Showing posts from 2010

Dynasty & Destiny

I've fallen into another cool assignment, and it's been a good challenge.

I was asked to help out with an assembled traveling tackle football team run by Coach E, who I worked with on the 9th grade staff. He runs our local tackle football youth program.

I came on Monday and was drafted to be the OL coach. It's been an interesting challenge for me because, as it seems to work, I'm learning more by having to script out all the blocking schemes and work with the different levels of boys.

The thing I really LOVE about coaching was working with the boys last night. I went over plays with the OL (including our tight end who is an eighth-grader .... he's part smarts, part hellcat). We had to improvise a bit because my left guard and center were missing.

The back-up center stepped in, though, and was able to get some good work. He caught on quickly, but when it came time to run through plays together, the other center showed up. Sadly, it wasn't as smooth because he hadn&#…

My giants

This week I've devoted some time to trying to say thank you to all the people in the high school football program who helped me, invested in me, and taught me something about what it means to being a good coach.

I found myself literally crying last night while I wrote a few notes, and I think I'd probably start the dang waterworks again if I looked at them.

I thought about the concept of "standing on the shoulders of giants" this summer when I was selected to TEAM USA. It certainly was not by all my own effort - so many phenomenal people have invested in me their time, talents, advice, wisdom, training, technique, and most of all confidence.

It prompted me to check out where the saying came from:

Wikipedia tells me this (and love the photo):

I like the reference from the X-files : "If I have seen further than other men it's because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

I truly feel that I ow…

WB 1, Chee 0

The Class of 2014 made a statement in its last game of the season last week... and it was loud and proud.

I thought we'd be a wreck as we arrived with not as much time before the game to warm up or do our normal routine, and the boys dressed in our lockerroom before we left. We've also only played two away games all year. I also rode the bus with the team, which was interesting, but so fun afterwards.

We jumped out to an 8-0 lead, moving the ball swiftly down the field and scoring with the muddle pass to the side with a lone player. The defense forced our crosstown rival to punt right off the bat, setting up the first score and after they did it again, we drove the ball again downfield, looking for another six. Sadly, the ball carrier T fumbled and we turned over so close to our goal line.

Coach L yelled at the boy - later Coach L told me that though he raised his voice, his words were something like this: "You will get the ball again and you will take care of it. We need yo…

Two memories

The varsity played a homecoming game on Oct. 22, and two things happened that day that I will never forget:

The first (and least significant by far) was seeing a Blackhawk helicopter land on the field to deliver the game ball. A cool gesture, but definitely small compared to the second.

Before the game, a man and his son knocked on the doors to the football complex. The man was like any other in the stands, and his son was in a wheelchair, clearly excited by all the hoopla going on in the stands, the band playing, the people walking by.

The man asked me if I knew where one of our players was and if they were in the right spot to meet the team to walk on the field before the game. I told them they were - as they stood near the large doghouse door, where the varsity all files out. Before things got too hectic, I walked with the other coaches up to the press box to wait.

The most memorable thing about that night was seeing our 50+ players WALK out onto the field, hand-in-hand, over to our si…

Fighting to the finish

In our second-to-last game of the season, the boys learned how to fight. It's a skill that has to be learned, like poise, or winning. And once players are empowered, there's no going back. NS, who has come to most practices and is very passionate about playing but not the most talented kid on our roster, learned he was going to start on defensive line. Our best defensive lineman JL had been sick and kept out of school for half the day, rendering him ineligible to play in our game. If not for this, NS would probably not have had a chance to play much this game, but the effort and heart he gave in practice made him the likely candidate to fill in. NS made mistakes, he didn't make the same plays JL might have made, but he did play hard and at one point, I saw him drive an OL back into the play. He was fired up and he wasn't about to miss his chance. He gave his whole heart that day. At halftime, Coach L gave some good remarks. We had been playing well on both sides of th…

Being a teacher....

This week, I've taught my RG how to snap and my LT how to get in a halfway decent stance.

Both have left me with this incredible feeling of satisfaction. DK would be a great center because he's smart, physical and already a leader. He, like any person trying to play the position, struggled with getting great explosion off the football while still providing a good snap, but he did a great job. We battled for about 30 minutes after practice on Monday - and some of the receivers did stay to catch the deep ball especially.

Yesterday, they asked me if I was going to stay again and of course I said yes. Our first QB couldn't stay long, so that cut down playtime for some of the more rambunctious kids, but I did get a chance to work with VP during practice on his stance. He finally listened to me when I made a few adjustments, including some actual BEND in his knees and hamstrings.

