The challenge with this post is not to judge but to learn from the mistakes of this poor coach that went too far.
The challenge with this post is not to judge but to learn from the mistakes of this poor coach that went too far.
Honestly speaking my assumption when I started this research project was that the role of a high school coach was diminished. All of the communication methods that allow direct contact with the athlete made them irrelevant. Essentially, the gap between schools and players was closing with technology and the high school coach is the odd man out. To the contrary, what I found is the job has become more complex, enhanced and more about relationships than ever.
I talked to Tarig Holman, head football coach at Randolph High School in New Jersey. This guy has been exceptional his whole life and it shows in his coaching. Tarig’s approach to his high school team is what he terms “College Bound”. “I want our student athletes to understand that we are a college bound program” said Holman. This sparked my interest because it was a different focus than most high school programs that I have come across. At Randolph coach Holman has made it clear that he wants his players looking to further their education regardless of the level of football they play or if they play football at all. The focus is more academic. The reason for this is the numbers says Holman, who is realistic with his players. A D1 safety at Iowa in his time, he understands that D1 talent doesn’t just happen every day. “You have to build a relationship with the athletes so they believe you have their best interests in mind when you make suggestions” he said. Sometimes the reality that you are not a D1 athlete is hard to take but then seeing where your academics make you attractive at other levels opens up doors for you. Holman said, that the only way you can be real in that conversation is with a relationship.
Our conversation quickly moved from talent to relationship. It’s all about the relationship for a coach today because there are many people lining up to be that support for a price. Holman has relationships with players, other high school coaches and of course college coaches that he can keep in touch with when the dust settles from the previous season’s college football coaches carousel. A unique relationship building activity that I learned of was kind of an introduction night for athletes and schools. The event incorporates athletes from several area high schools, High School coaches and College coaches, or recruiting coordinators. When Tarig explained that they did this activity for sophomores to seniors I remembered other conversations about recruiting starting at a younger age. He said that it was all part of his goals to remind his players that the program is a “College Bound” program.
What do you make of all of the technology out there, I asked to see if he was up on the latest communication methods. Tarig was not even phased by the question. He has seen it all as it becomes popular then falls off. “Today people can reach you or find a way to reach you without you ever meeting them” he exclaimed. That difference has him also working as a sort of media / social media guide for his players as well. “We try and remind the guys that what you put out there is available for everyone to see”. With so much air time and broadcast yourself out there athletes quickly forget that it is a dangerous world out there where people are looking for anything to make a story of.
Although the role has some new wrinkles in it I like what Coach Holman had to say which reminded me greatly of the men that guided me and probably most of us back in the non-social era. It is still about a personal relationship that can impact the lives of young people. “If a coach is doing his job his players know his heart for them. I love my job”, Holman said.
Stuff to take away from this story
A long long time ago I was recruited to the university of Iowa to play fullback for the Iowa Hawkeye football team from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I had no clue who the coaches were, where the school was, what Iowa was famous for, and the list goes on baby. Even with all of that going for me, I decided to play for coach Hayden Fry who had a legendary 20 year run as Iowa’s Head Hawk. When I say this happened back in 1994 most peoples jaws drop through the floor. They don’t understand how a kid from Canada could be recruited without tweets, grams, vines or hudls. Even then, resourceful coaches were working in the background collecting information from sources all across the world to find the next “Diaper Dandy” as Dick Vitale endearingly referred to great freshmen players.
Today, for Tyler Schamel a 5’10” wide receiver at 3A state runner up Norwalk high school in Norwalk, IA who has a profile on the web showing his picture, 4.65. 40 time and brainy GPA, the world is even smaller and the competition for the attention of coaches is even bigger. Think about the changes in just finding out about a school. In 94 there were no websites listing the coaching staff. There were no email addresses and the fastest way to send a message across the wire that was not a phone call was this old dusty technology called a FAX. In my chat with Tyler, he shared that he is smarter than your average high school kid. Why, because Tyler uses the same type of email marketing tools that big companies use to analyze the effectiveness of a message to buyers to assess the interest of a coaching staff. “I can see if they open the message and if I get a response”. He excitedly noted that it was not challenging to find the email of a coach by using the recruiting service. He said the recruiting services have really helped him reach out to coaches. So what role does that leave for your friendly neighbor hood high school coach.
When I asked if all of the services and film have diminished the role of the high school coach. Tyler laid it out there, “our coach is amazing and even more important today than ever!” He shared that, his coaching staff have supported his goal to continue playing football after high school. Tyler is primarily a D2 to D3 prospect so it’s not like he does not have to compete for the interest of coaches. His high school coaches help him and his teammates with visits, collecting assignments, and coaching him on how to connect with perspective schools. He couldn’t say enough about the support he has received from the staff. The big difference today, is that the film, if you want to watch it is online and available with a simple search for Tyler Schamel.
There is something to be said for having a strong team that believes and achieves. Norwalk is that school and Tyler is one of the keys to their success. There is nothing like winning to make people listen and Tyler found that out right away. “Before getting to the state championship game you have a few coaches that will talk to you. When we hit the championship game there were many other coaches contacting me and asking about my film”. The Warriors, like other teams to finish in the state finals, has a few kids that are being watched and offered by Power 5 conferences. What coaches know is that the talent on the team does just stop at those players. With any team to get to the finals they need horses in the stables that can catch 5 touchdowns. Coaches are always on the lookout for that kid that might have not had the biggest stats or all of the data from testing combines but show up on the big day in a big way.
