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VOL. 11, NO. 1

January 12–14, 2021 | Details on Pages 10–39


Asst Head Coach Kansas State University

DAVID BRAUN Def Coordinator North Dakota State University


Outside Linebackers Coach Appalachian State University

JASON LOVVORN Head Coach First Baptist (Texas) Academy

SCOTTY WALDEN Head Coach Austin Peay State University

EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT Importance of Certification p44


All-Pro Performance Training p52

Fresno State University Bulldog Stadium









January/February 2021 | Vol. 11, No. 1


100 Legends Lane, Waco, TX 76706 Phone: 254-754-9900 Fax: 254-754-7373 Email: membership@afca.com

AFCA STAFF Todd Berry, Executive Director Gary Darnell, Associate Executive Director Adam Guess, Chief Financial Officer Vince Thompson, Director of Media Relations Mario V. Price, Director of Coaching Education Bobby Staub, Director of Sponsorship and Development

Official 2021 AFCA Virtual Convention Guide

Amy Gilstrap, Director of Convention Services

In this issue, you’ll find everything you need to know about the 2021 AFCA Virtual Convention, including profiles on six of this year’s fantastic speakers. Don’t forget to check out our supporting sponsors and industry suppliers in our AFCA Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index.

Mike Cross, Director of Social Media

10 Van Malone, Assistant Head Coach, Passing Game Coordinator, Cornerbacks Coach, Kansas

Sara Schindler, Financial Services

State University

11 Cortney Braswell, Outside Linebackers Coach, Appalachian State University 14 Jason Lovvorn, Head Coach, First Baptist (Texas) Academy 15 David Braun, Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach, North Dakota State University 18 Matt Drinkall, Tight Ends Coach, United States Military Academy 19 Scotty Walden, Head Coach, Austin Peay State University

Genee Ordones, Director of Administration Matt Braunscheidel, Director of Content Development Derek Tonkin, Director of Information Technology Rhonda Martindale, Membership Services Jenn Jung, Receptionist/Staff Assistant Alec Finch, Membership Recruitment Maura Walsh, Coordinator of Coaching Education Caleb Clark, Graduate Assistant Kenny Braimer, Graduate Assistant Kyle Kempton, Graduate Assistant

24 Schedule Of Events 28 AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

FEATURE ARTICLE 58 Win The Scoreboard Within

Let’s face it. Present circumstances in the middle of a global pandemic have created a mentalhealth crisis for not only student-athletes, but coaches as well. And yet, there are tried and true responses to these challenges that help restore balance and leave the mental roller-coaster ride behind.

AFCA Magazine is published bi-monthly by the AFCA. Publishing services provided by Three Cycle Media, LLC, P.O. Box 134, Cambridge, WI 53523. Todd Rank, Publisher Mike Podoll, Associate Publisher Paul Markgraff, Managing Editor Adam Reed, Editor Jim Rank, National Account Representative Phone: (877) 906-7462 Email: info@threecyclemedia.com


52 Strength & Conditioning | Athletic Performance

The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent of the publisher. Opinions and materials expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions and policies of the AFCA. Publisher cannot be held responsible for errors and omissions.

66 Chalk Talk: Offense

For address changes or corrections, please contact membership@afca.com or call (254) 754-9900.

44 Equipment Management

The Importance Of Certification All-Pro Performance Training

Rock Island Counter (G/T) Series

70 Chalk Talk: Defense

Developing Elite Pass Rushers

74 Chalk Talk: Special Teams

Fundamentals Of Kickoff Coverage

78 Move The Chains By Mike Podoll

2020 Hindsight: Cherish Every Moment Football Has To Offer

6 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

The AFCA® is a registered trademark of the American Football Coaches Association.® The AFCF® is a registered trademark of the American Football Coaches Foundation.®

Making The World A Better Place Kansas State University assistant head coach Van Malone is winning the “home” game, which means he’s tighter than ever with his family, his players and his program, and it’s taught him a better way to approach the profession. By Michael Austin

Van Malone, a football lifer, is thrilled finally to have an opportunity to combine his passion for the game with the daily love of his family. The assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Kansas State University is fortunate to have his son, Vaughn, a redshirt freshman cornerback, on the roster in Manhattan, Kan. “The toughest part of our profession is not the stress of winning and performing well. For me, the difficulty of balancing family and work is the biggest challenge,” Malone says. “Other than this experience (of coaching his son), I have missed out on many of my kids’ sporting and school events.” It’s also the stress of moving and relocating. Consider his 22‑year coaching career. He’s had stops at his alma mater Waltrip (Texas) High School, Conroe (Texas) High School, North Dakota State, Western Michigan, North Texas, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, SMU, Mississippi State and now Kansas State. Clearly, nothing has been handed to Malone … despite having a five-year NFL career and being a two-time special teams Pro Bowl selection from the Detroit Lions in the mid‑1990s. It’s a career defined by a constant drive to learn, teach and improve. “My drive has changed for the better. I am even more driven the more I understand the need for coaches in our society, the need for a force to galvanize young people,” Malone says. “As I discover the level of passion and energy that our young athletes have, I realize how vital leadership is for them. I am driven to direct their energy for positive outcomes.” Those outcomes have been plentiful since Malone first picked up a clipboard in 1999. Consider that in his four years (2006-2009) on Texas A&M’s defensive staff, the Aggies went to three bowl games. In his two seasons coaching the secondary at Tulsa, the Golden Hurricanes ranked first nationally in interceptions (with 24) in 2010 and 12th nationally (with 18) in 2011. At Oklahoma State, Malone directly worked with Justin Gilbert, who in 2013, was the Cowboys’ first finalist for the Thorpe Award. In 10 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

his third season as defensive coordinator at SMU (2017), he was named the AFCA’s National FBS Assistant Coach of the Year. He then spent a year on the defensive staff at Mississippi State, where the Bulldogs ranked first in the nation in scoring defense and third overall in total defense. In his first season with Kansas State (2019), the Wildcats turned in their best scoring-defense season since 2003, allowing a stingy 21.4 points per game. “I have had tons of great coaching experiences like players graduating and former players being drafted. I have also had the opportunity to coach in more than 10 bowl games,” Malone says. But, he admits, that beyond all the coaching accolades, it’s seeing one of his former players, Tremaine Jackson, become the head coach at Colorado Mesa University that is his greatest coaching experience to date. Now, in a world in which COVID-19 has altered so many things about coaching from schedules and locker room space to the physical and mental well-being of athletes, Malone has made it a priority to focus on much more than perfectly executing a drill or reading a quarterback’s tendencies. “COVID has made me more aware of mental wellness among the players I coach. It has forced me to evaluate the ways I handle stressful situations and to monitor my players closer,” Malone admits. It’s no surprise Malone has accepted this new coaching world and is finding ways to thrive in it. He says he’s not in this sport for the awards, the job promotions or the slaps on the back from his coaching peers. It comes down to the players he’s mentoring. Malone always is going to find a way to put them first. “I coach because I want to make the world a better place through sports. I want to teach young men and women how to accept challenges — how to deal with adversity and how to navigate the ups and downs of life,” Malone says. “I am committed to pushing the people I work with and coach to greatness on and off the athletic fields. I try to give my student-athletes tools to help them succeed for the rest of their lives.”

Photo: Kansas State University Athletics

Speaker Profile

Photo: App State Athletics

Speaker Profile

Growth Through Experience Cortney Braswell learned through the nomadic ways of a football coaching career that multiple stops along the way bring valuable perspective a coach can use to reach kids where they are, when they need it most. By Michael Austin

Cortney Braswell grew up in rural northwest Georgia without a father. His high school football days were critical in paving the way for the man he was to become. Those positive influences shaped him as a young man and are part of why he’s a coach today. “I know what my high school coach and my teachers meant to me,” says Braswell, the outside linebackers coach at Appalachian State University. “I honor those who took interest in me and helped me along in my life, so I want to give something back. There is nothing else in my life that I’ve done, except for being a father, that felt as good as it does to make somebody’s life better because you were in it.” In particular, he points to Aaron Nance, who as a young man played for Braswell early in the coach’s career, then after graduation came back to coach under him. Nance went on to get his college degree, is married and about to have his first child, and he is the offensive coordinator at nationally ranked Grayson (Ga.) High School. “I asked him, ‘Why did you decide to coach?’ and he told me it was because of the influence I had on his life,” Braswell proudly says. “To see someone’s life go on a path where they find something they’re passionate about, and it’s because of me being in their life, there’s nothing that feels more right to a coach.” And despite being just 33 years old, Braswell has been involved in a lot of players’ lives during his coaching career. It’s offered him a perspective that has allowed him to grow and learn each step of the way, as a coach but also as a teacher. Consider his high school coaching career. He coached first at Ringgold (Ga.), then moved to Soddy-Daisy (Tenn.) to East Ridge (Tenn.) to North Murray (Ga.) to Chattanooga Central (Tenn.), to Bradley Central (Tenn.), back to Chattanooga Central (as head coach) and to Ridgeland (Ga.). This all took place prior to spending a year at the University of Louisville as a quality control coach. “I’ve been in different demographics as a coach, different socio-economic situations. I’ve been at private, well-established schools with wealthy people, and I’ve been at Title 1 schools where 80 percent of the school is on free or reduced-price lunch. I’ve been everywhere,” Braswell says. “One of the best

things about being at a place for a long time is one of the worst things — you don’t get new experiences. That’s really helped me differentiate my instruction as a teacher and a coach. “We get all these kids with different learning abilities and learning styles, and you’re supposed to get to the same end goal, whether it’s in the classroom or on the football field.” While Braswell sees the somewhat nomadic life of a coach as a positive, he says if he ever did see it as a negative, he’d quickly think of the sacrifices his mother made for him and realize just how good he has it. “For most of my childhood, I watched my mom work a second-shift job at a carpet mill that she absolutely hated. She always pushed me to go do what I want to do in life,” Braswell recalls. “Every place I’ve been, I’ve always taken something from it.” He continues to push forward in his career. Now in his second season at the collegiate level, Braswell admits the hardest part of the job is building relationships as a recruiter that sometimes don’t turn into a commitment. He says he loves meeting players and their families, learning about how they can contribute much more than just on the field and finding out how to help them in their journeys. “I wish I could coach them all. I want them to play for me, not just for the talent they have but for the people they are. That’s the hardest part for me is getting so close to them and developing a relationship, and it not working out,” Braswell says while admitting it may be the young coach in him who cares too much. Based on his positive outlook and love of the game, it’s no surprise that while 2020 has been an incredible challenge for so many programs, coaches and players, Braswell sees football as a chance at normalcy and consistency in the midst of the swirling chaos. Even if it’s for just a couple hours a day, being at practice with peers allows players and coaches to do what they love. He adds that the emotional, personal and physical struggles of 2020 cannot change who he is as a person. “I’ve always believed in trust, resilience and service. Those are the core of who I am. It’s going to show up with how I coach my kids and how I carry myself as a professional,” Braswell concludes. AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 11

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Vernon Smith Director of Strength and Conditioning at Marian University

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Priorities In Action Jason Lovvorn brought First Baptist Academy in Dallas its first playoff win in 28 years, on his way to a state championship in 2013. For Lovvorn, coaching is a way of life, and he’ll stop at nothing to make sure his student-athletes learn everything they can. By Michael Austin

Jason Lovvorn’s wife would tell you it’s miserable around their house the weekend after a loss, which is not unusual for football coaches’ homes. But, the head coach at First Baptist Academy in Dallas says while the losses may sting, he has a better understanding of his overall goals these days. “I am intensely competitive — love to win, hate to lose. But now I do a better job of prioritizing my players’ success over my success,” says Lovvorn, who was hired at First Baptist in 2009 at the age of 23. “Winning games is just as important to me as it always has been, but it is more fun when the focus is on helping others be successful.” As Lovvorn and his staff develop players to succeed at the next step in their lives, let’s be clear, they’re winning a lot of games along the way. In 2012, Lovvorn helped the school secure its first playoff win in 28 years. From there, First Baptist Academy has won four district championships and a state title in 2013. “Going 14-0 and winning the state championship with a group that was so instrumental in turning around our football program was special,” Lovvorn recalls. “I am thankful for those players early on who believed in what we were doing before even seeing the wins. They established a culture of hard work that has made us successful.” For Lovvorn, he’s dedicated his life to Faith Baptist, which is his alma mater. During his playing days, he was a two-year starting quarterback who amassed 4,500 yards and threw 45 touchdown passes before moving on to Baylor University, then concluding his college career at Howard Payne University. Beyond being named head coach at such a young age, he earned the title of head of school when he was just 28. Having the role of coach and the top administrator makes Lovvorn, who was named to the AFCA’s 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute, the face and leader of First Baptist Academy. The wins, the championships and student development under his watchful eye are benefits of the job, but being a leader also comes with substantial responsibility. Not everyone is going to fit into your system or buy into your 14 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

approach of how to run a program or school. He says one of the hardest parts of both jobs is when an individual must be removed from the organization. “Whether it is kicking a player off a team, expelling a student or terminating an individual’s employment, these are tough decisions that come with being in charge,” Lovvorn explains. “When making this kind of difficult decision, it is essential to evaluate and weigh two primary questions: What is best for the individual, and what is best for the organization? “You cannot be so focused on protecting one individual from consequences that you neglect to maintain appropriate standards for your organization. However, you cannot be so focused on the organization that you neglect to care for the individual’s development. Finding that balance is critical.” His leadership also has been tested in the last year as COVID-19 continues its glacial progress. Lovvorn sees this as a chance to teach students to embrace opportunities and appreciate the daily things everyone tends to take for granted. Plus, prior to COVID-19, he always stressed how discipline translates to success on the field. Now, it’s even more important. “We have been extremely strict with our COVID-19 policies as a school and a football program. Our plan is to minimize exposure to the extent that when someone tests positive, we do not have to quarantine large groups at a time. They have responded remarkably well to everything that has been asked of them,” Lovvorn says. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and the tough decisions he has to make as an administrator and coach, Lovvorn knows he’s one of the lucky ones who gets to do what he loves every day of his life. “From building relationships and being part of a player’s physical and spiritual development to building a championship program and breaking down film and game planning, I love what it means to be a football coach,” Lovvorn says. “I am thankful that God has called me to coach, and I get to do something that I love every day while positively impacting people’s lives.”

