Clutch Performance Briefings

Clutch Performance briefings

Operation Hawkeye is pleased to provide special operations perspectives for STRIKE FORCE teams, including coaches and players, on keys to success on and off the baseball diamond.
  • Grant McGarry
    Army Special Operations/1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
    Topic: Setting Priorities
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    SETTING PRIORITES

    From my earliest days I have been a competitive and team-oriented person who enjoys challenging myself at the very highest levels. When I look at the world I am instinctively aware of performance, in my opinion performance is the ultimate measuring stick and there is no feeling quite like winning. However, it is important to be gracious to your fellow competitors and stoic in defeat. In high school I was a captain of the football team where I led the team in tackles all the way to the state playoffs. After college I joined the Army and was selected into the 75th Ranger Regiment and went on five deployments with the 1st Ranger Battalion in the War on Terror, three of them as a team leader. Afterwards, I worked as a personal security specialist on a counter assault team at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, during and after the withdrawal of US coalition forces. My time in the 1st Ranger Battalion played a significant role in shaping me into the person, husband and father I am today. I have experienced many highs and many lows in combat – which strengthened my resolve to succeed, my ability to stay focused and my sense of purpose and humility. Furthermore, my experiences have taught me the four core principles that lead to success.

    Passion: Every day starts at zero, you must earn every day and by “every day” I mean every single day – workdays, weekends, vacations and holidays. No matter how much you may feel as though you deserve a day of rest you must remember someone else is out there getting better. Ultimately, if you have passion for your sport, craft or job you will give it your all and leave it on the field “every day.”

    Knowledge: Be a student of your sport, craft or job and never stop asking questions, always strive to know more, be hungry for knowledge. Because, having knowledge is the key to unlocking your potential and achieving excellence.

    Innovation: Once you have mastered your sport, craft or job is when you or a team is able to innovate, this will ultimately separate yourself and your team from the norm. Never stop trying to find a new and better way to accomplish a task and never be afraid of failure.

    Leadership: A leader must train, coach, mentor, retrain and motivate. Furthermore, a leader must listen and always take responsibility of the outcome. Without leadership a team is lost in the dark.

    Lastly, in order to achieve success, you have to execute all four core principles, nothing of one thing will break the foundation that equals success.

    (Passion x Knowledge x Innovation)L = Success

  • Frumentarius
    Naval Special Warfare, SEAL Team 8 and SEAL Team 10, CIA, Firefighter
    Topic: Perseverance
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    Perseverance

    Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” In other words, perseverance can be defined as living. Life is a continued effort to do or achieve something, and along the way, we are all faced with difficulties, failures, and plenty of opposition.

    Perseverance means that you keep going, no matter what. It means you never quit something simply because it is hard, or because you are tired.

    Perseverance means that when you have just finished a four-mile run in the soft sand, in boots and pants, and you are then told to put on your fins for an ocean swim, you ask, “how far?”

    Perseverance means that when you are 24 hours into Hell Week, during Navy SEAL training, and you have not slept at all, your body hurts, and all you want to do is curl up in bed and sleep, you keep going.

    Perseverance means that you keep going until they either make you stop, kill you, or fail you. It means that you keep going no matter how tired you are, how far back in the pack, how many points behind, or how poorly you do on a test.

    Perseverance means that at the end of the day, when you finish in last place, can barely stand, and are exhausted from the effort you put forth in your loss, you still feel the pride of never having quit. You never gave up. You never let them beat you without a fight.

    When you feel like life is conspiring against you, everything has gone wrong, everyone around you is holding you back, and there is nothing left to fight for, perseverance is getting a hold of yourself, correcting your course, and driving on. It is re-focusing yourself for the fight and changing your course when it is needed.

    No one succeeds at everything in life. Losing is not failure. Failure is the decision to quit, to never try, to never compete, for fear of losing. Perseverance is deciding to try, and then carrying through with the attempt, come what may.

    The pain of losing at something will fade over time. The satisfaction of giving your all, no matter what task you undertake, will stay with you forever.

    That is perseverance.

