COACH’S CORNER: In a Covid world, coaches can only control so much

Woodlan coach Mike Smith works with his team prior to August 27’s game against Central Noble.

Joining the Outside the Huddle in 2021 as a contributor in is former Manchester University head football coach Shannon Griffith. A product of Northrop High School where he started three years at quarterback, Griffith brings a wealth of coaching and playing experience to OTH. Prior to being a head coach, Griffith served as an assistant at Northwood University and Ball State University, where he was a three-year letter winner for the Cardinals. Griffith now serves as Manchester’s director of development and you can hear him on Friday nights as part of 1380 The Fan’s coverage of high school football.

As a head coach leading a group of student athletes and coaches, I believe one of the important things that head coaches always need to remind themselves, their players and their assistant coaches is to control the controllables.  

It is human nature to want to control everything as much as humanly possible and sometimes we get caught up in things that, quite frankly, we have no control over.  

Nothing exemplifies this than last Friday when junior Owen Scheele found himself in as the starting QB for Carroll with Jeffrey Becker was out due to contact tracing. Coach Doug Dinan had no control over that situation. The only thing he COULD control was how well he and his staff prepared Scheele for Snider.  

Here are few “reminders” I always we tell my players. 

1. I would always emphasize to my players that they only have control of themselves.  Your effort, your preparedness, and your dedication on and off the field. You do not have control over how many reps you might get in practice or in a game, but it is important to understand it is what you do with those opportunities. 

Again, I reflect on Scheele, he started the week with the understanding that he would not play on Friday.  However, that changed and he was thrust into the spotlight with his teammates counting on him. The only thing he had control of was how he prepared from the beginning of camp to the point he took his first snap on Friday. How did he do? Well he was 15of-28 for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Not too bad for his first start!  You do not have control over what a coach may or may not do as it pertains to you, so control your own effort, preparedness, and dedication. 

2. You do not have control of the weather!  It is going to be hot, it is going to be cold and, perhaps most importantly, it is going to rain at some point on a Friday night.  

Now right at this moment, heat and humidity are playing big parts of games in through the first two weeks. So, what can you control?  

You have total control (with mom’s help) of your diet and the amount of fluids that you are taking in. That does not begin on Thursday night, but rather has to be a week-long thing.  Moms and dads can help with this issue by making sure that their son is taking in the proper fluids and nutrition throughout the week to have them ready for Friday.

3. Lastly, and the one I always struggled with, the officials.  There were many times when I would have loved to be able to help them make this call or that call. Reality was I had absolutely no control over that, so why not just focus on my players and make the next play call? 

Have I have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct? You bet, and it had a negative impact on my team!  When you are asking your players to play the game in control of their emotions and their head coach is getting bent out of shape because a call goes against you, that it is self-defeating. 

If I am not controlling my emotions how can I expect my players to?    

As we continue this season it does not hurt to remind yourself, or even mom or dad reminding you, to control the controllables. It was something my dad always said to me from the time I was playing all the way through my coaching years. 

Coach’s Corner appears every Tuesday during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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