Photo: First Baptist Academy Athletics

Speaker Profile

Photo: North Dakota State University Athletics

Speaker Profile

Building Family One Member At A Time A journeyman learning his trade early in his career, David Braun has found a home in North Dakota, coaching student-athletes who need guidance and steady leadership more than anything else. Football is his life, and consequently, he’s learned how to teach football players how to live. By Michael Austin

Family. It’s not just a slogan on a shirt. They’re your people, the people who make you who you are, the people who believe in you. Football teams are similar to families in these ways. It’s why David Braun, defensive coordinator and safeties coach at North Dakota State University, has dedicated his life to the game. As a coach, he gets to be one of those positive, familylike influences on a young person’s life. “I made the decision to be a coach because I wanted to have a positive impact on young people’s lives,” Braun explains. “The opportunity to do it through college athletics in an environment where I get to work with a group of student-athletes and compete every day is absolutely a dream come true.” The idea of the football family is how he found his way to North Dakota State — home of the Bison — who have won eight of the last nine Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championships. Braun spent his playing days at Winona State University from 2004-2007 under the guidance of Matt Entz, the same Matt Entz who is the current North Dakota State head coach. The same Matt Entz who led the Bison to their latest FCS National Championship in 2019. After graduating in 2008, Braun stayed in the Winona State program as a graduate assistant under Entz for two seasons. While the coaching profession led them their separate ways (sending Braun to Culver-Stockton College, back to Winona State, then the University of CaliforniaDavis and the University of Northern Iowa), after nine years, they were reunited in North Dakota, where Entz earned the head coaching job and hired Braun. The 2019 season was a dream come true for Braun and the Bison. North Dakota State won its National Championship behind Braun’s defense — the least generous in the FCS — giving up just 12.3 points per game. The defense was the FCS’s second best in total defense allowing just 274.7 total yards per game. The team ran the table at a perfect 16-0 while also earning a ninth straight Missouri Valley Conference title.

When asked about his proudest moment in coaching, Braun, a 2020 member of AFCA’s 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute, looks back to that 2019 campaign. But he stops short of the championship result. “One of our starters was out for a week with injury and he embraced the role of preparing his backup,” Braun says. “Beyond what was being done by the coaching staff, he had one-on-one meetings, mentored him through practice and helped him get into a game-day routine. There is nothing more powerful than a locker room full of on-field coaches that are willing to accept the responsibility of bringing along their teammates for the betterment of the team.” That togetherness fosters a family atmosphere. Like many coaches, Braun has a wife and children — two sons — and he’s not willing to sacrifice his home family for his football family. “Since getting married and starting a family, I have had to find ways to be a great husband, father and football coach. My wife and I have found the best way to do that is to involve our family as much as we possibly can,” Braun explains. “Time at the office, stopping by meetings, having the players over to the house. There is no greater joy for us than to see our sons interact and form relationships with our student-athletes. There are no better role models for our boys than our student-athletes.” Likewise, there are no better instructors on how to be good men than two boys running around. Of course, just like everything else in 2020 and in our new COVID-19 world, family — and football for that matter — have taken on a different look. There’s more time on Zoom and less time in physical contact with loved ones. People are missing those in-person interactions as they keep those closest to them as safe as possible. “COVID-19 has not changed my coaching philosophy or belief system. It has made me realize how we can more effectively tap into technology in the future,” Braun says. “Zoom calls have been a huge asset for teaching and recruiting. These are tools I certainly see having merit for us far into the future. AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 15

Photo: United States Military Academy

Speaker Profile

Leading With Balance Army tight ends coach Matt Drinkall has learned, over time and in coaching positions across the country, that before coaches can lead other people, they must first find balance throughout their own lives. By Michael Austin

Matt Drinkall, the tight ends coach for the United States Military Academy, uses every tool possible to connect with players and fans. While some coaches shy away from social media, Drinkall’s Twitter is a must-follow feed. Much like everything else in his professional and personal life, there is a balance to his postings. One day there is a video of two world-class table tennis players battling with Drinkall’s tagline of “Me arguing with myself about the advantages of Pistol vs. Offset Gun,” then another is a look inward as he shares several things he finds easier to say but harder to do, such as enjoying time alone, getting rid of noise and defining one’s own happiness. He’s posted Halloween pictures of him as The Dude From The Big Lebowski. He’s posted a Christian Okoye appreciation video. He’s even been known to use the hashtag #MakeFullbacksGreatAgain. Then, if you keep scrolling, there’s a tweet about hugging and reaching out to your parents. There’s that balance again. So it’s no surprise that when Drinkall reflects on what is the most difficult part of being a coach, he mentions the need to find balance. “Coaching is like football itself; it’s incredibly important and rewarding, but it shouldn’t be your life — it should be a part of your life,” Drinkall says. “In any high-stakes job, it is easy to think ‘more’ is always better. Finding a balance of time, emotion and interests, between your personal and professional life, is critical. You need both.” As Drinkall continues his quest toward achieving better balance, he’s done so by successfully climbing the coaching ladder. He’s served as an assistant coach at his alma maters, both high school (Bettendorf High in Iowa) and college (Western Illinois, where he received his masters of science in recreation administration). Drinkall then moved on to St. Ambrose University (Davenport, Iowa) for six years before landing his first head coaching job at Kansas Wesleyan. 18 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

The first year in Salina, Kan., was a tough one with a 2-9 campaign. Drinkall, however, righted the ship and posted a 40-8 mark through the next four seasons before accepting the job at Army in 2019. Being a part of a struggling, then winning, program allowed Drinkall to experience the depths of coaching. “Seeing growth in people you lead is the most rewarding experience overall. That might come in the form of accomplishments, overcoming obstacles and adversity, emotional development, or maturity in general,” Drinkall explains. “Using growth as a metric is the best tool because it is evolving and never-ending. It allows me to stay in touch with players and coaches throughout the course of our lives.” Keeping in touch now, as the uncertainty of COVID-19 continues to dominate the landscape, is as important as ever. Drinkall, who describes himself as a “glass-half-full person,” is extracting a bit of positive in an otherwise challenging situation for football programs and the country as a whole. “COVID-19 produced this opportunity to frame how football fits as a piece of the puzzle in everyday life. It is clear that football plays an incredibly important role in the lives of people and American culture in general,” he says. “The virus and surrounding circumstances have allowed people to connect more frequently and in new ways — a whole new shared experience that strengthens bonds and relationships.” Beyond the wins and losses, it’s those bonds and relationships that will keep Drinkall in this game for many years to come. There aren’t too many other professions in which you experience what it’s like to lead young people in such a unique setting. “Football teams represent the best society can be. They are incredibly diverse, in nearly every area that divides people, and yet, they work and depend on one another effectively and efficiently,” Drinkall concludes. “I love competing, but the ability to impact people and their lives so they can contribute to the greater good, is the greatest motivating factor as to why I coach.”

Photo: Austin Peay Athletics

Speaker Profile

Paying It Forward Though Scotty Walden is a newcomer to the role of head coach within NCAA Division I football, he brings the wisdom earned at the feet of his own coaches and hopes that dedication to improving players’ lives is his greatest legacy. By Michael Austin

Scotty Walden, at age 30, is the youngest head coach in Division I football. The leader of the Austin Peay State University program, Walden grew up in a single-parent home, so he understands the responsibility and role of the head coach in players’ lives. “My high school football coaches were very instrumental in my life. They pushed me and showed me what it means to be a football player and a man. I am a coach to have the same impact on young men’s lives,” Walden explains. While his coaching peers may still consider him a young man, Walden’s rise to the head of a Division I program at such a young age wasn’t gifted to him. Knowing he wanted to get into coaching, Walden actually earned a spot on the offensive staff at Sul Ross State (Alpine, Texas) during the spring of his senior season. By that fall, he already had been named offensive coordinator, which worked out well for the Division III program as the Lobos led the entire NCAA with 48.8 points and 581.9 yards per game. Walden’s career path then took him to East Baptist State University (first as offensive coordinator, then head coach) and Southern Miss (wide receivers coach, offensive coordinator and briefly as interim head coach) before Austin Peay. He says his drive only has increased and matured as he’s made his way up the coaching ladder. “Early on, you are concerned with more material things, like the biggest job, but my drive to impact people’s lives and invest in players’ lives on and off the field has increased immensely over the years,” Walden says. “As you start to progress in your coaching journey, you start to see the bigger picture.” What’s frustrating for Walden is that not everyone has a grasp of that bigger picture. Too often, he believes, coaches simply are seen as delivering wins and losses, rather than the true impact they have on players. “We are judged on wins and losses by the material world, but one day, we will be judged by what impact we had on the kids

that were placed in our lives,” he says. “And that is the assessment that truly matters. Social media and critics love to point out our failures but just like we tell our players — failure is growth. You must keep your head down, do what you believe, do what is right, have faith, ignore the noise and work extremely hard. “And we do that at the expense of time with our own families. If you are a coach, you have no choice but to pour tons of time, devotion and energy into your craft and your players.” Walden says one area in which he’s dedicated even more time in 2020 is adjusting to how COVID-19 is affecting his program. Walden tested positive for COVID-19 in late October. “I have adapted a ton in terms of the presentation of materials, as well as having many more plans from a depth or scheduling standpoint due to COVID,” he explains. But, Walden admits, it hasn’t changed his core coaching philosophy, as now more than ever, players need consistency. “Kids need consistency in an inconsistent time. As far as my coaching style or philosophy goes, that has remained consistent. During these uncertain times, players are looking for leadership and consistency, and it is imperative to provide that.” Walden clearly has dedicated his life to the game, and he was recognized by the AFCA in its 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute in 2019. He’s been on staff of a conference championship team. He’s coached a player drafted into the NFL. And, as mentioned, he’s the youngest head coach in Division I. But while those accolades and accomplishments are important to him, they don’t match the times when former players recognize his efforts in improving their lives. “I received two long text messages over the past two years from former players I coached. They thanked me for pushing them and all I had done for them. That is the biggest and proudest moment for me as a coach, because you know without a doubt that you had an impact on their lives as men and not just as football players. To me that trumps any win or championship,” Walden says. AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 19


EdjVarsity: The Platform That Mainstreamed Advanced Analytics As the concept of Analytics with the capital A spread inexorably from the NFL to college and then to high school, the understanding of what analytics can deliver and the potential for real-time analytical impact has blossomed. EdjSports has led the way, even coining familiar terms within the sports analytics lexicon like “win probability” and “Game-Winning Chance” (GWC). At the high school level — where by rule, teams can use analytics software during the game to identify important inflection points that impact win probability — EdjVarsity is now the preeminent analytics platform available. Here’s why. Most coaches understand the value of “traditional analytics,” which boils down to manually identifying trends, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses in a given opponent, as well as within their own programs. This certainly provides valuable context as coaches prepare game plans. But, the problem with data gathered by traditional means is that it is backward-looking. It’s based primarily on subjective interpretations and even gut instinct. EdjVarsity provides coaches with real-time context rooted not in the past, but in forward-looking simulations based on an ever-evolving game state that changes with every single play. Human brains are not capable of processing the vast amount of information that EdjVarsity processes in milliseconds. The information returned by the software doesn’t tell a coach what play to call. That’s still and will always be the coach’s decision. Instead, the guidance provided by EdjVarsity simply demonstrates how much a team’s chance of winning a game changes based on the choices available to that team’s coach. That thought-provoking and revolutionary concept is responsible in a big way for bringing analytics into the mainstream. “We’re proactively giving coaches information about when to go for it, but we’re also giving them guidance on whether to call a time out, whether to challenge a play, whether a PAT try or two-point attempt is best, how much individual penalties can cost, all of it,” says Anthony (AJ) Jones, Vice President of Teams for EdjSports, developers of the EdjVarsity platform. “Every situation that coaches think about, there’s a context of win probability that goes with it. And it often gets overlooked because we are all so comfortable with our traditional roles and responsibilities.” Here’s a perfect example: the punt return. At the high school level, coaches know that securing a catch before returning a punt is not always a given. In fact, a lot of teams know that the guy standing back there waiting to return the punt — in a given high-pressure or adverse-conditions situation — might only catch the ball 50 percent or 60 percent of the time. “Statistically speaking, you can easily run the analytics to understand — in this situation, based on how we match up with this team, based on this game state with this score, everyone’s 26 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

timeouts, all of it — if I don’t feel like my guy can catch the ball 75 percent of the time or more, maybe I shouldn’t even have anyone back there to catch it,” says Jones. “Instead of a punt return, let’s go after this punt. Within literally every choice a coach must make, there is an aspect of win probability that’s sitting in the background waiting to be analyzed. We incorporate those aspects into the guidance our tool provides.”

Trust The Process

As universal analytics continue their steadfast incorporation into the very fabric of football, coaches just beginning on this journey can save themselves a lot of time and heartache by understanding a sometimes counterintuitive principle. The traditional approach to coaching — the one that doesn’t incorporate a comprehensive understanding of game-state variables — is judged based on results. The coach who goes for it on fourth down will be praised for gaining the first down, while the coach who goes for it on fourth down and misses will have his decision-making questioned. This is the case regardless of whether it was a good choice or not. Embracing analytics requires coaches to favor process over results, which means coaches must be willing to defend their play call based on the analytics regardless of the relative success or failure in execution. “EdjVarsity is going to show you how your win probability changes based on changing aspects of a given game state,” says Jones. “It’s not saying you’re going to succeed in executing a given pass play or run play. It’s identifying what decision gives your team the best chance to win and how much win probability is at stake. The best decision is deciding to go for it on fourth down according to your threshold for risk, regardless of whether you convert. “In the end, EdjVarsity gives coaches the ability to look at everything in the context of win probability and make decisions that give their teams the best chance to go on and win the game. We distill it all down so it’s easy to use and actionable. We don’t replace the art of coaching, play calling or personnel. We never will. But we can give you the context to understand why each decision matters, and the role those individual decisions can play in the ultimate outcome of a game.”

EdjSports provides NFL, NCAA and high school teams with powerful advanced analytics for planning, play calling and post-game analysis. Their platforms assess a team’s Game‑Winning Chance (GWC) at any moment of the game. Bring the power of analytics to your team, with understandable and customized actionable insights. The result is more confidence in your critical decisions, with a true competitive edge that impacts the bottom line — winning. For more information about the analytics platform from EdjSports, visit EdjVarsity.com.



