Cross Training Athletics

OUR VISION: To develop the hearts of coaches and athletes to be men of character for others.

OUR MISSION: To serve, encourage, and train coaches and athletes through Coach Mentoring, Character Playbook, Clinics, Competition, and Camps.

CORE VALUES: Faith, Peace, Love, Joy, and Perseverance

I“t is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men.
— Vince Lombardi


For their hard work and input to the sixth Cross Training Athletics, Character Playbook “ROCK SOLID”

Thank you to the following: Vince Weselak, loyal and dedicated Assistant Director of CTA, who is a tireless worker and his tech support, is invaluable. To my wife Sharon Lynn who through her love, wisdom and patience has taught me more about the important things in life like relationship than anyone else. Her godly lifestyle not only to her family but all those around her has helped CTA become what it is today. To our graphic artist Shayla Merritt who has helped take our playbook to another level.

This character playbook/curriculum is for all the coaches and teachers who love their sport and are dedicated to see their student/athletes become more than a student /athlete but a complete person. Physical training has some value but character has value for all things holding promise for today and the future.

Coaches, Remember:
Love Never Fails!

Cross Training Football
P.O. Box 156, Bowmansville, New York 14026    
Phone: (716) 393.3744 | Fax (716) 432.5152 

Dear Coach,

Cross Training Athletics (CTA) is excited to serve, encourage and train you in the area of character development. The famous Vince Lombardi said, “It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men”. We believe character is seated in the heart. It is the inside substance that produces outside actions. Good character simply stated is, “Know what’s right, do what’s right.” John Wooden said, “Your reputation is who people say you are, and your character is who you really are.”

CTA has created a simple tool for you to train and capture the heart of your athlete, The Heart of a Champion Character Playbook. This year’s emphasis is the “ROCK SOLID.” The playbook is formulated around training the total athlete. We believe the athlete is made up of the following four unique yet inter-twined parts: the body, the mind, the social aspect and the spirit. These four parts we call The Final 4. When you Believe (Spirit), Think (Mind), Love (Social) and Work (Physical) with all your heart, all components of the individual are employed.

What a person believes defines how they think. What they think directly reflects in their ability to function and relate to or love others. Ultimately all their belief and thought processes are demonstrated in their actions and work ethic.

This character playbook will assist you to encourage your athletes as they strive for excellence not only on the field but off the field as well. The Character Playbook provides a plan to implement a Character Word-of-the-Week into each practice.

As a former head varsity coach in four sports, I realize now this was the missing piece. Coaching the character aspect of your athletes will elevate you to become the complete coach and enable you to give your athletes substance for life’s challenges.

Coaching character is a process. It will take a commitment which stems from a love for the sport and a love for your athletes. We believe that love is the critical component to a successful season and LOVE NEVER FAILS. Have a great season as you see your athletes develop the Heart of a Champion.


Michael Masters
Coach and Director of CTA

New This Year

We have retooled our Playbook with a simple “Go To” Statement for you to use as you incorporate character into your program.

"Go To" Statement

The Go To Statement is on the Mini Poster and near the top of every talk. The Go To Statement has two purposes. The first is attentiveness training. This is a simple thing you can do throughout practice that will check you team’s mental focus. You say the first half of the Go To Statement and the team should respond immediately with the second half. Example you say Seize …. They say the Moment. The second purpose is Self-Talk. All athletes have self-talk going on inside them. The key thing to remember is that as an athlete thinks in the heart so they are. So when adversity hits them or the team what is the self-talk. Your Go To Statement is a simple phrase to bring ones thinking to a positive mindset. Your words are powerful and they have the power to bring death or life to your team. One of my Go To Statements for Life during an argument is be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Coaches this has defused my arguments and helps build relationships. This is simple way to intentionally coach character while not taking any time off your practice schedule. The Go To Statement is a powerful tool.

Action Step:
The Action Step is an easy way to teach your athletes how to treat people with respect and speak powerful words of life over each other. At the end of every talk we have an Action Step phrase or two. When the talk is over direct your athletes to stand to their feet go to a teammate and say the Action Step statement to their teammate. Make sure they look them in the eye when they speak and shake their hand, high five, or some appropriate physical contact. If done right this is a powerful tool for inspiration, respect, and team chemistry. Eye, Physical and Inspirational contact are the three elements of demonstrating respect to someone.

Character that will change your team:
Coaches John Wooden said the greatest ally of any leader is His or Her Example. Coaches when it comes to character live it (be the best example you can be), speak it (do the talks) and reward it (give out the certificates). This is the first step to changing the heart of your athlete. 

