Rick Pitino told thousands of FFA members from across the country packed into Freedom Hall Wednesday that pressure and problems are good things.
"We're all under pressure every day," said Pitino, whose University of Louisville men's basketball team won the national championship in 2013. "It's why we wake up early in the morning, work hard throughout the day and stay up later at night. Pressure brings out enormous potential and when problems present themselves, we need to look adversity straight in the eye and deal with it."
Pitino opened the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo, an event that in its 86th year has drawn more than 56,000 FFA members from all 50 U.S. states to Louisville for four days. His motivational address focused on the importance of interpersonal communication in achieving career and life success.
"I believe in being upbeat and positive every day," he said. "The more you listen, the more you learn. Successful people master the art of communications by having a razor-sharp focus, listening four times the amount they speak and facing adversity straight in the eye to shrink it down to the size of a pea.
"You all have unbelievable passion – a fiery enthusiasm – that must drive you every day. Say, 'Bring it on.' Listen and learn. Be totally focused. Be humble. You're going to cross a bridge at some point and you'll realize that you've achieved success because the bridge will be a crowded one."
During convention, nine general sessions will gather FFA members together at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Students will have countless opportunities to engage exhibitors from more than 450 corporations, organizations and colleges through Friday at the Expo inside the center. Other events will be held at venues downtown, in suburbs and beyond.
Throughout the week, students will attend leadership and personal growth workshops. FFA members will tour industry, including Papa John's international headquarters, Ford's Louisville assembly plant and University of Kentucky, and educational venues, including Fort Knox, the Kentucky Derby Museum, and the Muhammad Ali Center. FFA members will also participate in community-service initiatives and help beautify the city, volunteer at food banks, harvest and distribute locally grown produce, package meals for families in need, clean up parks and more.
Country star Dierks Bentley performed exclusively for FFA Wednesday night at KFC Yum! Center while the World's Toughest Rodeo is tonight and Friday night at Broadbent Arena inside the Kentucky Exposition Center.
News, features and more from the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo will be published on FFA.org and on Twitter at #igniteFFA. Portions of the event are being streamed live on iHigh.com. The convention ends Saturday after national delegates representing FFA in all 50 states elect a new, six-member National FFA Officer team for 2013-14.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.