CONFIDENCE Utilize the same analytics tools trusted by NFL coaches and Super Bowl Champions EdjVarsity identifies the decision that gives your team the best chance to win the game with: • • • •

Customizations for each opponent 4th down GO territory as early as 1st down Advanced analytics for the cost of a helmet Time savings by planning smarter each week

AFCA coaches receive

50% Discount by March 1st




Visit EdjVarsity.com/AFCA

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

All-Star Inflatables

11120 Grader Street, Dallas, TX 75238 888-349-4386 www.all-starinflatables.com All-Star Inflatables is a premier custom manufacturer of cold air inflatables. We specialize in inflatable team spirit tunnels, inflatable helmets, inflatable mascots, bounce houses, inflatable games, and inflatable advertising. See our ad on page 53


AFCA Corporate Partner 2775 Sanders Road, Northbrook, IL 60062 800-255-7828 www.allstate.com For more than 85 years, we’ve been protecting customers from life’s uncertainties and preparing them for the future. Learn about Allstate, from our products and programs to our people and philosophy. Allstate is the sponsor of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. See our ad on page 73


AFCA Corporate Partner 7575 Fulton Street East, Ada, MI 49355 800-253-6500 www.amway.com Amway is the world’s largest direct selling company. We manufacture and distribute nutrition, beauty, personal care and home products — which are exclusively sold in 100 countries through Amway Independent Business Owners (IBOs). See our ad on page 64

Championship Analytics Catapult

AFCA Corporate Partner 181 Ballardvale Street, Wilmington, MA 01887 800-490-7767 www.catapultsports.com Catapult exists to build and improve the performance of athletes and teams at all levels of sport. See our ad on page 75

Complete Coach

15414 McClarnden Drive Fishers, IN 46040 317-514-1505 www.completecoach.me Building your culture? You need Blueprints, not Buzzwords. Complete Coach offers the only science-based framework to help coaches actually improve culture — not just talk about it. See our ads on pages 22, 23

1875 Marcia Overlook Drive, Cumming, GA 30041 510-708-7014 www.championshipanalytics.com Championship Analytics Inc. was founded in Atlanta in 2011 with the goal of integrating world-class analytics with a coach’s insight to take the guesswork out of in-game decision making. We invented and patented the CAI Game Book, a first‑of-its kind playbook that delivers the proper decision for any scenario from the opening kick to the end of the game, customized for the match‑up, no computer required. See our ad on page 37

Clell Wade Coaches Directory

PO Box 177, Cassville, MO 65625 877-386-4840 www.coachesdirectory.com Keeping up with the fast-paced technological shift and constant churn of institutional staff, Clell Wade Coaches Directory, Inc. now offers its published directory in web-based and mobile app formats. Whatever the future may hold, Clell Wade Coaches Directory, Inc. will remain focused on being an intricate and useful resource to the interscholastic community. See our ad on page 34

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

AFCA Convention Gold Sponsor 8701 Leeds Road Kansas City, MO 64129 800-289-0909 www.fca.org The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a community working to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. We desire to see every coach and athlete enter into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church. We seek to make disciples through our methods of engaging, equipping and empowering coaches and athletes to know and grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.

Football Play Card FieldTurf

7445 Cole-de-Lesse Road, Suite 200 Montreal, QC H4T 1G2 800-724-2969 www.fieldturf.com FieldTurf is a world leader in artificial turf with installations at 16 NFL facilities and over 1500 elite NCAA programs.

P.O. Box 267543 Weston, FL 33326 954-834-3588 www.footballplaycard.com The Football Play Card application gives football coaches the ability to create and draw football plays, play cards, play scripts, and playbooks in a speedy, simple and sophisticated manner. It has been designed by former collegiate football players with input from professional and collegiate coaches to include the necessary features to take creating and drawing football plays, play cards, play scripts, and playbooks to the championship level. See our ad on page 72

28 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

2680 Abutment Road, Dalton, GA 30721 800-723-8873 www.astroturf.com Since 1965, the AstroTurf brand has been driven by forward thinking ingenuity. Today AstroTurf continuously improves its system design to deliver playing surfaces with the most realistic, sport‑specific performance, longest lasting durability, and sound player protection. See our ads on pages 2, 69


AFCA Convention Gold Sponsor 205 Technology Parkway, Auburn, AL 36830 800-749-2761 www.coachcomm.com At every level, from high school to professional, champions choose CoachComm for their coaching communications. Innovative products along with 28+ years of experience and expertise are what teams demand and what CoachComm delivers. When your game depends on communication, trust the proven leader with proven solutions. See our ad on pages 7, 29

Glazier Clinics


732 Fast Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202 502-510-1505 www.edjvarsity.com Coach With Confidence: Utilize the same analytics tools trusted by NFL coaches and Super Bowl Champions. Only EdjVarsity determines your win probability at any point in the game and delivers customizations for each opponent, 4th down GO territory as early as 1st down, advanced analytics for the cost of a helmet, and time savings by planning smarter each week. See our ad on pages 26, 27


1880 Office Club Point Colorado Springs, CO 80920 719-536-0069 www.glazierclinics.com GlazierDrive is the clinic experience year-round. It’s the most complete online coach education. Get access to 22 complete systems with live Q&A, 900+ videos with new videos daily, live digital events and a complete social platform including forums and direct messaging. See our ad on page 38

Formetco GearBoss By Wenger Corp.

555 Park Drive Owatonna, MN 55060 800-493-6437 www.gearboss.com Take your team room to the next level with modern, rugged wood or metal lockers from GearBoss. From basic designs to D1 and pro level custom configurations, we’ve got a solution for your program and budget. Many options including integrated seats, USB ports, fan ventilation, digital security locks, LED lighting and much more. Free planning services available. See our ad on page 35

2963 Pleasant Hill Rd., Duluth, GA 30096 800-367-6382 www.formetco.com Home of the better LED video scoreboard. View our outdoor and indoor LED video scoreboards and scoring solutions. Our easy to use software offers multiple sports support, device control and more! See our ad on pages 16, 17


X-SYSTEM IS OFTEN IMITATED BUT NEVER DUPLICATED. It’s why more FBS-FSC teams and thousands of high schools and small colleges depend on X-System for outstanding performance in the most demanding game environments. It’s the only system that meets the complex communication needs of today’s football teams.





Technology developed for harsh FBS environments, now available for teams of all sizes.

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

Global Ozone Innovations

425 Pine Creek Court, Elkhart, IN 46516 574-536-7881 www.sportsozone.com The Sports-O-Zone Sanitizing System is the only solution to tackle the tough task of both deodorizing and sanitizing your equipment against harmful bacteria which can cause serious skin infections and, in some cases, death. The patented systems, used in the Sports-O-Zone Sanitizing System, use the natural occurring substance Ozone (O3) to completely deodorize and sanitize your equipment. See our ad on pages 40, 41

Hadar Manufacturing

1515 11th Street N, Humboldt, IA 50548 888-655-1606 www.hadarathletic.com Hadar Athletic is a leading domestic sporting goods manufacturer excelling in new product development and technologies daily. See our ad on pages 32, 33

Heads Up STS

16720 Crest Valley, Edmond, OK 73012 405-326-4305 www.headsupsts.com The Heads Up Sports Training System provides high-quality, innovative sports training products designed to revolutionize training sessions and enhance the technical skills of players. For athletes, it increases spatial awareness and enhances peripheral vision, improving their ability to quickly make decisions and play a smarter game. The possibilities for coaches to teach players are endless. See our ad on page 54

Jill McBride Baxter - Attorney & Sports Agent

PO Box 152, Shaver Lake, CA 93664 559-250-0151 www.jillmcbridebaxter.com Jill McBride Baxter provides contractual protection for individuals and families for financial and physical well-being in a volatile, stressful environment. She provides informed representation and unconditional support with the intended outcome of Preparation, Promotion, Protection, Advocacy, & Trust. See our ad on page 37

Hammer Strength - Life Fitness Guardian Sports

AFCA Convention Bronze Sponsor 3044 Adriatic Court, Peachtree Corners, GA 30071 404-518-5206 www.guardiansports.com At Guardian Sports we have a true passion for protecting athletes, and we aim to continually develop technologies that can enhance sports equipment. Our goal remains the same: advance technologies to bridge the gap between the products that athletes deserve/need and what is currently available on the market.

9525 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, IL 60018 800-527-6065 www.hammerstrength.com Hammer Strength’s rugged performance strength training equipment is the most durable on the market and is designed to withstand the most intense workouts. Hammer Strength offers the tools needed to build champions. Our portfolio of equipment also includes heavy-duty racks and rigs, benches, selectorized equipment, and a wide variety of accessories for endless training possibilities. See our ad on pages 42, 43

30 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

Just Play Sports Solutions

1828 Walnut Street, Suite 300, Kansas City, MO 64108 785-764-9620 www.justplaysolutions.com From our easy-to-use digital tools for building playbooks and diagramming plays, to providing automated statistics and in-depth analytics at the collegiate and professional levels, Just Play software products will help any coach improve his or her preparation. See our ad on page 67

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

Kay Park Recreation

1301 Pine Street, Janesville, IA 50647 800-553-2476 www.kaypark.com Kay Park Recreation has been a manufacturer of commercial outdoor furniture for schools and universities since 1954. Our products are visually appealing, high-quality, long-lasting and do not require a lot of maintenance. We can deliver them directly to you in a timely manner and provide budget-friendly prices. See our ad on page 47

Laundry Loops

PO Box 5167, Bozeman, MT 59717 888-246-5667 www.laundryloops.com Laundry Loops allow clothes to wash and dry as if they were loose, but stay sorted throughout the laundry process. This eliminates the need to sort garments as they come out of the dryer, minimizing lost items. Compared to the mesh bag method, Laundry Loops allow clothes to get thoroughly clean and cut drying time, energy consumption and utility costs in half. See our ad on page 46

Legacy Building Solutions

19500 County Road 142, South Haven, MN 55382 877-259-1528 www.legacybuildingsolutions.com Sports centers from Legacy Building Solutions are a better place to play and practice. Each sports and recreation fabric building combines climate control with clean, clear sound. Plus, we offer rapid installation to maximize revenue. You can be up and running within a few weeks of the fabric structure arrival. See our ad on page 61

List Industries

401 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442 800-776-1342 www.listindustries.com Lockers, Cabinets And Shelving: We have the perfect storage solution for your space. No matter your environment - school, office, gym, arena, indoor or outdoor, we have the ideal locker to get the job done. See our ad on pages 62, 63

Matrix Fitness USA

1600 Landmark Drive Cottage Grove, WI 53527 866-693-4863 www.matrixfitness.com Since no one works harder than your athletes, make sure Matrix is there to help them make the most out of every drop of sweat sacrificed in the name of victory. The time-tested, high-performance designs of our equipment will help your athletes get more out of every press and squat, with better results and less aches and pains to show for it. Our incredibly versatile training tools unleash athletic explosiveness like never before. And every piece that lands on your training room floor will bring with it the kind of unmatched durability that never takes a day off, season after season and year after year. See our ads on pages 12, 13

National Football League

AFCA Corporate Partner 345 Park Avenue, New York, NYÂ 10154 212-450-2000 www.nfl.com See our ad on page 30


10380 Winona Court Westminster, CO 80031 303-520-7801 www.qb-passlab.com PassLab technology is built to win games. PassLab is a durable, lightweight headband that trains your QB to use his eyes as a weapon, move defenders or hold them in place. The PassLab App divides the field into sectors and governs where your QB should be looking, and for how long. If your QB is staring down a receiver, or fails to move defenders away from his target, a built-in alarm signals the error. With PassLab, coaches can use their own terminology to create a Playbook, then develop practice scripts or select plays from a menu. PassLab helps coaches win more games. See our ad on page 55

34 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com



AirPro® Elite™

AirPro® Double Tier Custom Wood Designs

Our NEW Rival™ wood locker is a great-looking economical locker for any sport. Three sizes available.

Take your team room to the next level with modern, rugged wood or metal lockers from GearBoss. From basic designs to D1 and pro level custom configurations, we’ve got a solution for your program and budget. Many options including integrated seats, USB ports, fan ventilation, digital security locks, LED lighting and much more. Free planning services available.

See photos, virtual 360-degree walkthroughs and more at gearboss.com or call 800.493.6437

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

Porta Phone

AFCA Convention Bronze Sponsor 145 Dean Knauss Drive, Narrangansett, RI 02882 401-789-8700 www.portaphone.com Football Coaching Communication Systems

Power Lift

PO Box 348 Jefferson, IA 50129 800-872-1543 www.power-lift.com Power Lift has always concentrated on pleasing our large clientele of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and athletic performance facilities. Our weight equipment is uniquely designed and customizable — all while staying durable and affordable. We’ll take your goals and your team’s unique needs and use them to design a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility. Take a closer look at our weight room planning and installation process. See our ads on pages 20, 21

Royal Basket Trucks

Power Systems

5700 Casey Drive Knoxville TN, 37909 800-321-6975 www.power-systems.com For over 30 years, athletic programs have counted on Power Systems for quality fitness equipment, storage and facility design services. Our mission is to “Power Your Potential” by advancing health, fitness, and performance by being a resource to our customers. We are a leading provider of fitness and performance products — recognized throughout the sports and fitness industries for creating an extraordinary customer experience, complete product selection, and fast delivery. See our ad on page 68

36 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com


1731 Timber Hills Drive, DeLand, FL 32724 386-717-8061 www.qwikcut.com Powerful and feature-packed, QwikCut is built to give your team the competitive edge you’ve been looking for. Access your games and data anywhere, anytime, on your browser or with your smartphone. See our ad on page 36

Ripon Athletic

290 Junction Street, Berlin, WI 54923 920-361-1500 www.riponathletic.com Ripon Athletic is a custom manufacturer of uniforms and jackets. Made in the U.S.A., we pride ourselves on unparalleled quality, customer service and 100 years of innovation. In 2021, Ripon Athletic is proudly celebrating 100 years of Sand Knit influence and innovation. See our ad on pages 8, 9

201 Badger Parkway, Darien, WI 53114 800-426-6447 www.royalbasket.com Royal Basket carts are durable, well-designed containers on wheels offering an excellent solution for collecting, sorting, storing and moving all types of sports equipment. That includes laundry in both wet and dry environments. See our ad on pages 50, 51

Samson Equipment Company

258 N. Armory Road, Las Cruces, NM 88007 800-4-SAMSON www.samsonequipment.com Samson Equipment provides customized, professional weight room solutions from premium grade materials. We deliver a long lasting, yet affordable product with over 40 years of experience and knowledge in the industry. To this day, we remain loyal to our core values of maintaining our reputation of manufacturing quality weight room facilities while consistently meeting all of our client’s expectations. See our ad on pages 79, 80

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

ShotSled Shaw Sports Turf

AFCA Convention Silver Sponsor 185 South Industrial Blvd., Calhoun, GA 30701 866-703-4004 www.shawsportsturf.com A leading synthetic turf company in North America, Shaw Sports Turf has demonstrated industry leadership in both quality and innovation for more than two decades with thousands of successful installations, and an impressive list of highprofile customers. Engineered for performance and safety, Shaw Sports Turf features a product line designed specifically to meet the needs of athletes and sports programs.

