On Tuesday, as I’ve mentioned in this space previously, I spoke at a football clinic in West Texas (San Angelo, to be exact). The clinic, which brings in hundreds of high school coaches from across the state of Texas and much farther away, is an annual fixture on the calendar for prep coaches in the Lone Star State. While there, I was struck by a couple things there that really espouse the focus, dedication and single-minded effort that you see in people who are trying to accomplish a goal, in this case, climbing the high school football mountain.
The first example involves me. I was scheduled to speak twice about resumes and interviews, once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday, 90 minutes each. As it happened, I was slated to speak in a small room well off the main floor from 5-6:30 p.m. Also speaking at 5 p.m. was former NFL head coach Wade Phillips (one of the clinic’s co-owners), who was scheduled to discuss the finer points of defensive line play. His talks are always one of the high points of the clinic, and it showed, as he was given a two-hour time block.
Then, at 5:15 p.m., perhaps the most talked-about man in Texas football today, new Texas head coach Charlie Strong, was taking the dais for 20 minutes. So if you were a wide-eyed coach looking to learn as much as you could sometime in the late afternoon around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, your choices were a former NFL coach with three of the state’s teams (Texans, Cowboys and Oilers), the new head coach at the state’s biggest and most storied football school, and . . . me.
I should mention that you also had the option of hearing me speak — on the same topic — on Wednesday at noon.
Given all these circumstances, I was pleasantly surprised that we had 11 attendees. At least one is a current head coach in South Texas. Another, Deer Park assistant coach Nolan Patterson, is a longtime friend and a hot name in coaching circles who’s made it to the finals for several coaching jobs so far but not quite gotten his first top post. There were several more, and I hope they all get to the summit. They certainly are willing to pay a price for the chance to improve themselves.
The second example involves a coach named Paul Banks. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a dinner Tuesday night that was a sort of reunion for former Oilers players, coaches and training staff. Oilers greats Dan Pastorini and Carl Mauck were there along with several coaches. Paul was also there as a guest. At one point, John Paul Young, whom I’ve mentioned previously in this space, asked him to stand up and raise his hand. Paul’s a coach in Memphis, Tenn., and on his finger was a state championship ring for a title his team won last year. Here’s the story of Paul and his devotion to Angelo Clinic.
Now, Paul didn’t win a state championship because he’s been coming to Angelo Clinic for almost 20 years, and he didn’t win it because he used to take a Greyhound bus to the clinic, by himself, every year. It’s also not because he chose to honeymoon in San Angelo when his wedding day conflicted with the clinic schedule. But it didn’t hurt. And here’s my point. You’re going to have to take some chances on the road to success, especially in football. It might be missing the opportunity to hear two coaching titans speak on the off chance you’ll hear something that will help you get a job. It might be riding long hours across the country, knowing you could learn some coaching tips you can apply to your own team. There will be no guarantees.
I know I’m not passing along any secrets here, but I’ve always found it helpful to see the kinds of sacrifices others make, especially when, in Paul’s case, they pay off.
I encourage you to keep believing, keep working, keep taking risks and keep doing what it takes to make your dream come true.