Six months ago, Fall Sports were in doubt due to the Coronavirus…
Then I heard Vermont was going to allow soccer to be played in the Fall of 2020, but not football. It took all of two seconds to realize that if we can play soccer, we can play 7v7 football… Thankfully, those in position to make that decision were of like thinking. All our Fall student-athletes were able to practice, play, and engage with their teammates, and coaches. They had a place to go after school and something to look forward to. They were motivated daily to attend classes in-person or virtually and succeed academically. We worked our way through the team-building process, reinforced culture and character, and during a very difficult time, players had the daily support of the teammates and coaches. I was surprised other states did not follow suit. Many states choose to not play rather than give up “traditional” 11v11 tackle football. Their plan was to push the football season to the Spring. The semester has begun, and though the vaccine offers a light at the end of the tunnel (likely for Fall ’21) states are still battling many of the same COVID concerns this Spring.
It now appears at least one state is considering what we did in Vermont. Over the weekend, I was contacted by a writer from SBLive Sports, a network of high school sports websites across the nation, who was working on a story for their Oregon site regarding the options the OSAA might take if state health authorities do not approve the spring high school football season as planned. The reporter’s interest was less about what we did and focused on how Vermont’s 7v7 program was received by players, parents, and the community.
Simply answered, if the coach is enthusiastic and optimistic, it is well received. As coaches and leaders, part of team building is creating a unifying vision of a hopeful future. If we know who we are, what we face, and that together we can accomplish our objectives, student-athletes are resilient and adapt well to change. They will embrace the challenge, pull together as a team, and pursue their goals. They just need a little guidance, and someone to reinforce the best of who they can become. Those who would say “7v7 is not real football” are letting their own biases interfere with the interests of their players. On this blog I’ve often mentioned the effects of football range far beyond the confines of the field or the season, and I speak from first hand experience when I say the 7v7 program we ran in Vermont this year helped us build teams, win games, and develop young men (and for the first time women!) who will be better off for the experience.
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!