Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.................

This should be the mantra of all coaches such as myself, the ones that coach the "lower" teams or levels.  I coach the B Team at our school.  We call it the Gold team because they want the kids to think that we divided the teams equally, and this is a chance to give them more playing time.  Unfortunately, you don't have to be a genius to look at our Green or A team in order to realize that there is a difference.  If your kid is playing with me, chances are, they wear their helmet sideways, their pants backwards, and have to be told repeatedly which way the ball is supposed to go.

Now not all kids that play on the Gold team are untalented.  I have had several during my short stint at this school that are playing if not starting on varsity.  I have even had a couple that are playing at smaller colleges.  Unfortunately, they are the exception and not the rule.

This year we had a good crop of players, and I was cautiously optimistic that a few of those players would find a way to the Gold team, and we might enjoy a successful season.  After talking with the Blue team coaches and the other Gold coaches, we had reached an equitable split of the players.  Enter Coach Nutcutter.

An aside as I tell you about Coach Nutcutter.  He is a bitter and joyless soul that lives to expand his ego.  He spoils his star players, and is crueler to the scrubs than the kids themselves.  He lives at the school.  He tortures the students in his classes and looks down at the rest of the coaching staff because we don't want to sit in a dark room and jack off to game tapes with him.  He has a family, but no pictures of them adorn his desk.  Thinking about his wife and kids might get in the way of the enemies list he is creating,  the asses he has to kiss, and the necks he must step on to get ahead in the profession.  He is a control freak that is so anal, that I believe he was potty trained at gun point.  His goal in life is either to be a head coach, or drive as many struggling students and athletes to suicide as he can.

Now getting back to the story at hand.  Coach Nutcutter entered the office and saw what we had done, and I thought for a second, his head was going to spin around and he would vomit pea soup.  To say he was dissatisfied would be an understatement.  He immediately took over the process we had spent more than an hour on, and in ten minutes, he had created a Super Blue team, while the Gold team will be lucky to get eleven kids who actually know what a football looks like on the field.  Kids that could have started and received valuable playing time and experience on the Gold team are relegated to mop up duty with the Super Blue.  Coach Nutcutter's reasoning:  He wants the Blue to be able to dominate their opponents and crush them.  Nothing less than that will do.  The Super Blue must annihilate all that stand in its way to lead to the title.  The last time I heard some one talk like this, eastern Europe was over run within a matter of months.  I guess that makes me Poland.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

So you like weed........

So you like weed, or drinking, or sleeping in class, or cussing out your teachers,or bullying smallet students, or fighting, or stealing, or sexually harrassing the ladies?  Life can be difficult in most public school for students that have these issues.  In fact, many of these offenses can get you put in detention, suspended, sent to an alternative school, or even expelled.  That is, unless you possess the ability to play football.  Notice I didn't say if you are just "on the team".  Those that are merely "on the team" that commit these infractions are subject to the same rules as the rest of the student body.  They are the sacrificial lambs.  They are the examples that can stand up to the administration, the student body and the community at large. Some might even be kicked off the team. 

However, should you be a key member of the team, you are not subject to the same rules as others.  Even if you are caught and punished, you are welcome back to the team with open arms and open hearts.  I know you are busy picking your jaws up off the floor, but trust me, this is the sad truth.  I have seen "players" guilty of each of the above infractions either get off scott free or slapped on the wrist.  I have witnessed "players" in knock down, drag out fights, cheating on tests, cussing out teachers (and even coaches), getting caught stealing from team mates, coming in stoned, and even two running out in front of my car at one in the morning while holding beers.  The one thing they had in common was some coach covering their ass.  While some might be saying it is just boys being boys, it is not.  It is grown men giving tacit approval for behavior that would cost normal students, and even citizens, their freedom. 

I have been told to my face that I was not to fail a "player" that made a daily habit out of not coming to my class, and on the days he did, he would put his head down and sleep.  I caught  a "player"cheating on their semester exam, but was told he couldn't fail because summer school would interfere with summer workouts.   I had a "player" steal an iPhone from a girl's in my classroom, and been told not to report it to the administration.  I am tired of looking the other way, even if it means biting the hand that feeds me. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

What a week

Just in case you didn't know, it is hot out there.  Texas is in the middle of a heat wave and drought, and this week was a scorcher.  We were lucky to have a breeze, but when the breze went away, it was like standing in front of an open oven.  It was not what one would hope for during two a days, but fortunately none of out players that "matter" got ill.  While it is true that the heat over took a few, they were expendable. 

