Assume Nothing

Coaching

Monday nights are for #HogFBChat Twitter meetings.

A big group of Offensive Line coaches sit around and share ideas. It’s fun to see other coaches I’ve worked with contributing, and hundreds I’ve never met … discussing how to get better.

Tonight, I joined a few coaches in a conversation I’m passionate about: teaching.

Rewind: I think about my high school football coach a lot, even almost 20 years later.

Coach Flynn helped me LEARN the game.

It helped that there were zero expectations – no one in my family ever played.

Outside of me, I’m sure no one thought I would really make it through the season, let alone go on to play on the USA Football national team 10 years later.

Being a girl learning the game also worked in my favor, because in addition to the lack of expectations and pressures most players face, I had no ego. I found out day one that I didn’t know any of the things I thought I knew …. so I asked a million questions.

I literally was in the coaches’ office most days after practice and looking back on it now, Coach Flynn deserved an extra stipend just for answering my questions.

Spending time with players teaching is a huge investment in their development … especially since you have approximately one million things to do at all times as a coach.

What Coach Flynn, my teammates, and coaches over the years did for me was communicate all the details. I’m now firmly in the camp of people who believe life (and football) is conquering the small things.

Tonight I commented on the thread below during #HogFBChat … and I feel very strongly that my inexperience early on is now an asset as a coach. I don’t assume or expect the kids to walk in the door with the football IQ we want. I just want to make sure they leave us with one.

My best advice for coaching younger players:

  • Never assume your players know what you say, or what you want. You’ll both always be frustrated. Show them, tell them, repeat.
  • Never talk down to your players or assume that the JV / freshmen / 8th graders shouldn’t learn something because it’s “for the varsity.” Those kids are your future varsity … and you might need them sooner than either of you thinks.
  • If you show players how knowing more will directly help them improve or prepare to be more successful … they might want to be better students of the game.
  • Get sub-varsity kids access to film. Grade it, scout it, teach them how to watch it. This pays dividends in the long run. Hudl makes it so easy.
  • Keep the teaching (and you talking) short and focused. Pick the most important keys and build on them as you go along.
  • Create an environment where curiosity is valued. Young players hate looking stupid and will rarely ask questions. Lots of times, they might not even be sure where to start.
  • If you don’t know an answer … find out. Never guess.

Here’s to us all being better coaches, mentors and teachers every day.

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To The Game Film

Building the Business

In the course of 18+ years as a communications professional, I’ve done it all.

I’ve taken to the concept of “game film” to show off some of my best work:

Sean Maruyama - 2017 - Jr Presidents Cup (51)

Photography

I love catching big emotions in ordinary moments.

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Graphic Design

I’ve done a little of everything – social, magazine, advertising, logos. From scratch, I can cook (and design) with the best of them.

Event Design

Now serving golf tournament, fundraisers and special events from 50 to 500+. No detail too small. Let’s get creative.

Hire +20

A new concept I’m working on – I’ve hired, trained and worked alongside thousands of communications professionals over the years. It’s expensive both in time and effort to find great creative people.

Let me help you find someone specialized for your project (video, social, photography) within your budget.

 

MORE COMING SOON … 🙂

 

The Three F’s of Football

Throwback Thursday

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The year was 2011.

I recently retired from playing football after Atlanta won the IWFL National Championship. Coaching for the second season, I was way, way, out of my comfort zone as a receivers coach.

I wrote this at the time:

“It’s the JOY of teaching our players to love this game that makes me happy. It’s channeling the reckless abandon and creating an intense focus that still makes sense.

It’s good to remember what that joy feels like again … and simultaneously, the complete absence of worry about anything else in life.

At practice, there’s no job stress, or worrying about how much time you spend each week away from home, or how little sleep you get, or if there’s enough money in your paycheck, or if you’re doing the right things with your life, or how to solve all the other challenges ahead … It’s football, with friends, and that’s the best fun you can have.”

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Lessons in Gratitude

Gratitude Improves Attitude, More than Football

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In October, I spoke during a morning character education class about gratitude and why I’m grateful to coach (catch up on the story in my post about this website).

