One person's thoughts may change the world
“Excuse me coach, can you take my video”, the young man said to me. I replied, “I”m sorry, I’m not a college coach young man, but you can talk to that guy over there, he can help you”. I watched as the young athlete walked away, ready to give his video to an interested coach. Today is 3-18-2012, and, I’m at a premier high school football combine in southeast Michigan. I put of my coaches’ game face for this one, just to get a reaction or two from it. From parents, they look at me as if I have the keys to the kingdom, and some wonder how to approach me. Many athletes look at me in wonder, whether I will give them a look when they are out there performing, or give me the up and down look as if I should know who they are. When someone does stop and talk to me, it’s usually an athlete or parent of an athlete I’ve coached before, and some parents look and listen to see if they can catch a word or two. Some I hug, some I tell them what to expect, others I give them some last-minute coaching on how to perform certain drills once they are out there. It was in many ways, quite fun. I get to do something I like doing, observe. Analyze. Take apart. Query. I guess a little form of control. The analyst observing the lab rat. As an observer of people, I got a chance to look at parents, athletes, people I knew, athlete’s that I’ve coached before, other coaches, and take in the many sights, hopes, dreams, aspirations, of athletic competition, or rather, the display of it. It’s an arena, full of potential “Greek gods”, and they are there for the first taste of what the future may hold for them.
The 40 yard dash. The standing high jump. The weight lifting repetitions. The pro-shuttle. The standing long jump. All just like pro football, but at the high school level. Just a taste of what the future my hold for them. An opportunity, a Rivals page, your video of you running touchdowns on the internet, your 20 seconds of fame for those who want to look at it. These are all wonderful things to the aspiring athlete. It’s another means of communication. A social avenue to meeting fellow athletes, coaches, and…women. Or shall I say, young ladies. This is also a testosterone latent place, trust me. And, it all starts with the parents.
Most of the kids out there want to be there, not question about it. But 6 to 10 years before, they were probably not so sure. Parent, in their quest to expose their kids to as many sports and academic thing as possible threw them to the arena long ago, similar to Spartan King Leonidas. Worried moms and eager fathers, some wanting them to grow up before their time to be a man-child at an early age. Some of the kids like it, some don’t. And that is OK for at least me as a coach. But for some fathers, it can be a little disheartening. “My son is afraid?”, he may be saying to himself. “How will he make it in life?”, he may be saying. “Well maybe soccer player, oh my goodness”, he breaks down, crying to him.
Seriously, football is a character builder. It promotes a team spirit. Something bigger than oneself. Can change lives. Can make you a better person. Can also set your course for the rest of your life. Football can and is a way out for some people, especially in the black community. There is always, no matter how poor of an area a person may live in, a phenom. Some kid who’s bigger than life. Bigger, faster, and stronger than others. Some one who has the potential to make it all of the way. Then there is the suburban kid, white, black, Latino, or other. Well trained. Well coached. Many times using a personal trainer to help them with the skills needed to be good. Crafted, carved, molded and shaped into the perfect athlete, with their parents money. I’m not hating, it’s just the way it is.The late blooming athlete is almost an impossibility. Either you have it, You don’t, or it’s paid for.
The parents themselves are interesting. Some may be former Greek gods and goddesses, they walk around to see their potential Greek god show his athletic prowess out there. Many are former athletes themselves, or sports buffs. the following two pics depict what I normally see, eye-candy moms in painted on jeans, and tight jersey Tebow wearing dads. Again, not hating, just an observation. I typically pick a spot and stare down these beautiful moms just to see what kind of reaction I might draw. Some stare back. Some speak when I speak, others even speak first. Others don’t speak at all, but that’s rare. Some of these goddesses are quite the lookers, but, I’m not there for that, I’m strictly there to observe.
Others are team parents, talking to every team member they know and giving positive encouragement. There are fellow coaches, happy to see me or each other, asking about life talking about future stars that are currently on the field. Some of these kids are totally amazing. One kid benched 225lbs 25 time. That’s what pro football players can bench, wow. One kid ran a 4.38 40 yard dash, wow, even for a professional, that is fast. These kids are totally amazing!
My main point here is that football at the high school level is now serious business. Well let me take that back it’s been serious business for a while. For many of these D1 programs, it’s a multimillion dollar industry, all balanced upon 17-23 year old kids, coached by a professional staff that also have to be paid well and win, packing 60,000 – 100,000+ stadiums selling millions of dollars of merchandise, with the backing of women painted in tight pair of blue jeans and a Tebow jersey wearing dad….Just an observation…