Mike Tomlin loves coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's something he is passionate about, something he gives his all too, something he enjoys every aspect of.
But, there is something else that easily beats that passion. It's what Tomlin is all about. It's being a dad.
"I know the upbringing my boys have is quite different than mine and I am excited about that," said Tomlin, whose biological father wasn't part of his life. "I want what is absolutely the best for them. I am learning along the way. I didn't have that father-son relationship as a young guy that they have. I developed it along the way with some powerful men that came into my life. The way they are growing up is different than me, but it's better."
Tomlin, who has three children, shared that passion of being a father at ManUp Pittsburgh, a conference done in conjunction with Urban Impact to help challenge men to become stronger fathers and better role models for their children, as well as those in the community that do not have a father in their lives to serve as a male role model.
"When you don't have someone to model behavior after, someone to be a blueprint for you, there is no telling where you get those lessons from," said Tomlin. "Many of the places, particularly in disadvantaged urban situations, they are not good examples. They are learning lessons in the street and often not good ones. We want to be active and combat that. There are a lot of good men in this community and we are calling on them to come together, worship and get better. Be the best father they can be in their homes and also to the young people around us that are in need."
Tomlin relied on the guidance of coaches, his grandfather, and eventually his stepfather, Leslie Copeland, to help lead him along the right path, help him grow into the man he is today. It was that background he was discussing with Pastor Ed Glover from Urban Impact that eventually led to the conception of ManUp.
"It was about me trying to be the best Godly father I can be and acknowledging that I came from a broken home, in line with his organization that works with a lot of disadvantaged youth, particularly those from broken homes," said Tomlin. "It challenged me to think about ways that we can encourage not only fathers, but surrogate like fathers, community fathers, guys that are around young people that don't have that guidance and how we can maximize an opportunity to be impactful in the lives of our children and others."