As young kids, we idolize our parents and strive to be like them in several aspects, but it is into adulthood where what our parents have instilled in us resonates at a deeper level.
For University of Richmond starting quarterback Kyle Lauletta, this rings true.
Like Lauletta, his dad, Joe, was a quarterback. Joe played for the United States Naval Academy and graduated in 1987 before earning his wings and beginning an aviation career.
Kyle, who has two brothers and a sister, grew up in a very close-knit, military family environment. Unlike the typical cliché of your dad yelling in your face or telling you to drop down and give him 20 push-ups, being raised in that environment is more about structure, discipline and respect.
“He brought over the whole discipline and the lessons that he learned in the Navy, and kind of brought it to us,” Lauletta said. “It was definitely no-nonsense though. I think I became more mature from it quicker, and I think I learned right from wrong. My dad was always hard on us, but not too hard – if we did something wrong he would get on us to the point where we knew we weren’t going to do that again.”
Today, Captain Joe Lauletta is the commanding officer of the VR-52 squadron, where he leads a group of over 300 servicemen and women. Captain Lauletta also teaches a required leadership course to future commanding officers in the Navy Reserves. While his dad is teaching leadership, Kyle is living it both on the football field as well as off of it.
Interestingly enough, Kyle is a leadership major at the University, and he looks to his role model for some guidance from time to time.
“It’s the same thing whether you’re the leader of a football team or the leader of a squadron, you’re going to run into a lot of similar situations,” Lauletta said. “We will have conversations at the dinner table because you always run into issues with certain people or you always run into situations where you don’t know how to handle them. I would always lean on my dad just to talk to him and ask him what he would do in this particular situation, and he always talks me through it. He’d always have similar experiences from his time in the Navy, and how he would handle the situation.”
Leadership is not just about being a good leader of the group or a good example. It’s also about recognizing the differences in the group, building and maintaining relationships.
“My dad would never just sit me down lecture me, give me a lesson, or teach me anything concrete about leadership. It was more about how to deal with people and how to navigate relationships,” he said. “My dad is a relationship-oriented guy. Growing up, my dad was always there to help me through anything from ‘I have an issue with a friend to there’s a problem within my group of friends/teammates.’”
Kyle remembers one lesson on relationships he won’t forget that his dad taught him.
“He’s always said, ‘Even if you’re right and the other person is wrong, it’s not worth losing a friend or damaging the relationship. You being right or getting your point across is sometimes less important than that relationship as a whole.”
Kyle was taught the value of relationships early on in life. The Lauletta’s are a very close family.
“My parents both raised me together and taught me a lot of good lessons. I use the example of dinner table conversations, but those really stick in my head,” he said. “We are just sitting as a family at the dinner table, and something will come up and we will talk for hours. When one person has a situation or an issue, everybody can learn from it.”
Not only has Kyle’s father instilled lifelong skills in him, but he was also the typical dad playing catch in the backyard and giving Kyle some tips on his mechanics, while also being one of his biggest supporters.
“He really pushed me to be the best that I could be in high school,” Kyle said. “Now that I’m in college, I think my mom and dad are just proud of me. Even when I have a bad game – I’m pretty hard on myself – and I’m looking for my dad to critique me, but he’s always like ‘Kyle you did great’ and he’s being a softy now so I get on him on how he has to give me more than that.”
Kyle’s brothers reassure him that while in the stands, their dad was certainly critiquing him. As Kyle gets older there is one big takeaway from his dad that stays in the back of his mind everyday, and that is to be humble.
“My dad always keeps me level-headed. When I was being recruiting I was getting really excited, but my dad always kept me even keeled,” Lauletta said. “The biggest thing he would tell me is, ‘you don’t have to tell people how good you’re doing, people will see it. So just be humble and thankful for what you have.”