2020 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl

2020-08-06 Shriners team

The top football players from the state of Vermont gathered on Saturday, August 1 in Hanover NH, but it was not to play in the 67th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl vs the all-stars from New Hampshire.  It was for a picnic.  Players, parents, coaches, and Shriners gathered to honor the best of the Green Mountain State.  Players were presented game jerseys with their names on the back, as well as jackets and t-shirts.  Coaches were given their gameday polo and t-shirts.  While the Shriners went above and beyond to make the players feel special, it will never replace what they missed.

Tom Haley, of the Rutland Herald, used Joni Mitchell’s lyrics in his article this week to remind us, “…You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” Players and coaches echoed those sentiments discussing their excitement, anticipation, and ultimately disappointment at the loss of what for many young athletes has been a long-standing goal.

As Phil Collins sings, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord… and I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, Oh Lord!”  Vermont football players dream of someday playing in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. From the moment they hung up their cleats last winter, they’ve looked forward to one last chance to represent their teams,  the honor of wearing VERMONT across their chests, seeing parents and friends in the stands, and the excitement in the air moments before kickoff.  One last chance to celebrate all they’ve accomplished over the last four years, one last transformation to something bigger than self, and the magical experience of turning former opponents and rivals into teammates and brothers.

Despite the obvious disappointment, we took the time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for: To be thankful for teams and teammates who helped us earn selection to the Vermont team, the parents, coaches, and communities supporting these young men, and the Shriners who set such a great example of giving back to make others lives better.

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 sharehttp://www.olineskills.comwith your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!

Photos from the team picnic hosted by the Shriners:

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Would It Help?

Neither the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals Association, the Vermont Secretary of Education, nor the Governor of Vermont have called me to ask how I want to conduct the fall high school football season…

At some point in the coming weeks, they will make a decision about fall sports that is out of my control.  In the meantime, I will not worry about it.

I will continue to focus on those things I do control:

  • Continuing to get our players mentally and physically prepared to play through our Summer Organized Team Activities (OTAs)
  • Preparing practice & installation schedules for Mini Camp and the start of practices whenever they begin
  • Remaining flexible in implementing the ever-changing guidelines to keep our kids healthy, and hopeful high school sports and activities remain part of our students’ lives (even if they do not look the same as they have in the past)

In the 2015 movie, “Bridge of Spies,” Tom Hanks plays a lawyer counseling a Russian spy whose life is on the line while the two superpowers consider whether to conduct a prisoner exchange or have the spy executed. At the conclusion of a tenuous court scene where things are looking particularly bleak, Tom Hanks’ character asks, “Don’t you ever worry?”  The Russian responds stoically, “Would it help?” Tom Hanks smiles at the simplicity and accuracy of the candid response…

No doubt, these are challenging times… There is plenty to fret about if we choose to. Do not make life more difficult and stressful by consuming yourself with worry about things you do not control. Put your thoughts and efforts directly into those things you can influence and let the chips fall as they may, knowing you’ve done your best.

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!

 

Rewards…

2020-07-23 StJ Youth FB Camp Team

The rewards of coaching have magnified during these challenging times.  That was never more evident than last week as we hosted our annual youth football camp at St Johnsbury Academy.  We had 32 kids (31 boys and 1 girl) grades 3rd-8th in attendance.  Coaches wore masks, wiped down balls and bags, and did their best to maintain social distancing.  Kids learned the skills and drills associated with each offensive, defensive, and special-teams position; but, more importantly, they played, they smiled, they had fun with their friends again.  The biggest smiles were on the faces of the moms and dads at drop-off and pick-up, seeing their kids so happy again.

My favorite smile of the week was worn by the mother of the one girl who attended our camp.  However, her smile did not really shine until the middle of the week.  Early days were filled with concern of how her daughter would fit in as the only girl in a football camp.  Those concerns were quickly erased when she saw both her daughter’s success on the field as well as how well she fit in with the other kids.  Now, Ahna and her mom are looking forward to flag football this Fall.  She will be every bit as good as any boy out there and will hit the field with newfound confidence and skill.

Girls like Ahna are the future of football.   Hopefully, by the time she reaches high school, girls’ flag football will be a varsity sport.  Maybe she will go on to play college flag football, and along the way enjoy all the benefits of character development, team building, and interdependence so integral to the game at every level.

