Story by Nicole Cooke. Copy Editor—
UCM student athletes had the chance to listen to Bob Anastas, the founder of Students Against Destructive Decisions Monday, Oct. 29 in the Elliott Union ballroom.
Anastas spoke about SADD’s mission, “To provide students with the best prevention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, and other destructive decisions.”
The group began in 1981. During the presentation, he told the story of why he decided to found SADD. The story began with two promising young hockey players and ended with tragedy.
One senior player was trying to receive a full-ride scholarship to college for hockey and asked Anastas for help. Anastas made the phone call and told the college coach that he should choose this young man, not because he was the best and the strongest, but because “you don’t have what I have.”
“When you want to see him, he’ll be in his dormitory room Thursday, Friday, Saturday night’s because he’s not there to party, he’s there to play a game called hockey,” Anastas said. “If he’s not there, he’s in the library. If he’s not there, he’s in the gym or the rink.”
The college coach decided that day to give the young man a scholarship because he was “the best person on the list.”
“That is the greatest compliment you can ever have as a human being,” Anastas said.
A year later that player had moved to college, and another promising player who was unhappy with his poor, small town life came to Coach Anastas. After their conversation he left and went to a party. He left the party drunk, didn’t buckle up, and drove home. He was killed in a car accident.
The young man’s father said he wished his son would’ve called him for a ride home and he would’ve understood.
A few days later, the original young player came home from college because of his friend’s death.
He drank that night to drown his sorrows with a friend. His friend forced him to stay up all night and split a case of beer.
He, too, drove home drunk, fell asleep at the wheel, and was also killed. The friend survived, but suffered a severe brain injury that still affects him today.
Within a week, one town lost two young men to drunk driving and Anastas wanted to do something about it. He blamed the situations on lack of communication between parents and children, and peer pressure.
While the name changed from Students Against Driving Drunk to Students Against Destructive Decisions in 1997, the mission was still very much the same.
The organization now has a broader focus than just alcohol, but it still wanted to help students make better decisions.
Anastas spoke of making those better decisions and becoming part of the “25 percent,” not the “75 percent.”
He said that being in the 25 percent of students that make good, successful choices with high self-esteem is much better than being in the majority with the 75 percent of students who have low self-esteem and blame others for their problems instead of taking responsibility.
He had a four-point plan to help the athletes in the room Monday night achieve that goal of becoming a “25 percenter.”
1. Run when the other guy walks
You should always present yourself well, look good and keep yourself in good shape. “The first impression is the most important one you’ll make, whether it’s for a job interview or athletically, be class,” Anastas said.
2. Sleep when the other guy parties and drinks
Don’t be the person whose coach has to create a curfew. Be prepared for your Saturday game instead of partying.
3. Take a weakness and make it a strength
“You compete against no one but yourself,” Anastas said. “No one’s going to tell you how to do it. You have to tell yourself how to improve.” Anastas said this step is where a lot of athletes stop and complacency sets in. The best ones keep moving forward.
4. Keep your mind and body drug and alcohol-free
“It’s the self-discipline,” Anastas said. “It’s self-respect. You can’t do these things and compete 100 percent.”
Anastas was brought to UCM through a partnership with Anheuser-Busch in Sedalia.
As part of their commitment to alcohol education and responsibility training, the company pays to send speakers to UCM each fall to educate student athletes.
“Every student needs to hear this message,” athletic director Jerry Hughes said. “It’s good to help make students aware of situations involving alcohol and proper use of alcohol. Every student on campus can benefit from that type of speaker.”
Sarah Espy, co-president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, agreed that these types of speakers are beneficial to student athletes.
“As a student athlete, I know we need to be reminded that we are here to do three important things: perform in the classroom, perform on the field, and set good examples in the community,” Espy said. “Setting a good example in the community means making good decisions in any situation.”
For more information on SADD, visit SADD.org.