Intangibles are factors like speed, strength, agility, height that although measurable beat out most other factors when looking to recruit a player. Talking to a recruiter from the Green Bay Packers last year made that absolutely clear. The intangibles for a player are the first things looked at. You can’t beat those with training. You can’t train 7 feet tall, stamina that doesn’t quit, leadership, or a fastball that is effortless. Whatever those traits are, the recruit must highlight their intangibles before anything else even your team or individual record.
At the end of the day some how years ago with no technology this world was huge and coaches still found me in the frozen tundra of Edmonton, Alberta. Today with some smarts and tools that are out there it is easier to communicate who you are to coaches, and recruiting coordinators. Tyler’s advice to all the juniors and sophomores out there that are getting started in their quest to continue playing the game that they love is “Get to camps where people can see you live, it makes a big difference”. Just remember that the opportunity you have is available to kids all around the world. The communication is easier now but the competition is a whole lot harder. Someone is working, don’t guess as to who it is, KNOW it is you.
Best of luck to 14 Tyler Schamel and thank you for taking the time to enlighten us.
Next in the series, I talk to several high school coaches about how their role has been adjusted in this ultra connected world. After that an interview with a good friend of mine who’s daughter just finished her senior season of volley ball and son is a top high school football prospect.
Hot Feet Make Plays so keep em hot and be a play maker.
Check this sweet video from Arnold on success. Playmakers embrace greatness!! When I watched this video I immediately embraced all of the things that were being said. Why, why would I embrace this video right away. The answer lies in the who, not the what. The who is a man that redefined his sport, and did not stop there. Every thing he decided to do after his body building career he attacked with the same vigor. All the way to being Governor of California. Watch the video feel the power, embrace the grind and get to work.
Each year when the season ends for the 8th grade football team we have a small party with lots of ice cream and cookies. The event is primarily geared toward collecting the gear that we give out to all of the kids so that we as coaches are not required to chase them for a whole school year to bring back the equipment. In my first year at the school I decided to give out awards. This was met with some concern from my athletic director as many parents get caught up about distinguishing one kid from another. We had several discussions about the topic in the weeks leading up to the end of the season. My athletic director has a vision of what he would like to get the program and believes if he lets his coaches work through things they will keep the benefit of the kids in mind. I went and built the awards with materials I bought with my own money. I had a excitement running through my veins as I spray painted a rawhide bone blue for the Ready, Able, Willing award which to me was the most important one of all.
The day came to have our meeting my assistants and I had decided that all but the MVP awards would be selected by coaches. We wanted the boys to have ownership in who they chose to be their MVP. However, we shortened the list of candidates to deter the pranksters from choosing anybody and derailing my goals of having the team elevate a deserving team member that served them well through the season. I had asked the seventh grade head coach if he wanted to join us in the awards ceremonies. He smiled and said,” you are not a teacher so your job is not really on the line of some parent complains”. I smiled and said “very true my friend I will move forward on this”
The time came to unveil our work. one of the parents that helped me coach was a pretty handy guy so he built 4 of the awards and I built 4 of them. Remember it is football there are a lot of kids and reasons to award someone for their service to the team. We showed the boys the awards and their eyes lit up. They all came over to look at them and read the descriptions on each of them. Some boys walked away hoping it was theirs. Others smiled and yelled out things like winner to play off their fears of maybe actually winning and then what? Would I now be looked at as some sort of leader?
Before we gave out the first award I told the boys that for years they were all given the same medal or trophy for showing up. However, today only a few people would get to hold the awards at the front of the room as their own and only a few would get to be in the picture. I asked them to clap for their team mates that were selected. I asked them to consider their season individually and what it may have taken in order for their name to be called. I asked them to accept the challenge of being the one called in years to come because they would be entering high school. My goal was simple, applaud greatness and aspire to it. Aspire to be more than you are today and cheer on your team mates that have the ability to serve the team in a manner that would distinguish them. I told them to push to be distinguishable from all the rest so that if given an award it would not be one that was given to everyone but one that celebrates their uniqueness. The last thing I told them is that the next few years would provide them an opportunity to choose greatness as their goal in whatever they decided to pursue.
Then we called the names and the boys clapped for their team mates and we took pictures. Then we took pictures of all of them together with the recipients holding their trophies. This year was my 4th year of handing out the trophies and now boys start the season wondering what they need to do in order to be one of the guys holding one of them. Word has spread all the way down to the youth program about awards that only a few get.
I don’t believe in medals and trophies for participating. Ribbons serve the purpose very well. I don’t believe that focusing your energies to win at all costs is important either. My parents have a basement full of my awards who will care about them when I am gone? I found medals from people long gone and wondered what they needed to do in order to be selected for such an award and I realized that it as not the award that was important but the service to the society as a whole that came from a person trying to achieve greatness that helps us all.
Spring is here and time to get those feet blazing. Our Spring into agility camps are designed to work a young athletes ability to explode off the mark coming from a complete stop, or a slow down to change of direction. Most camps focus on starting maintaining speed. At Hot Feet we understand that if you can’t stop effectively you are way to far behind for your start to matter. Start, Stop, Start again, Hot Feet Make Plays!!!!!!
Great plays are made when anticipation, meets reaction, mixed with preparation, and topped with experience. Great players make great plays because they are in the right place. You can’t get to the right place without the feet.
Hot Feet Make Plays!!!!!!