  • Jeff Webb
    Jeff Webb
    Naval Special Warfare, SEAL Team 4 and SEAL Team 8
    Topic: Training
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    Training

    “Everyone wants to be a Frogman on a sunny day”

    As I watched a recent class of aspiring Navy SEALs navigate their most difficult week of training – Hell Week – I couldn’t help but recall this saying, which had been hammered into my teammates and I, with an appropriate level of sarcasm, when we went through our own initial training. Glamorous visions of being an elite operator, fed by the many portrayals of SEALs in media, are blurred by the cold hard reality of the path it takes to get there.

    The particular class I watched had the misfortune of a Hell Week with the worst weather a San Diego winter has to offer. Rain. Wind. Cold water AND air. Choppy surf. And of course the ever present instructors, who work in shifts to keep themselves fresh while the students train around the clock. With such an environment it came as no surprise to me that half of the class was lost in the first day of Hell Week to illness, injury, and of course, quitting.

    As a senior SEAL instructor explained to me, the men who persevered were, in a sense, SEALs when they showed up for training. The instructors simply showed them an open door and the successful candidates, the ones who had prepared themselves physically and mentally, walked right through it.

    In turn, the instructors were preparing them for the next phase of their training. Progressively, these men and their teammates will train, learn, plan, and rehearse until they are called to carry out missions that will call on all of their skills and experience. And when an operation goes sideways and they find themselves under fire, or without the support or resources they need, or their communications fail, or a man goes down, those grinding days in the surf zone, the difficult training they endured, and the detailed rehearsals they performed will propel them forward.

    Of course, the same principles apply on the field of play.

    In his book Above the Line, Coach Urban Meyer explained the cultural tenet of “competitive excellence” on the OSU football team. Through hard work, repetition, and competitive play in practice, his expectation is simply for his players to make the play when their number is called. “How you compete in practice will determine how you compete in games,” he explained.

    The players and teams most committed to winning appreciate that diligent, realistic, and demanding training are the price of admission to success on the field.

  • taskforceranger3b375
    Larry Moores
    Army Special Operations/3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
    Topic: Courage
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    Courage

    “The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage” – Thucydides (460BC-395BC)

    Webster definition of Courage: Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

    Many would state that the personnel who serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment have a fairly high baseline for courage, routinely conducting high risk operations such as parachuting, waterborne operations and combat deployments. So how does one test for a level of courage / bravery prior to actually needing to see what happens during a combat operations? I believe it is to train hard and often, like it is your last day to train before combat operations.

    I first met Sergeant Lorenzo Ruiz when I arrived at 3rd platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in February 1993. Quiet confidence is how I would describe Lorenzo and is a great quality to have amongst many Type-A personalities. His courage was evident in our first field exercise. Our platoon had just finished actions on the objective following our raid and were starting to clear the area. SGT Ruiz dove on the concertina wire, and allowed the men to run across his back, allowing the platoon to continue our movement to our helicopter pick up zone.

    During our Regimental Ranger Rendezvous in the summer of 1993, the boxing matches were always the most popular events. SGT Ruiz would never back down from a challenge and would actually fight up a few weight classes. Fighting a much bigger opponent, Lorenzo would fight to the final bell. Bloodied and beaten, he would engage in one of the most memorable fights in Ranger history.

    Our platoon deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in the middle of August 1993. Everything about the East African environment and initial missions would test the character of all the Rangers involved with Task Force Ranger. Operating in 100 + degree heat, with 80+lbs of gear, in an enemy controlled city of 500,000 Somalis was no easy task. Six major missions were conducted in August and September and the men performed flawlessly. Our seventh mission, on October 3, 1993 SGT Ruiz was a vehicle leader and part of the lead element of the Ground Reaction Force (GRF) securing the objective area. The main mission of the GRF was to secure the objectives on Task Force Ranger missions, but also served as convoy support and a ground Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) element for downed aircraft.

