Taylor establishes culture during football practice

Published 10:32 am Friday, June 16, 2023

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For The Washington Daily News

On an 80-degree day without a cloud in the sky, Washington High School football coach Matt Taylor pushed his guys through a “Toughness Thursday”. This was the first week of practice and Taylor plans to use every Thursday as a conditioning day to strengthen his team both physically and mentally.

“We want to get them alive in the football culture,” Taylor said. “We pushed them today and they did a great job. All this work they are putting in will help them tremendously down the line.”

While pushing the team for Toughness Thursday, Taylor found ways to make the workout both fun and challenging. The team lined up on one end of the field with Taylor assigning various ways to get to the other side.

 Besides just running, he had his team do bear crawls, backpedals and crab walks. He also had them do up-downs in the middle of a run. Whenever he blew his whistle, the players had to stop, do a pushup, pop up, and immediately start running again.

The team seemed to enjoy it as there were hints of laughter while trying to catch breath in between runs. The players pushed each other, challenging each other to see who was fastest while hearing the phrase “Don’t be last!” from their coaches. The players helped keep their teammates heads up, encouraging guys to not sit down and driving them to keep pushing. Ultimately, they pushed through a hot day and a hard practice.

This concluded the first week of practice for the Pam Pack. The players are feeling energized and fired up to be back on the field. “It’s exciting to be out here,” team captain Gary Payne said. “Coach has been great so far. He keeps us fired up and energized from start to finish of practice”

Payne said Taylor will energize the team by hyping up the players at the start of practice and keeping the energy high through the workout. He brings intensity to his practices and his players feed off that. “So far, it has been pedal to the floor,” co-captain Gabe Davis said. “We will not be a losing team next season. We have a lot of talent on this team and we are going to surprise people.”

They finished 3-7 last season but there isn’t a soul on the team who believes they will finish that way for the upcoming season. “We’ve been making sure our freshman and first-year players get plenty of reps in practice. We want them to come to us with questions, we don’t want them to be afraid to talk with us. This will help us be better come game time.” Payne said.

Taylor wants to build this culture both on and off the field. At the end of practice, he huddled up his team and told them to take three deep breaths and listen to the sounds around them. He also challenged them to do one nice thing for their parents this week. Whether it be doing the dishes or vacuuming the house, he urges them to do something without being told to.

“We have a set of core values and it is teaching them how to be better players and better men. These are life lessons that they will be able to take with them later in their lives,” Taylor said.