He, I think, was shocked at how much difference a few inches made in his ability to pass block and get …

Don't be this parent:

Last week was fall break for my high school, and the freshmen did not have a dedicated practice but instead were invited to participate with the varsity. Sadly, only a few did come and not all the boys who should've been there were. Still, my TE did play a good deal in last Thursday's JV game (photo above). It was a good learning experience for him. After the game I asked him how it went, mostly because of where we were sitting in the stands, I couldn't really see too much of the game.

He said: "Well, that guy was so strong and fast and I really couldn't do anything at all against him."

I said: "We learn different things in every game.... and it'll be off to the weight room with you this winter and spring."

The ugly thing I learned during the game was a result of my choice to support the boys as a fan. All the varsity coaches came to the game, but all stood on the sideline even if they were not participating in the coaching. I had asked Josh to co…

Game 3: Learning Disappointment

Sad to report, but we were upset in the final :40 seconds of Thursday night's battle.

We got out to a quick start, scoring and moving the ball down the field. We installed a check down this week from 83 Base to 21 Bucksweep and vice-versa, and because it was the only check, I'm certain by halftime the other team knew the play but mostly couldn't stop us. Good news.

Yeah, O-line - it starts up front!

Still, our defense wasn't able to recognize the counter plays they ran, and a freak flea-flicker play took the wind out of our sails going into halftime. I hate that stupid play, except the one time it was run by Boise State.

We didn't really change anything at halftime, and the defense picked up its intensity for the second act. We recovered a fumble, the momentum from which was stymied by our attempt to draw an offsides call, which resulted in a mental error and a 1st and 15 instead.

Worse, our kicker missed his extra point attempt when we did score which was attributed to…

The things they don't teach you....

Every day of coaching, I feel like I learn something.

Some is to be expected - such as what kind of coaching is needed in a game vs. practice, or what my role is on a coaching staff of five - and the other things cover a wide scope.

This week, I've learned something that probably no male coach could've told me, and that is: if you make treats to take to a football game, make sure it doesn't make a mess in your locker room (think: rice krispie treats). The boys didn't actually make a mess, but Coach L's first reaction was to yell that into the lockerroom after the cupcakes came in for Coach H's birthday (which was Tuesday) and because I still felt a bit guilty for missing their first game because of class last week. No matter, I also learned that with a logical explanation, boys move on with no problem. My center M asked me about it Monday and as I was apologizing to him, it was already over. Cool. If I was still coaching girls, I think they'd still be mad...


"We're going to get killed"

This week's fun at practice culminated yesterday with a JV - frosh scrimmage because our first game was postponed to 9.16. It was a let-down, but still a good opportunity to prepare some things, especially because Coach H was gone this week at a coaching clinic across town.

On Tuesday when Coach L told the boys about the scrimmage vs. game situation, I walked down to the locker room with my center M, TE C and a few other boys. M tells me right off the bat: "Coach, we're going to get killed." Of course I had to say if he felt that way, he should just stay home on Thursday... but in truth, I wasn't sure what to expect.

The challenges of the frosh squad are many but one is that we aren't able to really "scout" the other team. We can see what our boys are doing through the practice tapes we take on Thursdays and we can see what the opponents' varsity squads are playing but it will be a mystery for personnell and game planning. The same was a little tr…

Under the Lights: Game 1

On the night of the Varsity’s first home game last Friday (8.27), the home crowd was buzzing. Little kids in football jerseys and "cheerleaders" were running around after a clinic held on our practice fields, adjacent to the stadium. They formed up a tunnel to high-five the players as they ran out onto the field, and as you can tell from the photo, things have gotten advanced.We have a wonderful facility with lockerroom for the varsity, coaches’ offices and lockerroom, rooms for film and study, a kitchen with adjacent multipurpose room on the second floor, training room and patio/deck for pre/post game meals. From the photo, you can see the banner and the fog machine and the cheerleaders…. High school football isn’t the same here, even for a town itching for a decent squad in some time.I remember running out onto our (shared) field, with its Astroturf and burning lights… it was fall and it was fantastic. This is the same feeling, but more restrained for me. Some of the coach…

The giggle party in full effect

I talked to Dana on the phone last night and realized I was getting behind on my funny stories from football practice.

I'll try to recap. I think something happens every day that either cracks me up or makes me proud to be a coach.