Aside from a few minor UIL violations, things went well.  Even though the UIL states that athletes are to have an hour break between practices, we chose to ignore that.  That way, we could get some more practice in, so it was all good.  It is nice having that sense of entitlement and arrogance, but so it goes.  After all, it is football, and we have to win, so let's do what we have to.

As always, there are some issues that we have to deal with during the week.  One of our recruits, er, I mean "transfer students".  Has yet to show up.  I guess it has something to do with his mother having moved out of our attendance zone.  Of course, we are concerned that if he goes to the school he is zoned to, he could be a formidble opponent, er, I mean have trouble academically and behaviorally.  Even though he had those same issues at our school, we are worried he might have those same issues some where else.  The fact that he has the ability to change the outcome of a game has nothing to do with our concern. 

We also stressed the importance of not using tobacco.  Well, all of us except one.  He had a lip of Copenhagen, and we felt it might be hypocritical, espcially in light of the fact that STATE laws prohibits the posession and use of tobacco on a school campus. 

Finally, we worked on building the self confidence of players that are still intimidated, and unsure of their tacking abilty.  I know that when one of our coaches called them all "pussies" and "chicken shits", that bolstered their confidence. 

Well, I am off to bed.  All those hours in the sun have left me just a wee bit worn.  I am sure after a short night's sleep, I will be fine.

Worfry not parents, your kids are in good hands. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rules? We don't need no stinkin" rules!!!!!!!!

All my apologies to John Huston and to all those tired of this well worn and much abused cliche, but I was at a loss and felt it fit.

In the state of Texas we have the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which was established in order to establish rules and guidelines for interscholastic sports and competitions.  Not only do they establish these guidelines and rules, they have the misfortune of enforcing them.  Being a representative of the UIL is akin to being a DEA agent in a trailer park full of meth labs or a conservative walking the streets of Pelosi's district.

Because there are rules, many coaches adhere to and follow them like the gospel, other coaches figure out how to skirt the rules without going too far, and the arrogant or desperate just choose to violate them.  Arrogant coaches rely on their reputation or the reputation of the school or district to get by.  Desperate coaches violate the rules in order to gain the upper hand they feel they need to compete and hold onto their jobs.  The violations may range from exceeding the allowed practice hours, recruiting student athletes (some in the 6th and 7th grades), pressuring teachers to give passing grades to needed players (never to unneeded), to illegal practices and ignoring the use of banned substances.

As I said, most schools adhere to these rules.  The majority of coaches in the state and honest, upstanding men and women who want to serve as role models for the student athletes they coach.  They see athletics as a metaphor for life and try to prepare students for existence beyond the walls of the school.  They want students to learn from their mistakes, to take responsibility for their actions and become productive members of society.  Should a mistake happen, these are the coaches that will report themselves to the UIL, take responsibility for what happened and willingly accept consequences.  These are the coaches you want your child to have.

Other coaches will use various excuses to justify the bending, if not the outright breaking, of the rules.  Many times they will cite pressure from the community.  Yes, we all want to be winners, and sadly, there are far too many communities in the state that demand it at all costs.  With the "support" of the community, coaches will take chances to see what they can get away with.  The more they can get away with, the more they will do.  Once they have the tacit approval of the community at large, it will snowball.  Ironically, this situation is similar to what you might find in major NCAA programs.  the head coach will be the one skating away to another program while the school, assistant coaches and students are the ones that suffer.

Some coaches will skirt the rules to try to gain a competitive advantage.  Unfortunately, a community will look at the numbers of wins, championships and D1 players a coach produces compared to the number of honor graduates, college bound students, and future doctors, lawyers and teachers that a coach will produce.  When a person is desperate to hold onto their job, they will do what is necessary.  If this means breaking a few rules, then so be it.  Once agin, what are we teaching the kids?

As I said earlier, the large majority of coaches in Texas are doing a great job of dveloping not only good athletes, but good citizens.  They instill positive values and become outstanding role models for the students they coach.  They emphasize the importance of education, self reliance, personal responsibility and hard work.  It may not always result in victories on the court or field, but I would rather have a student succeed in life because of something I taught them than have that student end up lost because they never learned what is truly important.