For now, I was just happy to see the smiles on her and her mother’s faces as well as the faces of all the other kids and parents who participated in the St Johnsbury Academy Youth Football Camp. The smell of fresh-cut grass, the warmth of the sun, and the sounds of kids laughing and playing were welcome alternatives to so much of what has dominated most recent days. Best of all, they remind me again of the rewards of this job and the game of football.

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!

Determining Best Plays

Last week, we discussed simplifying your offense to focus only on your best plays (the ones that bring you joy).  But how do you objectively determine your best plays?  We use a combination of Mean, Median, and Mode along with an Efficiency Percentage to give each play a Value.  That value determines the return on investment of each play.

We start by placing the yards gained for every play in a spreadsheet.  Then we determine a Mean by adding up the total yards gained by a play divided by the total number of times it was called.  We then put the yards gained for a play in ascending order to find the Median value.  The Median is the middle value of the yards earned by each play when listed lowest to highest.  While in ascending order, we look for a Mode.  A Mode is the value that occurs most often.  We then add the Mean, Median, and Mode together and divide by three to get what we consider the true Average yards a play produces.  Note: sometimes there is no Mode or there are several Modes.  In those cases, we do not include a Mode average and just add the Mean and Median then divide by two.

The reason we use all three (Mean, Median, Mode) is that most plays do not have a large enough sample size to determine a reliable Mean. (You may recall the old maxim, “The larger the sample, the truer the mean.”)  A play yielding one really long gain or loss will skew the average when there is not a significant sample size.

The Efficiency Percentage is determined by taking the total number of plays that were efficient, divided by the total number of times the play was called then multiplying by 100.  A play is considered efficient when it yields 4 yards, a first down or a touchdown.

Lastly, we add the true Average and the Efficiency Percentage to get a Value.  The higher the Value, the better the return on investment for the time it takes to install the play.   We are looking for Values of 80 or higher.  For example, A play with a 5-yard average and is efficient 3 out of 4 times (75%) would have a Value of 80.    The chart shown here lists the values of our Running Plays from 2019.  Some gave us great joy.  Others need to be reevaluated.  There is no time to teach all nine plays this year.

2020-07-16 PlayEfficiencyAssessment

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!

Simplify…

The Vermont Principal Association recently announced that football practices will begin at the start of the school year.  While it is great news to hear there is a plan to have football this fall in Vermont, it also means no pre-season training camp, no 2-a-days, no meetings, and no walk-throughs.  In a nutshell, we have lost a great deal of teaching opportunities.  In keeping with the theme of recent posts, we, as coaches, need to adapt to change.  Fewer teaching opportunities mean fewer installations.

When I speak at clinics, I often share the analogy that playbooks are like closets.   2020-07-09 SimplifyMost closets are filled with clothes you never wear, and playbooks are filled with plays you never call.  Do you really need the 12 sweaters you have on the top shelf of your closet?  No, nor do you need the 12 running plays in your playbook.  Keep the 5 or 6 sweaters you wear most often and get rid of the rest.  Do the same with your dress shirts, golf shirts, pants, sweats, etc.  Then go to your playbook and do the same with your runs, passes, and screens.  Only keep the plays you call most often.  This year does not allow us time to teach plays we do not call.

Marie Kondo is a popular design/home organization consultant, and she’s become a multi-millionaire with her “KonMari” philosophy of encouraging clients to consider an item and ask “Does it bring you joy?” If not a resounding yes, she suggests removing the item from the home. I might suggest you not be sentimental with your clothes or your plays.  If you do not wear it or call it, (if it does not “bring you joy”) now is the time to get rid of it.  Simplify… and focus only on what you need so that your players can focus on what you will call.

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!

2020 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Cancelled

The 67th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl has been canceled. 2020-01-09 Shrinegame-Logo green border I genuinely appreciate the Board of Governors’ invitation to their meeting and affording me the opportunity to share some thoughts on how we may have been able to make changes allowing us to play.

In the end, the financial burden, health risks, and volunteer time to transition and incorporate changes needed to follow the emergency health guidelines made it an easy decision for the board. While the Board of Governors would have truly enjoyed hosting and presenting the 2020 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, their rationale and desire to safeguard the players, families, and communities was clear.

Plans are in place to bring the Vermont team together in an outdoor environment to recognize them and give them their Shrine football jerseys.  While they will never play in the Shrine game, they will always be Shrine players.  They join an elite fraternity of the best who ever played the game in the Green Mountain State. They would have been a great team and a formidable opponent for our friends in the Granite State.