2565 Pearl Buck Road, Bristol, PA 19007 484-908-8442 www.shotsled.com ShotSled is specifically designed for athletes to improve their technique of tackling and shedding blocks. ShotSled athletes can train solo or with a partner to offer more resistance. Tandem use allows a partner to stand on the back and weigh the sled down – which forces the athlete to use more power and penetration to move the sled. For smaller athletes, ShotSled can be used alone. See our ad on page 54


193 Litton Dr. Lexington, SC 29073 877-767-4639 www.sorinex.com Sorinex is a family owned strength training equipment company and is the most sought after strength brand for professional teams, colleges, high schools, military bases, and athletes looking to build a home gym. Some of our innovations have changed the face of strength training forever, and can be found in almost any serious gym in the world. Our oneon-one process for creating custom solutions and branding for your unique situation sets us apart from other companies. When you go with Sorinex, you become a part of the Bosco Brotherhood. See our ads on pages 4, 5


1450 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 800-255-8170 www.spacesaver.com At every level – from K-12 to collegiate to professional – we’ve designed sports equipment storage solutions for some of the most renowned athletic programs in the country. Whether you’re working with a small storage closet or a state-of-the-art athletic facility, we offer the right solutions to keep your gear protected, organized, and accessible so your equipment room can represent your program the way it deserves. See our ad on pages 45, 59

AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 37

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

Sports Attack

AFCA Convention Gold Sponosr PO Box 1529, Verdi, NV 89439 800-717-4251 www.sportsattack.com Designed by football coaches, the Snap Attack and our new Aerial Attack football machines are snap, pass and kick machines that will maximize your time on the most difficult to practice phases of the game. Our machines’ solid polyurethane throwing wheels firmly grip the ball for an accurate spin. The wheel guards protect arms from potential wheel burns as well as help to keep the wheels as dry as possible in inclement weather. See our ad on pages 3, 31


Texon Towel

15239 Herriman Blvd. Noblesville, IN 46060 866-690-1802 www.texontowel.com When an athletic organization is looking for towels, laundry straps and loops, and laundry supplies at wholesale prices, Texon Towel is your source for discount pricing, quality and value. Our bulk priced wholesale towels are first quality domestic and imported and the gym towels are first quality factory fresh. Make Texon Towel your choice for wholesale towels and laundry supplies at bulk pricing. See our ad on page 38

Total Strength And Speed

720 Chris Drive, West Columbia, SC 29169 888-532-8227 www.totalstrengthandspeed.com We are Total Strength and Speed and we have everything needed to create your perfect custom weight room installation. We will work with you step by step from drawing, to render, to full on weight room development. See our ad on pages 56, 57

USA Today

AFCA Corporate Partner 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22107 703-854-6000 www.usatoday.com/sports USA TODAY Sports Offers The Latest News, Buzz, Information, Photos and Videos From The World of Sports. See our ad on page 30

38 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

AFCA Convention Silver Sponsor 25 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Tuckahoe, NY 10707 914-337-2167 www.vokkerousa.com Vokkero is the global leader of wireless communication solutions for the sports industry. In the US, Vokkero products are used by all major pro and Division I, football and soccer officiating crews. In 2018, Vokkero launched C2C, a sideline communication system for football coaches using the same proven technology to deliver the highest quality audio communication.

AFCA Corporate Partner, Convention Sponsor and Premium Supplier Index

Xenith Werner Ladder

AFCA Corporate Partner 555 Pierce Road, Suite 300, Itasca, IL 60143 888-523-3370 www.wernerco.com Werner, a WernerCo brand and the world leader in ladders, offers a complete line of climbing products designed for working at heights. The portfolio includes ladders, attic ladders, scaffolding, pump jacks, stages, planks, step stools, accessories and fall protection equipment including harnesses, lanyards, anchors and compliance kits. From ladders to fall protection, Werner provides a full line of climbing equipment that’s engineered to give you maximum safety, durability, and productivity at every height. See our ad on page 65

AFCA Convention Gold Sponsor 1201 Woodward Avenue, Floor 5, Detroit, MI 48226 206-557-0247 www.xenith.com Driven by a relentless pursuit to change the game, Xenith is committed to groundbreaking innovation and product design. Our products are designed for you and your needs as an athlete to enable success on and off the playing field. It is in our DNA. It is rooted in our history. And it will forge our future.

ZONO Technologies

3343 Peachtree Road, Suite 1801303, Atlanta, GA 30326 770-212-9201 www.zonotechnologies.com Meet the ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet, your weapon in the fight against infectious disease. The ZONO utilizes a combination of: Process control, Ozone concentration, Humidity and Time to achieve consistent and U.S. laboratory confirmed disinfection and sanitization levels. Our integrated mobile cart system eliminates cross contamination and cuts down on user handling of equipment. See our ad on pages 48, 49


AFCA Convention Silver Sponsor 26947 Katy Freeway, Katy, TX 77494 828-718-8391 www.zoombang.com Zoombang Protective Gear was developed through a collaborative effort with some of the most respected professional trainers, equipment managers and athletes. Zoombang polymers, being fluid-like at rest, will easily conform to the individual player’s anatomy and help fill voids between the athlete and traditional hard shell equipment. The result is an overall equipment fit that was previously impossible to achieve.

AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 39


Global Ozone Innovations: Your Team’s Best Defense Global Ozone Innovations – provider of Sports-O-Zone Sanitizing Systems and KilZone Cleaner & Disinfectant is your trusted solution for cleaning, sanitizing and odor control. In the early 2000s, the founder of the company, a U.S. Navy diver, “While it’s primarily used for large military deployments, it can found himself aboard ship returning to the United States with lots of absolutely be used in a college setting where a program might want a time to think. As a gas specialist, he worked with Navy SEAL teams quick turnaround of sanitized gear,” says Eades. and had specialized knowledge of how gases could be used to sanitize. “We also have our Gear Blaster, which is a ‘full-room’ unit, meaning However, it was not an advanced weapons system threat or anything it sets up inside a room and fills it with ozone. It raises the ozone level like that occupying his thoughts on his overseas voyage. Instead, quite substantially in a 2,000 square foot space. It’s on four industrial it was coming home to his son’s smelly hockey gear and trying to casters, same as the ozone cabinet unit, and coaches or equipment figure out how to quickly and easily eliminate the bacteria that was managers can move it around. It significantly reduces odors and causing the smell in order to protect his son. Using his specialized bacteria within locker rooms, weight rooms or wherever you’re trying knowledge, he designed a cabinet-based system utilizing a safe ozone to sanitize.” sanitizing process. Finally, Global Ozone Innovations provides Kilzone Cleaner & Fast-forward to 2021, following a lot of experimentation and fineDisinfectant, a one-step, multi-use, hospital-grade cleaner, disinfectant tuning, and you’ve got Global Ozone Innovations, says Mark Eades, and deodorizer. It may also be used as a laundry sanitizer. KilZone is Director of Sales of the company. Global Ozone Innovations provides effective against more than 60 types of bacteria, viruses and mold, a variety of sanitization including: SARS-CoV-2, products that use ozone cause of COVID-19, to disinfect equipment MRSA, Staph, HIV, Avian and environments. Influenza A H5N1 & “Primarily, we are an H1N1 viruses, Hepatitis, ozone gas sanitation Herpes and Norovirus. “We have not only used the Sports-O-Zone company,” says Eades. It is commonly used “We have quite a few Sanitizer to sanitize our athletic gear such as on training tables, different units, but for equipment, wrestling helmets, shoulder pads, thigh and knee pads, football teams, we have and gym mats, a cabinet we call our helmets, shoulder pads, wrestling head gear, and volleyball pads, but we freezer chest unit. It was whirlpools, bathrooms designed to take care of and many other have also started a program to regularly sanitize a football team, whether hard surfaces. that’s a high school team, our science safety goggles, language head phones, Eades and Global a college team or an Ozone Innovations and various items from our nurses clinic. We NFL team.” are also doing their best to “future-proof” are extending the use to our junior high and Variety In their equipment by Innovation programming into it organizing a schedule to allow their athletic Global Ozone the ability to adjust equipment to be sanitized as well. I am sure that as Innovations provides a the ozone time limit variety of ozone-driven under which equipment we progress, we will find many uses for the ozone products for sports is exposed to the teams. The company’s particularly effective sanitizer to help combat disease in our school.” “freezer chest” — or sanitizing gas. Sports-O-Zone “Right now, we don’t Jim Routhier, LAT, ATC, Athletic Trainer, Concord (Ind.) High School Sanitizing System — uses know what the next the naturally occurring COVID-19 will be,” he substance ozone (O3) says. “In our testing to completely deodorize with Georgia Tech, we and sanitize equipment could kill two viruses and other items. The unit generates ozone safely inside itself so there that closely mimic the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 up to a 99% is no need for consumables. Because ozone is a gas, it can sanitize and kill rate. But if we increase that time limit, we can kill at a 99.95% to deodorize those hard-to-reach places on your equipment, making sure 99.99% kill rate. you get a greater than 99.99% kill rate of bacteria, viruses and molds. “What’s the next COVID going to look like? Is it going to be The cabinet’s hardware and software continuously monitor the ozone COVID-26 or COVID-36? Will ozone machines take less time or levels with specialized sensors and feed that information into the unit’s more time to kill it? If it takes more time to get that kill rate, we’ve Smart Technology System, ensuring that it is providing the time and redesigned the computer program running inside our machines, and concentration of ozone needed to kill pathogens infecting your gear. we can change the time variable with just a few clicks. So now, you’ve This monitoring system is crucial to protecting your athletes. Just got complete control of the unit. If you have a COVID-19 concern as important, the unit tells you when “service is needed” if the system today, or you have a COVID-30 concern 10 years from now, you have is not meeting kill requirements. In killing pathogens, you need to the ability to address that concern with our machine.” know that the time and concentration of ozone in the unit is within For more information about Global Ozone Innovations, specifications to get the required kill rate. Sports-O-Zone, Ozone Trailer, Gear Blaster or KilZone, The Sports-O-Zone cabinet has been adopted across football for visit www.globalO3.com or www.sportsozone.com. years, but Global Ozone Innovations also has a unit that is 34 times the size of the freezer chest cabinet called the Ozone Trailer. You can also reach out by phone at 574-294-5797.

40 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com


Driven By Performance Mike Santiago is a football coach who knows his business. Today, the 65-year-old ’ball coach at Catholic Central Marianist (Texas) High School heads up a football program at the private high school sitting a stone’s throw from the San Antonio Riverwalk. He joined the program in 2017 after a six-year hiatus from coaching, but his football coaching pedigree is above reproach. For 20 years beginning in 1978, Santiago was an assistant coach for Lamar University, North Carolina State University, Northern Arizona University, Western Michigan University, Texas State University and McNeese State University. He joined Stephen F. Austin University in 1999 as its head coach, and after a year with Utah State University as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, he took his second head coaching position at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in 2007, where he started the football program. “That’s where I built my first weight room,” says Santiago. “I coached the first five years of that program’s existence. When I got there, there was nothing, no football field. I had a desk in a hallway, there wasn’t a football on campus. The first strength coach I hired at UIW was a young man named Caesar Martinez, who is at the University of Oklahoma now. I brought Caesar Martinez to Central Catholic when we first started, and we were working out of the basement of a gym built in 1932. We could fit about 22 kids in there, and all we had was rusted iron.” Santiago is a big believer in people, first. It was that way with Martinez and with the other coaches with whom he’s worked for decades. Having coached thousands of student-athletes and worked with dozens of coaches, he’s an outstanding judge of character and what makes people tick. When Central Catholic chose to upgrade its facilities in a big way — including the installation of a 4,000 square foot weight training facility — Santiago knew exactly who to call. “I mean, metal is metal, but the people at Hammer Strength were the same people I worked with at UIW. When this project came about, I made one phone call,” says Santiago. “It was to Blair Prince and Gus Rodriguez from Hammer Strength. I said, ‘Hey guys, here’s where I’m at, and here’s what we’re doing. I need you guys.’ And that’s how Hammer Strength came in here. I knew the people I was going to work with, the people who were going to work with me, and that was more important than anything.” 42 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

Doing The Job Right

After generous donors Bill and Margie Clessie announced their donation to the school and explained they wanted the best facility with the best equipment, Santiago and the folks from Hammer Strength began talking turkey. “The first thing I believe in is the racks,” says Santiago. “I believe in free weights, so we have 12 racks in here, and we have pull-up bars on those. We’ve got the half racks and we can put four kids in a rack. We also put in all of the Hammer Strength Push/Pull equipment, because you can push most of this weight, but at some point, you have to pull something too.” An entire circuit of push/pull equipment runs down an entire wall. Both ends of the room include leg equipment and glute/ ham machines. “Then, we have our free weights in the middle, three racks of dumbbells from 20 pounds to 100 pounds,” says Santiago. “Then, we brought in other coaches too, from other sports. They wanted Life Fitness pulley machines where you can do over 200 exercises. “We talk about mind, body and soul here at Central Catholic, and we really wanted this weight room to reflect that.”

On Display

As a private high school, recruiting families to attend the school is incredibly important. Before the weight room was built, Santiago, donors and administrators discussed the idea of the weight room — and other nearby facilities — acting as a focal point for recruiting tours. “We talk about keeping this place ‘recruiting ready’ all the time,” says Santiago. “We’re a private school — a tour just came through here — and this is one of the places those tours come to. If you’re the father of an eighth-grade quarterback, this weight room is something to see. You don’t see this in a lot colleges. We did the same thing at the UIW. You never know who’s going to walk into this building so it’s always kept very neat. “On top of everything else, that’s what Hammer Strength does for you. They give you a focal point. When I was semi-retired, I travelled the state of Texas as a West Coast Sales Manager for another organization. I’ve travelled all over the West, and I’ve seen Hammer Strength in more high school facilities than I can count. You go up Interstate 83 in the Valley of Texas, it’s nothing but Hammer Strength facilities, and they’re gorgeous. You can add Central Catholic to that list of gorgeous facilities.” For more information, visit www.hammerstrength.com.

Address Accountability And Liability With A Certified Equipment Manager By Sam Trusner, National Office Manager, Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA)

Limited practice opportunities, decreased coach-player contact, shortened or lost season schedules, and “bubble” environments have all become the norm for athletic programs in the context of COVID-19. Those programs able to compete do so with dramatically reduced fan attendance, if fans are allowed at all. Conferences and schools face financial shortfalls likely to impact budgets in currently unknown ways. Athletics programs are facing constant uncertainty in their efforts to sustain some sort of safe, beneficial level of participation at every level, from youth to the pros. At the core of this turmoil stands the Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA) and its certification process. Celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2021, the AEMA’s certification program has grown and adapted to the technological and safety needs of the profession and the athletes and coaches who equipment managers serve. The National Football League (NFL) and the National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA) recently agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that requires the head equipment manager for each team to hold the AEMA certification and most clubs are requiring all fulltime personnel handling protective gear to acquire the same level of education and skill. Many professional sports groups, colleges, high schools and youth programs also realize the need to staff trained and educated individuals in their programs to promote safety and protect their participants.

Understanding Certification In Equipment Management

Certification is defined as “a third-party attestation of an individual’s level of knowledge or proficiency in an industry or profession, requiring ongoing education to remain up-todate on the advancements in the field, evidenced by earning a specific number of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from approved activities and/or courses.” 44 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

These certifications are portable. They do not depend on one school’s or team’s definition of the job. The difference between certification and licensure is that a license is commonly issued by a state organization while a certification is issued by a professional organization. Obtaining certification may be required, but in many fields is voluntary. Also, the certification process may be more comprehensive than licensure. Though the processes to achieve certification and licensure are similar, they may also differ in legal status. In 1991, the AEMA established its guidelines for the profession and in 1992 administered its first exam in Phoenix at its annual national convention. Currently, the AEMA lists over 850 Certified Equipment Managers across the United States, Canada and Japan. The AEMA is committed to providing the safest playing environment for every athlete through proper fitting protocols established for each piece of protective equipment and apparel. The challenges of this process included: • Establishing an education program that would provide an effective level of proficiency • Establishing an ability to test that knowledge in an effective, consistent, and verifiable manner

• E stablishing a reliable system of continuing education that allows members to stay abreast of new technologies, protocols, and the current research in the profession.

