Three weeks into the 2018 season and every Division 1 team in the state of Vermont has at least one loss. I just read an email from one of our TV sports anchors addressed to every coach asking if anyone can recall the last time that has happened. Certainly not in my five years as a Vermont high school football coach.
In 2014, my second year at the Academy, we made our first state championship game appearance with a 10-0 record. Our opponent that year had the same record. I believe it was the first time two Division 1 teams in Vermont ever came into the championship game undefeated.
Last year, during our undefeated 2017 season, we had a couple of close games; but still wound up winning them all and outscoring our opponents 435 – 179. We went into every game feeling quite confident we were the better team. This year, our coaches and players recognize every opponent brings talented athletes and teams much more closely matched in capability and experience. With no “easy weeks” on the schedule, our players bring great motivation into the weight room, spirited attitude and performance to practices, and focused attention and questions to video sessions.
The upperclassmen we hoped would pick up the mantle of leadership are doing so and we’re also seeing some younger players personal examples standing out as peer leaders. While we as coaches would like to take credit for setting the culture and conditions for the team’s emotional growth, it’s more important to recognize the elevated attention to detail and focus we’re seeing in the phases of practice and preparation reflect the student-athletes who have taken it upon themselves to lead by example. The players’ pursuit of excellence also serves as a motivator for us as coaches. Just as “steel sharpens steel,” there’s a complementary symbiosis to the relationship.
Our critical responsibility as coaches continues to be effective communication. We must develop, communicate, clarify and confirm game plans, situational context, and special circumstances teammates can implement and execute together.
It’s not uncommon to hear people in the media talking about “circling an opponent on their schedule,” as particularly challenging or key to a season’s success. This season, we have a circle around all of them and it has made coaching as exciting and important as it has ever been in my 30 years in the profession. Thanks for joining us on the journey!
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!