February 28, 2010

Being A Professional: What's It Mean?

Whore For Money
I don't think that getting paid to do something necessarily means that you're a 'whore', but I joke about it because I think I have a weird approach to work. Simply put: If you're paying me to do a job, I will do it. It might be demeaning and unfair and more than a little crappy (I've literally had a job where I was asked to dig up septic tanks), but I'll do it because you're paying me and that's what comes with the job. I don't complain, I don't work any less, I don't look to avoid my responsibilities. If I hate it, I'll either voice my thoughts in an appropriate setting or quit. Haven't quit a job yet. Working at a summer camp, I've had to teach art, make PB&J sandwiches, operate a ropes course, plan the parents night, pretend to be a lifeguard, rent a sno-cone machine, spend ~36 hours straight with my campers, go to meetings on personal time, go without eating for a day, give away my lunch, hug a boy who'd just wet himself and me, break up arguments/fights, build an RC car track, make stew for ~180 people, and clean the bathrooms. It was my job to do each and every one of those things, and more, and I did them without complaint because I believe that if it's my job, my duty is to soldier on.
I don't believe in being a sycophant, I like to think I speak my mind consistently. I don't believe that I have no rights as someone who is being paid to do a job, nor do I think any employer should be able to dump on their employees just because. I just think that too often people make a big deal about the things that, in my opinion, are actually a part of their job. Don't like it? Do something about it or quit, don't bitch and moan.

So Maybe I'm A Hypocrite
And yet, I find myself unhappy with my current situation. We've hired a new HC who is a proven winner, a guy who is widely regarded as a legend in the central valley of California. At a gathering of Wing-T minds yesterday (I don't have the secret handshake down, but I know the location of their lair) I watched him speak informally for 45 minutes and blow about 30 minds with simple, concise advice for everyone he'd listened to for the previous 4 hours. Dude's unbelievable. I have no doubt in my mind that our league is about to get ripped a new one. The kind of physical training, mental training, and specifically offensive brilliance that he's introducing just doesn't exist in this part of CA.
So why am I bummed out? Well, the defense that we ran last year has been scrapped. I worked damn hard on developing a 3-4 scheme that I felt good about and, for most of this offseason, I'd done the majority of my work on making it better. I won't say that it's been wasted, because no learning is ever a waste, but it's definitely not as useful as it could have been. We had some great success last year, sporting the #2 defense in our league and #6 defense in the local tri-county area, which I was very proud of. We had one game where we allowed 37 yards, total, against a team that finished 2nd in their league. We forced 5 turnovers in one game, recorded 7 sacks in another, and kept our team in games much longer than we should have. The kids liked the scheme, the coaches liked it, I began to love it.
But none of this matters now. We're moving to a 4-4/4-3 hybrid that is predicted on simplicity and bodies to the ball. One front, minimal blitzing, lots of Cover 3 and only a smattering of Cover 4. I have a hard time feeling comfortable with several things within the scheme. I don't particularly care for the way we're going to play our front, I don't like some of the nuts and bolts of the scheme.
What does matter, though, is that as the DC, it's my job to coach and run what the HC wants. He wants his defense to be a certain scheme, then if I am going to be his DC, I'm going to do it that way. I won't complain, I will ask questions, I will try to see what leeway I have, and I will bite my tongue, but I won't complain. I won't saying anything negative about it to anyone but the HC and MAYBE a few, select others. I will coach the hell out of our guys, regardless of anything else. It's my job, my duty, my role to be supportive and loyal. If it's intolerable, then I can either voice my concerns or do something else, but I will stay true to what I believe it means to be a "Pro".

February 11, 2010

Off-Topic: Coach Speckman

Ran into my college HC last week when he was in town visiting two of our guys. It's always a lot of fun to see him because he's such a great guy and such a priceless character. For those of you who don't know about him, Mark Speckman, HC at Willamette University (DIII) in Salem, Or. was born without hands. Rather than be limited by them, he's been motivated by them, accomplishing things that most people never will. Read more about him at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Speckman or http://www.speckmanspeaks.com/ (I'm just off-camera in that one).

I'll give you an example of what makes him so incredible:
For some background info, I hate Oregon. Well, I hate it now, I liked it for like, two years before growing to hate it with a passion. I hated the rain, hated the weather, hated a lot of the type of people that I'd run into up there. What was always a surprise was how hot and almost muggy August could be up there.
One August it's particularly hot in Salem during our fall camp. We're having a team meeting in a small lecture room type thing and it's uncomfortable to say the least. 100+ football players in a poorly ventilated room = no bueno. Coach Speck is up at the front doing a talk about something that involves the overhead projector. He's a little grouchy because it's hot, but his grouchy is usually pretty funny, until he gets mad.
Using a project for Coach Speck isn't easy and this one was no different. Turns it on, it's out of focus. Focuses the lens, but forgot to separate the coversheet from the xerox transparency. Lens is focused, transparency is visible, but the screen is too small. For a man with no hands, there's a lot of grasping and turning and whatnot that needs to be done. Speck's getting frustrated. He's fighting with each cover sheet on each transparency because it's hot and his wrists are a little slick from perspiration and so he can't get as much friction as he'd like to separate the two.
So Coach Speck reaches over and turns on the fan so he can cool off a bit. Fan starts in the stationary mode, but he puts it on oscillate because it "reminds me of that good ol' modesto breeze, like being at the dump..." Problem is, he had to move the cart that the projector was on in order to plug the fan in. So he has to go through all the trouble of fixing the focus, adjusting the size, etc all over again and he's getting down right annoyed. Guys are complaining about the image on the screen, so he pushes the cart forward to where it had been. Cart moves forward, pushes on the cord of the fan, fan turns and oscillates right into a stack of ~110 papers Coach was going to hand out.
FWOOM! Papers every where. Speck grabs his visor, throws it on the ground, and we get ready for the fury. "GOD DAMMIT!" Collective intake of breath. "I can't do anything right today! Friggin' projector is out of focus, slides are being a pain, fan's blowing paper everywhere, I GOT NO GODDAMN HANDS!" 110 men absolutely loose their shit.
Anyone would have excused Coach Speck for getting annoyed with the situation, except for him. There was never an excuse that was good enough for him, never a reason why something couldn't be done. It was either that you hadn't figured out how or you didn't actually want to.
To leave you, here's a short list of the things I've witnessed him do:
  • Play racquetball
  • Throw a 40 yard spiral
  • Play the worst Rock Paper Scissors 2 out of 3 you've ever seen
  • Drive, while talking on his cell phone, pre-Bluetooth
  • Mimic boy scout flag signals to hysterical effect
  • Play the trombone (Not in person, but seen video)

So what's stopping you from accomplishing your goals?

February 4, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Holy Cow!

Getting this teaching job has been awesome for me in a lot of ways, but my goodness have I been slaving to catch up to where we're at in terms of grading and lesson plan prep, etc. I'll try to start re-posting regularly in another week or so, but I've got to get settled and into a flow first. I just submitted progress reports last night and approximately 45% of my kids have "F" grades because they're just not turning in work, which means emails home to parents all weekend, among other things.

On the coaching front, it's been a very exciting time as we've hired a new HC who is a top-notch coach. He's been a winner pretty much everywhere he's been, with several section championship rings and a state coach of the year award to his credit. With him he brings the Wing-T, complete with the winged helmet design and all, and a very interesting quiet intensity and confidence that are obviously indicators of why he's been so successful in the past. I'm hoping I can convince him to allow me to retain our 3-4 scheme, but if he insists on a 4-4 look, well, I've got some ideas on that, too.