By Teresa Varley
Mike Tomlin didn't need a game plan in front of him. He didn't need a written speech. He didn't need to memorize his words.
Because what he said to the 2008 graduating class at his alma mater William & Mary as their commencement speaker came straight from the heart.
Tomlin, a 1995 William & Mary graduate, delivered a "pre-game" speech filled with enthusiasm and hope for the class of 2008.
"First and foremost I would like to compliment this team on what they've done," said Tomlin. "I don't take the preparation for granted. I have been where you are. I understand the sacrifice."
Tomlin assured them that the game they were getting set to play, the game of life, is a slow and steady process, not defined by the first five minutes of play, but by the entire game.
"Some of you will burst out of the locker room today and have great success," said Tomlin. "I challenge you - don't wear your hand out patting yourself on the back. There's always the next time the ball is going to snap somebody is ready to knock you down.
"Some of you may burst out of the locker room today and be on the short end of things. The first five minutes of the game do not decide the outcome."
He challenged the graduates to "play to win." And he urged them to never stop dreaming.
"Dreams know no bounds," said Tomlin. "The people that I come across in what I do are successful in every walk of life. One common bond that I notice they all have is their ridiculous dream. Don't ever stop doing that. I am a ridiculous dreamer.
"To this day what separates our dreams from the ones we had as children is we have to make daily choices to take action to make those dreams a reality.
"That is what I mandate from this team today. Continue to dream. Don't let the realities of the world that await you on the other side of that door diminish those dream. Take action to make those dreams a reality."