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8/7/2012 9:26:01 AM -

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether it’s possible to redefine myself as a coach at this stage of my career. Going into this season, I’m realizing that I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve been coaching this sport for over a decade. When I first got back into football – by serving as a volunteer assistant for a team where a good friend of mine was the head coach – I was decidedly a kid. Definitely a kid. I had my own ideas about how things should be done, I was all fired up, daily, to implement my ideas, most of which revolved around notions of how things should have been done when I was a player.

I had the enthusiasm, I had the motivation, and I couldn’t wait to get to practice every day – and games, obviously – to install my shit and teach the kids how to play the game the “right way.”

We’re over a decade down the line, now, though. I’m definitely not a kid anymore. I sure as hell don’t feel like one, and the gray hair that’s creeping in under my Steve Spurrier visor kind of makes me nauseous every morning. I think, at this point, that I’m a “veteran coach.” I mean, I haven’t been coaching football for thirty years, but I’m definitely past the honeymoon stage in terms of my level of enthusiasm. I still want to win, badly, and I’m still as competitive as I ever was, but things are different now because I’ve learned to understand losses and why they happen, both in life and on the field. Every coach reading this will understand precisely what I’m talking about here.

What I’ve really been thinking about going into this season, however, is whether it’s possible to continue evolving at the same pace when you reach this stage of your coaching career. I know I’m not exactly a jaded old man, but like I said, I’m not a 22-year-old kid on my first job, either. And the years go past very quickly.

When we initially took over our program at the first school I coached at, we won a couple of titles within a few years. The problem for me, however, is that it’s been a few years since any team I’ve coached for has won another one. We come close pretty much every year, and we’re always good, but I haven’t been with a program that’s gone over the top again in a few seasons now – and that time has gone by shockingly fast.

So, as a coach, I’m asking myself what I can do differently this year. Have I learned anything this offseason? Have I done my due diligence with regard to all the capacities in which I’m going to serve this year? Have I studied enough about all the new developments in the sport? Are there any rule changes I should be aware of? Anything in that area that’s going to bite me in the ass late in a game when I don’t understand what the officials just called? Have I been paying attention to what my mentors have been doing in both the tactical world and the strength and conditioning world? Do I care as much about any of it as I used to?

You can sit there and tell me that if I’m asking myself that last question, I probably don’t. I disagree. I think this is an evaluation every coach has to make going into every single season. I definitely still give a shit. I still want to win every game. I still want to put kids into colleges. I definitely still take losses as a reflection of my own ability, even in the stupid 7-on-7 tournaments I’m always pissing and moaning about.

But we’ll see, right? All I know is that football season is here, and the shit still gives me goosebumps all these years later.

Angry Coach

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