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This is a guest post from James Johnson, the Head Football Coach at West Stanly High School in Oakboro, NC. He is in the midst of turning around a program there. After inheriting a program that went 0-10 in 2012, he’s won 5 ball games the last two seasons!
Recruiting Your School
When you begin your coaching career at a school that carries around 200 players each season, you do not realize the importance of recruiting players. Sure, there is that one special athlete or kid with great work ethic you would like to add, but generally the numbers are there.
When you move to a school of 800 students that struggles to field a JV team then you realize the importance of recruiting athletes. The old saying is “work the halls”. I have found working the halls is not very productive. In fact, it usually doesn’t yield anything worthwhile. All this kids in the hall know is that I am the head football coach, I yell a lot, and I make my players work. That’s not very attractive.
The players I have had come out and stick are players who I have had in my weight lifting classes who I have developed relationships overs time. It is obvious working the halls is not the best answer, but not every kid will take my class and become football players, either.
On that thought, I have realized I either need to find a at a school that is 200 players deep or become a better recruiter. So, a recruiting plan was developed. This is multifaceted plan designed to make myself, my athlete and my program visible to prospective players at a young age while allowing me to begin building a relationship with those players.
Player Recruitment Plan
Elementary School Reading Program. During the months of March and April, I plan to take three to five varsity players to one of our elementary schools to read to the young students. This will allow me to meet children in the elementary schools who will one day be at the high school. It is the first seed in the player-coach relationship for some future athletes and myself.
I feel this serves purposes beyond just player recruitment as well. The players who participate will recognize they are role models who have young eyes on them at all times. It also makes these players aware of civic duty while increasing the program’s visibility in the community.
Free One Day Youth Football Camp. In May, the staff will host a free one day youth football camp. This should be promoted through the elementary and middle schools, in the newspaper and through the parks and recreation department. This will expose you players to our staff and allow our staff to network with local youth coaches. This should also serve to boost attendance at our paid summer camp as well.
Letter writing program. The staff will write letters to each rising eighth and ninth grader. This serves to build relationships and increase contact. The letters will encourage players academically and athletically as well as including information on any team social media.
Paid Summer Camp. This will be a three day to one week camp. While we will raise money with this camp, its main purpose will be to foster a relationship with young football players in the community and teach the fundamentals involved in our program.
Youth Football Night. We will recognize local youth teams at our games. If the logistics allow the youth teams will help form a tunnel for our players to run through on these nights.
While you may still have to beat the bushes and work the halls, this plan is much more comprehensive. It is multifaceted and can be replicated at any school and gives us the ability to meet future players at an early age. If we can build those relationships early the will become much stronger bonds. We need those bonds to keep athletes in our program.
THANK YOU COACH JOHNSON FOR THESE GREAT IDEAS, AND FOR SHARING THEM WITH US!
Have an idea for a blog article? Email me at coach at coachfore.org!