Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 12 2013

The littlest Titans

In spite of the fact that my only experience playing organized football came from an illustrious college intramural flag football career, I have somehow become the assistant football coach for RMS. Our first official practice was today, exactly two weeks before our first game against Rogers.

A couple of weeks ago when I found out that the coaching vacancy was still open, I talked to the head coach, my team’s geography teacher last year, and volunteered for the role. I mustered up enough fake knowledge gleaned from years of watching TCU football and playing Madden to pass off as somewhat knowledgeable and scored the job. We sat down about a week ago and he ran through the basics of the playbook with me; in spite of my perceived knowledge of the sport, I still walked away reeling. I could barely grasp the language of the playbook. How could I hope to teach it to these kids?

And that’s when I remembered who we are.

You see, RMS has won three football games in the past three years. We currently have 16 kids on our roster, many of whom today asked questions like, “does the tight end tackle the quarterback?” In addition, we are tiny. RMS kids have always been little. I’m 5’11, 180 and but I dwarf over almost all of my kids and would’ve been one of the biggest kids here even as a teenager, and I was never a big kid. A lot of kids don’t each lunch (even though its free) and don’t really strive to make nutritional choices. Now, I know that that is the case for a lot of teenagers, but my kids honestly have no idea that eating 6 bags of chips and nothing else all day isn’t good for you.

That being the case, when practice started today, I felt extremely comfortable. These kids didn’t need someone to teach them how to be football player. They simply needed someone to teach them how to be athletes. So that’s exactly what I did.

Today I took the skill players (receivers and running backs) and ran them through a series of strength and conditioning drills. We didn’t run a single play or even touch a football. Instead, I tried to instill a passion for running hard and trying your best- values that carry over into the classroom and are valuable off of the football field as well.

One day soon the time will come for them to learn how to run a playbook. When that happens, I’ll be learning right alongside them. For now though, it felt good to be able to help out in my own way.

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