Coach's Perspective: David Svoboda 3/14

David Svoboda

By David Svoboda PrepsKC Columnist
Posted: March 14, 2013 - 2:42 PM



We live in a world of Tweets and posts, YouTube videos and Instagram. Got it now, would have liked to have had it yesterday.
 
Go, go, go.
 
Even in football, the sport that has captured our hearts like none other in recent memory, it’s becoming more about “pace” than ever before.
 
Signal in a play call, check a defense, adjust the play call, get a snap off…and do it in under 30 seconds. Sprint a sub package on, get the group aligned correctly, and have it sprint to the ball relentlessly…and repeat that effort 30 to 50 times a half.
 
Go, go, go.
 
Mr. Official, I’d like a timeout.
 
In March, with the last of the heavy snows now a dingy brown rather than a fluffy white, we should reflect for a moment on part of what makes football – or any team sport, for that matter – so truly special.
 
It’s the journey.
 
And as much as some coaches and players would like to fast forward right now to the last weekend in November, they’d miss out on virtually everything that makes our game great if they did.
 
What would they miss?
 
Time spent participating in a spring sport – Though many football coaches these days would love to have athletes “year round,” the reality of the situation – particularly in smaller schools – is that this just isn’t possible. The reason? Those players are on the track or the baseball field, winding down a high school basketball season while prepping for an AAU campaign. Student-athletes are well served by competing as much as possible in as many different situations as possible. It’s called LIFE, silly. And it will pay dividends for football programs that players and coaches don’t even realize.
 
Time in the weight room – Talk about a chance for building a band of brothers? This may be the best place to do it. Try, for one moment, walking through a high school weight room about 6:45 a.m. on a summer morning and see if you don’t come out pumped up on the other side…and likely sore in the process. And then see if you aren’t back there the next morning, ready for more. That crazy lifting partner, that teammate you run sprints against, that guy next to you yelling in your ear when you flip over that monster tractor tire – you’ll remember every single one of them in 20 years. Trust me.
 
Time in summer 7-on-7 – Sure, it’s fast break football where defenses are penalized and linemen are left out…unless they form a team of their own (but let’s not divert into fantasy here). But in the hot summer nights on turf that makes things even 15 degrees hotter, timing is developed, routes are perfected, swagger begins to return, leaders are born. It’s good stuff, even if it is in shorts with no run game.
 
Time at team camps – With NFL training camps becoming shorter and shorter, and college teams training on campus with players living more and more often in apartments, the high school team camp (particularly of the overnight variety) is a throwback to a simpler time. Get away from home. Sleep in a dorm with no air conditioning. Hike up and down more hills than should ever surround a practice complex. Play against an opponent you’ll never see again, or one from a classification bigger or smaller than yours. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And if there’s a chocolate milk machine in the college cafeteria:  BONUS!
 
Time in two-a-days – Yes, really, two-a-days are fun – and not just when they’re over. What football two-a-days are is the ultimate test.
 
How badly do you want it? How well did you prepare? How ready are you for the grind you’re about to face? How quickly can we get things installed. Yes, the pace begins to quicken here, but it’s still part of that wonderful journey.
 
Time on the sunny Friday nights of August and September – Sure, trying to field a kickoff while looking into a setting sun, to catch an out route after spinning back toward the quarterback, only to have a giant drop of sweat blur the vision in one eye – it’s no fun. But it’s more fun than the law should allow. Football’s back. I’m in a stadium on a Friday night. We’re the only game in town. My friends are watching me. This is my payoff for all that work I’ve done. And everyone has a chance at the playoffs now.
 
Time in the darkness and cold of Fridays in October with the season all too quickly fading away – Even as you roll out of bed in mid-October, sore from the accumulation of hits taken on every day that ends in “y,” tired of the criticism that dogs a coach from the end of the banquet one year until the end of the banquet the next, you look forward to a kickoff on a misty Friday night in October. You look forward to sliding your hands into the quarterback muff, blowing on your hands in the huddle, pulling on that coaching hoody that’s in a bit better shape than Belichick’s…but not much.
 
Time in the joy of the second season, the playoffs – And just when you see the sand really starting to squirt from the top to the bottom of the hour glass, the playoffs arrive, and with them, new life. Not happy with the way things went for the first six or seven weeks?
 
Change it here. Not healthy for most of the season? Inject some new life. Searching for something to propel a program on the rise even further into a promising future? Strap it on and get after it.
 
Time wearing the uniform or that well-worn hoody for the last time of the year – Though no one likes it, most of us who have played or coached football can remember putting on and pulling off our “uniform”
– whether the real thing, or that of a coach – for the last time of a particular season. And it’s rarely something done quickly. It’s often interrupted by tears, hugs and moments of reflection – and our inability to let the season go. It’s the total opposite of go, go, go.
 
Yes, it’s the journey that makes our sport so special. And that journey is best savored over time…not in 30-second snippets with plays signaled in by coaches with giant flash cards bearing the likeness of Lou Holtz…though that’s a pretty cool visual.
 
Enjoy the journey. It’s worth slowing down for.
 
David Svoboda is a columnists for PrepsKC.