Each year high school and college football coaching staffs throughout the nation travel in an effort to learn how to do things better within their program. In an effort to become better as coaches, teachers and educators, many seek to find new ways to teach, new drills to coach, or new systems to install. Each develops a plan for their off-season professional development and contacts others willing to assist them. To that end, our Wade Hampton football coaching staff departed on Thursday, March 30, 2017, in a quest to become better as coaches, as teachers and as gentlemen.
Our first stop took us to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Our connection came from a former student- athlete I coaches as a graduate assistant in 2001 and 2002. Keith Heckendorf, who now serves as Passing Game Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach, invited our staff to spend the day with the Tar Heels. Sitting in on pre-practice meets, watching practice il, and listening to the Tar Heel coaches critique and correct was an experience in and of itself. Though we all use video as a basis for teaching, these meetings provided a new perspective on how to use video, how to teach better, and how to build relationships with student-athletes. After meetings, it was practice time and our chance to observe, first-hand, the methods of UNC Football. As the day concluded, we packed the cars once again and headed down the road to Raleigh, North Carolina, to prepare for our day with in-state rival, NC State. NC State provided and awesome opportunity to spend the entire day with a college football staff. From morning meetings, installation, unit and position group breakouts, and an afternoon walk through, the Wolfpack opened their program and allowed us yet more perspective in how to improve our program at Wade Hampton. Their program speaks of first-class from their facilities, to their people, to their hospitality in welcoming us and asking if we needed anything else throughout our time on-campus. Even though the tempo of their practice was lighter with little to no contact, due to their spring game the next day, it was easy to see why this college football team continues to improve and get better each year. The manner with which they teach, execute, and set program expectations is etched all over their program. They raise collective and personal standards and hold one another accountable for those standards. Having spent an entire day, w jumped back in the cars a little after 6:00 p.m. and headed north to Blacksburg, Virginia, ad Virginia Tech.
The Hokie faithful came out in droves due to the Saturday morning practice serving as a Junior prospect day for high school student-athletes. Transitioning from inside their indoor facility to outside practice fields, Coach Fuente kept the team moving, even stopping and re-adjusting effort in order to make practice more productive. The tempo was something we continued to observe throughout all three programs. Players and coaches focused intent was always to get better as practice went along. It is understandable why the Hokies have had continued success, even with a new coaching staff. They work hard, give great effort and never settle for a practice that is not to standard.
Arriving home Saturday evening, our staff was tired, but full of excitement for new things to come with Generals Football. The lessons learned, the improved teaching methods, and the relationship building of camaraderie within our staff brings positive and improved change to our football program. Professional development as a coaching staff is invaluable and our sincere thanks go out to the families who support our program. Their generosity provided an opportunity that will pay dividends for seasons to come!
GO GENERALS – BE GREAT!
Marc A. Klatt, M.A., CSCS