Happy New Year 2017! Keep Your Resolutions

by / Sunday, January 08, 2017 / Published in Motivational Coaching

Kevin speaking to the 2016 K-State football team at the beginning of the season

Throughout my years serving as the Motivational Coach for the Kansas State University football team, I’ve had the honor of meeting and working with some very special and talented young student athletes that Coach Snyder and his staff has brought to Kansas State. It is one of those very special student athletes on our football program that I’d like to introduce you to today. He is a junior at Kansas State University, but I think after you read his story you’ll agree he is mature beyond his age. He exemplifies everything that Coach has used to help orchestrate the “Greatest turnaround in college football History,” as Head Coach at Kansas State University football program. I think you’ll find his story is an extraordinary one that will help you keep your New Years resolutions for 2017 and reach your goals and make those dreams come true. His name is Jesse Ertz and he was the starting QB of the Kansas State Wildcats this 2016 season, leading the Wildcats to a winning season (9-4), capped off by a Texas Bowl Victory over Texas A&M, where he was named the MVP of the Bowl game.

Jesse Ertz

Jesse Ertz #16 K-States QB stiff arms a Texas A&M defender on his way to a Touch Down

The Texas Bowl was played in front of 68,412 fans in Houston’s NRG Stadium, featuring high-powered offenses that provided a lot of excitement throughout the game. As fans on both sides cheered their team on, however, one player showcased his talent, hard work and consistency above all others: Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz, who would finish with 262 total yards (195 passing, 67 rushing –  a Texas Bowl record). Jesse accumulated 3 total touchdowns, 1 by air and 2 on the ground on his way to MVP honors.

Having worked with Jesse in the past, I already thought I knew him pretty well. However, I interviewed him in the days after the Texas Bowl and learned a lot more about what drives him and how he has managed to mature into an explosive player even after sitting out last season due to a torn ACL. Since so much of sports revolves around setting and meeting goals, I know this blog post will help many of you out there who are fired up about achieving great things in 2017!

Plus, while some people dismiss sports as entertainment – something removed from everyday life, it is my belief that the sports world mirrors real life in the most important ways. If you want to succeed in raising a great family, doing great work, making an impact in your community, contributing value to this world  – only sports teaches you to fight hard for every inch, to believe in your ability to overcome any challenge, to pick yourself up and try again, and to win with humility and grace. It is by learning to Never Give Up that we can be our best selves, whether we’re wearing a team uniform or not. So please read on, and consider how you can make your resolutions fail-proof this year and always!

K-State Cheerleaders at 2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

K-State Cheerleaders at 2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl


Kevin: The Wildcats started the season 3-3 and people started to question the strength of this team almost from the start. How did you get past the early losses to finish so strong?
Jesse: We always felt like we were very capable! We have talent and we corrected our errors. Every single game we worked hard to correct our mistakes. Some people might say K-State recruits lower-tier athletes (3 star) where A&M had 50-60 guys who are considered 4 to 5 star recruits. We believe that those labels are only as good as how hard you work. We put the work in, getting in every game and striving for perfection always. We as a team came together. We felt confident in our abilities to win the game!

As a leader, I take what is a positive here and how can we learn from it. First time errors, we can hang in there and fight.

Kevin: What helps you be a winner in life?
Jesse: A trait of mine is the ability to correct mistakes and improve. If you’re a person that’s persistent and always tries to do better at what you do every time, then be honest with yourself. Focus on your weaknesses to make you better, not your strengths.

During the Texas Bowl, [the Aggies] moved into a different set on their defense, and I audibled at the line of scrimmage to change the play, and then they reset after I had changed the play. I got tricked that one play, but I learned my lesson how they would set in this formation to make it look like another one. I never made this mistake again.

If you feel like you’re doing your best, look at the 16 Wildcat Goals for Success and check yourself against them. Maybe you weren’t as enthusiastic as should have been? Don’t enjoy it enough? Go through all 16 WGFS they are all related to what you want to do. All 16 work together as one… if you’re lacking any in any one of them you will not be as successful.