Producing A Definitive Certification Test

Partnering with Scantron, Inc. (formerly Castle Worldwide/Columbia Assessment Services), the AEMA conducted a role delineation study to determine the duties and skills of an equipment manager by surveying its entire membership. Through this study — which is still the foundation of the program — the AEMA identify who the equipment managers were, what they did, how much

Photo: RoadTripSports.com/Chuck Cox


EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT time they spent doing it, and the necessary skills needed to perform these duties. The AEMA certification exam is 100 multiple-choice questions, all based on the five domains identified in the role delineation study, including administration, safety and standards, operations, procurement and finances, and inventory control). The number of questions in these areas are directly correlated to the amount of time spent performing the tasks. Scantron oversees the entire process by producing the test through questions provided by the AEMA Exam Committee, grading the tests, and continually updating the exam questions to reflect new information and topics. The exams are typically given two times a year, in early February in Raleigh, N.C., and in June at the annual AEMA National Convention. The current qualifications to sit for the exam are: • Must be a current member in good standing with the AEMA. • Must be at least 21 years old.

• Must have one of the following:

• A four-year college degree and two years of paid, nonstudent full-time employment,

• 1,400 hours (properly documented) student equipment manager hours and four-year college degree. The

certification is held until proof of graduation has been submitted. After successfully completing the AEMA Certification Exam, certified members are required to earn 6.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) within every threeyear window to maintain their certification. These standards require the certified member to remain involved in a continuous program of self-improvement and education, which leads to a higher degree of job performance, efficiency, and formal recognition and respect for the profession. The AEMA offers its membership many opportunities to assist them in preparing for the exam and in maintaining their certification status. The main source of information is the AEMA Certification Manual, now in its third edition of printing. Many hours of research and revision have gone into this “Bible of the Profession.” It remains a reference guide in the majority of equipment rooms across the nation. Available online from the AEMA website, this publication provides accepted practices and protocols for anyone involved with equipment/apparel fitting, storage, ordering and maintenance. Another informative source used to share current topics and procedures are the AEMA Journals, published annually and free to all AEMA members. These online publications are written by members and selective authorities on topics of special interest or information on subject matter relevant to the profession at the time. Topics addressed in the past have been MRSA, concussions, time management, and helmet design. These in-depth articles expound on material specific to certain sports or more generally to wider areas of study, and they enable the membership to remain knowledgeable about current trends and technology.

The Importance Of Hiring A Certified Equipment Manager

As a coach, athletic director or athletic administrator — at any level of athletic participation — you may ask yourself, “Why would I need a certified equipment manager when I can hire someone who can learn the job?” Though COVID-19 has created unnecessary hardships and challenges, it has shown that being unprepared and not doing things the right way can lead to more serious consequences and results. Moreover, It is important to create solid plans of action, hire educated staff in appropriate positions, maintain sound and consistent protocols, and react to emerging circumstances with agility and an open mind. Injury liability should top any list of concerns derived for the purpose of evaluating those assigned to fit and maintain any type of protective equipment. If an organization does not hire a certified equipment manager to handle these duties, that organization has not executed “what a reasonable person” must and has not provided the safest environment possible. Fitting protocols, new product technologies, and the ever-expanding performance and growth abilities of today’s athlete demand constant monitoring of how to best administer appropriate protocols. 46 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT A proper fit is the No. 1 requirement for every piece of equipment involved in protecting athletes. This cannot be achieved without the specific acquired knowledge and experience of a certified equipment manager. Manufacturers will confirm that their products will not protect an athlete as well as it is designed if the equipment is not sized and fitted correctly. Attorneys regularly admit that the statement, “We didn’t have the money to hire a certified individual,” generally fails as a defense when an athlete is unfortunately injured while competing or practicing. The money to hire a certified individual is available; however, a decision was made to use that money for something different. Certified equipment managers lead with accountability, and must regularly answer to athletes, coaches and administrators. Hiring a certified equipment manager — someone who is knowledgeable and capable of maintaining accurate equipment availability and condition records — demonstrates a commitment to protecting an institution’s investment in itself and in sport. Educating athletes on the care and maintenance of their protective equipment and apparel aids in the longevity of equipment while protecting its appearance and cosmetic appeal. Holding participants accountable for articles issued to them teaches responsibility and promotes positive maintenance practices that increase equipment longevity. The

added attention to the condition of the equipment aids in establishing sound reconditioning practices required by most protective equipment manufactures to keep their products in proper working order. As uncertainty shows no sign of slowing heading into 2020, coaches and athletic directors are being held accountable on how budgets are applied, especially with regard to how athletes are cared for. By having sound and fair purchasing procedures, establishing annual reconditioning protocols, and developing ethical management of your equipment operations, the entire athletic department benefits from having a certified equipment manager in charge. For more information, please feel free to check out the Athletic Equipment Managers Association website at www.equipmentmanagers.org or contact the National Office at samtrusner@gmail.com. Sam Trusner is the National Office Manager for the Athletic Equipment Managers Association and has been a certified member since 1991. Trusner has served on many of the certification committees as District 5 Director (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada) and AEMA Journal editor. He was also instrumental in the addition of the NFL Equipment Managers.

AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 47


ZONO: Your Virus And Bacteria Slayer In the ongoing war against the microscopic enemies at the gate, football coaches and equipment managers can deploy a deadly weapon: the ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet. In 2009, Walter Mann reached his breaking point. With four children playing sports, his garage smelled increasingly like a locker room. He had to do something about it. So, in that very same garage, he invented what would become known as the ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet, and its integrated cart system. “Today, more than 850 organizations across industries such as sports, child care, public safety, fitness, museums and more use our ZONO machine,” says Mann. “We’ve partnered with NASA, we’ve got customers who were in the NFL playoff hunt, and we’re used by major college football programs. But I created the ZONO for folks like me who were looking to cure a common problem, which is to eliminate unpleasant odors — and disinfect and sanitize equipment quickly and safely — so we can all remain as healthy as possible.”

How Ozone Works

The ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet sanitizes equipment by turning oxygen in the cabinet into ozone gas, which is just plain old breathable oxygen (O2) with an extra oxygen atom (which makes O3). Ozone is toxic to organic matter. That extra atom is highly reactive and kills 99.9% of bacteria* and 99.99% of viruses+ in the cabinet. Ozone has been recognized as one of the most effective microbe killers since the early 1900s. Today, ozone is commonly used across the world in multiple applications as a germ killer. It’s quick, easy and inexpensive to produce. It disinfects and sanitizes items that are not washable, and it does so without forcing the user to interact with harsh liquid chemicals that might cause damage or expose the user to potential hazards. Its effectiveness is above reproach. The ZONO has been tested by many organizations. For example, the Georgia Institute of Technology tested the ZONO against the influenza A virus, which is an enveloped virus that they deemed a surrogate for SARS-COV2 which causes COVID-19. ZONO does not publish these results because ZONO only publishes efficacy results against recognized standards such as those published by ASTM. “To our knowledge, nobody else publishes tests against recognized standards,” says Mann.

How ZONO Works

To be clear, the ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet kills 99.99% of common viruses+ on non-porous surfaces and 99.9% of common bacteria* on non-porous, porous and semi-porous surfaces. For what might seem like a potentially complex solution to an exceedingly elusive challenge, the ZONO is straightforward and simple in its application. The ZONO uses push-button control, ozone concentration, and specific humidity to achieve a verified kill rate. Its integrated mobile cart system facilitates equipment transport and avoids cross-contamination. Athletes can simply set their equipment

on the cart. Equipment managers roll the cart into the ZONO, press a button and pathogens inside the ZONO are killed in 30 minutes. No rinsing or wiping is needed. Equipment is immediately available for use out of the machine. As head football equipment manager, Trent Chesnut is in his 21st season with the University of Illinois. When the Fighting Illini opened their new football facility in July 2019, they added the ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet to their disinfection repertoire. “It’s been a God-send for us,” says Chesnut. “We really wanted the ZONO based on recommendations from other equipment managers and folks in our industry. Personally, I love the cart system. We have three carts and rotate between them. Nearly anything a coach uses, we zap that with the ZONO. Basically, anything that doesn’t go in a washing machine, we can put it in there and sanitize it.”

Why It Matters

After the last 12 months, understanding why a standardized disinfection process matters couldn’t be more clear. Establishing a documented and verifiable process for disinfection and sanitization is essential. ZONO is a key component. Here’s the bottom line. The ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet performs the priceless task of killing dangerous pathogens on gear in as little as 30 minutes. “We try to make the ZONO simple, safe and sustainable,” says Mann. “Our straightforward process is safe and works on items that are difficult or nearly impossible to sanitize using traditional methods. Things like helmets, shoulder pads, gloves, cleats, electronics and more can now be disinfected and sanitized. The ZONO helps eliminate offensive odors from bacterial waste products or decomposing bacteria. The ZONO also positively impacts recruiting, because parents and families remember the smell of a fresh locker room and appreciate it.” “Let’s also not forget that, in that half hour while the ZONO does the work, your equipment manager can be otherwise improving your program. He or she isn’t spending 30 minutes ineffectively wiping down equipment. On the cost side, after you implement the ZONO, your cost is less than 3 cents of electricity per use. It can be operated in high-traffic areas, is cool and safe to touch, and doesn’t emit harmful byproducts. The ZONO is a pest-control device, regulated by the government, and is produced in an EPA‑regulated facility. We offer a three-year warranty because it just works. And if you experience problems or damages — we’re here to handle it.” For more information about the ZONO Disinfecting and Sanitizing Cabinet, please visit www.ZONOtechnologies.com.

Kills Norovirus on non-porous surfaces. *Kills Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia Coli, Streptococcus Pyogenes, Shigella dysenteriae, Salmonella Enteritidis, and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa on non-porous, semi-porous and porous surfaces. +

48 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com


Royal Basket Trucks: Experts In Efficiency Through Simplicity There’s no more valuable asset for coaches and equipment touch things during this process. If you can separate those managers than time. touches, you improve your process efficiency.” Teams that are able to make the most of the time they The solutions Royal offers aren’t limited to just have to practice, study film and prepare have a clear organization and transportation within the team facility. competitive advantage over programs that fail to be They make trucks with lids and heavy-duty poly trucks efficient. This simple distinction often proves to be the to not only take the guesswork out of sorting equipment, difference between a team that excels and one that just but also from transporting it. can’t seem to break away from the pack. Why take all of the steps at home to make sure the Coaches spend much of their offseason and downtime process is smooth and efficient, only to find yourself looking for ways to get reinventing a new process more out of every aspect every time you go on the of the way the program road? With Royal Basket conducts business. There Trucks, you can maintain are all sorts of scheduling the same workflow, “Some of the teams that use our apps, team messaging the same instructions services and high-tech for players and the trucks have taken that post-game software designed to same easy transition to make life easier, but getting equipment clean, clean up and preparation for sometimes, the simplest organized and ready to use solutions are the most again — all while continuing transport process from 25 minutes valuable. to save valuable time. Since 1982, Royal “Some of the teams that or more down to just five minutes. Basket Trucks® has use our trucks have taken been the preeminent that post-game clean That’s valuable...” supplier of necessary and up and preparation for effective solutions for transport process from 25 coaches and equipment minutes or more down to managers all over the just five minutes,” Lapidakis country. They provide says. “That’s valuable. The durable, well-designed containers on wheels that cut down speed at which you can get your people in and out of that a staff’s time invested in collecting, sorting and transporting environment and back to business is really important.” a wide variety of different equipment — no matter your The last problem coaches want to spend time trying to specific team’s needs. solve is how they are going to keep up with laundering “That’s why we build to order. We’re much different that player gear or ensuring all the equipment that’s supposed way,” Cindy Lapidakis, Royal’s Vice President of Sales and to make it to the big game, actually does make it to the big Marketing says. “We want you to have absolutely the best game. That’s just not the type of work coaches signed up to experience with our products.” do. But consider this, if you could have a company on your One of Royal’s most popular solutions — their premiumside that was an expert in making all those problems go quality, lined basket trucks — are not overly complicated away — the type of ally who loves doing all that behind-theto use, but their convenience removes a lot of unnecessary scenes dirty work so that you don’t have to — wouldn’t you steps from the workflow of the football staff. They can be want them on your team? color coded according to the staff’s needs and rolled right That’s what Royal Basket Trucks is all about. Increase your into place so that the players can do all of the sorting for efficiency. Save time. Win more games. uniforms and pads as they take them off. “Oftentimes, things are collected, and it’s all in one bin,” For more information about Royal Basket Trucks, Lapidakis explains. “Let’s talk about how many times you please visit www.royal-basket.com. 50 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

All-Pro Performance Training All coaches want their student-athletes to perform to the best of their abilities. Training with purpose elevates one’s game, allowing the athlete to perform at his peak. Here are some great ways to solidify these concepts and make them a reality. By Loren Landow, CSCS *D, Head Strength And Conditioning Coach, Denver Broncos, and Chris Jarmon, CSCS, Sports Performance Coach, Landow Performance

Very few athletes are invited to a combine. Whether they are elite high school athletes vying for a college scholarship or standout college players looking to catch the eye of NFL scouts, only the best of the best get the chance to showcase their abilities in the unique environment of the combine, where a fraction of a second can make or break an athlete’s dream to play at the next level. Even if your players aren’t currently combine material, the following proven techniques for mastering position-specific agility drills will help players hone their biomechanical movement efficiency, reduce the risk of injury and perform like never before. During both acceleration and top-end speed training, all athletes must learn the four Ps: posture, position, placement and patterning. These are foundational concepts for understanding and practicing quality movement patterns.


Posture is the collective organization of the head, shoulder, trunk, hip, knee, and ankle. It drives biomechanical efficiency in acceleration. Coaches must constantly remind athletes of their posture with the phrase, “posture is priority.” If an athlete doesn’t begin a drill or a sprint with correct posture, he will not be able to find that posture once he starts moving. Athletes should learn how to organize their joints from top to bottom and develop an awareness of how proper posture ought to feel. Football players often find holding posture to be a major challenge, especially if they have never been taught how to correctly align their bodies and generate stability. For these athletes, foundational acceleration 52 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

drills such as marches and skips become especially vital in restoring postural integrity. Joint position dictates muscle function; an athlete who cannot hold posture in acceleration will invariably exhibit poor joint positions and use suboptimal muscular recruitment patterns, leading to movement inefficiency and possibly injury.


