked those players – along with his current players – to each write down five words that described what the Apopka program meant to them and then explain those words.
Those six core values came from those words that described the program. According to Darlington, the word “brotherhood” was the word he overwhelmingly received most from his players, which leads to Enterprise’s new team motto: “Hoka Hey.”
“Hoka Hey” was a saying that the Sioux Indians used, which means, “it’s a good day to die.”
“It’s not about literal death,” Darlington explained. “It’s about dying to yourself for the good of the team. We are going to be tight and disciplined and do what’s best for the team. ‘Hoka Hey’ mean’s I’m willing to lay down my life for my family.”
In regards to honor, Darlington said that honor is about treating others in a way that will make them feel special. According to Darlington, his players thank the custodian that keeps the EHS field house clean every single day.
“We hope our young men will play and conduct their lives in a way that will bring honor to their families and to their community,” Darlington said.
Darlington said that humility is key to a football program because it shows that a player isn’t selfish.
“Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but instead it’s thinking about yourself less,” Darlington continued. “You think about other people and you care about others. We want our kids to be humble.”
To Darlington, discipline may be the most important value for his team.
“Discipline is a good thing,” he emphasized. “If you have discipline, you don’t have to be disciplined. It’s about expectations and consequences.”
In football, perseverance is a very important trait to have but it’s also important in life in general, said Darlington.
“Football is not easy, it’s tough and you have to be tough to play it,” Darlington said. “There is a lot of perseverance in football. We want our young men to know that life is (tough) and you have to hang on and you have to fight through the hard times.”
Darlington said that he spoke to his team on the very day of his meeting with the Lions Club about the sixth and final value: faith.
“What it means is seeing is believing,” Darlington said. “If you believe it you will see it. If you believe we will win championships, then we will. I think that is true about a lot of things.”
According to Darlington, these core values are about building men and winning championships, which is his mission at Enterprise.
“I want (the players) to be mentally, morally and physically tough,” Darlington said. “I want them to be significant in the lives of others and make a positive impact, and we want to win championships in a way that honors our community, our school and God.
“I was hired to build men and win championships and that’s our goal.”