Friday, February 26, 2010

Is JC Football back in Washington?

One of the things we here at High School Cover 2 have tried to spotlight is the dwindling opportunity for high school football players in Washington State to play at the next level. The last Washington Junior College football team closed its doors more than 10 years ago, leaving few option for kids to play football after high school unless they are superior student athletes able to garner interest from one of the three Division III schools in the state or Central, Eastern, UW or WSU. What about the thousands of others who still want to play the game but for a number of reasons (poor grades, late physical development, etc.) won’t be recruited to play at the next level? What do they do? If they have the money, maybe they can leave home and play for a J.C. in California or elsewhere, but mostly they have no good options. That’s why, when we heard that a league had been formed to allow Community College athletes to continue playing football right here in Washington, we were intrigued and made arrangements to find out more about this exciting idea. We were lucky enough to corral Kory Hill, Executive Director of the fledgling Northwest Community College Football League, and Brian Moylan, the NWCCFL Director of Football Operations, earlier this week to hear more about what they are doing. We came armed with questions, which they graciously fielded below: (Note: the terms JC and Community College are used interchangeably in this article.)


High School Cover 2: Would you explain how and why the NWCCFL was created?


Kory Hill: I had been working to try to bring back Junior College football for three or four years. I saw it as a glaring need and a means to give kids a reason to continue their schooling after high school. Most of the JC Athletic Directors and other school officials were interested in telling me about their past successes and spent hours regaling me with stories of past gridiron players and games. Unfortunately, the schools had no funding to reestablish the sport. Finally, at one of the many meetings I attended, Dick McClain of NWAACC said: “Kory, if you want to do this so badly, why don’t you start your own league?” On the way home from that meeting, I decided that that was exactly what I was going to do. After some thought, the non-profit Northwest Community College Football League was born.


High School Cover 2: Can you explain how your league is set up?


NWCCFL: As was said above, we are a non-profit organization. There are four of us on the board of directors. We take no salary. The coaches are only paid if there is money left over at the end of the year. They are coaching because they love working with kids, certainly not for money.


High School Cover 2: Let’s start with the teams and their affiliation with the schools. Can you explain your connection with the JCs and player requirements?


NWCCFL: Last year (our first), we had four teams: Green River, South Sound, Tacoma and Yakima Valley. Columbia Basin is joining us for 2010. There is no official affiliation with the schools. The only connection we have with them is we use players going to those schools. They must be enrolled at that school; they must be between 18-24 years old and they must be taking 5 credit hours in core subjects, (no basket weaving, etc.) In 2011, we will demand that players carry 12 credit hours. We check grades periodically and they can’t play if they are failing or don’t have the required hours in the required classes. We receive no funding or facilities from the schools. We do not even use the school mascot. Our teams don’t have mascots.


High School Cover 2: If the schools do not provide funding, where does it come from?


NWCCFL: In our business model, we decided on a 3-prong approach to funding. First, we needed money for insurance so we charged players $40.00 for tryouts. That covered insurance. Secondly, we charged players $260.00 last year and that covered their uniforms. In succeeding years that cost will drop as we acquire equipment. Thirdly, there were gate receipts, etc., that paid for game day expenses (fields, referees, etc.). Obviously, we have a shoestring operation, but it works. Mostly, our players drove themselves to games. Our coaches received $200.00 for their years work. Everyone else worked for the love of the game. In this our second year, we are going to focus on infrastructure including transportation.


High School Cover 2: What is your relationship with the schools that you represent?


NWCCFL: It varies. Some support us and tell students that we are out there. Others don’t and go out of their way to discourage student participation. Since we are sending them students that wouldn’t normally attend their schools, that’s hard for us to understand.


High School Cover 2: How do you publicize your league to high school players who might want to play for you after they graduate?


NWCCFL: Word of mouth is one way, and our coaches do a little recruiting in local high schools. I have a lot of parents calling me wanting to know how their sons can get involved with the NWCCFL. We have found there is an abundance of players who want to play.


