This coach brought his team back together by teaching them compassion for strangers.
This is what a great coach looks like.
Last year during Seneca Valley High School's winter concert, Coach Kim included the students in an incredibly special moment for him and his soon to be wife.
He surprised Michelle, who also happens to be the Choral Director at Seneca Valley, by proposing to her on stage surrounded by her students. When it happened, everyone erupted into screams of excitement and joy for the couple.
All photos via Upworthy.
While the moment was significant all on its own, the fact that Coach Kim decided to propose in front of the students was the icing on the cake, because those kids might as well be family.
“It was the coolest thing ever just to have them see that, and have them be part of that experience," she recalls.
If any of this sounds like an episode of "Friday Night Lights," that's not surprising. These teachers have a similarly uncommon bond with their students.
Fred Kim is the Head Football Coach at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland, and to many of his players, he's like a second father.
"To some of them, that’s the only father figure that they have," says Michelle.
Coach Kim motivates them to not only be accountable for their actions, but to be better citizens of the world. It's imbued the team with a level of confidence and cohesiveness that's made them virtually unstoppable in recent years.
However, it wasn't always like that. Back in 2009, the football team had one of the worst seasons they'd ever had. Kim attributed their lackluster performance to a "lack of commitment," and "poor character."
“I know we have some kids who don’t have fathers, who don’t have positive role models, don’t have proper mentorship," says Kim. So he sought to change that.
They began a program designed to get the players involved in giving back to the community so that they realize the importance of supporting those around them.
It's called The ACE Project, and it was started by the Girls Basketball Coach, Ali Hashemzadeh.
“The intent is to get them out into the community, and learn the power of volunteerism and giving back without accepting anything in return,” says Hashemzadeh.
Kim also brought on an Assistant Coach named Matt McCabe, who was known for inspiring students through character-building workshops.
"For the rest of your life, you have an opportunity to let your attitude and your level of enthusiasm write a different story for yourself," Coach McCabe tells his players.
And so far, these outreach endeavors have been truly transformative for the athletes at Seneca Valley.
"It always feels good give back to the community," says Shy’Yon Frazier, one of the football players. Especially as an athlete — you have a big role, people look at you different. So you have to do things different. You have to do more.”
Beyond that, by working together to make their community a better place to live, the kids are reminded how powerful unity can be, both on a team and in life. Kim believes this idea of thinking about 'us' rather than 'me' has taken his team to the next level in terms of ability.
It's also helped them feel connected to each other in a truly extraordinary way. And that all began with Coach Kim.
"We try to tell them, 'this football team is your family,'" he says. "'This is an extension of your family.'"
Learn more about Coach Kim and Seneca Valley High School here: