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 rules about practicing in the heat.

I don't know why I'm so happy about that, but I look back to high school and think about how sick I got the first time I tried to practice in the end-of-July two-a-days and bless these rules. I know lots of kids have paid for coaches who refuse to compromise practice plans - especially because, and this is the wildcard with high school especially, the kids aren't interested in taking care of themselves yet, especially the freshmen. They are struggling to meet everyone, to fit in, to see what the new schedule and routines are... they aren't thinking about drinking water and eating the right stuff... we are apparently lucky if they eat lunch at all.

The coaches I really enjoy. Coach F is a tall guy, played defensive end at the high school and then went to college and played also. He told me the other day that the best OT he ever had was a girl. That made me smile. He's got a good command of the kids, and he is demanding but in an interesting way. I think he's a big sweetheart, but in coaching the boys is selective with his coaching points and he likes to get riled up in a loud, booming way. I secretly think it's so that they don't learn too quickly how sweet he really is. He broke my heart last night by telling me that he doesn't like offense. I told him we were a good match then since I don't really like defense.

I think there's a model of a football coach, and we negotiate within that model. For example, Varsity head coach W is VERY commanding of the kids. He's magnetic and the way he speaks and what he says is very good for the boys. They might not want to listen, but they really do. He's not with us too often, but I know he is demanding of the varsity from what I can overhear at times.

The thing I think is good about all the coaches is that they so evidently care about the boys ... last night when we were making closing remarks, Coach L (our head coach) was telling them that we all chose them - chose to be with them and anything that we say or do is to help them. I know it's true, and I don't know at that moment how much they all believe, but I truly believe that over the next few months, they will see it. I like that with each of the coaches I see their unique and special talents, and I think in that way, we will all make a good team. Coach E is good at seeing kids at different positions - and identifying the prospects. He's a funny guy, and has really embraced me to the program. Coach H has very good, clear ways to explain techniques and teaching feet, stance, steps, etc. It's much different than my favorite coach from my playing days in terms of style and drilling, but he's good with the boys. I can tell that he's had a good amount of practice in teaching these things over time.

Coach L likes to repeat the phrases that they use in teaching to me all the time because I get "mad".... for example, for the 90 protection blocking they use, they tell the boys to angle toward the opponent's "pee hole". Obviously I cannot give that instruction, so I am forever shaking my head and laughing about it when they remind me. I think it would be more distracting to our schedule as the boys would start a giggle party for 20 minutes. I learned one day during our tackling station the hard way. I asked Coach E to help me demonstrate the proper head/hands/position/form to the boys as our verbal instructions weren't cutting it. He had to "tackle" me and the boys were having a fit because his shoulder was under my chest. They are 13-14, so we make these adjustments. :P The only reason I didn't want to demonstrate the tackle is because if I have to ever make a tackle, something has gone terribly wrong.....but I like coaching because I see what I need to be able to learn myself. :P

Tonight is the "cookout" for parents and families to get to meet the coaches and each other, so I'm interested to see what will happen with that....

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