Last year at this time I wrote a post about my coaching experience with the Winnipeg High School Football League Senior Bowl. While it was mostly good, there were some key moments that were rather disturbing and made part of the experience not enjoyable.
Well, we got the band back together for one more show! This year the big surprise began the first night and carried through the game.
Last year there were some idiots that diminished the experience for me. This year, the young men we had, from different schools, levels of competition, and individual skill level, were all fantastic. I mean, 100%! We only had three practices to prepare. And they got better every day. And they worked hard every day. And they asked questions, challenged themselves, and competed.
And we won BIG! Like, 48 to 24 big. We were down 16 to 14 at the end of the first quarter, rolled through the second, third and fourth, and gave up a TD with about 30 seconds to play on a fantastic catch by the other team’s receiver.
Everyone contributed something. And many times there were key plays such as a big block, a nice run, a great catch and TD, a big tackle or a sack of their QB.
For me, that is great stuff. But more importantly, I always spend time talking with the players and trying to see what they will be doing next in their life. Having two sons that went to the US for school and football, I am always fascinated when a young man wants to leave his home province and go on a life adventure.
Like any employee that I have been privileged to work with over the years, or clients that I have consulted to, I am fascinated by what drives the person to take that next step. Is it a specific and well-planned strategy that made them select their post-secondary school or football option? Was it a lifestyle decision to stay at home or leave? How did their personal resources factor into the decision? Some of the players were going to work for a year to save money to go to school because they didn’t get a scholarship right away. Others were excited to go the U of Manitoba and play for the Bisons (my alma mater and where I coached until a couple of years ago).
Employees go through the same decisions throughout their career. Should they stay with an organization or go? What are their plans, dreams and capabilities and where can they best put them to good use? What support do they have from their employer that allows them to grow and prosper and provide value to the organization?
And what type of coaching are you providing? Too many people talk about coaching and they have never coached. A good coach is not just tough, caring, and holding the player/employee to account. A good coach is all of these, in the right measure, to ensure the person is doing their best when their best is needed. And your best is, of course, needed everyday.
I am heartened by the quality of the student athletes we were able to coach. And my utmost respect goes to my coaching colleagues. Head Coach Dennis, Offensive Coordinator John and his assistants Ryan and Nathan, Offensive line coach Phil, Defensive Coordinator Dom and defensive line coach Brianne.
Yes, you read that correctly. We had a female defensive line coach. Bri plays in the women’s tackle league. And she has represented Manitoba in inter-provincial competition and has also represented Canada in the Women’s World Tackle Football Championship. She was technically excellent and had a calm and positive demeanor with the players.
And I was so happy that the players listened to her and respected what she taught them. She was a delight to coach with and collaborate on defensive calls.
The main takeaways from last year hold true this year as well:
- goals set by the coaching staff and game plans made.
- training and practice plans communicated to achieve the goals.
- corrections and encouragement.
- highs and lows. Never get too high, and never get too low.
- robust battles and great individual effort with the accumulation of these to make great team plays.
- winners and winners. The score was just a score.
For some players this was their last game. And they went out with their heads held high. I was grateful to be invited to coach and honored to spend time with our entire roster of terrific young men.
One main difference is that, compared to last year, I know this group of players will all be successful in their life’s work.
This was so much fun I already committed to coaching again next year.