"MORE Than Football" program enters tenth season

By Tim Stried, SID
August 2, 2000

Football is a game of teamwork. Just over 10 years ago, Head Football Coach Carlin Carpenter and Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life Dr. Don Schweingruber worked together to give Bluffton College football players a few lessons about life to go with the Xs and Os of August football practice. Today, the "MORE Than Football" program is still a strong tradition that has been a positive influence on hundreds of BC football players.

Motivation, Organization, Responsibility and Excellence (MORE) takes place for two hours every morning during Bluffton's first two weeks of football practice and features speakers, workshops and community service projects that deal with such topics as academic excellence, spiritual development, substance abuse, sexual responsibility and etiquette.

"For 10 years our MORE program has clearly demonstrated to the football student-athletes that life is more than sports and Bluffton College is more than football," said Schweingruber. "The lessons learned from MORE are, indeed, lessons for life. MORE is a prime example of how BC is concerned about the total development of our student-athletes."

Carpenter said that MORE's success is a product of the plan that Schweingruber put together. "We were having problems with some of our student-athletes," said Carpenter. "I went to Don and said that we have got to do something, so he came up with the program. He deserves full credit. He designed it and I just implemented it."

When regional and national media picked up on the program in 1993, Carpenter described the birth of the idea. "I was reflecting on what this football program has given the kids that passed through it," he said in The Lima News that year. "Did winning football games make them better people, businessmen or fathers? I don't think it did. MORE Than Football is a tool we are using to put playing football in perspective. This program is the most meaningful thing I've done in my 30 years of coaching."

Schweingruber expressed similar sentiments. "It's such a solid program that we couldn't drop it if we wanted to," he said in the article. "In fact, if we could truly 'package' this on film or tape and show it to prospective student-athletes and their parents, I'm certain their parents would insist that they attend Bluffton."

Today, those feelings haven't changed. "I think it's helped our players a great deal, especially the freshmen and sophomores," said Carpenter, who begins his 22nd season at the helm of the Beaver football program this fall. "When practice starts, most of them are experiencing being away from home for the first time. They go from being partly dependent when they get here, to being fully independent with the ability to make good decisions."

And helping to instill that decision-making ability is the Beaver Code of Conduct, to which every player is introduced the first day of MORE each season. The code states: "1) Do what is right. 2) Do your very best. 3) Treat others as you want to be treated."

"That code and the MORE program have reduced our problems considerably," said Carpenter, "and Don is the father of all this."

For the past four seasons, the BChamps program has also been thriving at Bluffton College. "BChamps grew out of the MORE program," explained Carpenter. "We expanded MORE to meet the needs of all our student-athletes in all other BC sports." In 1997, Bluffton College became the first NCAA Division III institution in the United States to implement the BChamps program , which in a one-day session aims at teaching many of the same principles that MORE has stressed.

When the 100 members of the Bluffton College football team report for practice on August 13, they'll be getting ready for more than just their first football game. They'll be getting ready for the game of life, too.