With the conclusion of Track and Field on Friday (May 18th) I have officially completed my second season fo coaching football and track at Great Valley High School. I have admitted this and been fairly open about it, but coaching is often the best part of my day. I work multiple jobs and have an opportunity to interact with a lot of different on the way, but coaching has often been the best part of my day.
I really enjoy working with them and seeing them improve over the course of the season. The only way it really gets better is if I’m helping assist the athletes with any sort of injury they may sustain, then maybe the day is better because ultimately way down the road I’d like to have a true sports rehabilitation clinic (that’s for another post).
I would say that there were definitely strides made in my second season in coaching. The football team was a game away from winning the Chesmont Division Championship, our boys track team won their division of the Chesmont Championships, our girls 4x100M Relay team got into Districts, and the boys football team graduated the winningest group of seniors Coach Ellis has ever had. So while we’re still searching and striving for consistent and sustained excellence with championships and post-season appearances, Great Valley’s going in the right direction.
Don’t Try to Revamp an Entire System, but Make Modifications
Even though it is my second year at Great Valley, it doesn’t mean I’m running the show or have a new system in place. First, I’m an assistant coach and fairly low on the totem pole. I [obviously] bring a different approach to previous training practices, practice habits, and teaching techniques and help break up the monotony of coaching that kids may have been hearing for the last several years. But that doesn’t mean you blow up what is in place, especially if there is success. Why should I think I know anything better? That would seriously be ridiculous and just make me an ass.
It doesn’t create any sort of trust with coaches and more importantly kids to just try to blow something up and start from scratch. But having a different perspective, especially a perspective that isn’t necessarily the status quo or the same stuff I believe can help invigorate the kids and create opportunities for growth with all the coaches on the coaching staff. Some of the best systems in the country and the world are tinkering ever so slightly to make sure they are staying ahead of the curve. Showing kids how they can squat different to get a bigger lift or modifying how a kid gets into the sprint blocks to help them explode out of the blocks, not introduce an entire new offense or training scheme.
Don’t Let other Programs Define Your Success
I do my best not to compare what I’m trying to build and create at Great Valley with any other schools. At times it’s difficult, I’ll admit, but I’m fortunate with where I am with some of the resources I have. Often times I catch myself comparing what other coaches and programs are doing. I have to stop comparing them because the circumstances I have are not the same at other schools. I have to define “success” by the standards we set as coaches and given the talent we have. Success each year is different. While we all want to win state champions and have a roster filled with Division 1 athletes, it’s not feasible, so I shouldn’t be using that as a measure of success.
- Our school doesn’t recruit. We’re a public school surrounded by ten or more schools that recruit.
- Our school is not as big as many of the other districts, which limits how many available students we have to come out for sports.
- I’m not a teacher nor in the school district, so I cannot keep eyes on the kids at all times
Outliers Exist and You Can’t Build a Program on Outliers
I don’t believe you can build a program off of one athlete or one family who shows extraordinary talents or has the mental determination to be greater than LeBron James or Tom Brady. I can’t bank on an outlier to build a program. I think that outlier can lead the program and maybe be the face of your team for 4 years but you build a program off of your training programs, your values, and the entire roster, not one person.
You have to develop culture, training methodologies, standards, code of conduct based off what you believe. Not the kid who can run a 4.3 or can leap out the building or run a sub 4:00 mile. They can be a focal point of your game plan, but they don’t build a program.
I think it goes without saying, culture matters. A program is built off what you create and the atmosphere you try to develop your kids. If you build it on family, competition, and an open-door policy I think that’s a good start. For me personally, I feel a closer connection between the younger kids right now the sophomores and freshmen (who will be juniors and sophomores next year). I think it has to do more with me being there when they’re younger. But culture mattes. I joke a lot with the kids but I do push them and expect a lot out of them when practice starts or when the workout begins. And I set the expectation very clear. We will work, a lot, it’s going to be tough but we are allowed to have fun in the process and hopefully we win a lot.
In a few short weeks, my third season of football will start and we get rolling with Season 3 [at least for football]. I love what I’m trying to do at Great Valley. I really do. Here we go. Go Patriots!