Coach's Perspective: David Svoboda 8/22

David Svoboda

By David Svoboda PrepsKC Columnist
Posted: August 22, 2013 - 3:21 PM

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – like a high school football game day.
This fall, for the first time since the mid-1990s, I will not be an active part of high school football Fridays – my fulltime job now having me “tied up” from four to midnight each week day.
Though we haven’t yet reached the first night of the season on either the Missouri or Kansas side, trust me, I know what I’m going to be missing – and it hurts to know I’m not going to be there.
I was lucky enough to serve as a high school assistant coach for 13 years before moving into a reporting role with PrepsKC for the last two seasons. Thus, I’m intimately aware of what I’m about to miss.
It includes:
  • Driving into a school parking lot on a Friday morning and finding a stadium with flags flying and the fence line decorated with cups spelling out the name of your school mascot.
  • Walking the halls of the building and seeing players in their home or away jerseys, cheerleaders and dance teamers in their game day outfits, and faculty members dressed down and sporting school colors.
  • The seemingly endless two- to three-hour period between the end of the school day and the start of team pregame preparations – unless yours was a program where that time frame was filled with pregame meals, last-minute film study or a quick nap on the floor of the locker room.
  • If a road game, the bus ride – from 10 minutes to 3 hours (hey, I coached in central Kansas) – in which players try to get comfortable where comfort isn’t really possible…but where the night’s events slowly come into focus.
  • Walking the field in a virtually empty stadium with your teammates or fellow coaches and beginning to envision all of your hard work coming to fruition.
  • Time in the locker room, often in meetings, as final details are worked through and nervous energy begins to build.
  • The slow walk to the field for pregame special teams periods, conditioning and offensive and defensive group and team work…followed by a return to the locker room for a final time prior to kickoff.
  • A final few minutes together in the locker room – with a quick review of the offensive script or defensive game plan, a motivational speech, a word of prayer and so much tension you can cut it with a knife.
  • The run through a student tunnel to the playing field, with the marching band blasting out the fight song, and finding your place on the sideline in front of a group of rabid fans.
  • The kickoff and actual game … which, in a way, is the EASY part. After all, it’s what the athletes and coaches have prepared for all week (all YEAR, actually).
  • The walk back to the locker room at game’s end – either with a huge sense of accomplishment after a victory, or a gnawing sense of failure after a defeat.
  • A quick postgame talk, a gathering together for a final “breakdown,” and the acknowledgement that it all begins again the next morning.
At that point, for a coach, there’s film to be watched and a plan to be formulated. For a player, there’s a shower to take, a fast food restaurant at which to gather, a dance to attend. For a writer, there’s a story to file.
And then the exhaustion – the exhilaration – is over for another game week.
I’ll be around through the fall to write the occasional feature story about a deserving athlete or coach, to craft a column about high school football in the metro. And I’ll get out to cover a Saturday game or two, and some of the playoffs.
But damn, I’ll miss Fridays and high school football.
David Svoboda is a columnist for PrepsKC.