Goodman Shaffer: Noll more than a coach

Some general observations while remembering NFL great Chuck Noll on his passing.

As Steeler nation mourns the loss of their legendary former head coach, sports channels and publications are filled with images of the great Pittsburgh teams of the 1970’s. The only NFL coach to win four Super Bowls and the architect of the Steel Curtain defense, Noll’s professional coaching career is unlikely to be duplicated.

Described by many as a teacher and mentor, and remembered as an exceptional leader, Noll reminds us of the values and lessons that sports can teach at every level.

His Hall of Fame acceptance speech highlighted the significance of teamwork in winning those black and gold championships. While Noll was blessed with exceptional talent on his roster, he was also able to balance NFL ability and egos with a tough-but-fair approach that made him both feared and respected by his players. His capacity to motivate many individuals to pursue a single goal as a unified force is a quality to which all leaders aspire.

Chuck Noll spent his entire NFL coaching career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, leaving a legacy of excellence and loyalty. Had he pursued any other business, he would have undoubtedly enjoyed similar success.

The world needs more leaders like Chuck Noll – individuals who value education, commitment, hard work and who inspire those around them to give their all in the pursuit of excellence.

And not just on the football field.

n Kudos to the Central baseball team and Claysburg-Kimmel softball team on their tremendous seasons. To play for a PIAA title is remarkable, particularly through the spring calendar. Spring teams arguably overcome more obstacles than any others: from challenging early-season weather conditions to the distractions of the final weeks of the school calendar.

Baseball and softball teams in Pennsylvania often begin their seasons practicing on gym floors or in high school hallways. This winter, the seemingly worst (and longest) in recent memory, made it even harder for spring athletes to get outside. Once the teams made it through the regular season, playoff time contends with senior trips, prom, school musicals, testing, graduation and other challenges. To stay focused through district championships and the PIAA playoffs shows an exceptional level of commitment and focus.

n World Cup soccer is under way, and the live coverage provides another opportunity for the game to gain ground in the USA. According to the Harris Poll, taken in January of this year, football remains our nation’s most popular sport, and has been for the last three decades.

But in the results of a June poll, Harris reports that while only 10 percent of Americans follow soccer, far more than that watch at least part of the World Cup. This event seems to transcend sport. One third of all Americans are expected to be paying attention to the tournament finals. Just imagine what it would mean to soccer if team USA is contention.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.