High School Cover 2: We know that you’ve only been in operation one year, but have you had anyone go on to play at a higher level?


NWCCFL: Not yet, but Simon Frasier University has been in touch asking about players. They will be playing in the GNAC next year and they have reasoned that we might be a good source for them to draw from. We’ll see how that works out. We don’t guarantee that every kid will go on to play anywhere after playing in the NWCCFL. We hope they all do, but that’s up to them. We are just as proud of our academic successes. We particularly enjoy seeing young men who wouldn’t be in school without football become excited about learning and turn their lives around.


High School Cover 2: Can you tell us a little more about how the academic side of your program has made a difference?


NWCCFL: Well, for one thing, we have 12 kids who are going to school to get their G.E.D.s. We think that is pretty neat. One player discovered aviation classes at his school and he just announced that he wouldn’t be playing with us next year because he is becoming a pilot. These are just some of the instances where being able to play football has given someone the opportunity to discover how to better themselves through football and education. These are opportunities they wouldn’t have without the NWCCFL.


High School Cover 2: Are you making any changes for 2010, your second year?


NWCCFL: Besides adding a fifth team, Columbia Basin, we have just signed an agreement with Snow, Utah, to bring our league champions there to play their team. For us, it will be a reward for winning the league championship. We are very excited about this game and hope to schedule other non-league games in the future. We have held talks with teams in Arizona and elsewhere about playing their teams in the future. Eventually, we will add additional teams to our league, but we will do it slowly so that we can continue to follow our business model. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.


High School Cover 2: Our final question is: Do you have any aspirations that the Community Colleges will eventually decide to reinstitute JC football and make you unnecessary?


NWCCFL: Yes, we’d love that. You might even say it’s our ultimate goal. But, if it doesn’t happen, we are prepared to go on forever while improving our league and giving young men the opportunity and the interest in continuing their education.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

REGAINED OPPORTUNITY

When I was in the service, I started talking to a kid in my barracks who had just returned from home leave. When I asked him how it went, he said that his parents were shocked to see how much he had grown. It seems that when he graduated the kid stood barely over 5’7”, and weighed about 140 pounds. Two years later, the kid was now 6 feet tall and weighed about 185 pounds. His own parents didn’t recognize him.

Why am I telling this little story? It is because it has just been brought home to me that kids really do grow at different rates. There can be a difference of four or five years in the maturation process kids between kids of the same age. I know that I was physically mature at eighteen, but emotionally…not even close. The difference between my high school and my college grades (I entered college at twenty-nine) clearly show the difference. At twenty-nine I was given a chance to go to school and at the same time devote time to the loves of my life, my family and football. The difference was maturity. I went from C’s to A’s.


Throughout the Forties, Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, kids (young men, actually) who had failed to take advantage of the academic and athletic opportunities offered them in high school, were given another chance. They went to one of the Washington State’s highly competitive junior (community) colleges to study and to play football in one of the state’s nationally recognized athletic and academic programs. That ended in the early Eighties when the state dropped its C.C. football programs, thus ensuring that thousands of young men would be denied the chance to further their education. In the past, a kid who worked hard on the field and in the classroom could and usually would continue his quest for a diploma in a four-year school. In their infinite wisdom, state decision-makers figured that it wasn’t worth the price, so they trashed the program.


Now, however, there is hope out there, not just a glimmer, but a small beacon. A group called the Northwest Community College Football League headed by Kory Hill (executive director) and Brian Moylan (Director of Football Operations) is trying desperately to bring a viable C.C. football league to our state. The group could be given, after their initial season, a cautious thumbs-up. Each team played six games. Kids who thought that their playing days were over, were given a second chance, just as in the old days. The players must be members of the school community and must take no fewer than five hours of classes in the basic disciplines of math/science, English, and history. This year most signed up for twelve hours, a full scholastic load. No underwater basket-weaving for these guys. Some athletic directors have welcomed the program seeing the many upsides to it. The school gets more students paying tuition, buying books, etc. (there are, of course, no scholarships). A large number of young men get to chase the brass ring of a scholarship to a four-year school. The players are a little older and more mature, less apt to do the incredibly stupid things a young kid sometimes feels compelled to do.


