This is the time of the year where optimism in high school football rides higher than a Ray Guy punt.
Everybody is undefeated.
Every coach’s scheme is pure gold.
The pads are clean and arranged neatly in a squeaky-clean locker after check out.
The freshly painted helmets shine like museum pieces, anxiously awaiting their seasonal baptism by that first contact scratch.
Mouthpieces are formed.
The practice fields have fresh lines painted on real grass that’s actually grown this year.
It’s almost time.
Excitement permeates the air while players, parents, and fans dream of the “What If’s”.
What about coaches?
Well, coaches are a different breed, or at least I know I was. These were the most nerve-wracking days for me of the season. You can have the highest (or lowest) expectations for a group of kids, but you can never be sure of what you are going to get until you strap up the pads and turn it loose.
As a strength and conditioning coach, I worried about everything.
- Did we develop them enough physically in the offseason?
- Were they physically in shape and ready to perform?
- Did we put them to the fire enough to develop their mental and emotional makeup to compete at the level we want to compete at?
As a defensive and offensive line coach, I agonized over the installation and planning schedules.
- What do we need to learn? And when?
- Where were my linemen on the developmental scale?
- What did I need to do to help them get to where they wanted to be and where the team needed them to be?
Tough times. Exciting times. Anxious times.
As we put the pedal to the floor and drive toward the 2015 season, we need to temper our “What If” expectations and keep anchored sensibilities.
Be positive, enjoy the ride, and enjoy playing the game or watching your favorite players in action.
Just don’t forget…
Everyone is undefeated right now. In a month, that won’t be true. There will be winning and there will be losing. Either way, life will go on.
Good luck to all players, coaches, and their fans. Football is just around the corner.
Play hard and have fun.
Hard work is the magic.