Support is fundamental to every level of the game

Published 3:38 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Many teams were forced to play this past week on a different night than Friday due to Hurricane Dorian. This upset the normal routine of practice and school and preparation had to be shortened to maybe two days. This made me think about the strength the foundation programs were built upon.

Like a home, the foundation has to be strong in order to survive any type of adversity. This is the responsibility of the coaching staff to assure that nothing can disrupt what they have worked hard to build. There are several ways to do this in preparation of building a strong program.

One is by having strong youth teams in the community for younger players to be coached by good role models that they will never forget. The Washington Youth Football League is one such example of this, and speaking with my friend Billy Respass, they have an abundance of players this year. These players learn the fundamentals of football and the value of teamwork at an early age if they are coached properly. I am sure that these kids will never forget their experience playing other teams, and the importance of good fundamentals taught to them while they are young.

Another building block is a good junior high program that uses the same system as the high school team. This should be stressed by high school coaches if they want to be successful over the years. These junior high coaches are instrumental in the development of any athlete and see athletes’ potential earlier than anyone. Some of the best coaches I had were at the junior high level. We supported their every effort by attending their games and letting them practice with the varsity until their practice started. This way, they learned our system and implemented it on their level.

The final building block to assure this strong foundation is a successful junior varsity. Success breeds success, and if that is so, it has to start at this level. I think every coach in our area knows this and tries hard to provide their JV program all that they need to be successful. After many years of having unsuccessful JV teams, our staff decided to coach them ourselves in order to help the JV staff. This way, the players learned our system and terminology. Also, it provided a coach an opportunity to get better and maybe sometime elevated to the varsity staff after a staff member left.

These three groups of coaches are so important to building a strong foundation at any level! We are lucky that the coaches in our area support these programs and offer them all that they can to make them successful. I have heard it sometimes said, “I am just a junior high coach.” No one is “just” anything! Each junior high coach develops a young man at the formative years in his life, so you are not “just.” Your varsity staff appreciates all you do, and I am sure the parents and players do also.

It is our responsibility to support these programs as spectators or fans — not just their parents. We all need to help the WYFL, junior high and JV programs and any sport for their foundations to be strong. Without our support, this could not happen at any level.

I have learned many lessons between two white lines, and I hope that it made me a better person. Thanks to all my coaches!

Harold Robinson Jr. is a former coach at Williamston High School for 31 years and a member on the East Carolina University coaching staff for 12 years.