Our oldest children are homeschooled. Last Spring, my then 15 yr old son decided he wanted to play baseball and his options were the local school here or the homeschool baseball team. After discussing it and talking to one of the coaches, he decided he wanted to play for the homeschool Junior Varsity team, the Providence Athletic Club (PAC) Panthers. He had a great time with the team and enjoyed playing for them and they were, dare I say, pretty stinkin’ good.
I didn’t coach them, but I did offer suggestions at times when asked and kept the books for the team. I also played the music and kept the scoreboard for the Varsity team. It was a great time and we both learned a lot. I was very happy sitting and watching them play without worrying about coaching and I could just enjoy the game. I had coached him since his T-Ball days so it was good for someone else to take the reigns and give him instruction for a change.
During the season, the boys on the team told us about the football team and how much fun it was and that Carson should play. I had played football up through High School and love the game. I especially love watching the University of South Carolina Gamecocks play and have watched them become a very good team. I do know the game but never thought I’d be involved because neither of our boys ever showed an interest in playing football.
We had a meeting for potential football players in the Spring and Carson decided he might want to think about maybe playing. The head coach asked me if I had ever played. I think he was guessing because I’m 6’3″ with a large frame that I might have. I told him it had been a long long time, over 30 years but I had. He told me to bring Carson out in May and just go through the workouts with them and decide. So, every Saturday in May, Carson and I went to the workouts and I helped with the conditioning. Carson decided to play and because I had helped with the workouts and some drills in May, by default, I became one of the coaches. Then, they asked me if I would be the defensive coordinator for the JV team and also help with the offensive line. I figured why not. I played defense. It was pretty easy. See the ball, get the ball. Piece of cake. Then, I got the playbook.
Coaching Football – Things have changed!!
As I said, I hadn’t played in over 30 years. I found out we were going to go with a spread offense because of our speed. I also found out we were going to run a 4-4 defense. Along with that, we had stunts and blitzes and assignments I was unfamiliar with. I freaked out just a little looking at the playbook on offense and defense. After a little while, it started making sense. But then I had another challenge. I had to teach this defense to kids that ranged from 12 to 17 years old. Believe me, there is a lot of difference in size, talent and strength from 12 to 17 years old. YouTube and Google became my friend during that time period where I was learning drills and figuring out how to teach blocking from an offensive line perspective as well as figuring out how to teach wrapping and tackling.
Here is the interesting thing. We have 15 on the Middle School team and 15 on the JV team. Of the 15 on the JV team, 5 of them are playing on both the Middle School and JV because they were 15 years old on May 1st. Because we are working on the Middle School team the most because they are eligible for playoffs and we have a chance to win the championship with them, those 5 kids practice primarily with the Middle School. That leaves us with 10 to 11 players to practice JV. Of those 10 to 11, some of them will occasionally miss practice or come in sick or hurt so we typically only have 7 to 9 players to practice with, making it VERY difficult to do when you need at least 11 to field a team.
We can’t hit hard during practice because we can’t afford injuries in practice so that carries over into the games. The first couple of games we have not tackled well. The corners and safeties need work because we get burned deep on passes and we have to learn to throw and catch better with our receivers as well as teaching receivers to block.
But, the bottom line to that is, I’m loving coaching football with these kids. They are, for the most part, polite and respectful to their teammates and coaches and I’ve learned so much more about football. They say if you want to learn something, you need to teach it because in learning to teach it, you learn about it. So, I’ve said in the past, get out of your comfort zone and do something scary that won’t kill you. Well, this was definitely something that was scary to me, but I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. We are looking for our first win this weekend with the JV team. I sure hope it comes too. I am missing out on some other fall activities because of the practice/game schedule, but it has been so much fun and Carson is having a blast. More to come later as our season progresses!!
Discipline – Doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not.