History and Background

As a former physical education teacher and head varsity football coach, Mike Masters understands the power and influence a coach possesses. Coach Masters was powerfully influenced by his dad, Gene Masters, who coached for 44 years and was inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the NYS Public Athletic Association. Through Mike’s unique heritage, he learned that character is the essential component required to reach one’s potential and produce a balanced and complete athlete. From this core belief CTF’s “Training the Heart of a Champion from the Inside Out” was birthed in August of 2005. At that time CTF began with 4 schools and 6 teams participating in the program. In 2014-2015 CTF transformed into CTA Cross Training Athletics and served more than 40 schools working with over 2,500 athletes and 200 coaches to incorporate character into their coaching plan. It has now expanded into “Cross Training Athletic Programs” - training the entire coaching staff. Lockport was the first school to catch the vision to equip their entire coaching staff with a tool to build character.

Description of Organization

Cross Training Football is a non-profit organization which comes alongside coaches and athletes to help prepare them to live with integrity and respect. We recognize that physical training is of some value, but character has value for all things. Our focus in mentoring coaches and athletes is to see a transformation of heart and a renewing of mind to prepare an athlete to properly handle the challenges of life and to impart the understanding that sport is bigger than the game and offers a platform to develop boys and girls into young men and women. CTA works with many Western New York schools and Little League programs in “Training the Heart of a Champion from the Inside Out” physically, mentally, socially and in spirit. 

In 2014- 2015 Sports Season
Cross Training served, inspired and trained over 2,500 athletes in all scholastic sports.

We believe true success will be seen in 20 -25 years when we will find out what types of dads, moms, spouses and business people these athletes are in the community

On the Field Performance

Football League and Sectional Champions
AA Jamestown State Champion
B Cheektowaga State Semi-Finals
A Sweet Home Sectional Champ
A South Park League B  Maryvale League B Depew League
C Cleveland Hill League
C Maple Grove/ Chautauqua Lake State Semi-Finals


Girls Hoops
Fredonia Sectional Finalist
Kenmore West NFL Champs
Cleveland Hill Sectional Champs

Boys Hoops
Champions Canisius MML, State  
Champion Cleveland Hill ECIC IV

Hockey: Champions Williamsville East, State Runner Up, Nichols Girls 1 Cup

Lacrosse (LAX): Lancaster Girls Sectional Champs

Character: The Cornerstone of Excellence

The most fundamental factor which determines a person’s destiny is his character. It is the cornerstone built from a person’s life choices. This cornerstone of character will provide a foundation which will not crumble when the pressure is on. It is the internal substance that produces excellence in one’s life. 

What is Character? 
To scratch and engrave the attributes and features that make up an individual
Why is Character important? 
It’s the greatest determinant for handling adversity and achieving one’s success
Who develops Character?
Athletics doesn’t build Character, Coaches do
Where is it developed?
It begins in your heart by repeatedly  scratching and engraving
When is Character revealed?
The Locker Room, competition, and when difficulty arises
How is it developed?
Want It, Live It, Train It, Reward It


Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines character from the Greek word “charassein” which means to “scratch and engrave”; and also “the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. “My dad, Gene Masters (who was a head varsity football coach for 44 years) had a very simple way to define character, “Know What is Right - Do What is Right.”  I prefer to add to that, “when no one is looking.” 

Character and Coaches:

Coaches realize that character is crucial for success. Former Dallas Cowboy Coach, Tom Landry, stated this regarding character, “Character is the most determining factor of a person’s success and the ability to handle adversity.”  Many coaches endeavor to integrate character into their programs.  However, few have a specific plan.  CTA has developed a Character Playbook to help encourage, equip and empower coaches to develop the heart and character of their athletes.

Value of Character

Physical training is of some value, but character has value for all things. The heart is the source of life, the very core where one’s character is seated. It is with your heart that you believe; consequently, belief defines your thinking which directs your choices which determine your character and is demonstrated in your behavior. Talent united with character will lead to excellence while talent minus character brings about deficiency.

The Difference in Character
Based on John Maxwell’s Your Road Map for Success

Does what is right
Controlled by values
Looks for solutions
Perseveres when challenged
Relies on internal motivation
Words and actions match
Choices add up to success

Does what is easiest
Controlled by moods
Looks for excuses
Quits when challenged
Relies on external motivation
Words and actions do not match
Choices add up to failure

Destiny is not by chance but is revealed through a person’s everyday choices! “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind in the end the choice you make makes you.
— John Wooden

Character will only make you and your team better!  

An Athlete of Integrity will compete with confidence and security. The ones who take crooked paths or shortcuts will be found out. Coach the heart this year and make it your vision and passion  to coach them for life beyond the contest. 

In the end leadership is a choice either to use people to build your authority or use your authority to build people. The true leader seeks to lighten the loads that people carry. They understand this principle: whoever desires to be great must humble themselves and serve those they lead.

