Longtime Highland Rugby coach Larry Gelwix was the guest speaker at a forum hosted by the LDS Student Association last Tuesday in the Taylorsville LDS Institute.
Gelwix started the forum by taking questions from the students in attendance. He then followed with an entertaining talk that lasted around 25 minutes.
Gelwix told a story of one of his former players who was a freshman in high school. This player had an obsession with snakes; one day he found a rattlesnake outside of his school and had the nerve to pick it up around the head.
The boy had fun with the snake, chasing other kids and giving them a significant scare. When one of his friends called out to him, he loosened his grip, and in that split second the snake bit him.
Gelwix then related this story to the audience and said, “Never play with snakes. Whenever you play with a snake you will always get bitten.”
The message resonated with students in attendance, including LDSSA President Tanner Aiken.
“My favorite part was when he talked about not playing with snakes, and how we each have snakes in our lives that we need to get rid of,” he says. “Those snakes can be bad friends, bad habits [or] addictions.”
Gelwix coached Highland Rugby for 35 years, earning a remarkable 418-10 record and 20 national championships before retiring in 2011.
Gelwix came to be known as “the winningest coach in America” and caught the attention of a Hollywood director, who decided to make a movie about him and his team. “Forever Strong” was originally released in September 2008 and was recently translated into a few new languages and released into theaters in multiple European countries.
“I can’t believe how successful the movie was and still is!” Gelwix says. “Very rarely does a movie continue its production throughout a decade.”
In spite of all of the success and recognition, Gelwix uses that anecdote to share an important life lesson: Each person has their own individual snake. We may find something interesting, but no matter how tempting it is, we should never play with it.