Winning and losing

Ferris alum returns to share wisdom

Ferris alumnus Ira Childress, and current athletic director at Okemos High School, returned to Big Rapids to deliver a speech on “How to Manage Winning and Losing: in Life and in Sport.” Photo by: Andrea Cordes | Torch Photographer

Whether you are an athlete or not, life is full of wins and losses. Last week, some Ferris students got insight on how to deal with both.

Ira Childress graduated from Ferris with a communications degree and is currently the athletic director at Okemos High School. He returns to Big Rapids every year to deliver his speech, “How to Manage Winning and Losing: in Life and in Sport.”

“It’s always great to be back at Ferris State University, my alma mater,” Childress said.  

Childress made it a point to thank his former professor, Dr. Sandy Alspach, who is still a professor here at Ferris.

“I can still hear [Dr. Alspach] in my ear some days, telling me what to do, how to do it and when to do it,” Childress said.

In addition to Childress’ degree, he was also active on Ferris’ football team and was a Ferris administrator. Childress credits experiences at Ferris as the launching pad to his career in the world of sports.

The body of the speech outlined six key components of life’s journey: long term vision, preparation, failure, perseverance, prosperity and reinvention of your goals and self.

Perseverance is no strange concept to Childress as he has had to deal with issues of poverty while attending Ferris State, causing Childress to leave school for a semester.

“When I was here at Ferris, there was a time when I had to completely drop out of school. I walked into [Dr. Alspach’s] office and said, ‘this is my situation, this is my circumstance, I have to leave now.’ I was looking failure right in the face,” Childress said.

After returning to Ferris, Childress took on the challenge of taking 20 credit hours to get caught up. That semester, Childress finished with honors.

About 25 people were in attendance of Childress’ speech. Alex Freeman, a Ferris psychology and sports communication senior, heard about the event from being involved in the Sports Careers organization.

“I really enjoyed it. [Childress] is a very driven person and it was refreshing to hear a unique perspective. He is so motivated to get stuff done and continue to advance himself,” Freeman said.

The event was held Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the IRC. This was a part of the Sports Communication Organization’s Sports Speakers Series.