A 2014 Happy Holidays to You

I am a festive kind of a guy. A real holiday spirit.

Here is my holiday decorating dream plan.

Tree Trimming 2014

Seriously, I am festive.

I put up a string or two of bright lights on the porch, even when it’s witch-ass cold outside.

Two Christmas trees. Yes, two. (The Mrs. Hays would like to have more, but I’d agree only if we can arrange them around the house in a natural, forest configuration. That didn’t fly.)

My favorite Christmas TV special is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus’s account of the true meaning of Christmas is perhaps one of the best things ever presented on the small screen.

My favorite Christmas music is A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

My favorite song from that soundtrack? Linus and Lucy. This song is such an awesome song. For years, I kindly suggested to  Mrs. B that our high school marching band play a rousing rendition of Linus and Lucy before home football games. Alas, it never happened. Apparently high school band directors don’t take music request from assistant football coaches. (Yes, kids. That is the kind of world we live in…)

Here is my Christmas 2014 gift to you, the dedicated reader of The Coach Hays blog. A totally kick-ass version of Linus and Lucy performed by the supremely talented indie rock band, Built to Spill. THIS is the version of the song that is meant to be played before taking the field. Feel free to do your favorite Snoopy-inspired holiday dance.

Happy Holidays! Thanks for reading and supporting the stupidity of The Coach Hays blog for yet another year.

Live long and prosper!

Keep striving to attain your goals and dreams. Don’t give up without a fight.

Hard Work is the Magic.

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Purpose

“The problem with plans created by committees is that they are built on vague. That’s because vague is safe, and no one ever got in trouble for failing to meet a vague plan. But vague is singularly unhelpful when it’s time to make a hard decision.”     -Seth Godin

When you make a plan, have a purpose. Formulate a specific goal in mind, a purpose worth striving for, and set out a plan to obtain it. Avoid a general and vague goal by being laser-focused. Whether it’s writing, athletics, academics, careers, community projects, gardening…whatever, put your dreams into a solid, tangible goal.

Set the plan and do the work.

The sky is the limit.

Take the risk. Failure is possible (probable), but keep trying.

Sounds simple, huh?

Hard work is the magic.

CC@Abilene2009

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This Is Our House

“This is our house.”
You hear this quite often in sports.
Home field.
The home field advantage.

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At the western gateway of Clay Center we have our sports houses.
We have Unruh Stadium for football.
We have Kelly Campbell Field for baseball.
Our home fields. Our houses.

Campbell Shack Unruh Scoreboard 2

But our sports houses have not been taken care of very well.
Sports fields need maintenance. Almost daily maintenance.
Our fields and stadiums have not been maintained well.
They need some care.
They need us, the community.

Unruh Stands South

Campbell 1B Dugout

There’s been a lot of finger pointing about these problems.
Lots of blame, lots of ideas, very little action.
It reminded me of a phrase Coach Dail Smith would tell our football kids.
“When you point the finger of blame, remember three of your own fingers are pointing straight back to you.”

It was time to become part of the solution.

In late 2013, Rex Carlson, Larry Wallace, Jr. and I took on a project to renovate Campbell Field.
The mayor gave us the fancy title of the ad hoc Committee for Campbell Field Renovation.
Why in the world would we take on such a daunting task?

First, there was the eye test.
Things had fallen apart.
The playing surface was a mess.
Dugouts, mounds, bullpens, fence…all a mess.
Lack of daily maintenance, lack of water, and lots of Kansas wind did major damage.

Second, there was the ear test.
People were saying a lot of bad things about our baseball field. Many of these people were the same people who failed to raise a finger to help, who failed to hold up their promises and turned away from their commitments.
Their words stung. Their words lit a fire.
Their words fueled a change.

Third, we opened our own eyes and saw the work being done for area youth baseball. We saw kids enjoying the game of baseball all around us. We saw teams practicing and working to get better. We saw youngsters smiling and playing the game.

We knew these kids deserved a decent place to play the game.

We also knew the most important thing to accomplish was a renovation plan that could be maintained within the limited budget and resources of the city and the city recreation department. The plan needed to be smart, it need to be maintainable and it needed to maximize every dollar graciously donated by people and businesses of our community toward the project.

With the blessing and support of the city, we are working toward making Campbell Field a safe, playable, rural Kansas 4A high school baseball field. This is our goal. Our goal is not to build a professional or collegiate field. Our system could never maintain such a dream field.

Campbell Infield

In all honesty, facilities aren’t not the best of investments. The more resources you spend on them, the more resources it takes to maintain them. Our philosophy is to take care of what we have so our community can spend the bulk of their  limited resources on programs, not facilities.