This week's highlights have included:

- A get-to-the-ball-drill + conditioning - where our corner was confused as to the fact that he was participating in the station and not being a stationary volunteer. He waved his arms in the air instead of running to the guy behind him, who was actually the target of Coach L's pointing. The stationary volunteers on the other side did updowns and ran with the defense, so it was all a little chaotic.

- In the same drill, coach L asked the kids to do an up-down, pop up and do a somersault and then get to the stationary volunteer he pointed at - with the purpose that sometimes you have to make it happen - someone might be in your way, you might fall, etc., but on defense you have to get there. My RT is built very s…

Hey, mom?

Last night at practice I arrived early enough to see it from the beginning, and for the most part, I thought we got a lot done. We spent some good time on fundamentals - including some blocking, fit blocking, and competition 1v1 over a board. I thought the boys wanted to compete and they worked hard. We do need to work on moving our feet, especially and specifically those bigger linemen who are used to getting by using the strategy of putting their weight on people. It doesn't always work.

I want to write for a few minutes on how I see my role as a coach. I believe as a player that if you can understand your job with your mind, it's easier to translate on the field when you must make a split-second, and violent decision with your body. Football is a simple game, but made more complicated when we don't know what we're doing. Also, as a learner who responds best to writing and seeing something before it is applied, I feel for the boys who do not have a playbook and are st…

The beginning of a new chapter

Every night I come home and talk about football.

This might not be any different than any other day or time, but I feel with coaching, it's always on my mind. I'm worrying about the kid who didn't want to tell me what was so obviously wrong the other day in practice. I'm worrying that I don't know what's going on. I'm learning the rules for each of the OL positions and I finally think I have our base defensive alignment down. I feel bad for the kids because the other coaches think we are behind (of course they are worrying this privately themselves, but in our coaches' meeting every night it's a little public for our little group).

What I do think is different is this: I have such a cool opportunity and though there are many outliers and threats to my/our success, it's been a truly kismet arrangement so far. The two centers are both hard workers (pfft... we knew that!!!), there is a ton of support that goes into the team, and the county has rule…

Lunch lines...

I always feel a bit guilty when I come to practice late, which is now every day with work. Still, when I arrived yesterday, the coaches were just finishing the form run/stretch period and it was already 4:30. So, I was right on time.

I studied Sunday night - thankfully Coach L gave me all the plays we were installing this week, and working on learning them and the playbook for the OL was a bit like being back in school... I love that feeling. I had a good chance to work with the centers during offensive individual, as we're installing the buck sweep and there are three distinct jobs for the line - Tackles always have gap-down-backers; Guards are pull and kick (or wrap); and Centers are fire-on-backer.

I worked on steps for a few minutes with regard to the fire - which is a 45 degree step playside, blocking anything that crosses your face. We did some on-blocking and then some reads with one man at defense with a gap and one on offense with his rules (fire-on-backer).

I stopped them a…

New doors and no more "ma'am"s

I read a funny e-mail by Mia Brickhouse today from TEAM USA... and it was a book idea for 'how TEAM USA ruined my life' ... It was so much fun and none of us really wants to return to 'real life'. One of my goals for life is to figure out how women can play this sport as a job - even if they have to supplement their incomes in the off-season. It is truly a moment in history that we had to appreciate what life could be like.

This weekend I vow to finish writing about the experience, post all my photos and write my thank you notes. I am so far behind but I do need to remain employed.

My big news is that my contact with a high school football coach earlier in the year has become a cool opportunity for me to help coach the freshmen team at the school. I am working with two good coaches (one specializes in offense, one defense) and two other assistants who are funny in their own ways. More on them later.

I met with the head coach Monday which I realized was an interview when I…

USA "sneaks" past Finland

So we defeated a fundamental, hardworking Finland team tonight, 72-0.... all our backs got TDs and Lee should've had two, but both were called back for holding. Crazy. I am so proud of our team - not only for the great things that happened today - Rusty Sowers was a two-time MVP of the game, Tarsha had an awesome block that took down two girls and was the block heard round the world, Welter had an awesome sack, our defense blocked a punt, and Rusty returned a punt for a TD... and on and on.

The entire team got to play good minutes tonight.... which was great as our second and third sets of offense and defense are people any team would love to have. We came up with an awesome beat before the game and did it after halftime as well.... so much passion on our team and heart - you can't keep this team down.

Our opponent made the mistake of saying they planned to score 20-30 points on us... unfortunately for them our defense is like a rock, and it was never close.