A Little Fellow Follows Me:
A careful man I want to be A little fellow follows me; I do not dare go astray, For fear he’ll go the self-same way. I cannot once escape his eyes, Whate’er he sees me do he tries; Like me he says he’s going to be, The little chap who follows me. He thinks that I am good and fine, Believes in every word of mine; The base in me he must not see, The little chap who follows me. I must remember as I go, Through summers sun and winters snow; I’m building for the years to be That little chap that follows me.” (Found in “Greatest Coach Ever John Wooden”)

Rock Solid Definition

Coach, what type of foundation are you building your team or organization on? Are you like the wise coach who dug deep and laid his foundation on the Rock? Coach or are you the foolish one who is looking for the quick fix, the temporary satisfaction and the Win is the only thing that matters attitude. Then you are building your program on sand. It is not if the storms, the floods, and the adversities will come but when. Those programs who lack the ROCK SOLID foundation of character will fall. Those coaches who take the time to dig deep to develop the complete athlete physically, mentality, socially and in spirit will withstand, not only the storm but the test of time. Take time Build your program on the ROCK. 

A ROCK SOLID coach understands the influence he or she has and coaches with a vision beyond the contest. This vision does not just talk about character it also puts it into practice through integrating it into the program and practice. Athletics is like a test tube of life. So take five minutes before practice to scratch and engrave these character traits into the hearts of your athlete. This could not only transform them it could transform the whole culture of your team and program. Being ROCK SOLID will allow your athletes to look at obstacles as opportunities and believe all things are possible. Those who dig deep will give their athletes the tools to embrace adversity and failure with a bounce back attitude of grit, gratitude and humility. Rock Solid will serve others respect everyone, cover teammates and obey authority.

Physical training has some value but character has value and a promise for the present and the future.  Make this season the season that you build your program on the solid rock and in doing so you will be the wise coach whose program is ROCK SOLID

Coaches Commitment Pledge

I will coach with proficiency and a heart of integrity. As a coach I will inspire, cover, restore, train and empower my athletes to reach their potential  

I will set a positive example to all those I lead, in my speech and conduct, demonstrating love and faith to my athletes from a pure heart.

I will do my best to coach with a vision that goes beyond the contest… A vision that incorporates…. developing the heart of an athlete to be the complete person of character for others.

I will use my authority not merely to build a program but to build people, understanding that all great leaders do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. 




Character .... Want It, Live It, Train It, Reward It

Capturing the Heart Coaching Words - “ROCK SOLID” 

Coaches, it’s not if your athlete will make mistakes but when. How you respond will determine whether you are capturing and developing the heart of a champion or not. Your athlete’s responses hinge on every word you speak. Your words have the power of life, death, inspiration, or desperation. This toolbox of words will help you to coach connect, correct, and praise your athlete to another level.

Remember athletics does not build character. Coaches do!

R ..... Respect Honor Everyone, Value Others, Be Kind, Considerate
O ..... Opportunity Seize the Movement, Be Ready, Think Quick, Move Quick  
C ..... Communication Speak Life, Be Loud and Clear, Listen
K ..... Knowledge Think Quick .... Move Quick, Understand It, Be Awake

S ..... Self-Discipline Eyes on the Prize, Under Control, Mentally Tough, Stay Focused
O ..... Overcome Just Believe, We Can Do It, Aim Higher, Move Forward
L ..... Love Cover Others, Be Patient, Sacrifice for the Team, Thinks the Best
I ..... Integrity Do What’s Right, Complete Confidence, Honest Effort
D ..... Determination I Will Finish, Break Through, Battle to the End

Complete Teams Are .... “ROCK SOLID” 

Pre-Season Team Evaluation

1 Poor   Unsatisfactory, inferior in quality or value, never demonstrated
2 Lacking  To be wanting or missing, deficient in, rarely demonstrated
3 Average  Ordinary, status quo, common, sometimes demonstrated
4 Good   Satisfactory, adequate, admired, demonstrated often
5 Excellent  Superior, unsurpassed, exceptional, demonstrated very often

Measure the character of your team by adding up the scores for all the qualities

___   Respect - Valuing others through your actions and words   
___   Opportunity - Ready to seize the moment and move                 
___   Communication - Speech and actions inspire
___   Knowledgeable -Knowing and doing what is expected of me

___   Self-Discipline - Mentally and physcially under control   
___   Overcome - Always competes with hope
___   Love - Sacrificing oneself for the benefit of the team  
___   Integrity - Complete Athletes who bounces back
___   Determination - Finishing regardless of circumstance
___   Rock Solid - Mentally tough, united, immovable

Add up score for
 ___   Heart of a Champion Score     

1-13   Poor    14-26   Lacking    27-35   Average    36-43   Good    44-50   Excellent

Week  ____________      Date  ___________

Heart of a Champion Athletes Creed

I ____________________ agree to:  
Build the Heart of a Champion From the Inside Out.

 I will Believe, Think, Love, and Work With All My Heart.

I will fear no one. I will respect everyone.

There is no such thing as staying the same. Yesterday is over and can’t be changed.So, I’ll give 100 % today; To be the most complete player I can be, Physically, Mentally, Socially and in Spirit

My motto is simple:  Know what’s right; Do what’s right. Win with Humility, and Lose with Grace. I will fight the good Fight, I will Finish the race, I will keep the Faith. 

I am determined to continually learn and work at developing the Heart of a Champion as stated in the HOAC Athlete Creed.