We are getting closer to our goal and have set up a fund for donations through the Clay Center Community Improvement Foundation to help the common sense renovations of Campbell Field, Schaulis Field, and Montel Field. If you are interested in helping the cause through  a greatly appreciated donation or an in-kind donation, please contact Rex, Larry, me, or the CC Community Improvement Foundation for information.

I hope a similar, common sense financial approach will be taken with Unruh Stadium renovation.

Unruh from scoreboard

A plan to fix the structural problems and maintain the facility for the long-term. A plan to address the ADA compliant issues with perhaps ramp/viewing areas (30-40 feet across) at the ends of the stands following the basic design Oakley, Kansas used on their WPA-era stadium renovation a few years back.

 

Oakley Stadium1

 

Maybe even redesign the player and fan space in the stadium by turning the current home locker room, men’s restroom, storage room,and referee room at the south end into a new men’s and women’s restrooms/concession area in that space. At the north end of the stadium, expand the visitor’s locker room into current women’s restroom and add additional showers in that space. A new metal building could be constructed for the home locker room/referee room/storage room in the grass area south of the stadium where the team bus currently parks. The fencing behind the stadium needs a face-lift anyway and could be moved to accommodate this structure.  If funds are available or raised, a limestone arched entryway/ticket booth addition would look great attached to the north and south end of the stadium.

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I thoroughly appreciate my years enjoying this view while coaching football.

It was a blast to have coached football and baseball in Clay Center.

It was an honor to be a part of something so special.

We do have something special in Clay Center. Believe me, coming from a 6A city school, what we have in Clay Center, with our fields, our fans, and our kids are all very, very special.

I think it’s time to go to work. It’s time to keep our special things special.

Purpose. Pride. Passion.

The Clay Center Way.

 

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Perception is Reality

This is my 300th post on The Coach Hays blog. Who knew I could throw this many rants?

To celebrate, I am going to re-post an old piece taken from one of the best sports instructional resources around, Baseball Excellence (baseball-excellence.com).  They send this great piece at least once a year in their weekly FREE email newsletter. Always timely, always important, always sage advice no matter who your are or what you do.

Enjoy and…PAY ATTENTION!

Perception is Reality (A Tip for players)

The way you act is how others perceive you.

The way you conduct yourself on a baseball field in practice and games goes a long way as coaches determine how you will benefit the team.

Your talent level “is what it is.”

You can improve your skill level and you can have a positive approach.

“It takes no talent to hustle.”

Respect the game.

Play with class.

Take Pride in the way you play the game.

Show an aptitude to learn. (Be Coach-able)

Understand that failure is a part of baseball and learn to react in a mature fashion.

Always try to contribute something positive to the team (no matter how small)

Remember, you never know who is watching.

Tigers @ Royal Valley 2008

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Be “Less”

We are always asking and/or being asked to give more. Work harder, work more, work faster.

That’s okay, though. Keep it up and keep those “more” things going strong.

But, I am going to ask you for “less”.

Yeah, you read that right. LESS.

Be ageless, think young and perform young.

Be responsible for yourself, do your job and be blameless.

Boundless. Never quit striving to be better.

Leave opponents, fans, and teammates breathless with your effort.

Perform with reckless abandon.

Be dauntless.

Appear effortless in your execution using technical expertise.

Endless in your energy, enthusiasm, and desire.

Do your job and go on…Be a faceless and nameless force to reckon with.

Be fearless. Identify what you want and go get it.

Be merciless in a contest from the first bell to the final bell. (Then be nice again.)

As you can see, sometimes more is not better.

Sometimes “less” is more.

LessSmall

 

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The THREE

I read an excellent Gridiron Strategies article this week that struck a chord with my coaching soul (obsession). The article, The Military Analogy and Developing Football Leadership, was written by Coach Travis Burkett, Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Line Coach at Cornell University. Earlier in the fall, Cornell’s Athletic Department and the football program invited General John M. Paxton’s, the Assistant Commandant for the Marine Corps, to be a guest speaker on campus.

General Paxton hits the very core of what we should be doing as sport coaches and/or leaders. These three focal points are the foundation to success. They are not exciting, they don’t reach out and grab you with their flash, nor do they deliver a promise of a quick and easy road to competing successfully. In addition, these three things put into practice every, single day will not make you popular or make your players happy, but it will make them better than they were yesterday.

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3 THINGS to FOCUS on in LEADING YOURSELF (or others)

  • Preparation
  • Brilliance in the Basics
  • Endurance

Preparation

The single most important thing I learned about coaching from Paul Lane was one could never be over-prepared. This goes from scouting reports, to preparing your position players to do their job, to preparing them physically, mentally, and emotionally to play, to getting the backup players experience when the situation allowed.