I was disappointed in…

Highlight video

Check this out..... our first game highlights:

Old Town photos

Photos : 1/2 - We went to Skansen which is an outdoor museum of all of Sweden. We only had about 30 minutes, but photo 1 is an example of the cottages they gave to workers in the early years in Sweden... there are a bunch people still live in here around the hotel. This one was about 100 square feet. No. 2 is a photo of some bread they were selling at a stand in Skansen. They also made pottery and other items. 3/ Funny advertising. We felt bad for this kid. And then we took pictures.
4/ Statue outside the church next to the Royal Palace. Not sure exactly who this was, but my guess is one of the kings. 5/ Beautiful scenery... I love the history 6/ Fascinated with the manhole covers in Europe... 7/ Our tour guide around the palace 8/ Me at the Royal Palace 9/ Overlooking the Baltic Sea.

Four days... for life

The perspective I have to have for the next four days is that this is for life.... we had a practice today, we have Finland tomorrow night at 6 Sweden time, practice Friday and then medal games on Saturday.

From practice today I am sore .... my lower back is spasming, my arms/hands are a battlefield and my neck/traps are going NUTS. My feet hurt a little but it's definitely on the backburner which is sort of nice.
I think most of us are getting by using the cathartic Swedish ice cream ... The one above is a Magnum (with almonds). The regular is chocolate with caramel /vanilla ice cream and the best is the strawberry ice cream with white chocolate on the outside. The dinner food we're eating is not really what we need to sustain energy and strength over this stretch, so I'm spending some money at the hotel restaurant, but Swedish people eat lots of veggies and not a ton of meat so it's different. Yesterday I had a salad that was yummy with balsamic/lemon dressing, two sma…

I need to catch up...

Buttonightit'sabutmidnightalready and thoughwe get tosleep in a bit tomorrowbeforepractice and meetings all night, I'mhoping I can still get uptowalkaround.We'llsee.I'mTIRED.

I needto post moreaboutour bus tour and Monday, buttodaywespentmostofthedaywatchingotherteamsplay - ourcompetitioncomingup.Thefirstgamewas Finland vs.Austria, and thescoretherewas 50-16 I think.... Finland has a goodoffensivegame and Austriawasabletodomore in thisgamethanours.We'llhavetodosomeworkonespeciallydefensetokeepthemscoreless as theiroffensewascertainlyclickingtoday.

ThesecondgamewasSwedenvs.Germany and itwas a shockto all ofus.SwedenheldGermanyto 14 points - and itwas a defensivebattle: Final, Germany 14, Sweden 6. I'mprettysureSwedenhad 12 sacks, and I'dhatetoknowwhatthecountwas for Germany.Theyhavetwobookendtackles (whoplayinside) and areHUGE.We'llcut

Photos by Gary

See all the cool photos from during the game here...

From the podium

I didn't post after our win but I'm sure most of you have heard that the US beat Austria 63-0. The gravity of this game didn't hit me until we were eating in the cafeteria across the street from the stadium ... a scoring record! Since this is the first, we are the first, everything is a first.

It's an incredible feeling. I was very nervous before the game but Coach Mac's words on the word BELIEVE the night before did help settle me down.

The game was tough on me physically, and to Austria's credit, they kept fighting. We had a chance to talk to some of them after the game.... the girls I spoke to asked me asked if we got paid to play football in America as we all looked like we lifted for a living. Hahahahah!!!!

Both teams stayed to watch Canada play Sweden. We were SO impressed with how they played. Sweden's team is full of very young (read: ages 16-18) players, but they played a great game. Sweden blocked a punt... and had some good plays. The game was almos…

More posts

TOP: At a park in downtown Stockholm. Sweet fountain. Next: Sweet hotel we went into - owned by someone famous... nice bathrooms too. Next2: Walking down one of the main streets. Next3: Sweet church. Next4: The best lunch ever - pesto, cheese and crusty bread. Next5: Dinner at the hotel where Canada and Austria are staying. Next6: OG and a sweet pic with her glasses. Next7: Team by the Baltic Sea. Next8: Sailboat and awesome view. Next9: Our hotel and the police who wanted to meet our team.
Next10: Vaz and me after our adventure in the city on Day1. Next11: Brief photo of the stadium. Next12: Our bus... Next13: Me Next14: The birdseye view from the plane of Sweden. The ground looks like this too. Next15: The coaches... from front: Coach K, Coach Mac, Coach Stone Last: Me, OG and Knegi (Ningeee)