The Turnaround – The Week That Was

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

The Week That Was: Gary Gaines, #TXHSFBCHAT, Fellowship and more

Gary Gaines Friday Night Light Odessa Permian Panthers football

Former Permian Panthers head coach Gary Gaines spoke to the Lubbock High football players this week.

No more January blues around Chapman. The kids are amped-up and the coaches have a new sense of energy. Coming off a year where we lost thirteen starters to injury (a coach and trainer also tore ACL’s) it would have been easy to hang our heads for awhile. However, hanging your head does the kids a disservice. We aren’t in this business to feel sorry for ourselves. We are here for the kids. All is well in the world of Chapman the LHS football!

With all of that said, here is the weekly run down of the Westerner world.

Texas is a special place. By far, this is the best place I have ever been, as far as coaching goes. Each stop along my journey across the United States has put me in touch with special people and great football.

In Pennsylvania the football is great. Tremendous traditions there (Thanksgiving Day football). Florida was unique in itself, as every time you turned around there is Division 1 head coach or assistant in your office. I will never forget the day when I had Gus Malzahn, Jim McElwain and Dan McCarney in my office at one time, representing Auburn, Alabama and Florida. Good grief, it was chaos.

Moving from Florida HSFB to Purdue and the Big Ten was a move that was at one time a pipe dream. I remember walking through the weight room and seeing Drew Brees working out, just like a regular guy..mind-boggling experience.

I tell you all this because of the visit we had this week at Chapman Fieldhouse topped all of those. Why? Because this is Texas and coaching in Texas was a dream of mine since 1991.

I read a book (which I won’t have to give you the title of) as a freshmen at Northampton Junior High, in Pennsylvania. From the moment I read that book, the name Gary Gaines has been burned in my mind. I wanted to get to Texas and be a head coach like Coach Gaines.

When Coach Gaines dropped in on us this week for a visit, it was as if my whole childhood and career came full circle. I have met Coach Gaines in the past, but never had a chance to visit with him for an extended period of time. What an honor for me and our program.

Coach Gaines addressed the team and told a fantastic story of a former player, which clearly illustrated the fact that this game is about mental and physical toughness. Set no limits on your ability is something I took from his message.

Gary Gaines, Odessa Permian, David Moody Lubbock High School football

Lubbock Associate Head Coach David Moody and former Odessa Permian head coach Gary Gaines.

I will say this. my Associate Head Coach, David Moody, has coached for almost forty years. He coached for fifteen years at the highest level of Division 1 football. When Coach Gaines spoke, Coach Moody filmed it on his phone. That right there put it all into perspective for me; Coach Gaines words carry a lot of weight in this state.

What an honor it was to have Coach Gaines visit. The team really gravitated towards him. Once they figured out who he was, they lined up for some autographs. Coach Gaines gladly signed paper, books and even a pair of shoes. He chatted with them a long time. A bunch of kids said they were going home to watch the movie later that night. It was a lot of fun to see.

It is an honor to coach in this great state, an honor I do not take lightly. Pardon my exuberance, but Coach Gaines visit really hit home for me. As a little kid in Pennsylvania (before the internet existed) reading about Coach Gaines set my career path in motion. Meeting the man who helped set my career path is something I will never forget.

Thank you Coach Gaines, from the entire LHS football family!

Wednesday was a great, new experience for me.

I participated in the second ever #TXHSFBCHAT on Twitter. Coaches all over this great state, and others, got together to talk ball and philosophy on the social media site. It was a great time.

If you read my blog, you know I’m not into chest thumping on Twitter while watching games about my knowledge of X’s and O’s. That stuff drives me nuts. But the #TXHSFBCHAT is far from chest thumping and showing off. Great coaches sharing info and swapping ideas is a brilliant idea. It was well worth it and I look forward to taking part this Wednesday as well.

This past week I spent close to two hours just talking to assistant coaches about life, football and faith. We had some real in-depth conversations. These were the types of conversations that will help us grow as a staff and gain a better understanding of each other. I truly believe these talks will help us get back into the playoffs in 2015.

A big thanks to Jake Willingham and Tyler (Jared) Trout for taking time to talk to me on a personal level. Great stuff!

That sums up the week. More coming next week on weight room specific things. The Westerners are working hard! That is a promise!

– Deflated footballs don’t win games; a dominating run game and physical defense do. That’s what the Patriots did to the Colts. They deflated them… Physically and mentally!
– While I’m on it, media people, stop putting the word “gate” at the end of everything deemed a scandal. It’s just stupidity at this point.
– Patriots will win the Super Bowl.
– Yankees in 2015: Probably another wasted season. Who says hope Springs eternal? Not me, since the core four are long gone.

That’s it! Until next time, FIO!

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.