May 13, 2016
A new offseason is here. Well, it’s not really new. It’s been going since January; maybe even since the final seconds of the state championship game ticked away at The Nest on Hillcrest late October ‘15. A great acknowledgment must be given to forty some dedicated student-athletes that stayed relationally connected to the team since that final play. Seventh Hour, basketball, track, and baseball have been great centers of community for these hard working young men and women.
The work has been difficult. The workouts (you can check them out on the Eagle Speed & Strength Facebook) have pushed them to new limits. They will finish 7th Hour today with a foundational preparation for the speed and ferocity of football. The academics have been difficult. Cliché: being a student-athlete means you are a student first. And you are. But you are also an athlete. You are both a student and an athlete. That balancing act of multiple intelligences, the stress of time demands, and the perseverance through physical exhaustion must be applauded.
But what does it all mean? Why do we ask our students to do this training and this game? It certainly is not just purely for a football field outcome. One can work hard, but no effort in January will guarantee a win in October. It cannot be individual accolades. We work very hard to “injury-proof” ourselves, but when kickoff occurs every young man that straps on a helmet must be prepared to play his last play. In 2014 we lost a potential All-State receiver in a simple preseason scrimmage to an ACL tear. The kid worked so hard in January; never saw a play in 2014. There are no guarantees in football, only a dogged determination to work though the process.
And therein lies the reason why we do this- to work through the process of building and maintaining relationships.
From here I must thank and acknowledge my greatest influences. Most notably in the coaching ranks Joe Ehrmann and Tony Franklin. Each have showed me that at the end of the day relationships are why we do what we do.
Ehrmann’s book InSideOut Coaching changed the way I did my job. He spoke of transforming students, not transacting with them. The “do this for me” and “I’ll reward you with that” philosophy was challenged. We were very successful in our first few seasons at West. It was easy to dust off shiny rings and think to ourselves that we could promise similar results if players just did what we told them to do. Instead what we saw were players (very successful on-field athletes) leaving the program without certain necessary social-emotional tools to make them productive leaders in our society.
The mantra of transformational coaching changed my outset. It refocused me on the player. It reminded me I’m a teacher. It challenged me to care about the emotional well-being of the child that looked like a grown man.
We are business clients of Tony Franklin. He owns a football consulting service of which we are proud members. Scheme-wise he is perhaps the greatest influence on what you see here in West Anchorage on Friday nights. His consulting, seminars, and access to spring camps at University of California have allowed our staff to learn from great football minds nationally. “The System” as it is called also gives a common language to talk shop with other high school coaches facing the same issues on and off the field. But what I admire most about Coach Franklin just recently occurred. Fresh off of coaching the future number one NFL draft pick, Jared Goff, Coach Franklin left Cal (a situation by all accounts he was very happy with) and took a job at Middle Tennessee State. Why?
“When Laura and I made this decision to leave Cal and move back closer to our family we were very fortunate to have an opportunity arise soon after. The new opportunity allowed me to continue to coach football as well as have a closer relationship with our parents, children and grandchildren.”
Relationships. Specifically we coach for relationships that are built on the foundation of family. Family is the most important social unit in our society. We all have one and are all involved with our families at varying levels. The courage to fight for your family, protect your family, and make career decisions putting your family first are causes that we believe in.
Football is difficult. It is painful. It is sacrificial. Often the hardest workers go unnoticed. It is perhaps one the greatest sport to learn leadership, selflessness, and the need for placing others- treating others- greater than one self.
Everything we do is driven by the principle to create hard working leaders who have fun at what they do. Why? Because these are the type of young men we want leading our community: those that wear the name of Anchorage on their chest and the name of their family in their heart.
Coach Tim Davis is the head coach at West Anchorage High School in Anchorage, AK.