View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 8/15

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Manging Editor
Posted: August 15, 2010 - 11:53 AM

One of my favorite parts of the first few weeks of practice is the Oklahoma drill. Maybe because it was my favorite drill when I played, maybe because of the emotion it brings out in teams, maybe because it is just fun to watch.

Not every team does it and some only do it a few times, while others make it a major part of the first week of contact each season. Wednesday night I was out at North Kansas City for the Hornets version of midnight madness or whatever they wanted to call it and the Oklahoma drill was the best part of the night.

The practice began right at midnight and with more than 400 fans watching from the stands the players formed a circle in the middle of the field. The drill began with Coach Chad Valadez calling out different players to go head to head. The energy level was off the charts and before long some fans had come down on the field to watch up close.

Valadez told me they had been doing the midnight practice for all nine years he has been the head coach at North Kansas City but it was the first time the fans had come on the field. I think the excitement of the night just got to everybody. I know it got to me. It was a lot of fun and really got you in the mood to watch a game.

While midnight practice and the Oklahoma drill brought back fun memories, Friday morning out at Harrisonville almost gave me nightmares.

The Wildcats were finishing up a morning practice in what was about 90 degree heat, at 10 O’clock in the morning mind you, and they were going through the usual conditioning when Head Coach Chuck Lliteras yelled out “crab crawls.”

For those who do not know what a crab crawl is, the best way to describe is to sit on the ground with your knees in front of you and put your hands flat beside you. Then simply lift yourself by your hands and feet and begin to walk, like a crab, forward. This drill is done for 30 or 40 yards and can really help with flexibility and agility.

Sounds like good time. Not so much. I hated that drill and still hate it today. The other problem with that drill was you never seemed to do it when the temperature was in the 40s or 50s later in the season. It was always done the first couple weeks of practice when it was hot and miserable.

It’s funny how you always remember the extremes. I loved the Oklahoma drill and hated crab crawls. At North Kansas City the Oklahoma drill fired up the team and the fans. The enthusiasm shown by everyone that night is refreshing especially for a program that went 1-9 last year. The drill got everyone forgetting about the past and looking to the future.

Two days later with really nobody watching Harrisonville went through the tough paces of pre-season conditioning. While both drills were met with different levels of enthusiasm from fans and players, both are key to getting ready for the season that lies ahead.

Even though I loved the Oklahoma drill, to be honest these days I would probably rather do the crab crawl down the field then take someone on one-on-one.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to