To the coaches that do choose to break the rules, I have to question why you stay in the business.  You can justify it any way you want, but that doesn't make it right.  "Every one else does" went out in the 3rd grade, and no every one else does not.  "I need to do it to stay competitive, or keep my job" is not going to fly either.  If you have to sell your soul in order to keep a job, is it worth it?  If you can justify it in your mind and sleep at night, then perhaps you need to reconsider your career path.  Perhaps a career in politics or arms trade or telemarketing is more your style.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Don't waste your time with that one"

As I stated earlier, this week marked the beginning of football practice all across the great state of Texas.  At high schools big and small, thousands of young men entered locker rooms in order to strap on their pads, hit the field and try to win a coveted spot on the varsity roster.  Unknown to most of these young men, most of their dreams were secretly crushed within the first practice or two.  You see, coaches and coordinators have already made decisions about these young men.  I was actually told not to "waste time trying to coach (that kid)," in reference to one young man that was having trouble picking up a concept.  I was told that if I really wanted to work with him, then do it when we were on a water break so that I don't take time from the kids that "matter."  I know I may not be perfect, but I do try and make sure every kid knows that they "matter" some how to the program, but to many of my colleagues, kids like this are good for holding tackling dummies and selling raffle tickets for the booster club.  They have little use for kids that will not make them look good or contribute on Friday nights.

While it is true that many kids will spend more time on the sidelines than between the lines, these are the kids that need to know they "matter".  They want to be a part of something, perhaps for the first time in their life, and know that some one out there is willing to take the time to care about them, no matter how briefly.  Of course that is just the opinion of an Exister.

High School Coaches: The Exister

The Exister is just that, he exists.  Maybe he got into coaching at some point with a sense of higher purpose, but his ideals have been stripped away.  Maybe he has to coach football in order to coach another sport that he truly loves.  Perhaps he was hired under the condition that he has to coach, and his contract stipulates that if he stops coaching, he loses his job, or he needs the money he gets as a stipend for coaching more than he wants to admit.  This is the life of the Exister.

You can always identify the Exister.  He may be the one wearing a hat or shirt from the sport he truly loves.  He is the one that leaves skid marks getting out of the school at night after practice rather than sit around and relive yet another anecdote from one of the Lifers.  He may have a calendar some where that counts down the days until the end of the season.

Such is the life of the Exister.  He is not a bad guy, and he does love the kids, but the sport has worn him out.  He understands that there are guys that live and breathe coaching football, and he either has empathy for them, pity for their families that never get to see them, or a desire to drag the person to the door to show them what the world outside of football looks like.

An Exister generally prefers to work with the less talented athletes, as the talented ones already have enough people blowing smoke up their collective asses.  He tries to make sure that the hours the kids spend on the field leave good memories, but by no means should they end up pumping gas talking about how the time they spent on the field was the best of their life.

An Exister will actually understand if a kid decides to quit, or play another sport, or even put academics ahead of football.  He will look across the room at another Exister and draw an sympathetic look from that coach as they watch the same play for the 32nd time.

Such is the life of the Exister.

Bye-Bye Nutcutter

In case you haven't heard, all around the great state of Texas, football is gearing up.  This is news in itself for those that live and breathe the sport, but add to it the crushing heat, and you have big news.  As teams begin with their infamous two a day practices, we received some news at out school.  One of our nut cutters actually ran off on us.  He had a chance to become a coordinator at another school.  That is good for him.  He wants to become a head coach, and this is a good opportunity for him.  However, he left the staff one coach short, and more importantly, it left the school one teacher short.  Now imagine if you were one of the teachers that had been let go or transferred.  Now you are some where you don't want to be, and this guy gets to just waltz off.  What if you were one of the players that was counting on his being here, now you are handed a big bag of disappointment.

Of course none of this matters to the Nutcutter.  He got what he wanted, consequences be damned.  Of course the staff is now one coach short, but we are actually better off.  Now we don't have to worry about him eviscerating one of us in front of the head coach to make himself look good.  Bye-Bye.

Bye-Bye Nutcutter

In case you haven't heard, all around the great state of Texas, football is gearing up.  This is news in itself for those that live and breathe the sport, but add to it the crushing heat, and you have big news.  As teams begin with their infamous two a day practices, we received some news at out school.  One of our nut cutters actually ran off on us.  He had a chance to become a coordinator at another school.  That is good for him.  He wants to become a head coach, and this is a good opportunity for him.  However, he left the staff one coach short, and more importantly, it left the school one teacher short.  Now imagine if you were one of the teachers that had been let go or transferred.  Now you are some where you don't want to be, and this guy gets to just waltz off.  What if you were one of the players that was counting on his being here, now you are handed a big bag of disappointment.

