The Turnaround: Inside the Coaching Fraternity

The Turnaround
gamestrat high school football sideline instant replay

On Monday, Lubbock High head football coach Jason Strunk wrote a great blog about Friday’s win against Lake View that focused on how he utilized the head coach of a team that beat him two week’s ago in the Westerners’ pre-game prep on Friday.

Here is what Strunky wrote as part of his blog The Turnaround:

At LHS, I pull out all the stops in an effort to motivate and inspire our guys.  It’s what I need to do.  It’s part of our never say die attitude.  Never leave a stone unturned in the search for greatness.  Sometimes my mind leads me down curious avenues (if you know me, you are laughing right now).

Well, last week I had a random thought.  Then I said to myself, nah.  Then I said, wait this is perfect.  And, with one text I got a reply back that said — absolutely!

Last week we were coming off a loss to Lubbock Cooper.  I wanted an outside voice to come-in and tell our guys how much improved they are.  I needed a voice that knows. Someone who saw us and prepared for us.  So, naturally, in the Strunk-way of thinking, I reached out to Lubbock Cooper HC, Max Kattwinkel. Yes, that’s right.  I asked a rival head coach to come speak my team.

And Coach Kattwinkel accepted the invitation like he knew I was going to ask him.  And, just like that I had a guest speaker lined-up for Friday at 12:15, just a few hours before we played Lake View.  Even more impressive is the fact that Kat also had himself a very big game he was getting ready for that same night.

I know it seems crazy: a rival HC, in our own district, coming to be a guest speaker in our locker room.  But if you know Kat and I, it’s just how we do things.  Hell, a few years ago I was a guest speaker at his team dinner before a playoff game.

Kat and I have developed a great friendship.  He is all about kids and helping his coaching colleagues.  He does things the right way.  When you think of leadership, Kat should come to mind.  He is a phenomenal leader.  So to me, this was a no-brainer.

Kat came into the LHS locker room and he owned it as if he was standing in front of his own team.  He had our kids full attention and he delivered a powerful message.

We pulled up HUDL and projected it on our whiteboard.  Kat took us a through a play and broke it down, telling our kids that these are plays that good teams make.  He reinforced to our kids that the progress is evident on the field.

Later on, he showed a movie clip with Christopher Walken.  The clip was from Poolhall Jumkies, the famous “lion speech.”  It hit home for our kids.  They were tuned-in and
hung on every word.  By the end, Kat had our locker room fired up!  We were ready to
hit the field right then!  He left to a fired-up Westerner locker room and ovation.

This really got my blood flowing!

Football is a nasty sport, filled with bitter rivals.  I have never subscribed to the latter.  I think it is a hogwash approach to high school football.  We all need to be about kids.  Kat saw an opportunity to help out a great group of kids and a friend of his.  This is what it should all be about.

I will leave you with this and this basically sums up who Kat is and what he is all about.  I thanked Kat for coming-in and his reply was this: “No need to thank me. I’m leaving better than when I walked in.”

What else can you possibly say?

This is what high school athletics should be about.

Quite honestly, I thought that the next blog from Strunky would be about his team’s Tuesday practice. But, to my surprise, he texted me this morning, telling me that Coach Kattwinkel had written his own blog in response to Strunky’s.

Below is Kat’s blog that truly shows the strength of the coaching fraternity.

by Max Kattwinkel
Lubbock Cooper High School Head Football Coach
Follow @MKattwinkel

Max Kattwinkel

Lubbock Cooper head football coach Max KattwinkelJas

Jason’s blog hit home.  I have always respected his outlook on rivals and the respect he and his program show for the teams they play.  Football is an emotional and physical game.  I get it.  As a coach it is your responsibility to get your kids ready to play every week and to play hard.  A coach’s professional career depends on their ability to do this.  As coaches, this is where we have to be careful. You can not use hate as one of your motivational tactics.  Hate always stems from the concept that they are different than us; therefore, I hate that team and want to beat them.

The majority of our football players will be done playing football after high school.  I don’t want to think that all I taught a high school player is X’s and O’s and how to hate someone else, because they are different than us.  Truth be told, I have no idea about the culture of other locker rooms.  I have no idea what core values every coaching staff has.  I have no idea what struggles other team’s athletes are going through.  I have no idea about the backgrounds of other team’s players and coaches simply because I am not around them everyday.  So how am I going to judge that team and teach my own team to hate another team?  What I do know is our team and our staff.  What many people perceive from the outside is not an accurate idea of what our school and athletes deal with on an everyday basis. My focus is on them and helping prepare them to win as many football games as we can.  It is also my job to try and teach them some things they can use in their life.  Hate is not one of those things.

Hate is too prevalent in our society.  As a society, we have fallen into hating another individual or group simply because they hold different beliefs than ourselves, or they come from a different background than we do.  We judge on first appearances or on what we believe we see from the outside.  I am simply not smart enough or qualified enough to judge someone based on what I see from the outside.  It is also not my job.  Teaching respect is part of my job.  We have to teach our players to respect others even if they are different from ourselves.  If we teach them to hate another team so that we can fire them up, they are going to take that tactic with them after graduation and use it in another life situation.

Jason gave me an opportunity to gain some insight into his program last week.  I walked away from that meeting having more respect than ever before for his athletes and coaching staff.  I saw the close relationships in that locker room.  I saw the respect that his team displayed and the respect that they have been taught.  I also caught a glimpse into their hunger to fulfill The Turnaround.  All of what I saw was based on themselves only.  It was not based on who they were playing or hatred of their opponent.  That is why I left his locker room better than when I walked in.


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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.