“There’s a lot of steps to get to that National Championship scene. We’ve been once and we know exactly how to get there for sure, and it takes winning each and every day.”- Daryl Hawkins, Oregon Wide Receiver
Win The Day, WTD, or even, hashtag WTD. No matter how you say it, it’s an Oregon Duck thing. Fans proclaim it, the nation’s accepted it and more importantly, the Ducks have fully embraced it. But what exactly does it all mean? Is the motto/mantra/slogan really effective or is it just a catchy slogan that sounds good? I know, I know. Why does it matter? Common sense would tell us it must be working right? But honestly, think about it. With the national spotlight shining brightly on Oregon and ongoing Heisman and Natty banter, how does the team truly stay focused on winning one-day-at-a-time? I mean, if you or I can’t focus on one game at a time, how does say, De’Anthony Thomas, with his competitive spirit and NFL aspirations, stay focused on winning the day? Inquiring minds want to know. Don’t worry, I got some answers.
In the Summer of 2009, with the promotion of then Head Coach, Chip Kelly, the team began to really adopt the “Win The Day” slogan- something Kelly had brought with him from his days in New Hampshire. With some marketing and branding help, the slogan was quickly adopted by the team and fans alike. The basic idea was to encourage players to celebrate each success, one at a time. Or, as Coach Helfrich put it, “We can’t control what team A, B, C, D, E and F do on Saturday. We can only control what we can do right now and that’s something that our guys believe in wholeheartedly- that we have to have a great today for anything else to matter. Trust what you can control and that’s it.”
Since adopting the beloved slogan, the Ducks have won 46 of their 53 match-ups. Coincidence? Probably not. According to Coach Gary Campbell, a 30 year coaching staff veteran, the Win The Day concept has absolutely contributed to the Ducks’ success, not only on the field, but in life as well.
“It definitely contributes to the success because to us, the WTD means “in everything you do” like getting up on time. Like making your bed. getting to meetings early. Making sure that your buddy gets there. Making sure you have a successful practice and then making sure you’re in class and doing the right things in class and doing things that are going to make the university, your teammates and your family proud of you throughout the entire day and you haven’t won the day until you do all those things. I truly believe that what guys do off the field, carries onto the field.”
Again, all of that sounds great, but how exactly does a coaching staff ingrain this “Win the Day” mentality into each player, given all the attention and media pressure surrounding them? ”
We’ve got to give them examples of what happens when guys do it and when guys don’t do it. We look around the country and you see other teams and other players who are getting into trouble and out not doing the things they’re supposed to do and they suffer the consequences. If you’re doing the right thing and everything you do is on the up and up, and you’re making people proud of you, then you don’t get that kind of attention,” coach Campbell explained.
Clearly, the coaching staff has it down, but what do the players think? I knew just who to ask- veteran Wide Receiver, Daryle Hawkins. With his typical friendly smile and well-spoken response, Hawkins explained what winning the day means to him.
“There’s definitely a lot of other mantra’s out there that mean the same thing. Carpe Diem, I think Drake came out with YOLO. Pretty much, it’s kind of like taking life by the horns. I think every single day, unless you’re working to improve on something, you’re not getting better at anything.”
But how hard is that when you see your highlights over and over again on ESPN and hear the crowd yelling “We want Bama”?
“I don’t know necessarily that it’s hard. That’s what they’re supposed to do. The crowd is supposed to hype us up and try to get us going and our job, in spite of all that, is to stay focused and do the little things one day at a time, in order to get us where we have to go. There’s a lot of steps to get to that National Championship scene. We’ve been there once and we know exactly how to get there for sure, and it takes winning each and every day.”
As it turns out, winning the day is more than just putting a “W” down in the books. Shocking, I know. It turns out it’s about staying focused on one goal at time, whether it be winning a game, making your family proud, or yes, making your bed in the morning. It’s about turning young boys into responsible men by taking one step at a time both in life and on the field. Here’s to hoping those steps lead the Ducks all the way to. . .