COACH’S CORNER: Want to be a HS coach? It involves more than you think

South Side coach Andre Goodwell talks to his team duringthis year’s OPS 7v7 event at Carroll High School.

So you want to be a high school football coach?

Take a look at various jobs across the area. There are a lot of open positions at various high schools and if you just take a look on social media you’ll notice that there’s quite a lot of people who say that they want to be a high school football coach.

So many feel that they are ready to take a step into coaching because of their success as a player or their success with a youth program. I am here to tell you that high school football is so much more than just football. 

Coaching 15-18 year-olds in the game of football itself is not a difficult task. Most kids that come out for football at their local high school have a general desire and want to perform and love the game. However, as I’ve traveled around the city talking to almost every coach in the greater Fort Wayne area, all of them have mentioned to me that football is sometimes the least of their worries.

When you sign up to be a high school football coach your main objective every day is to teach the position group or age group that you are assigned to. But it is also the signing of a contract that you are now going to be responsible and become an instant adult figure for someone else’s child. In many cases in our current society, you may be the only adult male figure. This is the harsh reality of the current situation we live in. 

What does that all entail? For one, be prepared to be around your players more than your own family. Be prepared to teach the same concept multiple times just for them to mess it up on the first play and have to teach it all over again. Prepare yourself to be incredibly ecstatic for a player that you saw work incredibly hard on a play over and over only to disappoint you when the pads come on. Be prepared to get into arguments with parents over playing time, and receive an earful about how their kid was such a great middle school or youth player and you’re ultimately hindering their success.

And that’s just the football side of it.

More importantly, you need to be ready for phone calls at different hours of the day asking simple questions.

What time is practice?

Can I get a ride to and from practice?

How do I log into my Hudl account if my email isn’t working?

Can you help me with my homework?

It is more than just answering questions. For those fortunate and skilled enough to have an opportunity to play at the next level, it can involve showing players potential colleges and universities that have their interest and help them apply, along with getting up at the crack of dawn to drive him to a campus visit if their parent cannot attend.

Many coaches struggle with the fact some players don’t have food to eat or a place to go once practice ends. Often times, coaches end up spending their own money to make sure players have food in their belly and a safe place to sleep, along with buying proper equipment to ensure the safety of their players. 

I can remember my father often traveling all over the city to get one player to practice. Many players he coached sometimes did not even know their address.

I remember many coaches I had the pleasure of working with help their players in any way needed. One current area coach would get and pay for an Uber so kids could get to practice on time because his car was already full. Area assistant coach James Easley would drive several players home every night and make sure they got a good meal.

Those are only a few of the examples of the great men I know who have dedicated their lives to these players.

Now you might say, ‘Well I’m just going to volunteer and help out where I can.’

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Like it or not, if you become part of a high school football program, those players are become invested in you if you choose to invest in them. It will become your duty to make sure that your players are physically and mentally ready for the game of football.

I go back to my original question. Do you want to be a high school football coach? Do you want to dedicate your life to your players? Do you want to lose sleep over other people’s children? Do you want to get home late and get up early? Do you want to be that person they turn to when they’re in trouble? Do you have the mental fortitude to listen to a kid tell you that their parents are getting divorced and they don’t know what to do? 

If you answer yes to all the above, then high school football is for you! As we begin the high school football season this week, let’s take a moment to thank those men (and women) who sacrifice everything for the success of their players.

That is the true essence of a high school football coach. Someone seeking to see success in someone else, and that deserves all the admiration that they so desperately deserve.

Coaches Corner appears weekly at Outside the Huddle. The author Ben Martone played football in the SAC and has coached at North Side and Northrop. He is currently a teacher at Weisser Park Elementary in Fort Wayne Community Schools.

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