Hugh Freeze, the head football coach at the University of Mississippi, is considered by many as this season’s Football Bowl Subdivision Coach of the Year. He led the Rebels to a regular season of 9-3, a top twenty ranking, and an upset win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
But Coach Freeze has also taken a major step in the character development of his coaches and players. Freeze decided to teach ‘The R.E.A. L. Man Program’ to his entire freshman team.
The R.E.A.L. Man Program was developed by the late high school and college coach, Frank DiCocco. It is a comprehensive manual that teaches character development in a step-by-step process. It is designed, as well, for middle school, high school, and college-aged males and has been utilized by athletic programs, schools and youth development organizations all across the country. The program was also implemented by the NFL’s Youth Impact program which works with at-risk inner-city students.
The program itself consists of character development tools, exercises, and a playbook for living life. R.E.A.L. Man stands for Respect for all people, Especially women, Always doing the right thing, and Living a life that matters. In association with the R.E.A.L. Man program, Coach DiCocco founded the H.O.P.E. Foundation For a Better Tomorrow which incorporates the R.E.A.L. program. Standing for Helping Other People Excel, the goal of the foundation is to develop young men as real role models and gentlemen.
Under the direction of Frank’s parents – Kathy and Lou – the H.O.P.E. Foundation has provided R.E.A.L. Man manuals for those coaches and administrators willing to teach the program. They have also organized fund-raisers for the foundation, and in calendar year 2014, provided funding for seven scholarships. Additionally, the foundation has also funded grants for campers and helped sponsor a number of after school programs.
The program itself has received praise and recognition from coaches around the country. Some of the coaches include Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Mike London, the head coach at the University of Virginia, Joe Taylor, the head coach at Florida A & M, and the University of Connecticut’s head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.
Coach DiCocco spent his entire adult life helping the less fortunate and improving character development. Probably his most memorable quote was just about that: “As a coach, my mission is to help raise the quality of this world, by helping it raise the quality of the individuals who live in this world.”
If any school is interested in more information about the R.E.A.L. Man program, go to the web site – or call. You can contact Lou or Kathy at 203-206-4801 or at the website. They would love to hear from you.