The ‘Off’ Season

Happy Holidays to all the CFC Community!

It has been a while, but I have decided to try to get back into the ‘blog’ of things and get writing again, like it or not!

Anyhow, I wanted to write today about the ‘offseason’, and what sort of events, situations, trials and tribulations we go through as coaches and program administrators.

No Rest for The Weary
It was not one day after our loss in the TDSB’s developmental finals that my two best players came to my office and asked when training was beginning for next Fall. Now, the adults of the football world all agree that after a long high school season, which comes RIGHT after the almost 8-month long summer football season, coaches want a couple weeks off (Literally, I slept through the first week of my Christmas vacation). Players, on the other hand, especially the kind that you WANT in your program, are ready to move right into the ‘next’ thing on the agenda – and you better have it ready for them.

Please Spend Your Money With Us
The growth of football in Ontario at the amateur levels has been great the past ten years. With the growth in the GTA, comes the pressure put upon us, as coaches, by companies/agencies running football-oriented businesses. As a head coach with TDSB, I have received no less than 12 offers from various businesses for training and/or promoting my players. I am in a position where I have enough background in the sport to be able to MOST of the time differentiate the ‘real’ from the ‘money grab’, but at the same time, often that means having to basically talk a youth OUT of pursuing their dream (or at least delaying that pursuit). This is an aspect of running teams that is only going to get bigger as more money, and more potential ‘customers’ (players and parents) become involved in the sport. Those customers need to treat all these opportunities as CAVEAT EMPTOR – buyer beware, and do their due diligence to make sure they are getting value for their dollars.

Coach Something Else…NOW
An under-appreciated aspect of being a teacher-coach in high school is that the students believe you want to coach everything, because they want to play everything. Thus, I started my second season of coaching basketball this November. Now you may not know this, but the only thing i know about coaching basketball is probably the best thing I know about coaching football – put the ball in the hands of the players that can make plays. However, the added hours and days put into basketball, to go along with the November-January report card/exams season, really put constraints on the time you can spend focusing on football. You always want to provide the students with the opportunities they want, but often as a ‘go to’ person that the students like, you find yourself making sacrifices in other areas of personal interest.

Oh, and Do Your Job
Last but certainly not least – you better find time and energy to do your actual job. I became a teacher to help provide kids with the best of the opportunities that my mentors and teachers gave me. But at the end of the day, you have to teach your classes, mark their work, and be a capable professional in your ‘day job’. Whether you’re a teacher, truck drive, lawyer or police officer, if you spend non-work hours coaching sports or mentoring youth, you always have to walk a fine line among your co-workers. The kids/community profile of volunteers is much higher – people ‘know’ you, and so you are automatically held to a higher standard than the worker that ‘punches the clock’ and is out of the parking lot right at the bell. You not only have to work hard to make sure your ‘teams’ do well (hopefully that matters), but you darn sure have to make sure your in-the-office work is in order, so you are not written off as a slacker.

All in all, it is the ‘off season’ in name, but it is often a busier time than during the season.

In-season, I know I can spend those 2 or 3 hours on the field, and not have to worry about anything else.

Barry Switzer said something that I always remember, when he coached at Oklahoma – “Coaching begins the day after your last game, and ends the day before your first game”

I think this speaks to the preparation and training, mental and physical, that coaches AND players have to put in during the ‘offseason’, to improve for their ‘in season’.

But in the ‘off season’, there is always another job to do, and it is sometimes hard to find the time to fit in that good football prep stuff.

Until next time!

It is usually the winners that find the time to get it done.

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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