Last week’s blog had to take a back seat to training camp and all the time and energy dedicated to those two weeks. This year’s training camp was made even more challenging with the sudden passing of the father of one of our players in week 1 and the services that followed in week 2. Although it was a difficult time, I was moved by how much the team supported their “brother” and how he sought comfort by being back with his football family. The return on an individual’s commitment to the team and our culture can be measured in many ways, but I am always proud of the way teammates pull together to care for and support one another in the face of adversity and loss.
As a staff, our greatest concern going into training camp was not replacing the 8 senior starters from our undefeated team, but rather the void in leadership left by their graduation. Those young men created an environment of social cohesion; a team in true meaning; void of stratification and absent of cliques and egos. No player was treated any differently regardless of their year in school or spot on the depth chart. This year’s team only has 6 seniors, but they have been exemplary in their actions and attitudes. Leading by personal example, they know the way, go the way, and show the way.
Two of those seniors were voted on by their teammates to be captains. A third player also received a large number of votes; a junior offensive lineman, who is our only returning starter for last year’s line. As I reflect back over my 30 years in coaching, it is hard to remember a year or a team that did not have an offensive lineman as one of its captains. One of my proudest moments was being named a captain of my team at Ursinus College in only my 3rd year with the program and 2nd year starting at Center on the offensive line. Although the average football fan pays little to no attention to the offensive line, the five men who comprise that unit and their selfless efforts are clearly recognized by their teammates.
Teammates care… Captains care… and the 2018 Hilltoppers begin their season caring for each other, sharing common values, commitments, and the confidence to step forward and join the battle together as a team.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!