    Lorenzo Ruiz fully understood the importance of his vehicle team and the .50 caliber machine gun providing the majority of the ground firepower for this mission. While reacting to the downed Blackhawk helicopters, the ground reaction force started receiving numerous casualties. The .50 cal gunner on SGT Ruiz’s vehicle was wounded and without hesitation, SGT Ruiz assumed the duties manning the important weapon system. The .50 cal and MK-19 systems in each vehicle team allowed the GRF freedom of movement against an armed enemy due to the superior firepower advantage. During the escalating fighting while moving to Cliff Wolcott’s downed Blackhawk, SGT Ruiz himself would be wounded and refused to come down from the gunner’s turret.

    SGT Ruiz’s actions would allow the GRF to return to the airfield to link-up with coalition forces and other US Forces for the ensuing evening of fighting to return to the two Blackhawk crash sites and recover all Task Force Ranger personnel. Upon return to the airfield SGT Ruiz was transferred to the medical aid station where he would receive initial treatment and would encourage his fellow Rangers to get back out there and complete the mission in true Ranger fashion. SGT Ruiz would later die of wounds received during his heroic actions on October 3, 1993. SGT Ruiz was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor device for heroism and Purple Heart Medal for his actions. If alive today would say to give all the credit to his teammates, just like on all the other missions and objectives he served as a part of.

    It is easy to weave the definition of courage into the day to day actions of SGT Lorenzo Ruiz. Whether in peacetime or combat, SGT Lorenzo Ruiz continually exhibited the mental and moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. His heroic actions in Mogadishu, Somalia highlighted his courage and his desire to preserve the secret of Freedom.

  • brianbuckley
    Bryan Buckley
    Marine Corps Special Operations Command
    Topic: Attention to Detail
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    Attention to Detail and Brilliance in the Basics

    The past week, I lost someone very special to me that is a once in a lifetime friend. My high school football coach. Coach Mike Pettine Sr. of the famed Central Bucks West Football program (Doylestown, Pennsylvania) passed away, suddenly, on a Florida golf course. He coached for 33 years and is widely regarded as one of the greatest high school football coaches of all time (326-42- 4 record, 8 state titles, and numerous times ranked in the Top 25 in the Nation by USA Today). CNN just did a cover story on him this past Saturday on their morning news show. We had a tremendous relationship and he was like a second father to me and to countless other players. Needless to say, many of my thoughts have been with him.

    My military career was spent in the United States Marine Corps. I spent a year in Marine Infantry, two years in Marine Recon, and the remainder of my nine year career in Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) known as Marine Raiders. I was a Team Commander and spent time in Iraq, countries in Africa, countries in South East Asia, and Afghanistan. I was awarded three awards for valor and a Purple heart. I had a very successful career in the military, but at the cornerstone of that success, were the teachings from Coach Mike Pettine. It was summer time of 2012 in the Helmand Valley in Afghanistan. Very hot time both due to weather and the fight with the Taliban. Our mission was a strike mission to go eliminate high value enemy personnel and provide “white space” to our partner forces. This was a bloody mission where many Afghan Commandos and U.S. Special Operators were wounded or killed. During this mission, I was hit by a Taliban Under barrel Grenade Launcher (UGL) that resulted in me receiving wounds throughout my body. I took a deep breath and thought about how to best attack this problem set that suddenly emerged. I called in to our higher command and informed them of the situation and that we were being overran by enemy forces. It was at this point that I looked around and the trees seemed to come to life and were just firing everything they had at us. It was one of the most intense firefights that I have ever been in. Then an amazing thing happened. As the team and I were communicating what was going on and what actions to take, there was absolute calmness. Everyone knew their job, and they were focused purely on that, and exceeding all expectations. It was the truest form of team work that I have ever witnessed. Every Marine was calmly directing fires, directing their subordinates, and winning the fight during an extremely chaotic moment. Within 35 minutes, we destroyed the enemy and moved all of the wounded off of the battlefield. How did we get there?

