Far From Bright Lights

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses…in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.  Muhammad Ali

The same can be said for football games.  The philosophy of the St Johnsbury Academy Football program is built on a similar mantra: “Games are not won on weekends in the fall.”  They are won in our weight room and on our fields, on cold winter mornings, and hot summer afternoons.

Hilltopper football players begin their winter training season this week.  Those not playing a winter sport are expected to train 3 days/week.  Winter sport athletes are expected to participate in all their team activities as well as train for football 1 day/week.  We encourage the multi-sport athlete and believe there are both physical and emotional benefits to multi-sport opportunities.  There are two training options each day.  One can be performed in a gym and another can be done at home.  No Excuses!   Those who fulfill their expectation earn 1 point for themselves as well as 1 for the team. 

Each week, over the next 13 weeks, will represent a week during the 2021 football season.  This week is our Green v White intra-squad scrimmage.  Next week is our game condition scrimmage, followed by our 8 regular season games, then playoffs.  On Mondays, I will inform the team of who we are “playing” that training week based on our 2021 schedule (which has not yet been revealed.)  I will also inform them whether we accrued enough team points to have “won” the previous week’s game/scrimmage.  We have a predetermined score, based on the total number of players on our roster, that we must reach to “win” each week.  As a conscious decision, we do not determine team captains or group leaders in the training season.  Every Hilltopper is accountable to themselves and their teammates.

Individual points will be tracked through the Winter, Spring and Summer.  Those players, with the highest point totals, will be the first in training camp to choose jersey numbers, locker locations, helmets, and shoulder pads.  There is no repercussion for those who do not participate.  This is purely a reward system focused on positive reinforcement.  There are no negative consequences imposed by the program though I have heard players express regrets when they fell far short of their own expectations. As we have described in five previous starts to off-season training, (going back to 2017 on Olineskills.com), culture is comprised of thousands of small choices and actions taken daily, and culture matters. Each player has the opportunity to set a personal example of work ethic, commitment, and establish foundations of leadership.  

If we want to win on weekends in the fall, each individual needs to commit to their athletic performance training and encourage their teammates to do the same… 

…Long before we dance under those lights.

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 richalercio@gmail.com 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! 

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