On the High School Football Front Lines: Taking a look at the mindset of today‘s football coaches.
As part of Team Insight’s special Football 2021 coverage in the May/June issue, senior writer Mike May turned to three high school head football coaches in the U.S. to get their perspective on the state of high school football in the U.S., to discover their big-picture thoughts on the sport of football, and how involved they are in purchasing gear, equipment, uniforms, and supplies for their respective teams.
As you reflect on your years of coaching practices and games, are boys as interested and passionate about the game of football now as they were when you were in high school?
Tyson Moore, head coach at Seymour (Indiana) High School. I have definitely noticed a certain level of societal change among our youth. A lot of this I attribute to enabling parents, but there is access to far more in our environment today that has a direct influence on us as a whole. Yes, I do believe that more and more kids are becoming less interested in not just football, but all sports. However, I have noticed that the most passionate kids that I have coached are just as passionate, if not more than the most passionate guys I played with.
Rick Casko, head coach at Seminole Ridge (Loxahatchee, FL) High School. I don't believe they are. I remember watching 16 mm and VHS films of games every opportunity I had. I was listening to and learning from every word the coach said. I wanted to learn the schemes and the strategies to have the edge to be successful. I wanted to know everything about football. Over the years, when I speak with players, many of our players do not know much history or even general information about the game they play and claim they love. Don't get me wrong it is not all players, but it is the majority. There are so many other things to do with social media these days.
Nate Tanner, head football coach at Parkersburg (West Virginia) South High School. No, times have changed. Since I was in high school, in regards to the number of students that really "want-to” play football, I think there are three factors that play a part in the decreased participation in football. Firstly, the concussion/injury crisis is an issue, as a lot of parents are scared that their child will be injured from the sport. Secondly, there’s the issue of sport specialization. Thirdly, technology is an issue. With technology advancements, young people simply are not playing outside nearly as much as they used to in the past.
Do you encourage your football players to play multiple sports?
Coach Moore: I am a big advocate of multi-sport athletes. I encourage my football guys to play basketball, wrestle, run track and whatever they want to do. Because I realize that not only does it help prevent burnout, but it is also healthier on their bodies.
Coach Casko: Absolutely! I always encourage my players to play multiple sports. Over the years, I learned it is always easy to play what you are good at and that is obviously why you play that sport. There are so many other things that can help you by being a multiple-sport athlete.
Coach Tanner: I encourage our football players to play as many sports as they want to play. We talk about how other sports can benefit them as an athlete and as a person. We have an off-season point system for accountability. If someone participates in another sport, they earn points.
How involved are you in purchasing equipment and uniforms for your football program?
Coach Moore: I am very involved. Equipment that is considered needs – helmets, pads, jerseys – are paid for by our athletics department, but I am the one that places the orders. I also keep track of inventory and know when it is time to refurbish certain things, get rid of some things and buy new pieces of equipment. Things that are classified as “wants,” which may be new cameras for filming games/practices, new tackling rings or practice dummies, or even team apparel, I usually pay for these through fundraising. Regardless, I know what we need when we need it and make every purchase.
Coach Casko: I handle every football purchase — equipment, transportation, officials, meals, uniforms, coaches attire and anything else related to football. I am in charge of raising all funds for football and balancing the budget.
Coach Tanner: I am very involved in purchasing jerseys and equipment. We are given a budget by our athletic director to spend on equipment each year.