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 had a good week of practice - I am very proud of T, my right tackle, because he had a great week of practice dominating on his blocks and taking better steps. He also helped make one of the touchdowns possible during our game .... it was beautiful because T and our TE C both blocked 15 yards downfield and made the lane for the back. I'm not even sure who scored the TD, but I was so excited after they blocked for it.... I had to make sure to let them know it was their glory too.

People laugh when I say this, but I really only watch the OL (and in part because I'm still working on getting the vision to evaluate six moving parts at a time, especially in our offense with the pulling and trapping). On any given play, I have no clue what happened after whomever was supposed to get the ball got it... I just try to watch either the front or back side of the blocking scheme.

I appreciated being asked by the boys last night who dressed for the varsity game if their "assignment" was still the same. Before the first varsity game, I told all the linemen to watch the other team and our varsity squad and tell me something they saw from the game that they could learn from. Some did it more seriously than others and some know of more to look for/understand what I mean, but I appreciate that most of them don't think it's a silly assignment. Or at least will humor me by doing it. I guess the lesson is that they'll do what you expect of them... and I think that's true for telling them to learn their blocking assignment as well as something as easy as coming up with one takeaway from the game. I also am really happy because I see some of the boys taking ownership of their teammates - organizing the special teams, reprimanding and helping teammates... all good signs of maturity and growth.

I'm proud that we also secured the first win of the football program this season on Thursday night : 15-6. The two-point conversion went really well after we worked on it a bunch this week in practice.... there were some good things we did and some things we certainly need to work on, but it's a great feeling to win a game and they were SO excited afterward. Success (and not just winning, but it helps) is something that we can instill in them now, and hopefully will endure for their HS careers. The varsity has struggled this year for various reasons but they have played two of four games against ranked teams, and head coach W is a great motivator. I think he's probably like Coach K from this summer - he puts in so much work that it makes you want to give him all you've got. It's a good thing for me to remember as a coach myself.

I had a funny coaching moment with O, my backup center who starts as a DE. We were talking during the game and the interaction went something like this:

O: "Coach, you didn't see my almost-interception!?"
ME: "Nope, but you know we need you to show us something else now...what's done is done but the game isn't over yet."
O: "So, coach... if I get an interception, what will you give me?"
ME: "Well, I think if you got one, your team's reaction would be all you need."
O: (pushing it) "What about, if I get an INT, you can buy me dinner?"
ME: "IF you get an interception, and IF it's after you did your job and IF it happened through you doing your job, then yes, I will buy you dinner."
O: (getting greedy now...) "Well, what if I run it back for a touchdown? Can it be a steak dinner?"
ME: "IF you run it back for a touchdown AND IF the whole defensive line does its job, then, I think we can work something out."

He went on to conspire about how he was going to make that happen... but I guess the lesson is that boys are motivated by food. Shocking.

Overall in this experience, I am really happy with everything. I know that coaching will be a long road, especially with football, and the best thing I can do is watch good coaching techniques, maybe attend some clinics, ask questions of supportive people, try not to be too offended when coaches from other teams directly ignore me after games and won't shake my hand, master the OL responsibilities and then the offense, and set a good example for the boys.

In the end, an important lesson for me as a coach is to remember that I play a part, but certainly not the most important part, in the equation of our sport. Some people (at all levels) try to make it about them, or about the other team's coach and his or her actions - and that only really hurts the kids' motivation, self esteem and love for the game. No matter what the outcome of the game, the other teams'/coaches' strategy or actions, I hope I have the presence of mind to always put the kids first and make sure they have as good an experience as I can control.

I didn't expect it, but Thursday night after our game, was the first time I've had a post-game high as a coach. Even as a player it doesn't happen too often, but I guess it did this summer with our games overseas. Usually as a player, I'm tired from the exertion, and the build-up to game time makes it a lethal combination with eating dinner late at night ... usually I'm out like a light. Thursday night I got home at 8:45 and wasn't the least bit tired at midnight. I had to run around the neighborhood, ride the bike, do the dishes and some laundry, get my bag packed for the next day and put some clothes away before I could even think about getting in bed. Friday was a long day.... but it was totally worth it.


  1. Food as motivation - that's what I call working on the fundamentals ;)


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