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August 21, 2004

De La Salle High Readies To Extend “The Streak”—151 Football Wins And Counting

FROM THE EASTERN REACHES OF SAN FRANCISCO BAY comes a story so improbable, so inspirational, so interesting that it strains the bounds of credibility.

De La Salle High Scholl football is the topic of a superbly written article by Sports Illustrated’s Kelley King (7 pages, 4800 words, 11 photos). King adeptly delineates savvy analysis on the history and commitment that have created the pervasive winning attitude through the years. Amazingly, this is a team that does not think of winning; rather, they focus on (merely) doing their best.

Sounds simple.

Starting with the facts:

• De La Salle is an all boys Catholic (Christian Brothers) high school in Concord, California, some 25 miles east of San Francisco.

• De La Salle has 1007 students, tuition is $9950, and their nickname is the Spartans.

• “The Streak,” as it is called, now stands at 151 straight games, which SI claims is a record for any American football team at any level (few could dispute that).

• At last count, there were 13,000 high school football teams in the United States.

• De La Salle has been ranked nationally No. 1 for five of the past six years by USA Today.

• It all starts at the top. Coach Bob Ladouceur has been at the helm for 25 years; his record is 287-14-1; he has had 17 undefeated seasons. Those are not typos.

So those are the facts. Impressive though they are, the really interesting parts of the story are the so-called intangibles that allow the Spartans to work harder, drill smarter and execute better than everyone else. And all this with players that are not the biggest, the fastest or the strongest.

De La Salle’s fervent and pensive Coach Ladouceur shares many qualities with the legendary Vince Lombardi. SI author King cleverly altered Lombardi’s famous quote to fit Ladouceur: “At De La Salle winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing you don’t talk about.”

When asked how he has won 151 games, Coach Ladouceur says, “We win by not concentrating on winning. If you work hard enough, the wins will just come.”

That’s rich.

This guy seems to be the Phil Jackson of high school football.

(this 368 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary—was distilled from a 7 page, 4800 word article in the 8-23-04 issue of Sports Illustrated)