3. My Love/Hate Football Relationship: The Good
I’ve had a few people ask me why, if I love football so much, I don’t watch it much. This will probably get a tad long-winded, but mostly because I care so much about the topic.
So I’m not sure how many of you know this, but I’ve coached football. We aren’t talking pick-up or flag football games. My first real coaching position was at Osan Air Base in 2003. Here’s a link to a story from 2006. It was awesome to see a lot of the kids I coached playing for a championship. There were two other military on the coaching staff, as well as two teachers from the school. It was an awesome time for me. Jabari Ashanti was probably the most accomplished of any of us as a coach, and I credit him for teaching me a lot of what constitutes solid game planning and creating a solid defensive front.
At this point I’m not sure how I managed, but I was given the Defensive Coordinator position. I also coached the linebackers and wide receivers. One of the other things I did was work with the scout defense after Jay had worked up a good mock-up of their playbook, making sure our players played the tendencies and reads their defense had. I hate to admit it, but I was a tad over my head then. Thanks to Jay and our Head Coach (Tony Alvarado), we all managed to get through it.
From what Tony had said, we managed to turn things around from what it had been the previous year. The team had been win less before and was a punching bag for the other two teams on the peninsula. We managed to get the mentality turned around and get the kids to believe in themselves. We threw a lot at them from a playbook standpoint. They got specific calls that made all of our packages modular, which meant we could adjust anything we wanted to do out of any scheme. It was insanely fun and made the time after work go that much faster.
Long story short on the Korean coaching position: one of the best experiences of my life. I learned about finding tendencies in situations and discovering ways to counter things that had a high probability of occurring while covering secondary possibilities. Putting people into position to succeed and seeing them, if not succeeding, having that light of understanding go off.
The next place I coached football was at Surrattsville.
I coached here for all of 2004 and part of 2005. This staff was particularly difficult to get onto. The head coach and defensive coordinator played things very tight and didn’t seem to trust anyone. I can’t blame them, as they couldn’t even get teachers at the school to show up for practice regularly. It took a long time, but I eventually earned some trust and responsibilities by being there every day.
I was placed with the JV team and helped implement the Varsity schemes at the JV level. Position coaching revolved again around receivers, linebackers, and linemen. I also taped games and provided headset information from up in the press box. I’m going to admit it here, my nature to question things and provide suggestions probably hurt more than helped in this situation. I probably provided commentary on things I saw from up there as much as I gave static information. The static information being down, distance, and near side defensive formation.
Back to my main job though, the JV coaching. I had to learn an entirely new way to get points across. At Osan explaining something and one demonstration of a technique at 3/4 speed was enough to learn something enough to be able to reproduce it on the field. From there it was repetition.
At Surrattsville I spoke at too high of a technical level. I expected the kids to get it in two or three practices. The problem was me not adjusting when things didn’t translate for them. As the year went on I did adjust. And the kids started to respond by playing better together. I took the time to do more slow walkthroughs and build up to full speed technique repetition. The JV team put together some wins. I couldn’t tell you the final record though. I was just happy to be getting through to the kids.
It even got to the point that the Head Coach let me do conditioning when I mentioned that the Varsity looked gassed around the third quarter after a game. Mind you, this was at about the midpoint of the year, so it didn’t help much. The players were so against it that I challenged them to beat me in the conditioning. That seemed to get them motivated again. Now the kids that were dogging it would actively try to not let me beat them. The kids did look horrible after the first week of actual conditioning, but after that, we stopped going flat in the third quarter. They put up a fight until the end of the game.
After that first year, I go tasked at Andrews for a leadership task force thing. Along with a lot of other military dog and pony shows that go on there, my time for football coaching dropped to zero. I wasn’t able to get to spring practice, summer or fall camp, and I barely made games for taping or in time to do conditioning with the team. That made 2005 suck for me. I would see some of the kids on base and they’d ask me where I was for practice. Because of what my job was requiring of me, I couldn’t coach them.
That was the start of the downfall of watching football for me, and effectively ended “The Good” part for me.
Next: The Bad (Televised Football)