From Player to Coah

Today I had lunch with two of my high school coaches and wow what an experience. To Coach Ron Madrick, Coach Don Hettich, and Coach Mike Campbell thank you. Thank you for your contribution as my High School football coaches (1979 - 1983). These guys yelled at me; loved me; and coached me to be the best person and player. I didn't know the impact their coaching would have on my life, and today it all came into focus and full circle.

First of all shout out to all the high school coaches across America. Transitioning to coaching gave me a perspective that most can't understand without the experience. It's one thing to put your blood, sweat, and tears into your own performance. But try putting that same energy into someone else with the hopes of inspiring greatness. There's sleepless nights, football expertise, goals, game plans, rules, regs, and your job on the line. Okay that's the life of a player also. The difference? When the game clock starts, the coach watches and guides. It's all up to the player. 

Do great players make great coaches? Or, do great coaches make great players?

When you have incredible talent at your fingertips, it's certainly easier to coach. But somewhere along the way, that exceptional  talent still had to be coached. The skill of developing an exceptional player I firmly believe comes from a very talented coach.

Let's go deeper to little league and middle school coaches. What you do for young football athletes is priceless. And the pay you get (if any) is not enough. You develop not only the foundation of the technique, but the desire to play the game. You connect the dots from what that athlete sees on television, to what they can see in themselves. That's huge. 

I was a kid from a blue collar family who played 13 years in the NFL on defense (you know I thought I was going to be a receiver). I trusted my coaches, and their exceptional talent as coaches led the way. The game of football is so much more than what you see on tv. It's a symbiotic relationship that can only be described as special with the right combination of player and coach. 

I appreciate everyone of you - those who coached me, and those who have coached the players I've been able to coach. I have been blessed to coach for 14 years thus far in every major football league - NFL, NFL Europe, CFL, NCAA DIV 3 and a NCAA Division I POWER 5 program. Seeing the dreams and being able to be part of some athletes' realities is what a coach lives for. There is more than meets the eye - coaches put in work. There are long hours; missed time with our families; lots of time spent figuring out how to improve. It has become the ultimate challenge to create greatness in others, and create great teams.

Recruiting in different states can be different depending on where your GPS takes you, but the high school coaches are the same. They want the best for their program and to get their kids to college. And so the hand-off starts a new cycle, a new player-coach relationship begins.

Players, I guarantee you that your moment "later in life" is coming IF you work with your coach toward greatness now. Maybe 35 years later you can sit down with your coach, have a beer, and appreciate the men you've both become. Greater with football in your lives.


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