Of course none of this matters to the Nutcutter.  He got what he wanted, consequences be damned.  Of course the staff is now one coach short, but we are actually better off.  Now we don't have to worry about him eviscerating one of us in front of the head coach to make himself look good.  Bye-Bye.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The High School Lifer

The Lifer in high school football is quite similar to the Nutcutter, but he has a conscience and morals.  The lifer may have wanted to be a head coach starting out, but when he saw the politics and what not involved, he changed his mind.  He loves football, loves the kids he coaches, and can't imagine himself ever doing anything else. 

The lifer may rise to the level of coordinator, but not much else, and he is good with that.  As long as he gets to head out and work with the kids, game plan, and share the ups and downs with those around him. 

The Lifer may be even tempered, or a bit excitable.  He will dog cuss a player one second and hug him the next.  He may be the guy that goes home and forgets about that day's doings, or he may be the guy that watches game tape and fondles himself.  He is a favorite among head coaches and Nutcutters because he poses no threat to them.  His only job is to make them look good, and usually has no problem doing that. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

High School Coaches: The Nutcutter

These guys remind me of the story about the scorpion and the frog.  You know what they are, and what they are about, and you know they are going to sting you.  I have stumbled across many of these in my career. They are eager, anxious, driven and willing to kiss the asses that need kissing and throw the bodies under the bus that need to be thrown.  Not that there is anything wrong with being a head coach, but it is the way a Nutcutter goes about it that makes it different.

These are the guys that want to be head coaches, and they want to become one yesterday.  A Nutcutter is usually a little man.  He has unresolved issues from his childhood and playing career, and a Napolean complex that knows no bounds.  When he comes in, he ingratiates himself with the people that can make things happen for him.  He follows them around like a lost puppy and will break his nose if that person ever stops short.  Like the parasite he is, a Nutcutter will suck his host dry and then move on to the next body. 

The Nutcutter knows every coaching job open in the state.  He follows them with interest, especially if it is some one he knows that can further advance his carer.  His loyalty is to himself, and no others.  Like the frog learned, beware the scorpion. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

High School Coaches

I guess first and foremost, I need to start with the Head Coach.  This is the man that will get all the credit or blame depending on the game or the season.  If you are in the stands, this man is either the smartest person in the stadium or the dumbest son of a bitch to walk the earth.

In most schools, the head football coach wears two hats.  He is the head football coach as well as the campus athletic director, and in some small districts, the district athletic director.  He is generally in charge of all athletics on campus, makes all hiring decisions, and must put out fires on all fronts.  Despite his devotion to football, he must also devote time and energy to the other sports as well.

Once again, Head Coaches can take on different personalities.  For the most part, these men care about the players they coach.  Some may care as to whether or not their players are getting an education, going to college, or becoming productive members of society.  Others care as to whether their players can produce wins, earn D1 scholarships and make them look good in the process.  Some will sacrifice wins for character.  Others will place winning above all.

Much depends on the man himself as well as the community he is in.  The more rabid a community is for wins, the more likely it is he will bend, twist, manipulate, or outright break rules.  I am not saying they are all like this, but it is time to be honest.  Head football coaches can be hired and fired because of their record, and many will do what ever it takes to keep that job.

I have worked for several head coaches in my day and have seen all of the above.  Some have Messiah Complexes that know no bounds.  Others will do anything for the kids and try to help them play at the next level, or just become good men.  As the season progresses, I will let you make your own judgement about my head coach.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Junior High Coaches

In high school football, there was a time honored tradition in which a coach would pay his dues at the junior high for a few years and then be rewarded with a promotion to the high school and the "glory" of coaching at the high school level.  However, this tradition has died an ignoble death.  Don't get me wrong, there are still those that follow this path, but these are few and far between.  Therefore, allow me to introduce the next entry into the type of coach your child will meet on their journey:  the junior high coach.

There are several types that populate this category, so I will be brief with my descriptions.  The first is the "Burnout".  This coach was once a high school coach, but he burned out.  Whether it was due to the hours, the pressure, family obligations, or he is just finishing out his final few years in relative obscurity.  His knowledge of the game is there, but the desire is gone.  He is beaten down by time and just wants to get through and get gone.  He has no ambition beyond going home at the end of the day and working in his yard, playing with his kids, or just existing.  He is not perceived as a threat to any one, rarely raises his voice, and is generally liked by the kids.