Within the framework of acceleration posture, there are optimal joint angles an athlete should try to achieve during acceleration. Legendary coach Dan Pfaff often talks about the concept of “acceptable bandwidths” within technical movement models (Pfaff 2019). No athlete will perfectly replicate the ideal acceleration model for every single sprint, but if he falls within the guidelines of proper joint position, he will be successful. In the case of sprinting, coaches and researchers who have dedicated their careers to studying athletic movement have observed that the best sprinters create a specific position on the front side of the hip axis, which gives them ideal leverage to generate torque into the ground. The biomechanical nature of sprinting dictates that body position should change as an athlete accelerates and transitions into maximum velocity sprinting. At the outset of acceleration, the athlete’s body should have a more angular position relative to the ground, with an imaginary straight line running through his ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. He will naturally begin to transition to a more upright position as he reaches his maximum velocity, but to accelerate most efficiently, he should angle his body forward to apply his force more horizontally into the ground. This will propel him

Photo: Chad Claeyssen


ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE forward in accordance with Newton’s second law of motion, which dictates that to move forward, he must push backward. The athlete’s thigh position relative to the ground will begin to change with each stride as he gains velocity. As a rule of thumb, his thigh should remain roughly perpendicular to his torso throughout the sprint. Thus, at the beginning of acceleration, the athlete’s forward body lean causes his thigh to angle toward the ground when it hits the proper landmark. As he transitions into top-end speed mechanics, his torso will rise vertically, eventually positioning his thigh more parallel to the ground. This principle of thigh position flies in the face of speed training dogma that many coaches learn early in their careers. The commonly used sprinting cue to “drive those knees up high” is rarely germane to the technique changes needed. Too much knee punch during the initial steps will create an excessively high thigh position, causing suboptimal horizontal impulses into the ground. From a timing perspective, a thigh position that is too high will cause the initial stride to take too much time, forcing the athlete to take shorter and shorter steps.


Horizontal propulsion is the key to excellent acceleration. Once an athlete has created the ideal joint positions, the next step (literally) requires correctly placing his foot into the ground to produce maximum force. An athlete should

54 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

place his striking foot underneath or slightly behind his hips, depending on the phase of sprinting. In early acceleration, his foot should strike behind his hips to push back into the ground, thereby creating a greater horizontal impulse. As he gains speed and gradually transitions into a more upright posture for top-end speed, he will strike more directly underneath the hips to produce more vertical force. If he strikes the ground in front of his hips, he will create a braking force and place excessive stress on his hamstrings, especially during his top-end speed phase. The striking portion of the foot poses another vital placement consideration. Coaches often teach their athletes to run on their toes, which creates multiple problems. An athlete who strikes the ground with his toes while sprinting will not be able to optimize the elastic capabilities of his foot and lower leg. When used properly, this elastic component — an eccentric stretch on the muscles and tendons that creates stored elastic energy — can provide a rebounding force and improve sprinting speed. Coaching athletes to run on their toes will encourage them to reach in front of their hips with each foot strike to “feel” for the ground as a proprioceptive reflex, as if they are walking down a flight of stairs. This can place excessive strain on the hamstrings and lower leg, possibly even leading to injury. The back portion of the ball of the foot is the proper foot contact point during sprinting. The back portion is especially

ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE ideal; athletes can run mostly on their toes while thinking that they are striking on the balls of their feet because they can feel the front part of the ball on ground contact. Coaches should teach athletes to prepare for the ground by dorsiflexing their striking foot in midair; this is called creating a loaded, stable foot. This approach is preferred over a relaxed or unstable foot strike. A relaxed foot must move through full triplanar pronation as it strikes, thereby increasing time spent on the ground. A locked foot allows an athlete to develop elastic tension in his ankle complex more quickly, thereby minimizing amortization. As an analogy, consider the difference between dropping a hard rubber lacrosse ball and an overripe tomato on the ground. Perhaps most importantly, when a loaded foot strikes the ground it provides a more stable position for the athlete’s most powerful joint forces – his hips and knees – to produce more force. Many practitioners view sprinting as a full tripleextension movement (requiring full extension of the hip, knee and ankle), so they coach athletes to focus on plantar flexion. However, sacrificing an optimal surface for powerful hip and knee extension merely to favor ankle plantar flexion is shortsighted. The first three Ps (posture, position, and placement) dictate the spatial aspects of acceleration. But acceleration is defined as the rate of change in velocity over time. Timing is therefore just as important as any other aspect of acceleration.


There should be a rhythm and smoothness to how an athlete runs, a concept referred to as patterning. An athlete may try to execute ideal posture and positions during a sprint, but if his timing is off, the entire movement is affected. Patterning is one of the easiest issues to diagnose because a poorly timed movement pattern looks wrong to even the greenest coach. Acceleration patterning problems can occur for several reasons. Perhaps the athlete is spending too much time in ground contact or moves his arms and legs arrhythmically. Regardless of the issue, the first culprit a coach will often spot is improper thigh position or foot placement because these will immediately indicate that timing is off. The most important word to associate with patterning is rhythm. Rhythmic patterns of movement create a smooth and relaxed tempo. The more relaxed an athlete is at the right times during a sprint, the more elastic he becomes. Strategic relaxation and its subsequent stored elastic energy increase movement efficiency and speed. Athletes who remain rhythmic and relaxed while sprinting can maximize their use of this elastic energy. This article was excerpted from All-Pro Performance Training: An Insider’s Guide to Preparing for the Football Combine, published by Human Kinetics. It is available as a print or e-book at the following link: https://bit.ly/hk-appt.

technology is built to win games. A durable, lightweight headband that trains your QB to use his eyes as a weapon. Move defenders, or hold them in place. The App divides the field into sectors and governs where your QB should be looking, and for how long. If your QB is staring down a receiver, or fails to move defenders away from his target, a built-in alarm signals the error. Use your terminology to create a Playbook. Develop practice scripts or select plays from a menu. PassLab helps coaches win more games.


AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 55

Win The Scoreboard Within Let’s face it. Present circumstances in the middle of a global pandemic have created a mental-health crisis for not only student-athletes, but coaches as well. And yet, there are tried and true responses to these challenges that help restore balance and leave the mental roller-coaster ride behind. By Marcus Mayo, Head Football Coach/School Counselor, Northwood (Md.) High School

During these highly unusual times, as coaches face challenges and obstacles different from anything they’ve faced before, we must keep our eyes on a specific goal: the social-emotional and mental health of our student-athletes. As a head football coach and school counselor, I feel the weight of mental health issues daily. For me, the real pressure is helping students and my team “win the scoreboard within.” As school counselors, we are trained to deal with the social-emotional/mental health of our students. Any coach who is also a counselor or holds a degree in any other mental-health related field understands that you can apply that training to your coaching. Here are the facts: • More than 70 percent of students believe depression and anxiety is becoming a major problem. • Between 25-30 percent of high school and college student-athletes report feeling various levels of depression.

Think about how many players you have on your team and do the math. Even more troubling is that these numbers represent only those willing to discuss it. Depending on your area and resources, for many of our players, football is their primary outlet to escape what they face the rest of the evening after practice and the next morning. Many of our players will appear well because we see them at the height of their day being with the team. We do not always see what they deal with at home. 58 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

Most importantly, we don’t see the invisible battle they could be fighting within, especially now, when there is no escape. As coaches, we know our players’ strengths, weaknesses and skill sets like the back of our hand. If anyone mentions one of your player’s names, you can immediately say something about his athletic ability or personality. Those are important, but how many coaches know a given player’s mind and mental state at any time during the year? Do you truly know what each of your young men are mentally going through right now?

Winning And Losing: Player Perspective And Impact

Unfortunately, many players find their level of acceptance based on the scoreboard on Friday nights. You win, they tell themselves, “I’m a winner!” You lose, they tell themselves, “I’m a loser.” Think about that for a moment. “I am a loser” is different from “We lost.” Student-athletes often associate outcomes of events with their entire being. This is especially true of those who struggle with mental health. What we say about ourselves, bleeds into our existence and can influence our daily lives. For those suffering with mental health challenges, winning is like ibuprofen. It works temporarily and can take the pain away from your mind. But it’s not a long-term solution to a growing issue. When it wears off, the pain strikes again. What happens when the winning stops? What happens when end their playing days? How can they learn to


Spacesaver Partners With Football Coaches To Get Prepared And Stay Prepared At this point, just about everyone has grown tired of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has cost more lives, ruined more jobs and businesses and caused more stress and strife than any would have envisioned just a year ago. On the bright side, there is good reason to continue to learn from the ongoing health crisis. Even as vaccines become closer to getting the world — including the football community — back to a new normal, it’s important for coaches to see the need to keep preparedness supplies on hand for future emergencies. Many football programs now understand that the safest, smartest way to improve readiness is to acquire and store your own personal protective equipment, medications, medical equipment, and supplies. But these items take up a lot of space, and space isn’t exactly abundant in most grass roots programs. Mark Haubenschild, the president and CEO of Spacesaver Corporation, has been helping coaches thrive during the relentless ebb and flow of storage for years. As a high school coach and AFCA member himself, he understands what it takes to get ready and stay ready for the challenges life will throw at a football program. “The decision was made to cancel the season, because there was no way to provide the social distancing for our kids, plus manage coaches,” Haubenschild explains about how 2020 affected his program. “From my experience, I had to order, prior to knowing I was going to cancel, about $3,000 worth of supplies.” All the masks, sprays, and other cleaning and sanitation equipment has to be stored somewhere, not only in the short term, but it’s also clear that programs need to be equipped to handle similar health emergencies in the future. Spacesaver provides solutions for football programs that will more than stand up to the immediate, short-term demands of the pandemic, but they also help programs plan for long-term systems to ensure they are never caught unprepared again. For many programs, building a new addition or a new facility entirely just isn’t in the cards. That’s why the biggest key to a longterm state of readiness for most programs is simply staying clean

and organized, while ensuring that the space you already have is being utilized to its fullest potential. Mobile High-Density Storage — The Secret To Doing More With Less Space Coaches looking for the absolute best way of making the most out of a limited amount of space should look no further than mobile high-density storage systems and day use lockers. Spacesaver’s systems consist of shelving or racking that moves along rails installed into or on top of the floor, which eliminates empty aisles, and will practically double a team’s storage capacity without any other major changes or investments. It’s important to note that this not only applies to preparedness supplies. Mobile high-density storage systems can put coaches and equipment staffs back in charge of cluttered and overrun storage areas that have been a nightmare for years. These units provide better methods of staying organized and streamlining inventory and give the staff better access to what they need when they need it, without unnecessary steps or extra changing of hands — a critical component to staying healthy and preventing the spread of illness both now and in the future. “We recognize that the football program is just one part of the school community,” Zak Hermans, Vertical Market Manager for Spacesaver says. “Schools are trying to figure out how they can be most efficient with what they have to store, but also in how they pass out gear and interact with the student body. It’s really something that’s evolving on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis.” While many see the current pandemic as a temporary problem, Spacesaver has taken the initiative to evolve past the demands of the current crisis and elevate their offerings to meet their customers’ needs like never before. That’s exactly what they have been doing for nearly 50 years, and they remain dedicated to being a true partner in preparedness.

To learn more about how Spacesaver can help your program be ready for anything, visit www.spacesaver.com today to request a free, no-hassle consultation. AFCA.com | AFCA Magazine | January/February 2021 59


accept themselves for who they are and troubleshoot mental barriers regardless of outcomes? How have they handled this COVID-19 crisis, when there is no outlet, no football? Here are a few tools to help your athletes grow and confront mental health challenges some are facing for the first time and some have faced for years.

Understanding Mindfulness

one time to help them navigate their thoughts and win the scoreboard within. That scoreboard within is where all coaches should be trying to win every day, but especially now more than ever. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this.

Mindful Breathing

Just before practice begins, find somewhere outside to The No. 1 tool for me as a coach and a school counselor comfortably sit. Make this location your home base for your is incorporating mindfulness. It has helped our players pre-practice meditations. It is fine to change the location, but gain wiser relationships with the way they process their many prefer a single home base to practice meditation. thoughts and actions. We utilize mindfulness in a variety Athletes can sit on the ground, or a cushion brought from of ways, but most importantly, it helps coaches help players home, really anywhere they feel comfortable. As they sit better understand down, they sit themselves with their legs and increases crossed or simply our communication. sit comfortably “Paying attention on purpose, in the Mindfulness also in any manner. cultivates a culture in They must sit present moment, and non-judgmentally. which players openly upright, with a admit vulnerabilities sense of relaxed Attention is the facility that allows us to and insecurities. It authority, not helped remove the too relaxed, navigate our lives in one way or another and mask young men are but not too stiff taught to wear to either. Next, to actually know what is happening or to hide “weakness.” they gently set Mindfulness has their hands in know we don’t know what is happening and helped our players their laps if their learn to be fully legs are crossed, find ways to be in a wiser relationship to present and refuse or gently on to associate negative their knees if the things going on in our lives, rather than thoughts with every they’re sitting on ounce of their being. a bench or chair. being at the mercy of our own reactions, There’s a common Hands and arms phrase among must be relaxed. emotions, crazy thoughts and fears.” coaches and players. Take a moment “Where is your to simply be, and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Founder of head at?” It’s a great bring the mind question, but it’s to be as still as the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, often used in the the body in this Health Care and Society, University of Massachusetts Medical School wrong context. We moment. Once make an effort to a comfortable be intentional about feeling of asking players that stillness is same question throughout the week. But the key is, we ask it reached, slowly close the eyes as gently as possible. in reference to themselves, not their play. Slowly begin to breathe in and out for about 5-6 seconds at Every day, our position coaches ask players, “How are a time, in through the nose and out the nose or mouth. Allow things upstairs (mind)?” With many athletes playing multiple the inhale to happen naturally without force, and allow it to positions, this simple question is asked by many coaches with make its journey into the body and settle where it sees fit. who players have different relationships. It helps us answer Next, when the inhale has settled, slowly exhale through tough questions. the nostrils or the mouth with gentleness and without force. Are coaches getting the same responses? Did anyone of us When the chest begins to relax, comeback to the inhale and see a change in tone or body language? repeat the cycle. As head coaches, we have the best pulse on our programs, After a few repetitions, it’s common to take a deep breath, however, no matter how trained anyone is, it’s impossible to allowing the inhale to make its way deep into the body. Take know the mindset of every single player on your roster 24/7. advantage of it, and when it settles deeply, hold briefly, and But we can know, or at least sense, the collective mindset of identify the feeling, comfort, and energy the inhale provides, our program and identify players who need more one-onand allow the outbreath to make its way back out of the body. 60 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com


Begin with this exercise for a couple of minutes and try to add a minute or two each week.

Object Awareness

Players I’ve worked with find this meditation brings them closer to the game, reduces stress, and blocks out negative self-thought. This can be done while walking or sitting and can be worked on throughout practice as well. Grab a football, and hold in your hands effortlessly. Whether you are walking or sitting, toss the ball lightly from one hand to the other, gently allowing the weight of the ball to come to rest in each hand. As you go back and forth, when you are ready, bring your attention to the way the grip or laces feel on your fingertips as you release and receive the ball in each hand. While you release the ball, also listen for any sounds that may come from the football leaving one hand and into the other. Next, hold the football with both hands, and observe its texture, color, and shape. Look at any symbols, logos, or odd marks on the ball, and simply observe them with curiosity. Last, gently close your eyes and begin rotating the ball in your hands, bringing your attention to the way the football feels. How does the grip pattern feel? Is it smooth, rough, or in between? Notice if you effortlessly begin to grip the football the way you normally do when you throw it. You can also slowly add your inhale/ exhale meditation to this. When ready, open your eyes and feel where you are presently.