Some clear-thinking C.C. athletic directors see the advantages of having a football program in their school community, especially one that they do not have to bankroll. They won’t have to pay for maintenance of a field, purchase and storage of equipment, or paying for game officials. A couple of other A.D.s, however, are vehemently opposed to the program. Why? I’m not sure. It is essentially pay-for-play; it helps young men get an education; it doesn’t cost the affiliate school a dime; the schools get more tuition and book money. The team cannot use the school’s mascot and cannot claim any affiliation with the school. For example a team based in Everett would simply be the Everett Community Football Team and would draw from schools in the greater Everett area. This area would include schools from North Seattle (4 schools), Shoreline (3), Edmonds (4), Mukilteo (2), Everett (3), Marysville (2), and one each from Lake Stevens, Granite falls, Lakewood, and Arlington. That was pretty much the drawing area of the Everett C.C. Trojans.


It is my belief that the main reason that certain AD’s are against this new league is a matter of control. The new team is using players who are attending the school, but are not being held accountable by the school, just the league’s board of directors. These AD’s need to understand that giving a young man a second chance is a good thing. Giving physical young men and outlet for their young man’s aggression is a good thing. Steering kids into college is a good thing. AD’s need to embrace this program. It is a good thing.


Can I see any problems? Coaches (who are virtually volunteers anyway) made 200 dollars each last year. How is the league going to attract and maintain quality coaches, especially when those coaches must continually keep abreast of changes in rules, trends in offenses and defenses, new teaching techniques, the latest in first aid and treatment of injuries, especially brain injuries? How long can the board of directors stay afloat in this non-profit venture? It is a wonderful thing that Hill, Moylan, and the two others are doing. Those of us who care about high school football and its players need to pray (and then go to work) to assure that they succeed. Jim Olsen

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Speed Training - Part Two

This is the conclusion of the five day speed training tutorial developed by Jim Olsen for high school athletes . The previous post consisted of days one and two. Days three through five are presented below:


Day III STRIDE LENGTH


In football, speed is a function of length and strength. Increasing stride length is a difficult concept for kids to absorb. Yelling “Reach!” to them as they are running doesn’t work, I have found out. Having them reduce the number of steps they take to run a certain distance (say, 200 meters) does work. After they warm up, have them walk across the field diagonally to the starting line of the 200. Have them go one at a time. No racing! When they start racing, form suffers immediately. They tighten up in the shoulders back, and arms causing their legs to tighten and their strides to shorten. Have them count, the number of strides they take to run the 200. That is their base line. Each time they run, they count, concentrating only on the number of steps they take and trying to reduce that number. It works! I have seen kids go from 98 steps to 88 steps in just one day. What does it mean? It means their strides are longer. Done often enough, their stride length becomes habitual.


Warm up: 2X400: 1st half-speed, 2nd cross-over


Stretches (90seconds)


High knees, butt kicks, lunge walks


Workout: 10X200, counting steps


Warm-down (optional 400 slow jog.


Day IV: STRENGTH


Warm-up


Stretch


10X40 Backward Sprint: This is not a back pedal, but a sprint, turning your hamstrings into quadriceps. Experts say that a 3 to 2 (a 120 pound leg extension and an 80 pound leg curl) ratio is needed between the quads and the hamstrings in order to make the knee less susceptible to injury. Most kids have a 2 to 1 ratio (120 to 60 pounds). Making the hamstrings stronger will help you alleviate the problems with knee injuries


Stretch


Hills or Steps: I read once that Spud Webb, the phenomenal 5’6”, 133 pound rocket with legs, who once won the NBA slam dunk contest, gained his jumping ability from running stadium steps at Wilmer Hutchins High School in Dallas, Texas. I don’t remember the entire article, but I do recall it saying that there were 100 stadium steps and he ran them to exhaustion every day. That sounds right because if a kid wants to run with explosive power, running hills or steps is the best way to do that.


