Its been a few months since the end of the first season as a football coach Bowen. It was a different experience from prior years where I was just volunteering. This year was a commitment I couldn’t show up when I wanted during my free time. I enjoyed being more behind the scene. I like the be organized so i had more control over my experience even though I’m just an assistant. I learned a lot since this is my very first coaching job. We had a rough season.
Summer practice didn’t go as well as it could. We didn’t have most of our linemen even though most of the time was dedicated to the skilled positions for 7 on 7 games. So starting out the season our line was not a cohesive unit and it showed in most games we played.
We started off with 2 perennial state playoff contenders in Marion Central Catholic and Fenwick. Against Marion Central the team played its hardest. But because of absences from practice there were a lot of mistakes. Because of that we didn’t score that game but we showed heart in playing 4 quarters. The team was complimented by the opposing players, coaches and fans about how hard they played. I had a conversation with someone that said most of the time when they bring a Chicago Public League team in to play they give up around half way through. So after that game I though we would make a turn for the better…
The Fenwick game was another test of heart, conditioning and skill. Well again they showed heart and played all 4 quarters, but Fenwick a team that went almost all the way to the state just were too much for us but gave us a look at what we could be starting conference play.
Ok I’m gonna shorten this up a little cause to evaluate every game this editorial would be far too long. The first and third games of the season the coaching staff felt we could easily win (the second game was a forfeit victory). Both games we suffered from not getting the good practice we needed with all out player present. So mistakes in the game caused us to lose.
The next game set the season for us. A win and we could be on a roll for the playoffs or a lost can send us spirally down into the cellar. We started off the game well its looked like a game we could win. After one mistake it was compound by another and the other team scored and won the game.
I went home thinking how can I help turn this around. We continued to have attendance problems at practice. As a coaching staff with 20-25 players its hard for you to just sit someone down when they don’t show up to practice. Its hard to tell a player you can’t play this week. You know without the player you won’t even have a chance to win.
I had to reach out to other people I knew and as them about this. Most of them told me this one thing that resonated with me as the season went on. If you don’t punish the guilty then they all will just do as the want to despite what you tell them. So then you don’t have a team anymore you have a bunch of guys that show up every week to play and no one becomes better. Young men need firm guidance from their coach and they need to have consequences for their action or you might as well let them coach. Young men don’t respect those who just tell you to do something and don’t show you something. I felt like that once. Hell I still do.
The next game I’m not sure what happened. I can’t even explain how we lost. We tried to pick it up for the next game. It was raining and sloppy and neither team looked good. After the rain stopped both teams started moving the ball. After a bad call by the ref and the response from the coaches and players it seemed like we never got a call the rest of the game. The team lost total faith that things would be fair. We had players who started becoming disruptive in the game and just total threw off the entire team and occupied the coaching staff with trying to get people to calm down rather than to focus on trying to win the game. So everything slipped away. The next game it seemed everything was going smooth until we found out one of the starters decided to take a break in the stands and take off his equipment. After some time just before kickoff the player that sat down was standing around the locker room. I told him if you are planning to play then you better act like it otherwise stay in the locker room. No one is gonna beg you to play. After another player came to get him he decided he was going to come play. Yet again mistakes, anger and bad play caused us to lose.
Our last game we all wanted to go out winning. The players kept their focus and was playing a good game. One of our linemen got outta line and got ejected from the game but I was proud of the team for not letting that incident effect their play. They went on to win and we left the field winners.
I take away a lot of things from this season. The first is there as to be consequences to bad actions regardless of who does it. We can’t allow people to get away with stuff because of our ability to put players on the field. If push comes to shove and we end up losing because of player discipline then the team suffers.
Second, there is a lot of work to be done. In January after wrestling season we will start weight training. We have to crack down on player absences. I’m thinking about having mandatory meeting with player parents. I think having that direct connection instead of depending on out players to communicate what is required is needed. By spring practice I want to have met with all player’s parents so we can set up a flow of constant communications. Next season we need committed players, parents and alumni all working together to make a better football team. We have a successful basketball team that went to regionals. We have a successful wrestling team that shows out EVERY YEAR. Why can’t Bowen have a successful football team. There is no excuse. So let’s just do it!!!!