The annual NFL draft offers teams an opportunity to pick players they feel best fit their team. But what are their criteria? Do they take the best player available? Do they fill a positional need? Do they allow character flaws to impact their decisions? How would you choose your team?
Over the past two years, I shared blogs detailing a practice we do at St Johnsbury Academy. We draft our own team. I share a list of all of our returning players with our assistant coaches and ask them to provide a draft order. I do not provide criteria. Their draft order indicates a great deal about their perspective and what is important to them as coaches. Then I compare theirs to mine to see if the characteristics and traits I have set for our program are mirrored by our coaches. Once completed, it provides an opportunity to discuss values, attributes, and culture.
Internally, this exercise helps me assess the effectiveness of my communication as a head coach, as well as affording me the opportunity to assess my staff’s willingness to think independently and express well-thought opinions. More directly in relation to the actual depth chart of returning veterans, this annual exercise also identifies any positional changes we may need to make in the off-season to ensure we field the best 11 on game day.
This weekend, I took a list of all of the players who have played for us at the Academy since we put our staff together in 2013 and drafted an “All 20-Teens Team” (2013-2019). I listed only one name per position and included utility players for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. As I looked back on the list of 25 players, I realized how blessed we have been with the talent we have had over the past 7 years. But, more importantly, all the names on the list embodied the values and culture we have worked so hard to instill. They were not only the most talented; they were the most selfless, the hardest working, and the best leaders. They embraced the camaraderie in the locker room, brotherhood on the field, and accepted the responsibility of representing our team in the school and community. They welcomed younger players into our program and shared our culture and values. I was also reminded how time flies, and in the fleeting moments we as coaches have to impact the lives of our student-athletes, our real pride shines through witnessing the men we give back to the community: who they become and all they accomplish after the last whistle blows.
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 supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!