Although the current high school playoff systems in most states have changed this situation, back in the day, most teams knew going into the final week of practice if they had a chance to make the playoffs or if indeed it was going to be the last week of preparation. At the college level, that is still pretty much the case for most teams.
I received a tweet this week that made me think of those “Last Weeks” and a standing rule we always had on our teams.
“Hey fellas, the saddest day of the year for me is tomorrow. Check in your equipment right after school. Please have clothes washed!”
I know the feeling. We always had a standing “rule” during that final week: There was to be no mention that it was the final week! No “this is the last full pad practice”… no “this is the last Friday walk through”… no “this is the last pregame meal”…. You get the idea.
We always told our athletes that we did not have to be reminded that it WAS the last few times this team as we know it, this years iteration of our football squad, will get together… and it did ALWAYS sadden me. Even the years that we fell below expectations, it was still OUR team… this years TEAM, with this group’s dynamics (which were always interesting and unique), and this years Seniors. It will never be replicated. We did not, I did not, want think about it every day that it was our final practices together.
As coaches are prone to do, and I am guilty of as well, it is easy to begin letting your mind start thinking ahead to off-season and next years team. I did not need any help or encouragement to begin that line of thinking; it would not be very fair to the current squad for me to do so. We always felt our current group deserved our best work, our attention to every detail for THIS year, THIS game.
As many of us are having, or have already had our “saddest day of the year”, I wish good luck to my colleagues that are still playing, or are heading into your final weeks. I encourage you to enjoy your remaining days and enjoy your time with THIS team.
Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org