Goal Setting And A Model For Mindfulness

A tool that has been great for us during this pandemic has been the I.A.A. Model for Mindfulness, which stands for Intention, Attention and Attitude. It was created by Dr. Shauna Shapiro, Professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University. We utilize the IAA model to build weekly goals and mindsets for our program, for players individually and the program as a whole. We now call it I.A.M., replacing Attitude with Mindset. This can help you build, even when you’re virtual, and has been a great tool to keep our goals in mind








and provide players with obtainable goals to look forward to. Intention – Intention sets the tone and conjures the vision for what is possible and all we strive to accomplish. The intention to accomplish a goal provides confidence. Intention does not mean that every goal will be obtained, but it provides a map showing the way. If we don’t have an intention, we cannot begin. Going somewhere unintentionally leaves us lost. Forging intention is the first step toward accomplishment. It reminds us of what is most important in that moment. Attention – Attention is presentmoment awareness of everything happening around us, internally and externally. When we give something our full attention, we can better assess the situation around us and the emotions, feelings, or sensations within us. We must use tools that encourage present-moment awareness. Attention does not simply mean seeing something; it means to view,

evaluate or do something with a calm and collected alertness. Without giving our full attention, we cannot truly obtain our intention fully. Attitude Or Mindset – Whichever word you select, Attitude or Mindset defines how we choose to approach our intentions and how we give attention. Our attitude should be consistent or compatible with our intentions. It’s important to remember that we are in full control over the attitude we bring into each situation. Most people allow their circumstances to dictate their attitudes, rather than purely observing the experience for what it is. To “have an attitude” isn’t a bad thing. It’s something that we must pay attention to and we must consciously decide to bring the best attitude for the present situation. Marcus Mayo is head football coach and school counselor for Northwood (Md.) High School. He is also author of Mindful Quarterbacking: A Playbook For The Quarterback’s Mind, which is available on Amazon.com at http://bit.ly/mindfulqb.

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Get Your Locker Room Game-Ready List Industries’ Recruiter 2 Custom Sport Lockers combine high-quality components and accessories with the convenience of a pre-assembled ready-to-ship locker system that can arrive on your loading dock within one to two weeks from the order date. What’s not to love? Steve Troyano knows locker room installations. As Product Manager for wood and phenolic lockers for List Industries, he has completed locker room installs for the Los Angeles Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Reds to name just a few top-shelf organizations. With just a two-day lead time, the Miami Heat ordered three lockers from List Industries that needed install before the team could open training camp. He made it work. “There was a lot of pressure to get that job done well and get it done on time,” says Troyano. “List Industries is not your typical locker manufacturer. We try to have lockers in stock at different distribution centers around the U.S. We have seven distribution centers and that makes us unique, because it makes us agile and flexible.” For football coaches at the high school and college level, Troyano is careful to remind us that just because List Industries serves some of the biggest organizations in professional sports, deep down, it’s about serving the customer in a fast and accurate manner, no matter the size of the program or organization.

Quick-Ship Meets Custom Quality

The secret to this success is the Recruiter 2 Custom Sport Locker from List Industries. It enjoys the status of being — at the same time — a prefabricated locker the company can store in distribution centers and a locker that can be configured and accessorized to achieve a unique aesthetic. “List Industries has a full line of quick-ship Recruiter 2 lockers right now,” says Troyano. “With the Recruiter 2, we’ve taken the quality of a custom locker and made it quick-ship, so normally, we can ship out anywhere from one to 25 lockers in one week from our distribution center in Munster, Ind. From 26 to 50 lockers, we’re talking about two weeks.” Installing the lockers is a snap. List Industries can fit 96 fully-assembled lockers on a 53-foot semi-trailer. With typical football locker room installations topping out around 120 lockers, all that’s required to get these lockers on-site and ready for install is two truck shipments, a forklift and a loading dock. 62 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

“With the quick-ship Recruiter 2, we can add black seat cushions, name plate holders and shoulder-pad holders,” says Troyano. “This is a ‘set-back’ model. It’s 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 84 inches tall. The locker comes as an 81-inch locker and you build a wood sleeper base from two-byfours, laid on the flat, which give you a 3-inch toe kick. The locker sits on top of the sleeper base. Once you build that sleeper base straight across the wall, you screw into the foot locker and you anchor into that wood sleeper base. You can also anchor to the wall if you wish. Then the lockers anchor to each other for an incredibly sturdy and well-built locker platform.” The Recruiter 2 comes in four additional models as well: full-panel, half curve, full curve and slant. It’s extremely affordable and comes in red oak, maple, cherry or mahogany. Corner fillers, front fillers, left- and right-end panels, they come with everything needed to finish the installation job. Accessorizing the lockers is where it gets fun, because List Industries’ ability to add accessories makes the Recruiter 2 Custom Sport Locker not only a great value but a showpiece for any locker room in America. The locker comes with a security box, so you start with a padlock hasp on it. “You can have a built-in combination lock by Master Lock or you can have a digital lock made by Hallowell,” says Troyano. “All are great options. On the door, you can have an engraved school logo or a full-color UV logo, which is a great touch. If you want a USB outlet in the security box, we can add that for you. Your electrician can run drop-cables to each location — which we give to you in the shop drawings — and we will pull those drop cables through the electrical box, tie them off and hand-off the USB outlets to your electrician for final connections. As for project management, we are involved with the installation from soup to nuts.” For more information on Recruiter 2 Custom Sport Lockers, visit www.listindustries.com and click on the wood locker tab. That will take you to specifications, drawings and other useful information. To speak with Steve Troyano directly, call him at 843-371-4790.



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Rock Island Counter (G/T) Series By Ben Hammer, Head Football Coach, Rock Island (Ill.) High School

The Rock Island High School football program employs a spread, up-tempo, no-huddle offense. When we began running our system, we were primarily a power team. We still love power, but our best run series every year is our counter series. The Rock Island Counter is a gap scheme on the playside, two “pullers” or extra play side blockers and some type of misdirection. We can run the series out of every formation in our playbook and can easily adjust to different defensive looks to maintain advantage. Counter is a physical run play that brings multiple players to the point of attack, utilizes misdirection and creates space for superior athletes. The following offensive line rules set up the Rock Island Counter. The play-side tackle (PST) and play-side guard (PSG) have gap blocks on the backside linebackers in the inside gap with heads up. The PST and PSG can help away from the gap but must maintain gap integrity. The gap is the priority. We communicate help or double teams with the code words “uno, dos and tres.” After the snap, the center blocks the first man, heads up to the backside. He can help, but must maintain gap integrity. The back-side guard (BSG) is the trapper. He pulls and kicks the end man on the play-side line of scrimmage. When pulling left or right, he must use left or right shoulder leverage, respectively. The back-side tackle (BST) is the wrapper. He pulls with depth and wraps for the No. 1 play-side linebacker, or the first opposite color. The only tag that affects the offensive line is a “switch” call, which will switch a fullback, H-back, tight end or wing responsibility with a BST, who would then funnel hinge. We do not teach logging on the offensive line, but rather teach guards to kick in our Counter Series. If you give a high school offensive lineman a choice to log or kick, and he is up against a good player, he most often chooses log. This Diagram 1

Diagram 2

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drastically reduces the physicality of the play and allows it to be stretched out by the defense, giving more defenders time to get to the point of attack. We teach our tackles to pull with some depth, giving us multiple advantages. 1. If the defense is squeezing or spilling the edge, and a natural log happens out of the guards kickout, it gives the tackle a chance to get around it to the outside. The log block happens organically because of the defender trying to squeeze the kickout or trap block.

2. The depth allows the tackle to better see the linebackers and stay tight to the edge set by the gap blockers, assuming the guard gets an effective kick out block.

10 Personnel

Out of 10 personnel, the box is lighter and our Counter Series stretches the field from sideline to sideline. Our most often used variation from 10 personnel is our Triple Option (See Diagram 1). The quarterback reads the backside EMOLS, the running back runs the counter, and the quarterback can attack the alley or throw a “now screen” to the perimeter. Our quarterbacks can check completely out of the run and throw the screen immediately if the defense is misaligned. From 10 Personnel, other successful variations of the counter include: Fake Counter to Jailbreak Screen (See Diagram 2), Jet Read with QB Counter (See Diagram 3), and Fake Jet with RB Counter, (See Diagram 4). Counter Triple Option (Diagram 1) Tailback is the “dive,” and quarterback can attack the alley. Receivers are blocking or catching a screen. Fake Counter to Jailbreak (Diagram 2) Downblocks miss on purpose and become the jailbreak blocks. Tackle seals, guard runs the alley, center looks to kick out. These three blocks create the jailbreak. Diagram 3

CHALK TALK | OFFENSE Jet Read with QB Counter (Diagram 3) Counter play is away from the jet, read EMOLS play-side of the jet sweep. Fake Jet with Counter — QB Keep Option (Diagram 4)

20/11 Personnel

We use 20 personnel when — athletically speaking — it is not to our best advantage to spread out our opponent. If we have a physical advantage, especially with skill players lined up in the backfield, we’ll use it. We run all of the same plays from 20 personnel as 10 personnel, but are unable to horizontally stress the defense the same way. With 20 personnel, we take the “Read” out of the play and can block everyone on the defensive front. This is especially when leading at the end of a game or in unusual situations such as a quarterback injury In the Counter scheme, 20 personnel is useful if you just have two talented running backs. We mostly call Straight Counter from 20 personnel (See Diagram 5), but we will also run a different version of Triple Option called Diagram 4

Counter Switch (See Diagram 6) and Counter Wham (See Diagram 7). We’ll also run other variations of the Counter from 20 personnel, including Counter with Speed Option (See Diagram 8). Straight Counter (Diagram 5) Fullback blocks the man that would usually be read in the 10 personnel Triple Option. Counter Switch (See Diagram 6) Fullback (or other skill player) switches responsibility with BST, pulling for the linebacker. BST seals edge. Counter Wham (See Diagram 7) Fullback kicks out the back-side edge or the player that would be the read in 10 personnel Triple Option. Timing from the pistol is critical and takes practice. The blocking back must avoid the quarterback and pulling linemen. Counter with Speed Option (See Diagram 8) Probably our most successful version of Triple Option from 20 personnel. It can be extremely successful for programs with two talented true tailbacks. Next season, Rock Island will have true tight ends for the first time, big guys who can run a little bit but who also have

Diagram 5

Diagram 6

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CHALK TALK | OFFENSE a large catch radius and play a physical game. From true 11 personnel, we’ll likely run a Slip version of our Triple Options series, something we can’t do from 20 personnel. The tight end will run a quick speed out, arrow or flat depending the call. The quarterback will read the run first then have the same alley threat as a runner. The quarterback will also have the option to throw the Slip to the tight end (See Diagram 9). Slip Version from 11 Personnel (Diagram 9) On the counter side, the three receivers put the defensive backs and hybrid players in conflict by alignment, making the run box lighter. If the defense gives the quarterback a keep read, then you have the quarterback and tight end options. They will likely have the edge and face smaller players attempting the tackle.

Beating The Counter Series

No offense is perfect, and as a result, defenses can still make life difficult if they use the following specific approaches. Cover 0 with Superior Athletes This approach makes it difficult to stretch the field horizontally, forcing us to win one-on-one matchups up front. We sometimes run Straight Counter against it, but usually opt for quick game and rub routes instead.

Blitzing 2 Off the Read Edge This is common sense, and if a defensive play caller can do this consistently, you need to look at your self-scout and ask how you became so predictable. It happens to everyone. Quick Scraping Inside Linebacker When the inside linebacker and edge defender exchange gaps on the snap, the play becomes difficult for the quarterback to read when running Triple Option versions of Counter. We answer this with a fullback, and we block everyone. If the quick-exchange side misses the tackle or is successfully blocked, you have big-play potential. When it comes to X’s & O’s, there are plenty of ways to skin the cat, but the Counter Series keeps it simple for the offensive line, is easily “dressed up” and provides a multitude of looks. It also allows for teams to take advantage of any personnel strength they have (fast, big, strong, quick, and more). This article was written by Ben Hammer, Head Coach, Rock Island (Ill.) High School. He can be reached at bhammer70@gmail.com with questions. Diagram 7

Diagram 8

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Diagram 9


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Developing Elite Pass Rushers By Corey Hetherman, Defensive Coordinator And Defensive Ends Coach, James Madison University

From my first introduction to the game of football, I identified strongly with the offensive side of the game. I started out playing offensive line in Pop Warner, and learned the fundamentals and techniques needed to protect the quarterback. In high school, I transitioned to quarterback and played that position through the remainder of my career. It wasn’t until I became a coach that I understood what it is like to be on the other side of the football. Now, as a defensive line coach and defensive coordinator, I love the challenge of finding ways to put pressure on the position I once played. Each year, the first thing we teach at James Madison University is our Pass Rush Rules. The Pass Rush Lanes Diagram 1

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(See Diagram 1) that we teach are designed so the quarterback has nowhere to step up and no way to escape. Our rules are based on the number of defensive players who are rushing, and our defensive lineman must not only know their jobs, but also what the rest of the pressure looks like. Our base defenses traditionally bring four total pass rushers: two outside cage rushers and two inside cage rushers. Outside cage rushers are taught to finish at the depth of the quarterback 1 yard outside the near shoulder, while inside cage rushers will finish on the quarterback’s near jersey number. When we rush an odd number of players, we add a midpoint rusher who is taught to finish down the middle of the quarterback. If we rush five players, we will have two outside cage players, two inside cage players and a midpoint player, but when we rush three players, only the midpoint and outside cage players remain. This system of rules allows us the flexibility to install new blitz patterns and line games each week without mentally overwhelming our players or losing contain of the quarterback. Our rush rules create rush integrity for our defense, and we emphasize playing fast and physical without overthinking it. Seeking a straight path to the quarterback allows our rushers to not only pressure the quarterback, but convert that pressure into sacks and takeaways. Elite pass rushers have a chance to get to the quarterback every time he drops back. To become an elite pass rusher, players must focus on four aspects: eyes, get off, hands and finish.

Photo: RoadTripSports.com/Chuck Cox



Each pass rush rep begins with the eyes, which should key on the near knee of the offensive lineman, while keeping the football in the peripheral vision. Film study usually tells us that the near knee is the first part of the lineman to move, thus giving us the quickest trigger to begin our rush. Once the offensive lineman moves, the pass rusher’s eyes transition from the near knee to the near elbow to determine pass set. A square elbow indicates a speed move. If the elbow drops behind, the rusher must use a long arm. If the elbow crosses the rusher’s face, he must use a counter move. Keying on the near elbow helps the rusher feel the offensive lineman’s hands so the rusher can work a move off of the offensive lineman using his hands. As the pass rusher keys the near elbow, his eyes must see the hands of the offensive lineman in his periphery.

Coaching A Great Get Off

After the pass rusher uses his eyes to see the first move of the offensive lineman, next comes get off. Anticipating the snap count, coupled with great eyes, delivers on a great first step. We use an attacking mentality and launch technique vs. the run game so the pass rusher’s first step will always be the same, whether it’s run or pass.

We teach that there are two types of pass rushers: speed rushers and power angle rushers. A speed rusher must achieve utmost vertical separation from the line of scrimmage, forcing the offensive lineman to move his feet, which places him in an uncomfortable position. A power angle rusher creates separation from the offensive lineman, forcing him to stop his feet and dictate his lean. Both speed and power angle rushers should win the rush at 4.5 yards deep (outside cage player) or 2.5 yards ( inside cage rusher).

