It broke 50 degrees today in NJ on this 4th day of March, 2010... and I got that feeling of football for some reason. Even though snow is still on the ground from the 20 inches we got last week, you can tell that the tide of the 2010 football season is on the horizon.
We got the NFL combine that wrapped up, Major League Baseball is in its second week of spring training, college spring ball is right at the front door, and during my football coaching days I always got this itch around now that it was time to pick it up a notch with our off-season stuff.
I pulled out my old favorite football quotes notebook (which I have saved now on my computer) and the first one, and my favorite still is:
"Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay its price" - Sun Tzu
To me, this quote wrapped up everything that off-season football preparation was all about... I couldn't put it into better words then Sun Tzu did in 6th century BC times.
My first year ever coaching high school football was 1993. That year, our team went 1-8. We had 5 seniors, 16 juniors, and 15 sophomores on the varsity team.
Immediately after our last game that year, a core group of about 25 kids made a commitment not to be embarrassed anymore, as I did ... not only as there football coach, but the guy running the off-season strength program.
Four days a week this core group of guys showed up in the weight room with a lot of enthusiasm, did everything that I told them to do, and continued to get better. They paid the price!
As the guy who had to be there at everyone of these sessions in the off-season, I too had to pay the price as a coach. It meant sometimes disappointing my wife (which was actually our first year married), missing family functions, etc.
In the end... the hard work and commitment paid off! That season (1994), we went 7-3 and made it to the NJ Group 1 state finals, hosted at Giant Stadium. The team we beat in the semi-finals (a triple overtime win) was a team from our league that we hadn't beaten in 13 years, they had a 21 game winning streak snapped that day, by the same team they demolished 38-0 the year before. We actually played them opening day in 1994 and lost 17-6, just itching for another shot at them in the playoffs.
The euphoria after that win was intoxicating, the smiles on the faces of this collective group that gave the ultimate sacrifice to turn it around from 'worst to first' was unforgettable.
That's what it's all about coaches... paying the price now for victories in the fall. No matter what situation you're in now... trust me, it can be turned around if the commitment is made.
Keep spreading e'm!