Do 3 or 4 sets of ten running the steps.


Do 3 or 4 sets of ten jumps with both feet and landing in the same position. If the players are jumping stairs, they need to jump to their maximum ability. Some can jump 4, even 5 steps at a time. Others will have a difficult time with two, but two should be the suggested minimum for most players.


Stretch


Do 2 sets of stairs or hills on each foot, one step at a time or on hills, one short hop at a time.

Stretch


By far, the two most powerful pieces of equipment (if you have the area to use them in) are a harness or strong belt and a tire or pulling sled. We have had great results pulling tires of different sizes across the grass. We have even used the harness/belt to pull a chain-link fence around a baseball infield to get it ready for a game. The good thing about pulling the tires is that you can set it up to run any increments you want. I have found the best success with ten-yard increments. The starting and stopping seems to help much more than a continuous 100, because once that initial friction is broken, it is easier to maintain a run. The pulling sled is something that can be made in a shop class. It is simply a short, toboggan-like sled with a post in the middle on which to stack weights.


Stretch


Pushing a car or pickup. Our parking lot has a slight decline, and that makes moving a car from one end of the parking lot to the other a difficult proposition. It can be a solitary effort or a team-building exercise. Great for leg strength.


Day V: Stride-Sprint-Stride


Do warm up.


Stretch


Divide a 100 yard field into 3 sections, the two ends go from the goal line to the 33 yard line. The middle section is 34 yards long. Have players stride the first section (80 % effort with a full reach with their legs), sprint the middle section, and stride the third. They then line up and run back the other way, reversing the order this time: Sprint, Stride, and Sprint. We run one more Stride, Sprint and Stride and then stretch for sixty to seventy seconds. On the first day, we run six of these groups giving us 1,800 yards of sprinting. By the time we play our first game, we are doing over ten of these groups of sprinting.


On most of our days (except, possibly Day 1), we will finish in between 30 and 45 minutes. It is my belief (seconded by Kettle Bells guru Tom Corrigan) that more is not necessarily better. Jim Olsen

Monday, February 15, 2010

Speed Training

High School Cover 2 is pleased to be able to share the speed workout below with players and coaches who would might be looking for a different, but time-tested method of improving an athletes speed. Team speed, as we all know, equals winning football. The drills below were developed by Jim while working with kids over the years. They have been proven to dramatically improve the speed of those who faithfully do the exercises. This is a five day program. Below are the first two days. Days three though five will be presented later. At the end of the first five days, start over with day one, etc.


Throughout the years I have been interested in running as a tool to increase the effectiveness of athletes on a football field. By running, I mean sprinting, not jogging. I have always felt that the daily jogging of a lot of miles enables a football player to jog many more miles. A case in point is when three of us offensive linemen from the old Seattle Cavaliers semi-pro football team ran (jogged) the Birch Bay Marathon. The other two guys were more than ten years younger than I, so when the race started, they were gone. They took off running, and I never saw them again. After the race, people kept asking me about my time, and I told them that I was being timed with a calendar. When I approached the finish line, I heard some lady exclaim, “You mean that there are still people running out there.” At least she could recognize that what I was doing was, indeed, running. The next summer I ran in the Washington State games in the 100 meter dash…the Geezer (over 50) division. Due to poor training practices, I pulled a hamstring and limped across the finish line in third place. The winner was the then-current American record holder. Since I had also run the 100 and 220 in high school, I became fascinated again with sprinting and I read everything that I could get my hands on. Also, since I had coached track for years as well as football, I picked up a lot of knowledge through observation and talking to people much smarter than I. From that I have, over the years, put together a running program that has had a great deal of success with individual kids who have chosen to continue using it. This program works if the kids work. (Note: All the drills described below are done on either a football field or an 8-lane, lined track.)


