Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coach Michael Smith

We are-----E. R. 

There was an impromptu parade at midnight last night.  It went down Main Street and then along State Street.  It involved several hundred people.

Eaton Rapids had just won their second (ever) play-off game in football.  The first play-off game, ever, was against our arch-rival, Charlotte.  We pounded them 49-21.


A history lesson is in order.

We won three football games in 2012.  A three win season (out of nine games) was considered an exceptionally good season.  A two win season was good.  The norm was to win one game....or go winless.

I had a child who kicked point-after for the team in 2007. That year the team scored 6 touch downs the entire season.  I think they successfully kicked three field goals.  You cannot win many games if you do not score and in fact Eaton Rapids went 0-9 that season.  (Disclosure:  Mrs ERJ claims I slander the team and it was really seven TDs for the season). 

Our last winning season was 20 years ago.

And this year Coach Smith showed up.

I was talking with one of the school support staff about him.  She said, "He is not that much to look at.  He does not impress you when you talk to him adult-to-adult.  But something magical happened with those kids.  He 'gets' them and they respond."

I humbly admit that I have not watched much ER football this year.  But I saw something different in the 20 minutes or so I have watched them play.

A test of a well coached coached team is to watch how the kids who are "off the ball" play.  Teams win when every kid is in the game...not just the ones who are carrying the ball.

I saw every kid was trying, to the full extent of their abilities, to win.

The pass rushers tried to beat their offensive counterparts on every play.  They  burst through the line on every play. The made every effort to close on the QB and make him eat dirt on every play.  If they saw the QB was going to be able to release the ball, they leaped up at the ball to try and get a piece of it on every play.  It was pedal-to-the-metal until the whistle on every play.

An interesting facet of the current crop of Eaton Rapids coaches is that many of them staff the Responsible Thinking Rooms (formally known as detention).  They have each other's cell phone numbers.  They talk to each other through out the day.  They know that when a kid is having a bad day, is distracted or acting out of character...there are usually reasons.  They are compassionate people.  Help the kid address the reasons for their substandard performance and the performance improves.

Side bar:  All of the coaches hunt!  Our next game is opening day of Michigan firearm season.  Talk about being torn.

Somehow, these coaches fixed our broken Give-A-Golly. 

And it has been magical.

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