In Great Hands

Defensive linemen excel at using hands to create separation. We teach our players to have one speed rush move per side. They pick from a menu of moves that include swat salute, double swipe, club punch, club rip, cross-chop rip and cross-chop punch. Every rusher is different and has different preferences based on his strengths. He may feel most comfortable using a club rip from the left, but a double swipe from the right, so we give him the choice. Once he identifies his move from each side, he works that move constantly during individual, one-on-one and team reps. The target for a pass rusher’s hands is the area between the elbow and the bottom of the triceps/biceps depending on angle of approach. We preach: “Aim small to miss

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CHALK TALK | DEFENSE small.” The more we focus on our target spot, the better our rush will be. Even if a rusher misses with his initial move, if he stays square to the quarterback in his cage lane, he is in a great position to begin a counter move and finish the rush.

Finish Strong

The final component to an elite pass rush is to finish. The pass rusher opens his hips, punches or rips through the

offensive lineman, and makes contact with the quarterback. Every move a rusher works should always finish with a rip or a tight punch. Keeping the shoulders square to the quarterback provides the rusher with a two-way go on the offensive lineman. As the shoulders stay square, the rusher works on opening his hips and using his hands to minimize the surface area the offensive lineman has to strike him.

After minimizing the surface area and defeating the hands, we teach our players to be as violent as possible in an attempt to clear their back hip past the offensive lineman’s hip. The pass rusher’s feet and toes must be pointed to his target to maintain his cage aiming point on every rep that finishes with a rip or tight punch so he does not get washed by his aiming point. We teach our players to rip using the inside arm underneath the offensive player’s arms or tight punch through the near earhole of the offensive player with their near arm. These four focal points produce elite pass rushes and elite pass rushers. While the focal points are specific to defensive lineman, we teach the cage rules and basic pass rush fundamentals to each of our defenders. Our linebackers and defensive backs are still expected to understand and execute the same techniques when we bring pressure in base or in sub packages. Teaching the same system allows us to keep it simple for our players and allows them to play fast and aggressive. The speed of the game dictates that everything our defenders do is reactive, and whoever reacts the fastest has the best chance of making the play. The less rules they have to remember in the moment, the faster they react and the more we win.

Corey Hetherman joined James Madison University’s football program as defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach in December 2018. In his first season, he guided one of the nation’s top defensive units, which led the FCS in total defense (270.2) and first-down defense (14.56) and ranked third in rushing defense (74.8). For questions, he can be reached at hethercj@jmu.edu. 72 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

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Fundamentals Of Kickoff Coverage By Will Finley, Head Coach, Waldorf University

At Waldorf University we devote a large amount of time to special teams play. We feel that special teams are legitimately one-third of the game and create some of the biggest plays in the game. In our meetings, we often discuss field position as a direct result of the kicking game. One of following three events takes place on every kick, all of which change momentum and determine a game’s outcome: 1. Change of possession 2. Significant change in yardage

3. Specific attempt to score points While all special teams are important, the bedrock is kickoff. We tell our kickoff team that we are the first defensive play of the game or the first play in second half. I end each kickoff meeting with two main points: keep the ball inside and in front of you, and never go past the level of ball. With kickoff coverage, we aim to hold the opponent to an average field position of the negative 25-yard line or an average return of fewer than 17 yards.

Coverage Zones

We divide our kickoff coverage into three separate zones: speed zone, avoid zone and tackle zone. Speed Zone – From our 35-yard line to approximately the 50-yard line, we have three objectives. 1. Chase the kicker and be onside. Allow the kicker to get 2 yards in front of you and then chase him. 2. Identify your key for that week. Our key varies, but we typically key the fullback to our side. 3. Recognize the kick and react to anything.

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Avoid Zone – From the 50-yard line to the opponent’s 20yard line, we have three objectives. 1. Everyone must maintain speed while avoiding blockers. 2. Identify who is blocking you or if you’re being doubleteamed. Work to the return side of the blocker. The return side is where we see the return heading. As soon as the ball is kicked, we key the fullbacks to learn the direction of return.

3. If we engage with a blocker, we need to “cut the string.” Imagine a string from the back of the blocker to the return. We have to defeat the blocker in order to cut the string. The worst place to be is on either side of a blocker. Tackle Zone – From the opponent’s 20-yard line to the goal line, we have four objectives. • Someone has to take a shot. Make the returner go east or west. • Keep the ball inside and in front of you.

• Power Press any blocker you contact within 5-10 yards of the returner. Shed and make the tackle. • Finish!

Base Coverage

We keep our kickoff coverage consistent week to week. We utilize twists, move our “disrupter” positions and change the placement of the kick. We spend significant time on coverage drills and ensuring our players understand responsibilities and their fit. The coverage terminology we use correlates with what we teach on defense, keeping it easy for players when discussing tackling, leverage and block destruction.

Photo: Kristine Kingland



We use a 5x5 base alignment (See Diagram 1). We place the ball in the middle of the field, giving us a competitive advantage of placement to any part of the field. Diagram 1 shows how we align our kickoff team. We can easily go 6x4 alignment and place the ball on the hash depending on the opponent’s personnel.

Coverage Responsibilities

From base alignment, our primary call is deep left. We want our kicker to average a 3.75-second hang time and kick it between the numbers and hash (See Diagram 2). The 1s are second-level “fold players.” They must sprint down the field until the 50-yard line and then begin to fold behind and between No. 2 and No. 3. Our fold player must play off both of them. If the ball bounces outside the No. 2 contain player, he must replace him and become contain. If return is away, look for cut back and pursue to the ball maintaining leverage on the returner at a 45-degree angle. Use the safeties or inside linebackers for fold players. They understand playing off other positions and typically have the speed to cross the field for pursuit on a return away. Also, the No. 1 players make many tackles, so they tackle well in space. The No. 2 players are “contain players.” They fly down the field and keep proper shoulder leverage on the returner. They must set the edge of the kickoff and not let anything outside. If the No. 2 ducks inside a block, then our No. 1 fold player will adjust and become the new contain player. If the return is away, squeeze and get flat. Make a play from behind. We look at outside linebackers and safeties to fit the contain position. Someone who can set an edge and also split a double-team. Our No. 3 players are “secondary contain.” We want them to fly down the field maintaining proper shoulder leverage on the returner. If the return is away, become a second-level fold player late. Get head-up on the returner and make everyone right. Our No. 3 players are typically linebackers who tackle well. We call both our No. 4 and No. 5 players “disrupters,” and they include wide receivers, safeties, or fast linebackers. Diagram 1

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They must be fast and physical. We want our No. 4 players to go straight to the ball and take a shot. Our No. 5 players must play off No. 4 players and fill where needed. They must never follow a teammate down the field. These guys are fast, give effort and have a nose for the returner. If our opponent double-teams our No. 4 players, we ad twists or move the No. 4 elsewhere. We practice this regularly and can adjust easily in-game. Our kicker is the safety and stacks over the returner. If the returner gets to our kicker, the kicker must tackle him or slow him down.

Drill 1: Take The Line

We perform this drill early in camp and continue to rep it a few times each week in practice through the season. The goal is simple: Be onside and practice your timing with kickers. We never want to be offside on kickoff. We get lined up and get our eyes to the kicker. I blow the whistle and the kicker starts his approach. When he is 2 yards in front of the coverage team, they begin a full sprint for 15 yards. A coach on each sideline checks players for offsides.

Drill 2: Two Whistle Drill

The Two Whistle Drill works the full operation of the kickoff team and its leverage points. We conduct this drill against air and have one returner back to work our proper leverage points. On the first whistle, we get lined up and take the line full speed, making sure we are onside. We are looking for speed down the field; never follow your own color. As they come down the field and start to close in on the returner, we will blow the second whistle. The coverage team stops immediately where they are when they hear the second whistle. We first check shoulder leverage of the coverage team to the lone returner. Then we identify our disrupters, secondary contain, force and fold players, making sure they are in proper position.

Drill 3: Gauntlet Drill

We use the Gauntlet Drill to evaluate personnel for our kickoff team. We look for speed, first and foremost. We start this drill on the sideline and work across the field to Diagram 2

CHALK TALK | SPECIAL TEAMS the opposite numbers. We look at pad level, ability to stay in stride and quickness in the avoid zone. Once they get through the Speed Zone we want to see them keep their speed and avoid a front-line blocker. We use dip and rip to avoid and then stack the blocker (staying online) closing the distance to the returner. When we get to the Tackle Zone, we shock and shed this blocker, accelerating our feet on contact, thumbs up and arms locked out. Our player violently disengages from the blocker and finishes with a tackle on the returner. We vary the finish with either a wrap-and-roll with a bag or fit up on the returner (See Diagram 3).

Drill 4: Box Drill

The Box Drill is our first choice when evaluating personnel for kickoff (See Diagram 4). It is a one-on-one competitive drill we use for a 5-minute period once a week during the season. The kickoff defender aligns on the sideline and against the blocker 5-7 yards away at a 45-degree angle. This drill can become physical. It helps evaluate who can defeat or avoid blockers while staying inside the box. The goal is simple. The kickoff coverage defender must win with speed and defeat the kickoff-return blocker to the return side. Coaches stand behind the box and point to where the return is going and the kickoff return personnel will block accordingly. If the kickoff coverage defender cannot avoid contact, he must attack the blocker and cut the string by getting between the kickoff-return blocker and the returner. We must never find ourselves on the side of a block.

on the 50-yard line. Once the ball is kicked, get through the Speed Zone to the Avoid Zone. We want our No. 4 players on kickoff to recognize the side of the return based on the leverage of the blocker. Once they recognize return side, they must defeat their blocker with speed or shock-and-shed. The kickoff return blockers must sprint to the 25-yard line and then turn up to block their man (See Diagram 5). Special teams are extremely important and directly reflect the overall success of a team. The kickoff scheme and drills shared here create a consistent message — day-in and dayout — for this unit. Field position and controlling the ball is paramount to the success of any program. It all starts with the kickoff team. This article was written by Will Finley, Head Coach, Waldorf University. For any questions, he can be reached at will.finley@waldorf.edu.

Diagram 4

Drill 5: Four On Four

This is a great drill to get a live look without going 11-on11. The goal of the drill is for the kickoff personnel to defeat the blocker to the return side. It is a full-speed drill where we want to maintain speed in the Avoid Zone. They must recognize the return side based on the leverage of the blocker. We do this during camp and spring football. Reducing the field and amount of people allows for more coaching and ability to recognize talent on kickoff. The coach lines up behind the kickoff team and points to where he wants the return to go. The kickoff team lines up Diagram 3

Diagram 5

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Move The Chains

By Mike Podoll, Associate Publisher

2020 Hindsight: Cherish Every Moment Football Has To Offer Cancelled seasons. Restarted seasons. Cancelled games. Rescheduled games. Spring football. The global pandemic rollercoaster ride of 2020 has taught every football coach the value of staying flexible and adapting to change in a world once ruled by routine. Yet for some coaches, through no fault of their own, football was taken away from them last fall via the cancellation of fall sports due to the novel coronavirus. In many instances, for these coaches, this was the first fall since their early childhood that they have NOT had the reliable routine of a football season in their lives when the leaves changed color. Glenn Caruso, head football coach at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., a program preparing to make the jump from a Division III to provisional Division I (FCS) status in the Summit League on July 1, 2021, says this is the first fall he can remember without a football season in his life since 1982. “My mom passed away when I was very young and I started playing football shortly thereafter,” says Caruso. “So, in a strange way, my life’s memories are divided into ‘football, no football’ segments, which run parallel to ‘mom, no mom’ in my life.’ “Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of memories of my mom because I was really young. On the positive side, if you want to look at it positively, is that almost every timeline I can possibly come up with in my head is painted against a background and canvas that involves football. “It doesn’t matter if I was playing for the Glenville Mavericks, or the Greenwich High School Cardinals, or the Ithaca Bombers, or coaching at North Dakota State for the Bison or coaching at the University of St. Thomas, the comfortable blanket of a fall football season, and the routine that comes with it has always been in my life.” For those coaches who missed out on an opportunity to have a fall football season in 2020, Caruso says you need to look beyond the pain, frustration and negative energy surrounding the pandemic, and channel the positive aspects and unique perspective that 2020 brought with it. “My father used to tell me that ‘ blessings and burdens are not mutually exclusive,’” says Caruso. “For as much as it hurt to not play football last fall, it made me acutely aware of the opportunities and incremental successes that I experience as a football coach throughout any given year. “For example, in three weeks of fall pre-season camp, I calculated between 74 and 78 touches that I would have had to meet with the entire team along a three-week period. 78 January/February 2021 | AFCA Magazine | AFCA.com

Those touches, where you get an opportunity to teach team culture, develop attitudes and humanity — all those things that can really drive someone and turn out to be a difference maker from a developmental standpoint. “As a coach, you realize the gift of time is the one that simply cannot be replaced.” For those coaches who missed out on an opportunity to play football in 2020, however, it’s becoming aware of all the little things, the fun things and even the seemingly mundane things unique to a football game day that can hit a coach right in the feels. “On game days, I allow myself to drink the good coffee,” says Caruso. “During the week, and over the course of the year, I drink the cheap stuff. But on game days, man, that’s when I splurge and drink the good coffee — the expensive stuff. That coffee is strictly a game day exclusive. In my case, there was no good coffee consumed in 2020.” “Another thing I’ve missed in 2020 is driving my dad’s old car on game day. My dad passed away 15 years ago, and every year since, only on game days, I back his old, rusty 2003 Toyota Corolla out of my garage and drive it to the stadium. That car is strictly reserved for game days. It just occurred to me now that I haven’t touched that car this year.” Caruso says that even the absence of familiar sights and smells unique to a fall football season hit him like a sledgehammer last year. “I missed the feeling of walking into the dining hall for the pregame meal 4 hours and 10 minutes before kickoff. I miss the rhythm and circumstances of team prayers and being together as a collective group. “Just a week ago, I realized the patterns and movements of how I walk around campus are now so different than in-season. I walked up a stairwell that is located in a building that I don’t go into unless it’s game day. The second I started walking up those stairs, the smell of that hallway just smacked me in the face. “It’s unbelievable how deeply ingrained all these things are in our minds as football coaches. You miss all of them. I missed them because of what they represent — all of these things associated with the football season. Things near and dear to our hearts, that we aren’t even aware of under ordinary circumstances during a ‘normal season.’ And you can’t separate one thing from the other — but you’ve missed them all collectively. “To me, that is just beautiful.” Mike Podoll is the Associate Publisher of AFCA Magazine. Email: mpodoll@threecyclemedia.com. Follow on Twitter: @fcDaily_Podoll



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Profile for AFCA Magazine

AFCA Magazine - January/February 2021  

AFCA Magazine is the Official Magazine of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). The January/February 2021 edition features the f...

AFCA Magazine - January/February 2021  

AFCA Magazine is the Official Magazine of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). The January/February 2021 edition features the f...