Great Turnaround Stories
We had an overwhelming response to our request for huge season turnaround stories. We received 153 entries to the “Turnaround Contest”. Not all were worst to first stories, most were rather big turnaround stories, Many of the stories were quite compelling with some of the details spanning several pages in length. I could feel the passion and effort of these coaches and teams through the words on the screen. What a privilege it was to be able to hear all those great stories and play a small part with all those teams.
While we had planned on declaring a winner by December 1, we just can’t do that just yet. There are so many deserving teams, it just feels bad declaring a winner when there are 30+ stories that could easily be the best one. We will pour back over the entries this weekend and declare a winner on Monday. Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to update me on your teams progress, We will publish most of these stories this month on the testimonials page of the web site. .
Incredible Youth Football Coaching Story
There is one great youth football coaching story I have to share with you. This organization isn’t going to win the contest but they are surely deserving of some recognition. Don Berniard who is known by “Coach Q” by his players and friends, runs a youth football program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I went down to help this team out in 2007 for a couple of days along with a newfound friend in Houston, Greg B.
When I got to Baton Rouge I found a coach that was in this for the right reasons, he didn’t have a kid playing and he had no aspirations of coaching at the “next level”. This was a man who saw a need in a very poor and hurting area. He saw football as a means to an end of reaching kids with his believe and achieve message along with an all important faith component.
Coach Q and His “Band of Brothers”
As we prepared for practice Coach “Q” and I picked up 8-9 kids in coaches SUV. We picked up kids from ramshackle apartments and falling down shacks. Don knew the name of every mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandma and grandpa caring for these kids. Some we didntl even pick up from homes, they were just walking down the street. Every player had a smile on his face and every place we stopped, people knew Coach Q and his South Baton Rouge Jaguars. As each player got into the SUV, they looked me in the eyes, shook my hand and talked to me with a series of endless questions. They treated each other, the coaches and even the visitors with confidence and respect during the 2 days we worked together. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard more “please” and “thank yous” in a 2 day period in my life.
We practiced at their “field”, which was a patch of grass sitting beneath 2 huge Interstate overhead ramps. There were no bathrooms, very little grass and it was extremely loud with all the vehicles zooming past, just over our heads. To make a long story short, this was an extremely well disciplined and well-coached group of young men, They were extremely coachable, literally standing on edge and elbowing closer so they could hear every word. On day 2 I found they had retained every word from day 1 and were probably the most enthusiastic and hard working kids I’ve ever been around. At the end of the clinic/camp at least 15 of the kids came up to me and told me thanks for coming and I even got a few sweaty hugs from 3-4 others. These kids reminded me so much of the inner-city kids I used to coach 6-11 years ago.
This program was started from scratch by Don and they struggled when they first started, In 2007 all 4 teams went to my system and this year all 4 teams competed for league titles with one of them winning it all. They combined for a 26-5 record this season in a very competitive dog-eat-dog league.
A “Complete” Program
More importantly though, Coach Q consistently retains over 90% of his players. His teams compete as well, don’t think this is a juice box drinking Kumbaya singing bunch of choirboys. Everyone has their eyes on the upstart Jaguars as they challenge decades long local football dynasties for bragging rights in football crazy Baton Rouge, Not only do his competitors scout Coach Q’s games, but they scout his practices, try and steal his players and even crash his team parties. It’s football crazy in Don’s neck of the woods, his competitors take no prisoners.
Coach Q’s teams are very well known for their sportsmanship standard and compassion when they have other teams outclassed. They are the epitome of what I preach that ” you can be fundamentally sound, have fun, play everyone, be great sports AND win, these aren’t mutually exclusive words”.
His kids have also shown impressive gains in the classroom as well. Coach Q had several amazing success stories he shared with me including one in which a homeless boy who didn’t even know how to read as a 5th grader (by age this player should have been in 7th grade) got himself up to grade level and even was excelling with the help of Coach Q and a tutor, Coach Q even “donated” a school uniform so he could get back in school.
Hats off to you Coach Q, God Bless you and your players. You are an inspiration to all of us coaching youth football and a model program we should all be learning from. I wish there were more of you out there. I’m sure all your players feel blessed you passed on coaching High School football. Since the Jaguars weren’t a worst to first story they can’t qualify for the contest prize, but we are going to award them a “Complete Program” award and an “Ultra Package” will be sent to them this month.
Here is a very nice article on Don’s program from the Baton Rouge Newspaper. //www.2theadvocate.com/features/35289084.html
What Are You Doing With Your Program?
Coaches think for a moment what odds Coach Q had to deal with to reach his kids and build a well-rounded successful program. Thinks what’s possible with the group you coach. When coaching youth football, we all have the bully pulpit, it’s up to you to determine how you are going to use it.
Copyright 2008 Cisar Management, all rights reserved
Republishing allowed if links are kept intact
For 350 Free Youth Football Coaching Tips or to Subscribe to Dave’s free Youth Football Coaching Tips Newsletter go to :