After the Texas Bowl victory Kevin and his wife Dora on right and her sister Delia a Texas A&M graduate & Aggie football fan, all enjoyed a great game!


Head Coach Bill Snyder’s’ 16 WGFS

  1. Commitment
  2. Unselfishness
  3. Unity – come together as never before
  4. Improve – Every day…as a player, person and student
  5. Be Tough
  6. Self-discipline
  7. Great Effort
  8. Enthusiasm
  9. Eliminate Mistakes
  10. Never Give Up
  11. Don’t Accept Losing
  12. No Self-limitation
  13. Expect to Win
  14. Consistency
  15. Leadership
  16. Responsibility
Kevin: As a student-athlete, you must have a lot going on in your life. When you have too many distractions, how do you refocus?
Jesse: My whole life I’ve run with the football. When I was just a little boy, I saw the furniture around the house as defensive players and I’d cut by them and jump over the sofa while always making sure I held onto the football. I saw this as a form of visualization when I was just an elementary school kid. So doing visualizations as I got older and started playing organized sports was much easier for me to do.

If you really want to achieve a goal you have to give up some things. For example, in getting ready for the season, I wanted to put on 30 pounds of muscle. A lot of guys on the team watch what they eat some of the time, but I knew it would take more than that to achieve my goals. I couldn’t eat like everyone else and expect a different result. So my teammate, Jordan Willis (DE) and I would stay home and prepare our own meals, even when other guys would get together to grab a burger or something else. You’ve got to be able to make sacrifices here and there to get where you want to go.

It’s about being honest with yourself. If you have trouble with that, try identifying what is missing in your life and start there. I believe that “people don’t know what they don’t know” but we have to make an effort to learn how to move forward. Sometimes, you have to find friends and family who can help you.

Kevin: Do you share your goals with others?
Jesse: I keep my goals to myself unless I am asked. I just do what I need to do. It doesn’t benefit me to talk about it. I just work to do everything I can to achieve my goals.

Some people talk about goals and then never do the things it takes to achieve them.

Kevin: Your thoughts on Fear of Failure?
Jesse: I had a major gut check! Before this season, there was a lot of stuff going through my head! I had already had 2 torn ACL surgeries. The last injury was my very first game on the very first play last year (2015 season). I knew this year that I had to be willing to go all in if I was going to make it! Do I go through all this work? I worked harder than I ever worked all my life! There was so much doubt. At times, it seemed really dark, like it wasn’t going to happen.

The first game was great and almost surreal! We were learning a lot as we were losing. Take that and learn to improve. Have faith and trust in God. Put in the work… it will pay off. Do your very best, you’re taking a leap, but if you put in the work, it’s going to pay off!

Kevin: What’s your definition of Success?
Jesse: It’s not about being the best! It’s when you set a goal and you put everything into it! You give it your all! That’s the most important thing! You give it everything you have. Whatever you end up with, that is Success!

If you work extra hard and you aren’t promoted, get the job, win the national championship…you can’t control that. You keep working harder, and sooner or later you will be rewarded for that. Work as hard as you can and have a “Never Give Up” attitude. For example, there is a wall that is between you and what you want to achieve for the New Year. When you keep working harder than you ever have, that will still be there, but it will get smaller and smaller. Through chipping away at it constantly, you will bring it down to a size where you can see what you want just on the other side. And eventually, you can just step over it to achieve your goals. The mental block and the physical wall that were holding you back are now behind you. As you accomplish more of your goals, you start to see you’re capable of much more that you thought!

K-State players celebrate in their Locker Room as TEXAS Bowl Champions

K-State players celebrate in their Locker Room as TEXAS Bowl Champions with win over Texas A&M Aggies 33 – 28

Kevin: What’s your definition of Failure?
Jesse: You didn’t stay committed to the goals you made. That’s failure!

“Commitment is staying true to the goals you set, even when the mood you set them in has left.”

You have to honest with yourself! If you just kind of want it, you will not make it happen. If you don’t do what you’ve committed to doing, then it’s your fault you didn’t achieve your goal…you didn’t give it everything you’ve got.

Wildcats celebrate 2016 Texas Bowl victory!

