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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapman's Next Move Is a Critical One

I have already offered my thoughts on what Chapman High School needs in its next football coach.  In that same article, I also mentioned that both Chapman and Landrum need more than good coaches if they plan to have athletic success in the coming years.

Both schools are movin' on up, and they are in the big leagues.  For good.  Landrum moves to the "little" 2A division, and Chapman seems firmly planted in the 3A ranks, whether they should be or not.  This is the nature of the beast in high school football.  And if you are in the big leagues, you have to approach your athletics with a big-league mentality.

Chapman needs a top-notch football coach.  But hiring a good coach is a waste of time and money if he doesn't have the tools that he needs to win.  Here are a few things that will help Chapman's new coach and the Landrum Cardinals as they take on the challenges of 2A football:

1.  Hire strength and conditioning coaches:  I'm not talking about assigning a teacher/coach to be in charge of strength and conditioning.  District 1 needs to hire a coach whose sole responsibility is strength and conditioning.  If the cost is prohibitive, then hire one to work with both schools.  The Cardinals and Panthers do not always get along, but they do live in the same district, about 10 miles apart.  They can learn to cooperate enough to improve the conditioning programs for all of their athletics.

2.  Pay the men (and women):  I have no clue what the stipend is for coaches in District 1.  But I do know that, if the schools want to win, they need to pay good money for good coaches.  This goes for football and other sports as well.  Former students are fine as "graduate assistants," but the people in charge of the program need to be seasoned, proven coaches.

3.  Hire coaches that understand community relations:  Kevin Farmer is a fine man, but he was not a promoter.  He did not have the charisma to draw community support to the football program.  If Chapman is going to get out of the perpetual cellar, they need to hire a coach who can walk the halls and convince students/teachers/parents/community leaders to support the athletic programs.  He also needs to be able to appeal to students who need an extra push to work hard and get involved in sports.
     It is essential for the football coach to be able to do this, because everything flows from football.  Success on that field translates into improvement in other areas of athletics and school support.  If the coach/athletic director needs help, then hire a teacher who will take a stipend to be the Community Relations Director for District 1 athletics.  Find someone who can get out into the community and build a bond with parents, businesses, alumni, and fans.

4.  Commit, Commit, Commit:  No one would question the district's commitment to academic success. But moving up a division calls for a renewed commitment if Landrum and Chapman hope to find athletic success.
     Sports is no longer a matter of simply coaching and playing.  It's a community event that requires commitment on every level, from the administration to the budget to the principle to the secondary stakeholders (ie, those who are not students and parents).  District 1 needs to make a "loud and proud" statement with a plan for athletic success that includes appropriate funding.  If the leadership commits, success--both on the field and in the community--will follow.

The hiring of a new coach at Chapman is the first chance that the district has to demonstrate such a commitment.  But a great coach is not enough.  District 1 needs a budget and a plan that it can execute to create a path to athletic success.  It doesn't matter how great a coach is with Xs and Os.  Without proper support, he/she is going to be limited in what they can accomplish.

Without this additional support, the 2007 run to the state championship will be the exception for Chapman football.  2-8 will continue to be the rule.

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