DAY I


1. Warm-up: Slow jog 400 meters; jog second 400 doing cross-over steps on white line (right foot on left side, left foot on right side. This helps loosen hips


2. Stretch 60 seconds


3. 2X40 high knees, 2X40 butt kicks, 2X 20 lunge walks


4. Stretch 60 seconds


5. 10X10 yards half speed 10 seconds rest

10X10 yards 80% speed

Stretch


6. 10X 20 yards full speed 15 seconds rest

Stretch

8X40 yards 25 seconds rest

Stretch

6X60 yards 30 seconds

Stretch

4X80 yards 35 seconds

Stretch

2X100 yards 45 seconds


This is the starting point. Adjust stretching time and rest time as you see fit. After a few weeks, you may want to add a 150 meter sprint at the end with 90 seconds rest. After another couple of weeks (depending on recovery rate) you may want to add a 300 meter sprint.


DAY II


This is quick foot/lateral movement/explosiveness day. We warm up the same way every day with the two laps, high knees, butt kicks, and lunge walks. We also stretch briefly between groups of exercises.


1. QUICK FOOT: Have players line up single file on a yard line (say on the five) with a designated (left or right) foot nearest the line. Have them step across the line with their near foot first. While you start them off, you time them for ten seconds so they become adjusted to the rhythm of the stepping (step, two, three; step, two three). At ten seconds say “Go” again and this time they step as quickly as possible for 15 seconds. They then do almost the same thing, but this time stepping with a crossover step, starting with the outside foot. The third part of the “quick foot” routine is the “slalom”, hopping back and forth across the line with both feet, like a skier. You can do the “Quick Foot” routine two or three times before moving on.


2. LATERAL MOVEMENT: Again, the players line up on a yard line, but this time the foot is on the inside edge of the stripe. Starting in the basic athletic position (hit position in football, defensive position in basketball, infield position in baseball), the players step and slide laterally for five yards. When they hit the opposite yard line they step and slide back to the starting point. They do this for 15 seconds counting the number of five-yard trips they make. I have found that over the years, a realistic number of trips for every kid to shoot for is ten. That is 150 feet in 15 seconds. Anyone who hits 200 feet in that time will receive from me a free pizza. So far only two players have done it. They were brothers, Riall and Teyo Johnson and they both played in the NFL. I have discovered that after their third or fourth try, the players’ speed begins to diminish.


3. TOYOTA JUMPS: Players squat so that thighs are parallel and torso is leaning slightly forward with the back straight. On command the players jump as high and as far to the right as possible, landing in the original position. On command they jump back, again landing in the same jumping position. Do two or three sets of ten jumps.


4. SQUAT JUMPS: Thighs parallel with hands behind head jump straight up, landing in same position. Sets of ten.


5. DEPTH JUMPS: Stand on a bench and step (do not jump) off it. Land on the balls of your feet to absorb the landing in your calves and continue down until your thighs are parallel. Then, you jump straight back up, reaching as high as you can. Do sets of ten.


6. DISTANCE JUMPS: Start on goal line. Get into jump position (thighs parallel, back straight, slight torso lean forward). On command, usually the number (One! Two!) players jump forward achieving height by throwing their chest high, reaching with their arms and feet, but landing in basic jumping position. They keep track of the numbers as you call them out. In comparison to the lateral movement phase of the program, progress is noted through decreased number of jumps compared to increased number of five-yard trips.


7. ONE-LEGGED DISTANCE JUMPS: The only difference in these as opposed to the regular distance jumps is that the player does not pause and gather himself between jumps. Ten to twenty yard jumps on alternating legs.