The kids deserve your best effort. They deserve coaches who are prepared in every aspect.

Brilliance in the Basics

Fundamental and technique trump scheme. I recently told a group of players at a local high school that I could make stack after stack of football offensive and defensive schemes that would probably fill the room, but none of them are magic. None of them will work, IF you don’t execute them properly, i.e. Brilliance in the Basics

Endurance

This falls first on the coach for planning and implementing a training program that best develops the total athleticism of the athletes in the program. It also falls on the athletes to make sure they push themselves through the tasks they are given to get better and better and better.

For football, the program should be a mixture of speed, explosive power, agility, and anaerobic endurance development. Once taught and implemented, then the coach must DEMAND effort and excellence at all times.

The philosophy is simple. Design and implement a training program specifically for power sports with one goal in mind, to physically beat down the opponent. Develop athletes who hit like a cannon shot and can do so each play for all four quarters. Develop athletes capable of wearing down the opponent physically, mentally, and emotionally by training at such a demanding intensity level that their own physicality, mentality and emotional state is tested on a daily basis.

I would add a fourth thing to this excellent list of General Paxton’s.

Persistence.

The ability to keep moving forward, to keep trying until you achieve the goal. And then setting a new goal even higher and repeating the process.

Don’t Ever Give Up.

Rings

 

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Fill the Bottle

Your football season is over earlier than everyone thought it would be. A disappointing last loss. These things happen. Only one team per division finishes the season with a significant victory. One. Other than that, the rest of the players and coaches feel the stinging venom of defeat.

For high school football seniors, this pain is sharp. 95% of them will never play football again. 100% will never enjoy the camaraderie and pure joy of playing with their hometown peers, for hometown coaches, in front of hometown fans. Football for the few who are fortunate enough to move on to play collegiately will find it becomes more like a job and the innocence of the game fades.

The emotional aspect of a senior playing his final high school football game may seem petty in importance, but I’ve consoled many 6′ 3″, 250 pound linemen as they sobbed uncontrollably after they lost that final game and the reality of the end hits them like a ton of bricks. For many of these kids, it is the first time they have experienced loss at this level of emotion.

For the underclassman and for the coaching staff, that final loss also hurts. You are done. After a year of planning and working and practicing and playing, there are no more opportunities until next season. There is a let down and probably a sense of failure. If the season went better than expected, there’s a consolation of hope. If the season fell below expectations, there’s often a firestorm of distraction.

What comes next?

Coaches and returners need to collect all the disappointment and the sting of failure. They need to collect the venom, that poison which burns your pride/your attitude/your confidence, bottle it up, and then seal it tight with a stopper.

Why?

Because you want to keep that bad taste around as a reminder of how bad this feels right after that final loss. You want to save that feeling to drive you through the next 365 days of preparation for next season.

Coaches need place that bottle of nasty feelings onto their desk to fuel a deep, top to bottom, and HONEST analysis of every aspect of the program. From the daily approach and philosophy, to tweaking the offensive and defensive schemes to best fit the returning roster, all the way to implementing the strength and conditioning programs necessary to physically, mentally, and emotionally develop each player so they will be ready to fill those defined roles to the next season.

Returning players, you have the toughest role. You can’t just forget how bad you feel right now. You can’t forget the pain and disappointment eating away at you after this last loss. You will, though. You are young and you have the ability to turn your back on the reality of what just happen and assume a rosy outlook to the future.

Believe me, you do. In a couple of weeks you will move forward to the next thing which crosses your path. That’s why you NEED this bottle of nastiness more than anyone. You need to pull that bottle down every day, uncork the bottle, and drink one drop.

Every day, without fail.

You need to feel that drop of disappointment burn as it makes its way to your gut and reminds you of that moment when your season came screeching to a halt. You need that drop to remind you to work harder and to realize changes must be made.

That daily dose of a reminder will help you:

  • Get out of bed and to the weight room on the days you feel like sleeping in.
  • Work harder than everybody else.
  • Accept your role and do it to the best of your ability.
  • Be a leader, every day and in every way.
  • Develop into a player willing and able to carry the team on your shoulders.

Never give up and never give in to the disappointment of loss. Approach everything with purpose, pride, and passion fueled from fire of that pain which follows the final loss of the year. The loss pain you probably feel in your gut right now.

To the coaches and players whose football season is finished for the 2014, thank you for your efforts this season. Learn from this past year, rethink everything you are doing, and attack next season with a new energy starting right now.

Get better, one day at a time.

Get better, one painful memory sip at a time.

Everybody gets better, every day.

(Coaches included.)

small-round-glass-bottles-with-corks-8-5-oz-pack-of-12-5

 

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