The Turnaround – Final Week of Camp, Wednesday

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Football Coach
Follow @WestTXCoach

Jason Strunk and Lubbock football coaching staff

Lubbock HS head coach Jason Strunk believes in taking care of his staff by buying them dinner.

For the first time ever, yes ever, I decided to cut our final Wednesday practice of Summer camp down to an hour. This wasn’t some decision I just drummed up on the fly. Everything you do as a head coach, especially in rebuilding phase, needs to be calculated.

After our practice Tuesday night, which was a good one, I looked around the locker room. I knew after the conditioning we put them through that they gave me all they had. It’s the trademark of this team. I get everything I need from them. So in the locker room Tuesday night I thought to myself, “these guys have given me all they have for three weeks. I need to change something up”.

Knowing what they have given me and considering the good scrimmage we had, I feel like we are in a good place right now. The defense if playing well, the offense has clicked and our kicking game is solid. I like where we are at. I thought all of this through for twelve hours. I woke up Wednesday morning and decided we are going to go for one hour, as hard as we have for the three hours practices we have had.

Before we hit the field last night, I told them I need all you have for sixty minutes. Don’t make me regret shortening practice. I wanted a fast paced, up tempo sixty minutes. If you can give me that, we are going to get things done this year. We hit the field and…. Practiced like it was the last time we would ever put the pads on!

There was a sense of urgency. There was tempo. We were crisp on offense. 7 on 7 was outstanding. The defense flew to the football. Our FG unit hit 50+ yard field goals. It was the best hour I have seen the black and gold perform in. Everything we do, this team rises to the occasion.

One more hour practice today. Same tempo. Same pace. We scrimmage on Friday. I am looking for these guys to put the exclamation point on the best Summer camp I have ever been a part of. It’s a good feeling right now around the Westerner camp. We need to keep that rolling!

If you know me, you know my answer to this question, if we are talking in terms of a game or scrimmage. But I pose this question in a sense of practice and player management. I believe there are times when you do let up and get the players’ legs back under them.

We buried our team in conditioning Tuesday night. They needed some kind of a break. That break came in the form of a shorter practice. Expectations were the same, we just cut practice short. So yes, it is alright to let up a little bit in terms of your daily schedule. I am not rigid and not afraid to change things up. You just need to take calculated chances.

Last week Kevin Sumlin canceled practice and took his team to the movies. I saw some critical comments about that decision. I don’t understand the criticism. What does the outside know about what is going on in the inside? The answer is nothing! Coaches are over-workers. Coach Sumlin wouldn’t have sent his team to the movies if he wasn’t happy with where they were at. He must have felt it was time for a change up and did what he thought was right. He knows his team.

Coaches know what they need to get done. If they are getting it done and are happy, throwing your team a little bit of a break can be very beneficial for the overall health and mental stability of your team. Think outside the box. It will pay off.Lubbock Westerners' coaching staff enjoying a staff dinner after Wednesday's practice

I love my staff. We are close. It’s a tight knit family. I try to show them how much I appreciate them as often as I can. The constant craziness of our days can get to you but I don’t let that get in the way of treating my guys right.

Twice this week I ordered food for them and we ate dinner together. Eating dinner with those guys is a pretty special deal. You get to relax and enjoy each other. You need to let your staff know you appreciate all they do. It is a must. There are many ways to do this. I just always like incorporating food into it. What better way to bond and show appreciation than through food?

I have the best coaching staff in the United States. Thanks for all you do fellas.

– Drop two straight to the Astros at home. Yep. Yanks are really dipping to a new depth of sadness.
– Saw two Steelers running backs were arrested for marijuana possession. Will people ever learn that the stuff is no good for you and it is not legal in every state?
Mo’ne Davis. How can you not like her? 70mph fastball. Resilient. Also, she is from PA. Even better!
– You plant potatoes, you get potatoes. Who woulda thunk it?
– Coach Steve Ribera is shorter than me.

That’s all I got for  Wednesday night. Hoping Thursday is as good as today was. Until the next time I blog….


About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.