8. RUNNING THE GATES: Start on the inside line of the outside lane and running clockwise (to the right, toward the starting line), begin on the first relay exchange line and sprint to the same exchange line on the inside (seventh) lane. Come to a complete stop, take two steps sideways and sprint to the next exchange line in lane six. The player finishes when he sprints across the starting line in the first lane. Run the gates three times.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kettle Bells

We recently had an opportunity to meet with and learn from one of the Northwest’s biggest proponents of the comparatively new use of Kettle Bells as an adjunct to a weight-training program. Tom Corrigan, an Everett, Washington firefighter, was introduced to the use of Kettle Bells in 2001 by Michael Reams of Centerworks NW in Seattle. Tom started working with KB’s in 2002 after attending a three-day seminar led by Pavel Tsatsouline in Seattle. On his own Tom began incorporating Kettle Bell workouts into his job as a firefighter and then introducing those workouts to fellow firefighters.


The Kettle Bell idea came from Russia in a time when Russian coaches were given access to hundreds of thousands of guinea pigs with which to test their training philosophies. The Kettle Bells turned out to be just such a successful idea. The idea was to find a way to create a solid foundation with which to build strength with fluidity of motion. That, according to Tom, is exactly what you would get with his Kettle Bell training program. He is currently working with high school football teams as well as with firefighters from other municipalities.


For those of us who were introduced to weight-training during the Sixties and Seventies, Tom’s program and approach are unique and offer a breath of fresh air. Had Tom’s program been around when I was lifting heavily, I would have done things much differently, and I might have saved myself a great deal of pain. He blends joint mobility and neurological patterning with the most important concept taught being proper movement within each person’s individual zone. My zone, my range, might not, probably will not, be the same as that of Dick, my blog partner. It is individualized and all of the emphasis is on good form. Because of this, each athlete must keep his or her ego in check. What Tom is doing is laying a foundation called GPP (General Physical Program) that will work with every athlete in every sport. The only real difference in training between skill athletes and strength/power athletes is volume (number of exercises) and intensity (weight). The core workout is the same.


This GPP is not used in place of a weight-lifting program; it is used to augment a weight-training, running program (We will introduce a running program in the next few weeks). As Tom shows in his training video, form is everything when working to enhance strength with mobility. As already mentioned, working on proper form helps build the foundation for further success. Delays in training routines can be avoided because time will not be lost through injuries due to improper form. Tom even showed me how to help ease the pressure and pain of a chronic shoulder injury. I have lived with my shoulder like this for over twenty years and I was able to alleviate the pain after a twenty-minute workout using a light rotation movement and NO WEIGHTS!


The old “Tough Guy” mentality, the forcing of ones self through real pain can be detrimental to improvement in building strength. It is why many young athletes get injured. He gives the analogy of dropping a really fine engine into a rusted-out car body. If you work to get everything ready on the body of the car first (lay the foundation for your workout), then the car’s performance will be greatly enhanced.

Tom’s training video is part “how-to”, part “Little Engine That Could”. For his lesson he uses Mr. Miyaki of the Karate Kid as an example. Just as the old guru used high-repetition exercises such as “Wax-on, Wax-off” and “Paint the Fence” to neurologically rewire his pupil, Tom uses his exercises done repetitively to rewire his classes. He owns Blue Collar Fitness, whose motto is “We train you for the job, not the gym”. Please watch the short video excerpt that follows this column and decide for yourselves if the Kettle Bell program is right for you. His business card reads:


Blue Collar Fitness

Tom Corrigan (206) 604-5588

Kettle Bell Sport Technique Expert

kbfiremantom@yahoo.com www.bluecollarfitness.com

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Concussion Prevention Strategies

The video below demonstrates proper tackling procedures taught by Mariner High School Defensive Coordinator Tom Myhre. With the recent emphasis on preventing head trauma in athletics, it is important that players be taught to tackle correctly. Before the dangers of concussions and other head injures were fully understood the helmet was often used as a weapon when teaching players to tackle. Following these simple steps now being taught by Tom and most other defensive coaches, will help to ensure that head injuries are kept to a minimum.