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Motivation and character building...

Not only has Matt Hove brought a new style of football to Kenmare, he’s brought a unique method of motivating the team.

9/29/15 (Tue)

Earning new uniforms... From left; assistant coaches the Rev. John Fetterhoff and Dillon Jesz and Kenmare's head football coach Matt Hove, pass out new uniforms to the team during a dinner prior to last weekend's homecoming game. Team members raised funds for the special homecoming game uniforms featuring the player's name on the back. At right, parents Lori Runnels and Sarah Knutson assisted with the team dinner.

By Marvin Baker

Not only has Matt Hove brought a new style of football to Kenmare, he’s brought a unique method of motivating the team.

Each Thursday night before a game, the Kenmare Honkers have a pre-game dinner in which football is only part of the conversation.

While the players and coaches are enjoying their dinner, Hove, the head coach, passes out weekly awards, unique in themselves.

He paints the colors of the previous week’s opposing team on either side of a small rock and presents that to the players with their number also painted on it.

A keynote speaker then stands up in front of the players talking about respect, integrity, motivation and positive attitude.

“This team has done a 180,” said Todd Erickson, a football parent and inspirational speaker. “I don’t know of this happening in North Dakota.”

Last Thursday, prior to Kenmare’s homecoming game against New Town, Erickson was one of two speakers. The second was Lt. Col. Ryan Nye, the 742nd Missile Squadron Commander at Minot Air Force Base.

Erickson’s message was about consistency and the example was a Major League baseball player only a handful of these football players knew about.

Erickson talked about the “Ironman,” Cal Ripken Jr., and his 2,632 consecutive games with the Baltimore Orioles over a 21-year career.

He reminded the players the last time the Honkers were in the playoffs was 2006 and 2009.

“This is a challenge when it comes to consistency,” Erickson said. “Unless you learn something about consistency, history will repeat itself.”

He said the challenge, like Ripken’s challenge of playing another game, is to get better on every single play.

“Your plan when executed is what defines you,” Erickson said. “You can’t guarantee the outcome of the game, but you can guarantee you’ll give it your best effort. Raise the bar. You should be your own best opponent.”

Nye’s message was about a couple of prisoners of war in Vietnam he called champions.

One was Admiral Dale Stockdale, who spent more than seven years in captivity. The other was Col. Robinson Risner. Both were pilots who were shot down over North Vietnam.

“They played like champions,” Nye said. “They were better than the game. They weren’t going to let the other guys win. They made it through with honor and integrity and now they know how they will react to the worst situation.”

He used a parallel of the players and how they might react if they botch a play on the football field.

He said when Risner was taken away from the Hanoi Hilton, the other POWs sang the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America.

Nye quoted Risner. “I felt 9 feet tall and could beat a bear with a switch.”

In 2001, a 9-foot statue of Risner was unveiled at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., to honor his statement in Vietnam.

“Play like a champion every day,” Nye said. “Never top out. You have to be bigger, faster and smarter. Build a legacy and maybe someday you’ll have a statue of yourself outside the school.”

Nye talked about successes and failures and about a team, the New Town Eagles, who haven’t won this year in six tries.

“That team hasn’t won, but guess what?” Nye said. “Good teams can lose to bad teams if they’re not prepared. You can beat that team, but does that make you better? If you’re going to be a champion, you have to be willing to pay a greater price.”

Nye, who grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, drew a loud round of applause and added each player should have an inspirational statement on a card that sits on their desk or in their car to remind them of what it takes to be a champion.

“Go Honkers,” Nye concluded.

Hove said each week there is a theme during the team dinner and last week it was consistency.

“We want to be consistent on how we play the game,” Hove said. “If we’re consistent, we’re unstoppable and the only team that can beat us is us.”

Hove told the players it’s paramount for the players to find a way to maximize their potential.

The next day, the Honkers beat New Town, 56-0 making it the second consecutive week this 9-man football team has scored more than 50 points. In each of two other games, the Honkers scored at least 44 points against Region 6 opponents.

And as Nye put it, “In Oklahoma, if you beat somebody by more than 50, we say we hung a half a hundred on them.”

Kenmare, now at 3-3, has two games remaining, at home against Trenton-Trinity Christian and  in Ray.

Barring any strange circumstance, Hove expects the team to make the Region 6 playoffs for the first time in six years.

And, as far as the team dinners, they will continue as long as there is a football season... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!