Coach's Corner: Stinson Dean 2/13

Stinson Dean

By Stinson Dean MidAmerica Nazarene Assistant Coach
Posted: February 13, 2011 - 10:08 AM

At MidAmerica Nazarene University we just started our ‘winter conditioning’ a couple of weeks ago. Every college across America has winter conditioning programs that are designed to accomplish a lot of different things…but most importantly to develop leaders.


For the coaching staff at MNU, our goal is to bring our players to the absolute limit of their conditioning, in doing so we get them to their mental toughness limit as well. It’s obvious that running, which take place at 6 a.m. three days a week, will get guys in shape. However, the underlying objective is to bring out the best in our leadership.


Imagine thinking you’ve just completed your last sprint, only to have one player fail to start with his foot behind the line, causing the entire set to be redone. It’s six in the morning, you have an entire day of classes ahead of you, it’s -20 degrees outside and you had five hours of sleep last night. How do you react? Who gets vocal and brings the team together to finish the set?


The frustrations, emotions and sweat are the exact same as playing a semi-final game in -20 degree weather and your right tackle jumping off sides to have a touchdown called back. January and February are where playoff games and come-from-behind opportunities are won.


As a coach, I am not their friend. I’m the antagonist. I’m the ref who makes a bad call. I’m the opposing player who takes a cheap shot. I am not on your side. Give me a reason to make the team repeat and I’ll take it. We intentionally stack the odds against the players.


Pretty soon, the real players figure it out, and the guy who’s not bought in…quits. At the end of winter conditioning, MNU football has established leaders and molded a team that strives under adversity and welcomes the challenge. 


I encourage any high school coach to implement a system that challenges your young men to come together in the face of adversity. Don’t wait till Friday nights for your team to experience mental and physical hardships, use the off-season to push them. Then, when you’re down two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, or need to block a field goal with seven seconds left to win the game, your team already knows whom to follow and your team already has the sure-fire confidence they’ll beat the odds.


For a story about the MNU win over Georgetown in the NAIA playoffs click here.


For highlights of the MNU win over Georgetown click here.