I came across an article on “grit.” A friend, who is a schoolteacher had it on their desk so I picked it up because it piqued my interest.

As a coach of high school athletes, I’m always fascinated when it comes to traits like grit? Why do some have it and some, well, it’s rather foreign to them.

In the article, a couple of scholars from the University of Pennsylvania conducted research on this topic. It got me thinking about the grit we had as kids growing up in the neighborhood and how we learned to be “gritty.”

Holy Name Yard with kids

Our parents, teachers, coaches and friends all helped the cause. I must admit, I wasn’t the “grittiest” kid on the avenue.

Watching our parents get up every morning to go to work. Discipline at school, structure in basketball practice and hanging out with friends discussing things, arguing and even fighting. One thing is certain, when you fought with a friend, you didn’t come back with a gun and shoot everyone. You usually made up the next day and everything was forgiven.

Ambition, perseverance, hustle, courage, determination, resilience, mental toughness/strength and commitment all key traits related to grit. Traits that in my mind are the keys to success.

I recall waking up on Saturday mornings in the winter time for basketball practice in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name. It could have been twenty degrees outside and the concrete covered with snow. There was the choice to stay in bed under the warm blanket or get up, and head to practice.  We shoveled the courts, wore gloves, caps, long johns and had a few layers of shirts to cover our bodies. Can’t leave out working a paper route where you got up at 4 am and of course bagging groceries down at Bohack and/or carrying the bags out to the cars in the parking lot.

Sunday morning rough-touch football games down Farragut Road where I watched Farrell’s and McBears football teams do battle. Many guys from the neighborhood made up these two teams of extraordinary grit. Not sure if you would be able to make up one team of guys today from the neighborhood to compete in a game of two-hand touch.

Fighting through problems, solving things and even choosing up sides all contributed to this trait we call grit.

Some connect passion with grit.  As kids we had the passion whether it was playing basketball, baseball, running track or stickball. Is passion relevant today?

I often wonder about the kids today, the young ones in grammar school, middle school and high school. I can’t forget about the students attending college.  Do you see them possessing grit?

Are you born with grit or is it something you learn and acquire?