The next encounter is with the "Frat Boy".  This coach is one step above the "Daddy Coach".  He was an athlete in high school, went to college, drank himself into a stupor on a regular basis, and majored in what ever was easiest to cheat his way through between bouts of near alcohol poisoning and date rape.  He enjoys coaching at the junior high because it is easy, and  the kids are not smart enough to know he is faking it.  He likes being admired for being a coach, but also likes that he doesn't have to put in long hours that would interfere with social drinking and the next fantasy football draft.  He will usually find solace in weeding out the weaker players and taunting them.  He is a favorite among the kids because he is one of them.  He is easy to spot because he is the one throwing the ball at the back of the smallest player's head, laughing uncontrollably at fart jokes, and talking about how hot the 7th grade cheerleaders will be by the time they graduate.  The "Frat Boy" has no ambition beyond what he is doing now, and will be where he is forever or until he appears on Dateline NBC.

The next coach is the "Nut Cutter".  This coach is both helpful and dangerous.  He will do what he is told, when he is told to do it, but his motives are generally selfish and self-serving.  This coach has ambitions beyond junior high school.  He wants to be a head coach at the high school level and will do what ever it takes to get there including biting the hand that feeds him.  He has dropped the facade of possessing morals long ago.  He will use and and all methods to make sure the high school coaching staff notices him.  He shows up at any practice, game, or meeting at the high school.  He keeps detailed records of any kid he feels matters, and will work his tail off with these kids.  Unfortunately, if your kid will not advance his career, the "Nut Cutter" has no use for him.  This can be good and bad.  Good because your child will not be put on a pedestal and develop a messiah complex in the 8th grade and therefore be a tolerable human being.  It is bad because he may feel left out and leave athletics.  The "Nut Cutter" is extremely dangerous to his coworkers.  They are apt to be thrown under the bus at any minute, especially if he has a chance to prosper by doing so.  Once he achieves his goal of working on the high school staff, the nut cutting becomes more intense, and his path to the top is strewn with the bodies that stood in his way.

The final type of junior high coach is "The Lifer".  Although the title might signify some one that is simply waiting to die in their job, "The Lifer" is the best kind of coach for the junior high.  He may have come into the profession full of piss and vinegar like the "Nut Cutter", but he actually found his niche in life and is quite content.  He is good at his job, enjoys watching kids develop and works with all the kids.  He understands that kids develop at different rates and today's 8th string receiver in the 7th grade may hit a growth spurt and develop into a varsity athlete in the future.  He is encouraging, dedicated and trusted. Because he poses no threat, he has a long career in front of him.  This is who you want coaching your kid.  He will make your child feel a part of the team, will correct him when he needs it, and praise him when he deserves it.  The only true drawback is that a true "Lifer" is few and far between.

Tomorrow we will begin exploring the high school coaches.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Types of Coaches

While we are counting down to the start of the season, I thought I would fill the gaps with various information.  I guess one of the best places to start is with the types of coaches your kids will come in contact with.  I base my descriptions on observations I have made over the years.  I am not describing any one single coach, but more instead, giving you the stereotypes I have come into contact with.

Join me over the next few days as I present to you the coaches working with your kids, and see if you can find them on your local coaching staff.

1.  Daddy Coach:  This is usually the first coach your child will come into contact with if you allow them to play youth league football (not recommended).  The Daddy Coach usually has no formal training, and as a result, he is dangerous.  He is a volunteer with a deep love of the game.  The only thing deeper than his love of the game are the issues of inadequecy he still carries from his playing days.  He is the guy that will make his son the quarterback, do what ever it takes to win, and generally use the kids as pawns to show his old high school coach that putting him on the bench was a mistake that was long forgotten to all but him.  You can tell a Daddy Coach by the veins that seem to always be bulging in his neck and forehead.  He will wear his team shirt to restaraunts, church, or anywhere he might be able to recruit an oversized 8 year old to fill his ego.
     This man has memorized every football cliche' known to exist, and will greatly exaggerate his accomplishments on the high school gridiron in order to inspire his players, and has no problem running up the score on a hapless opponent.  On Friday's he can be found at the local high school game screaming from the 42nd row as to how studpid the head coach is.  If only the head coach would run his plays, then a state title would be within their grasp.
     Be wary of this man.......he is dangerous.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Truth About High School Football

I am sure you have seen the movies or the TV shows.  Maybe you have seen the magazines dedicated to it.  Perhaps you have listened to call in shows, or even seen the special section of the newspaper devoted to the coverage.

Of course I am talking about high school football.  Over the next few weeks and during the course of the season, I will bring you an insiders view of the game.  You will find out what is said in coaches meetings, in the locker rooms, in pep talks.  You will see how injuries are handled, grades, and the players themselves.  Keep checking back from time to time through the summer and into the fall to learn what you already know, thought to be true, or might have never known about.