Kevin’s best friend since they were in kindergarten Jack Myers.They both went on to play college sports. Jack went on to play football at OSU – Oklahoma State University. He also beat famous athlete Nolan Cromwell in the 120 yard High Hurdles in the State Track Meet

Kevin: What’s your most important function as a team member?
Jesse: To be the person who keeps everyone focused and settled down in adversity! As quarterback, there are moments where I’m steering the boat as we approach a waterfall and we need to bring everyone together to get that boat to shore. When someone misses a bock or makes a mistake, part of what I have to do is maintain our confidence by helping the team reset. Only then can we get back on track and execute to perfection.

JesseErtz-brings his offense up to the line of scrimmage

Jesse brings his offense up to the line of scrimmage in the game against Stanford to kick-off their 2016 season

We all stay together. When you’re still in the game you help teammates stay focused on their job and try to be the person that settles everyone down. That’s how we can be successful.

Head Coach Bill Snyder, K-State Wildcats

Coach Snyder smiles and points after the Wildcats’ 2016 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl victory. He continues to succeed at helping athletes find a way to win while improving the quality of their lives, so they will be winners in life after they leave K-State.

Kevin: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from Coach Snyder?
Jesse: A lot of stuff he says during training and game situations isn’t new to me. All of us on the team have been playing most of our lives, and we should all know what it takes to win. But he helps focus us on the team goals and objectives. For example, I’ve learned Persistence after all my injuries. I had to really buckle down and take it seriously. I’ve had to learn mostly from my own experiences! I have learned how to network with people and make friends to be successful in life.

This year more than any other, I’ve learned the importance of hard work and Never Giving Up!

Jesse Ertz, QB and Texas Bowl MVP

Jesse Ertz, QB being awarded the Texas Bowl MVP award after winning the Texas Bowl over Texas A&M

“Last year when bowl games were going on, I was fresh out of surgery from a torn ACL. I was lying in bed with ice on my knee.

One year later, we were 9-4, Champions of the Texas Bowl, and I was being honored with the MVP award!

It was the hardest I’d worked in all my life! If you stay true to your New Year’s resolutions, a year can make a huge difference.

Jesse Ertz, K-State QB & Texas Bowl MVP


Post-game victory images

Left – Kevin gives thumbs up as the defense holds tough on A&M’s last drive for a TD to ensure KSU victory!
Middle – Jack Myers throws his hands up in celebration of the Wildcats Victory over Texas A&M
Right – Joe Hubener – K-State’s 2015 starting QB and recipient of the “Kevin Saunders NEVER GIVE UP! Award” holds up the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl Winning Trophy

Jesse Ertz proves that we’ve got young people who aren’t just serious about winning games, but about doing the hard work necessary to improve in all aspects of life. It’s inspiring to see how his mindset helped contribute to a team’s success, and he makes it clear that he’s just like everyone else when it comes to wanting to make a change. The difference is dedication and hard work to consistently move closer to his objectives. Whether you’re looking to transform your body this year, work toward a promotion or even grow your business, these lessons will help you push past any obstacles. Many people quit their New Year’s resolutions because they faced a bad day, or a bad week or month, and got thrown off track. Champions don’t quit. They may suffer setbacks like the 3 losses the Wildcats faced mid-season, but they stuck to the goals of finishing strong and have a Texas Bowl trophy to show for it. Congratulations to Coach Bill Snyder and the 2016 K-State Wildcats on a tremendous season!

Keep Going for the GOLD! Never Give Up!
Kevin Saunders, motivational speaker
Kevin Saunders


Kevin Saunders is a World Champion Paralympian, motivational speaker, athlete (with multiple gold medals) and author. Kevin Saunders was the first person with a disability appointed to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness Sports (only 20 people are selected for this nationwide) by the President of the United States. Kevin Saunders was first chosen to be appointed to the prestigious Council by President George H.W. Bush and was the only person reappointed by to this Council by President Bill Clinton and he was reappointed again by President George W. Bush as a constituent expert to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports. Learn more about Kevin’s story and accomplishments.


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