As we discussed in last week’s blog post, the species that is most adaptable to change is the one with the greatest chance of survival. I’m confident these young men will indeed adapt to the changes we face, and find ways to thrive while representing their teams, towns, and families in the coming months.

Coach Rich 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!

Adapt Or Perish…

While football is not life or death, these ever-changing times do remind me of Charles Darwin’s quote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent….  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  

Change is difficult.  Especially when you have been accustomed to doing something a certain way for a long time… Even more so when there is abundant proof that philosophies and practices of the past have led to success. Momentum is a valuable resource, but we have to get our eyes up off the hood ornament and a little further down the road to be successful, (and can’t afford to become complacent!)2020-02-06 Time Competitive Decision Making

Moving forward, the key to future success (survival) is to be able to adapt what you have done (and learned) in the past to align with the constantly changing circumstances of the present.

Today’s rapidly evolving conditions, guidelines, and challenges require a patient and thoughtful approach. Just as we talked in early February’s post about “Improvising and Adapting,” the same Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (OODA) loop applies.

Find a new way.  Adapt to change.  Survive, and ideally, find a way to thrive!

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!

Football Is Back!

Football is back!  I was reminded of how important that is in a text message from our headmaster discussing the impact football can have on those in our communities who need it the most:

For some, football is their ticket, for others, it’s a highlight of high school, for some it’s just fun.  For some, it could save their life.”

His text also serves as a reminder that for some of our players the two hours they spend

2020-06-18 Football is backwith us may be the best two hours of their day.  Unfortunately, they may be the only positive two hours of their day.  When they are with us they are part of a “brotherhood.” They are part of something bigger than themselves.  They are surrounded by people who care about them and push them to be the very best versions of themselves.   It is also a place where they may hear three words that they do not hear anywhere else in their lives, I love you.”

We have 15 OTAs over the next five weeks followed by five days of minicamp.  After all we have lost through the recent school closures, these team activities feel like a gift.  20 gifts.  20 opportunities to make positive impacts on lives, and maybe even save one.

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!

Getting Back On Track!

We are grateful for the many generous donations in response to last week’s blog in regard to supporting Shrine Hospitals and our son Trey’s participation in the 67th Annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.  If you are still interested in supporting but have not yet done so, you can donate here: Trey Alercio’s Giving Page  We remain optimistic the game will be played, and even more donations will flow to such a worthy cause.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s most recent update allows for organized sports to resume effective Monday, June 15.  We will begin our football summer 2018-11-29 Halftime adjustments3Organized Team Activities (OTAs) at 5pm that day. There are some restrictions, but we will find a way (and it may even be a better way!)  Close contact activities are not yet allowed so we cannot engage in intra-squad scrimmages but we can do no and low contact physical conditioning and skill-building drills.

We need to keep groups to 25 or less including coaches.  We will move our weightlifting equipment from our weight room into our fieldhouse to allow for the 25 participants to practice social distancing unless spotting.  We will incorporate USA Weightlifting’s suggestion to have spotters on each side of a bar instead of a single spotter in the middle closer to the lifter.  Equipment will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.  Make no bones about it, we are taking the conditions and circumstances seriously and use the opportunity to reinforce discipline, attention to detail, and doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

Our skill-building drills for offense and defense will be held outside.  Everyone will have a cloth face-covering in their possession to be used, as necessary when physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as when the entire group needs to be addressed. There will be no spitting and no sharing of water bottles.  Each player will be encouraged to bring their own bottle.   We look forward to welcoming our returning players back and our new players into our program.  Despite the challenges we’ve faced this Spring, we will focus on the fundamentals of culture, character, and teamwork. Together we will always be stronger than any one of us could be alone.

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!

 

Strong Legs Run That Weak Legs May Walk

That is the motto of every Shrine Football Game. 2020-06-04 Trey's Shrine Game The Vermont – New Hampshire Shrine committee is working hard to see that the 67th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Game will be played on August 1.  Seventy-six of the top graduated high school seniors from New Hampshire and Vermont will square off in the annual football game where the real winners are the Children in the Shrine Hospitals.  Shrine Hospitals provide care for children up to the age of 18 with special health care needs.

Please consider supporting the game and Shrine Hospitals by visiting our son Trey’s First Giving Page.  (Or click on his picture here) If it doesn’t present when you click the link, go to firstgiving.com type Trey Alercio in the search bar then click Search.  Click on Trey Alercio’s Page then click on the green Donate button.  Any support is greatly appreciated.

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!