By Randy Jackson, Head Coach, Grapevine (Texas) High School
Football coaches have a huge responsibility to all the young men in the football program. We know relationships are the key to reaching our athletes and making an impact on their lives. That’s why we spend time every day talking to our guys about meaningful issues that will help them develop into productive young men. Here are a few of the ways that we build relationships at Grapevine.
Champions Notebook – Our Champions Notebook is designed to have one lesson per week. Examples of lessons are integrity, passion, toughness and family. Each coach takes a word and develops a four-day lesson plan. We compile all of these lessons and bind them into a book to give each athlete. On Monday, our athletes all meet together, and the coach for the week introduces the word and does a lesson for the entire team. The following days our guys break up into “Family Groups” (each coach has around 15 players) and the group discusses the lesson and learns from the coach and each other.
Surprise Swim Party During Two-A-Days – We all have a tight schedule and not enough time, but we had a great time this year when we went swimming on the Thursday evening before our first scrimmage. We staged it where our guys believed they were “in trouble” and loading up on the bus for a mile run back to the field house. There were a lot of happy guys when they realized we were going to have diving board competitions instead.
Teacher Car Wash During In-Service – We have our players do a free car wash for the faculty and staff during an in-service day. This is an easy way to show appreciation to the teachers. They will be amazed to have this done for free.
Breakfast With Champions – Each game day morning at 7:30, we invite men from Grapevine to come help us start the day. They bring breakfast for the players (and coaches). After a 5-minute highlight video from the previous game, our team chaplain, John Earle, brings a great motivational. We announce award winners from the previous game and talk about the task at hand. When we finish, all players shake the hand of each adult and thank him for supporting us. Breakfast With Champions is a great part of our game day routine.
Wearing Of The Pink – We do not wear pink in the month of October lightly. This past year, we invited breast cancer survivor Janet St. James to speak to the guys about her fight and what she had to go through to defeat cancer. She then passed out our pink mouth pieces to each player so we could thank her individually. It was very impactful for our team.
Weekly Letters To Parents – Each week in the offseason, each coach will write a note to the parents of one of our players. We mail these out each Monday and track who we have already mailed letters to, so that each week letters are going to different parents.
Text 3-A-Day – We ask each coach to reach out to three athletes every day and send them encouragement and praise for their efforts. We also track this and discuss it as a staff.
Father And Son 7-on-7 On The Week Of Father’s Day – We invite elementary, middle school and high school students to participate in father and son 7-on-7. We also grill hot dogs and hamburgers and make it a special night.
Leadership Retreat – We invite our guys to an overnight trip. Last spring, we had 25 players attend a retreat at Lake Tawakoni where we bonded with fun, games and leadership activities.
Football 101 For Moms – Before two-a-day practices began this year, we invited all our moms to join us for some basic football “101.” We had several 15-minute segments with guest speakers. Topics discussed were: officiating, nutrition, concussion management, how we fit helmets, basic offense and defense, our character curriculum and our team chaplain. We also provided all moms with a 101 t-shirt and a team meal just like our players eat each week.
Cheering On The Band At Competition – We put our guys in jerseys, made signs and surprised our band at the band competition last October. Our band was so thankful and it really helped build a bond between the two programs.
Offseason Battalions – We place our guys in three “battalions” with coaches assigned to each. Every month, each battalion must conduct a community service project and attend another sport’s game to show unity and support for all our Mustangs athletic teams. Community service projects we have done inlcude volunteering at the Special Olympics, retirement home visits and gardening projects at the school, just to name a few.
Christmas Party – On the last day of the fall semester, we have a Christmas party. We bring a small tree and decorate it “tough-people-win style” with jock straps, pink mouth pieces, red belts around it, etc. Each player can bring a wrapped gift that cost no more than $1 and we have a gift exchange.
Alumni Wall – A new project for us this winter is our Alumni Wall. We are going to make an area in our field house where past players can write a note of encouragement to the current team. Any past player will be welcome to participate. Each will have a cinder block size area to inspire the current Mustangs.