Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program


Posted by admin August - 29 - 2012 - Wednesday

I attended the funeral of one of my former players on Saturday. He was a Believer (I know, cuz we talked about it the last few weeks he was alive) so he’s with the Lord now. The joy of knowing he’s in heaven was mixed in with the sorrow of losing such a fine young man. He was 37 years old, a dad and a well-respected employee for his company. He had a lot going for himself. Except… lung cancer got him. He never smoked a day in his life!

Seeing so many of my former players in one place for the first time in 15 years was exciting— except for the reason we were all gathered together. It was hard for me to see them as mid-30’s men… when, in my mind, they were still 17 and 18 year old boys. To be able to put an arm around one guy and give a consoling hug to another brought back memories of “being there” for those guys when they were still in high school.

You see… their senior season of 1997 was a special year. We’d just come off the worst record in 6 years the fall before (5-5) and the rising seniors were determined to turn things back in the direction they’d been. What ended up was an undefeated regular season (10-0) and the first District championship for our school in 20 years. They went on to finish 11-1 and set the course for our program for the next 10 years.

There were a lot of great players on that team. The young man who’s life we celebrated at the funeral was a starting defensive back. He wasn’t one of the “stars” but he was a perfect example of our philosophy of “BIG Team… little me.” Always had a smile on his face until it was time to play. Then… his intensity and his burning desire to win came out. He told me in July after we’d lost a 7 on 7 passing league game (nothing important in the big scheme of things!), “Coach J…. we’re not losing again! Scrimmages, games… nothing!” He was right for the next 13 weeks! That quiet fire that he possessed rubbed off on his teammates and drove them to play at a high level every week.

We will miss you Troy. Your legacy shows in the number of guys who drove hours to be at your funeral. For coaches who are reading this: never underestimate the influence that one quiet guy can have on the rest of your team. That guy might be the one who everyone else is looking to when things get tough. You need to look to him too.

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