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Dick Harmon: I admire coaches who divide their time for the masses

Published: Wednesday, June 20 2012 11:54 p.m. MDT

I don't know if most people realize how much local coaches put into doing their jobs.

Be it minor sports or the majors, from high school to college, they've got to be a little nuts or full of passion for the job to do what they do and take the grief given to them over time.

We hire them, fire them, ask them to retire. We praise them, criticize them, put them under a microscope for what they say and do. We invite them to give speeches, make appearances, attend dinners, banquets, fundraisers and camps and fail to realize their 24-hour clock and the things they stuff into it.

I've got a son-in-law, Aaron Bales, who is a football coach in Texas. The day before he flew out for a vacation here in Utah last week, his new head coach put out a memo saying he expected his staff to be at team workout sessions every day June through July until football practice starts. That's a lot to ask of someone's summer.

Driving on I-15 in Salt Lake City, I saw that big billboard of Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall posing for the Kidney Foundation, where they are both expected to attend an annual golf fundraiser. This year, due to conflicts, neither guy showed up. It was the first time in two and a half decades it has happened at this event.

At the time, I thought, "Man, couldn't these guys get it right just one morning a year?" But, in reality, it is remarkable the event has had that kind of continuity and commitment for that many years. No other state in America gets that kind of rivalry cooperation over that length of time for anything.

Whether it be Gary Andersen at USU or Bronco or Kyle, the blur that is their life is a stationary picture for us, frozen in time. And most of the time, it doesn't sink in to us how fragmented their time is.

This is why I've got high praise for a new, first of its kind effort on the part of all these coaches and their staffs.

Another event is calling their name. It's called the Coaches Huddle Youth Football Coaching Conference scheduled for July 28 at Alta High School. This is a deal to help young coaches find out how to handle the demanding, nutty job for which they have a passion.

You're going to get Ron McBride, LaVell Edwards, Mendenhall and Whittingham, Andersen, Ute assistants Brian Johnson and Kalani Sitake and BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. Some former NFL players will also be on hand.

There, in the assembly hall, you'll receive their bare bones coaching philosophies, on field training, on position drills and practice schedules. You'll get playbooks compiled by college and NFL players and coaches. There will be online resources by USA Football that include a drills library, practice planner and film room.

"They're going to get tools to become a transformational coach to inspire young athletes in achieving greatness," says the poster.

A percentage of proceeds ($75 per person), will be donated back to youth football programs in Utah. More information is available at www.coaches-huddle.com.

One of the organizers is former Chicago Bear and BYU tight end Gabe Reid. "The influence of a coach can be life changing and it is our goal to inspire these coaches to empower young athletes to achieve greatness both on and off the field."

At the annual Kidney Foundation event where Bronco and Kyle were no-shows at The Country Club more than a week ago, I talked to McBride, who looked and sounded devoted to this conference and asked for some help.

It does sound like a good cause.

And anything that will get these guys together outside the lines of a real football field must be good.

I admire all of these guys for once again, stepping forward during the summer, during their precious time out, and leasing out their names, their skills and knowledge.

Individually, they do these kinds of things over and over again. A normal guy would probably kick the garbage can and stop answering the phone.

So, as we get into the summer camp stage, wrap up media days and vacations before two-a-days, it might be a good idea to salute these coaches we love to pester. We put them on pedestals, many times just so we can better judge them.

But nobody can second-guess their commitment to the game.

It's passionately nuts.

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