At the end of class, I asked the players to write a thank-you note to someone who has influenced their lives, and include what the opportunity to play football has meant to them.

Early this week, I picked these notes up and am again moved by their contents.

 

We absolutely must stay focused on the critical developmental role we have in our players’ lives — as coaches, and as a community. Here are just a few of the most powerful player sentiments:

“I’m the first one in my family to play football. I will remember all the coaches. Each has impacted me in some way – I don’t think I can ever pay them back, other than becoming the football player and the man they hope I will be.”

“Without football, I feel like I would be with the wrong people, going down the wrong road in life. This team is my life.”

“What I love about the game is that I can escape from everything. I go through a lot, and the few hours I have of football makes me forget everything else.”

“Football is a release. It give me a chance to leave all my problems behind, and to just go have fun. This team has given me more than I imagined I would ever receive. It has given me a family I can trust, and that means so much to me.”

“Playing football this year has given me an experience I didn’t have before in my life. I’ve never felt so close to a group of people in my life – where we grew together to better ourselves.”

Feel free to use the idea to get to know your players better, or by making cards available to help players spread the love by giving cards to teachers, parents, supporters, program sponsors, other coaches.

In my experience, sharing our gratitude can be our most powerful opportunity to connect.

(On that note …. Email me if you need help with a thank-you note template. Pro tip: print on heavy cardstock and cut with a paper cutter. No need to buy retail cards, and you can do something great for your community while continuing to build programs that support life skills and a closer family culture.)

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A wise man once said …

Building the Business

Embrace

Nick Foles’ story is incredible.

I am (like many of you, probably) obsessed with hearing more about his path.

 

The “dream big, work hard, take risks” sentiment especially resonates as I make the first of what I assume will be one million steps in into my own consulting business. (Note: one million is an actual guess, not dramatic projection).

I read an article yesterday about Jordan Spieth’s early career decisions (long read, worth it). His road forked in a critical decision early on: one route was to play on an exemption into the PGA TOUR event in Puerto Rico versus a more sure thing Web.com event he’d qualified into in South America.

At the time, a peer called Jordan’s decision to take the TOUR road ‘idiotic’. He was wrong.

In Puerto Rico, Spieth was four shots off the lead going into the final round, and contended to the end of the event. His second-place finish set him up for another opportunity, which led into an incredible year on TOUR.

Spieth trusted his gut. It paid off.

In that same vein, I trust my 18+ years of talent and experience will line up with my passion for football. It’s partly why I’ve loved coaching and doing some of this work for my coaching friends for five seasons already.

And, thinking differently about how to improve football programs is already happening around the country. Annie Hansen is helping OU capture top recruits with her new ideas.

I’m your hire if I can help you with any of the following areas:

  • PR / media relations
  • marketing / sponsorship strategies
  • events – end-of-year banquets, fundraisers, golf tournaments
  • speeches
  • social media
  • content – written blogs, player profiles, editing of existing materials
  • graphic design
  • strategic planning / idea generation
  • presentations

Anything is possible. Let’s talk. Email. Twitter.

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The Back Story

Building the Business

As a kid, I strongly considered careers as an oceanographer, veterinarian, inventor, writer and President.

In college, I pursued sports journalism, planned to become a lawyer, and then redirected to the path of an athletic director in graduate school.

I became none of those things.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve worked for a major nonprofit. I lead a team of fearless, talented communicators, and travel to work behind-the-scenes at the largest golf events in the industry.

It’s not a huge surprise I work in sports; I always loved them and their process (max effort + hard work = success).

I am, however, stunned that I also get to work in football.

I grew up on Hayden Fry, black + gold, Big Ten rivalries and the inside zone. My first name partly comes from a bid to the Rose Bowl.

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I played football my senior year in high school to see if I could, and because I absolutely loved the game. I ended up becoming the first girl to earn a varsity letter, but I was by no means a good player at that time. The experience changed my life in many fundamental ways, but I never dreamed I would do anything with it past graduation.

