The Turnaround – Game Week, Thursday

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

Lubbock Westerners HelmetIt’s the day before.

Your heart is racing. You are nervous. You are juiced up. You are ready to…. And then you realize you have another twenty-four hours to kickoff. Welcome to Thursday, your weekly strip-tease, so to speak.

But after nineteen years of Thursday routines you get used to it. You know what you need to do. As you get older you keep your emotions in check the night before. After all, as Mike Donnelly (Muhlenberg College HC) used to say, the hay is in the barn. Translation: there is nothing more you can do to get ready on a Thursday. It’s in the players hands now.

What do we do on Thursday? We go for one hour, full tempo, no let up. We just go. Chip Kelly and the Eagles approach their day before the same way. They did a study on Olympic athletes about resting the day before competition. To make a long story short, there is not merit to fully resting that way. So we go full speed, just like the Birds do. Early indicators are the kids like it. We like it. So we do it. End of story.

According to Neal Tull, OL coach, today was our best Thursday ever as an offense. Coach Jephcott feels good about the defense. Coach White has the special teams locked in. All there is to do now is go play.

Finally. 2014 is here!

After school we met at Chapman to go over film and meet on last minute items. The kids had some training table and were hydrating. It’s the calm before the storm, I suppose.

This night was different though. I brought in a guest speaker. I needed someone to deliver a powerful message. Someone who is on the outside but is also on the inside (yeah, sounds ridiculous). I had a few people in mind but the one I wanted was an easy choice: Coach Mark Ball, our Executive AD at LISD.

Just let me tell you about the respect I have for this man. For starters, he took a chance on me. I’m not from Texas. It’s virtually impossible to land an HC job here without any prior Texas experience. So he went out on a limb. I can never thank him enough for that.

Coach Ball is also a well regarded former coach who made it his mission to rebuild programs in Texas. Tremendous track record of success throughout his career. He did it the right way. He has become an excellent mentor to me. Basically, I view him as a father figure.

The locker room was quiet. The kids tuned in. Listening to one of the best Texas has to offer in Coach Ball. The message was clear: appreciate relationships, set goals and believe. The belief portion of the talk was powerful. The kids got it. The coaches got it. Now all we have to do tomorrow is get it!

What a resource to have in Coach Ball. He has helped guide me and shape me into the head coach I am today. I cannot possibly ever repay him for all that he has done for me. Let’s get one for him tomorrow!

As a team, the Westerners put the new decals on their helmets. Wow. What a sharp look. They loved them. Look good, feel good and play good. I believe in that.

– In my first year here we went a combined 1-39. The JV won one game. The other three teams were winless. We have come a long way. The program is taking root.
– The Freshmen won tonight 48-0. Good start for those guys.
– Yankees. Why do I continue to bother? Oh, I am a diehard fan. 2015 will be here soon enough for them.
– If we start the season 3-0, I will dye my hair blonde. You read that here first.
– I have a pool. I go swimming in it. It’s fun.
– I have not found a good cheesesteak anywhere except on the east coast.
– One of my favorite Yankees as a kid growing up was Claudel Washington.
– We won the 1992 Connie Mack state championship. Awesome feeling being a state champ.

That’s all I have for the night. Relaxed. Writing helps me unwind. Time to focus on sleep while thinking about Sweetwater in my sleep. Yeah. Being a coach is complicated.

FIO…. Hope we FIO week one tomorrow!

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.