    On a practice field in Doylestown PA, what first seemed like we were on this field to learn the game of football, it was more than that, it was the game of life. Our practices were intense and painful. People always wondered why we had such success, that is easy, come to our practice, and you will see why. We would repeat each play over and over again until it was 100% perfect. Everyone had to hit their steps, cover their reads, and complete their assignments. It was not to worry about the guy on your left or right was doing. It was about DOING YOUR JOB. Coach Pettine was not worried about who could run the ball, anyone could do that. What he focused on was the blocking and tackling. If you could execute the fundamentals of the game, the brilliance in the basics, to near perfection. You would be unstoppable. The attention to detail was uncanny. A 45-degree angle first step did not mean you went 44-degree or 46-degree, it was 45-degrees and that was not for debate. Our practices were so intense, gut wrenching, that the games were easy. It was an absolute relief to play in the game because they were nothing compared to practice. We were a three-year high school. During my time, we went 40-1 with two PIAA State Titles and were ranked in the top 5 in USA today my last two years.

    How did this help me in the future? During that intense fight where all of the men were doing their job, it was at that point that I realized that we won that battle, albeit a surprise attack, before the battle even happened. Why? It was due to how we trained. Just because we are Special Operators, does not mean that we abandoned our mindset of brilliance in the basics and attention to detail. We would start our training at the very basics of how to take apart a weapon system that we have done a million times before, all the way up to free falling out of a plane and going into a full profile mission training exercise. We did not take anything to chance and we created muscle memory. Not bad muscle memory of taking short cuts, it was the correct muscle memory. Doing the right thing at the right time even when no one is watching. We would study and game plan for any type of problem set that we might face. We trained the way that Coach Pettine taught me how to practice. Do the little things right and great things will happen.

    I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me. No matter what situation I might face in life, I will forever think “how would coach handle this”. He has saved my life countless times, but more importantly, he saved the lives of Marines. It’s amazing the lessons of life that I learned on a practice field in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

  • Vega
    Tony de la Vega
    Army Special Operations/Joint Special Operations Command/ 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment
    Topic: Leaders
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    Leaders

    Leaders are created during tough times, not the good times. Character defines champions and leaders. This is true on sports teams and is just the same on military teams. It is easy to have a positive attitude and outlook on things when all is going well. When your team is winning on the field, or when your military unit is succeeding at their mission without any hardships. True character is not necessarily seen during the good times, but rather during dark times, when things aren’t going the way we would like, or had planned for. My first memory of seeing the true colors of an individual was during Army Ranger School Training in 1994. During this training we were routinely deprived of food, shelter and sleep. Days were long, nights were longer and the combat load we carried on our backs for hours on end was crumbling. During these tough times the cream rises to the top. Soldiers with the best character, with a winning attitude, and who put the team ahead of their own needs clearly separate themselves from the weaker, less valuable teammates. The same is true during combat operations living in the most austere, dangerous conditions is a sure way to see which teammates have true strength of character.

    These same characteristics apply on sports teams. The best, most valuable teammates never give up. They don’t crumble under the load of tough competition. They keep a positive attitude, put their teammates ahead of themselves and never, ever give up. The recent world series between the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians is a great example of a championship team full of great leaders. When faced with being down 3 games to 1, in the best of 7 series, the Cubs never gave up on themselves or each other. They always believed they could win the last three games of the series, two of which were in Cleveland.

    I believe we can work on and improve our leadership attributes. It doesn’t always come natural. If we make a conscious effort to always have a positive attitude and to always put the needs of our team ahead of our own, we can grow being average to great. It won’t happen overnight, but when we do this over time we can all become great leaders in the military, or on a baseball team.

  • Andrew Menard
    Andrew Menard
    Army Special Operations/5th Special Forces Group(A)
    Topic: Personal Growth
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    Personal Growth

    “Always Improve your Fighting Position.”

    At Basic Training the Drill Sergeants taught us to “always improve your fighting position.” For a new soldier, the literal meaning is to continuously add levels of safety to a tactical position. It starts with two soldiers lying in the ground with rifles ready. Over time, those two soldiers dig a hole which gives them added protection. That hole is then improved with structural additions like a roof. Those small roofed structures are connected to form a defensible position of multiple structures. And finally, the defensible position continues to develop into bigger, stronger and more capable base.

    The lesson application is to never allow yourself to be comfortable where you are today. Complacency is the enemy of personal growth. Adopt the Special Forces mentality that you are never Trained, but rather you are always Training, and you will outperform the competition at every level of life.