I was wrong there too.

I played with a women’s semi-pro team in college and when I was hired full-time in my nonprofit role, I moved a thousand miles from home and tried out for a dynasty women’s semipro team in Atlanta. It took me a year to earn a starting role, but I was thrilled to play for a great team.

Three seasons later, two pivotal things happened: I was selected to be the starting center for the first USA Football Women’s National Team and I met David Wagner (below, center).

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Karma maybe helped me out with the latter: I was donating cases of sunscreen to Coach Wagner’s football program and we started talking ball. I was leaving for Team USA training camp in a week, and he told me to follow up with him when I returned.

I had an incredible experience on the national team, meeting 44 other women from across the country who loved the game equally. They were ballers on the field and in their ‘real’ jobs, though that two weeks was our chance to live the life we never dreamed was possible: as full-time football players.

Most of us left behind hectic lives as moms, professionals, students, wives / partners, community leaders … but at camp, we practiced twice a day, ate, learned the playbook, studied film, bonded as a team, and, despite our desire not to miss a moment, slept. We dominated in Sweden, accumulated more than 200 points in three games, gave up only 1.5 rushing yards / carry on defense, and won gold medals.

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When I came back, I met up with Coach Wagner, shared videos of the World Championships and was stunned when he offered me a coaching job.

There’s more to all of those stories, but I’ve never been more floored. It’s still a lifetime highlight.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work for, or with, Coach Wagner at three high schools. Each time he’s changed jobs, he’s helped me get a job too.

I’m now at a school with coaches, players, families and fans I love, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never worked harder, and it’s motivating.

In fact, my story blurs here as I reach a professional crossroads. I love football and would love even more to make it my full-time career.

I hate to predict my next step, because historically I’m not much of a fortune teller. Here’s what I know:

  • I want to start my own business.
  • I love coaching.
  • I love football.

Scoop & Roar is my attempt to blend the three and see where it goes. Email me if you want to talk about how we can work together or if I can help you with events, graphic design, fundraising, strategy, PR or marketing.

In my journalism days, my challenge was to tell a great story.

I can’t wait to see how this one ends.

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Family ties

Gratitude Improves Attitude, More than Football

I started coaching football in 2010.

As with many things in life, it was a headfirst leap. I was hired at the end of the week and reported to practice on Monday.

That year was full of highlights: great kids, important mentors and stories I’ll never forget, but one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned was off the field.

We were fortunate to have a booster club who wanted to provide team meals on Wednesday nights after practice. Like clockwork, a spread of hot lasagna and garlic bread and cold salad, drinks and dessert appeared in the field house. Just as quickly, it disappeared.

During this time, I learned that the same stupid fart jokes that were funny 20 years ago were still pretty relevant. I tried to keep conversation more productive as I met with the offensive line to look at plays or quiz them on assignments.

…….

One day, one conversation ended with an off-handed comment from a freshman: “Thanks mom.”

Taken a bit by surprise, I fired back: “You know I’m not your mom, and I’m sure she’d be disappointed to hear you said that.”

I’ll never forget his response: “Well, she died … so I’m not really sure what she’d think.”

 

Talk about a gut punch.

 

I’m not sure what weak apology I managed to blurt out, but I felt like I ran the jerk store.

I still do when I think about moment.

…….

Football creates a family for all of us, in different ways.

As a young coach, I fought the idea that kids would look at me like a parent.

Now I understand that they need it sometimes … for different reasons. All of us come from different circumstances and start with a unique mix of support, dynamics, resources and challenges.

Our job as coaches varies … but rarely is it just how to play a game. We give advice, create relationships, help set standards, build a leadership mindset, share in tough times, celebrate big life moments, and many crazy and wonderful things in between.

The educators I work with do the same thing for hundreds daily.

 

I could never apologize enough for my flippant remark, but I have used that experience to get to know my players, by listening more and talking less.

This moment helped crystallize the great advice I saw once on a church billboard: “be kind, for everyone is fighting a tough battle.”

Football is family, after all.