Starting a football program
The following has been reprinted with the permission of vanislehighschoolfootball.com. We hope new and prospective football programs find this profile to be helpful. If you are involved with starting a football program, or have tips for those who are, we'd love to hear from you.
This page is here to (a) provide accurate and timely information about how to start a high school football program on Vancouver Island and (b) help prospective new programs avoid re-inventing the wheel. Each school is unique in its personnel and logistical situation. Such diversity demands unique strategies for putting together a program. There is much common ground in the endeavor and lots of information to be gleaned from those who have come before.
WHAT IS HIGHSCHOOL FOOTBALL IN British Columbia?
High school Football in B.C. is four down, US high school rules played between schools at the Grade 8, Junior (9/10) and Senior (11/12) levels. The senior ranks are divided between AA (Schools with less than 300 boys in grades 11/12) and AAA (Schools with 300 or more boys in grades 11/12). AA schools have a choice to play in the AAA league if they want and this entails a two year commitment on their part. AAA schools that are starting a program may play in the AA league for a period of three years so as to develop their program. All levels are extremely competitive. High school Football in BC is governed by the British Columbia Secondary Schools Football Association (BCSSFA).
Once you have made the decision to pursue the development of a football program at your school, there are some things you need to be aware of.
IMMEDIATELY - Contact the BCSSFA regarding your intentions. This group will provide you with the most up-to-date information about becoming a member, financial avenues, etc.
Late November/First Week of December - The membership gathers the night before the BC High School Championship game to determine a tentative schedule for the following year. Non-League exhibition games are arranged here between coaches. Be at this meeting!
January - The BCSSFA holds its AGM finalizing schedules, conference alignments, etc. Be at this meeting!
January to May - This is the time to secure the following if you do not already have them in place:
A team room on school grounds
Booster Club (Parents)
Equipment - player
Equipment - field
Strength and conditioning program
Spring Exhibition/Jamboree lined up
Financial Game Plan
Media Game Plan
YOUR MIND SET
Your mind-set is your greatest asset! Your approach to the program is going to be contagious and set the tone for everyone else! A set of suggestions:
Lou Holtz provides a great starting point in terms of philosophy, "TRY YOUR HARDEST-GET BETTER EACH DAY-DO THE RIGHT THING"
Build a realistic plan and stick to it!
Be relentless and unfailing! Decide that you will not be outworked by anyone, when others are resting, relaxing and following off-season non-football pursuits, it is the time to move your program forward!
Multi-Task!!! Get started on more than one project, delegate where you can and when it is not possible to work on one item, switch to another where you can make progress. Develop the ability to focus on more than one project at a time. Celebrate the little victories and understand that everything comes together in the big picture.
Do not resist asking for advice and do not try to reinvent the wheel! You are surrounded by success stories; research what works and what fits with your situation. You will find that the coaches in BC and everywhere else for that matter are eager to give you a tip when you ask for one!
Do not become fixated on immediate results, a lot of the seeds you will plant this year and next will bear fruit in year three, four and five.
Hard unselfish work and a climate of self-help give you moral authority when asking for a share of the school's extra-curricular resources down the road.
Always be on the lookout for human resources to add to your program, it begins and ends with people and there is all kinds of talent out there!
A school without a vibrant football program simply has not fulfilled its full potential. The difference a well run program makes in the hallways, classrooms and homes is HUGE!! The sudden appearance of a football program however, can be intimidating to other established sports/coaches. It is important to a) provide administration with your annual plan and as much info as possible about your program/intentions b) establish from the beginning your intent to encourage football players to participate in other sports during the "winter and spring seasons of play."
THE COST MYTH
There exists a myth about the cost of football that persistently dogs those who seek to start-up programs. Lets take a look at the facts for facts are stubborn things, they don't go away. Football equipment, once purchased, has a lifespan of 6-10 years depending on the item. With reconditioning, field equipment may last for several decades. So, over the lifespan of the item you purchase your initial dollar spent really costs you about ten cents per-year. Other than buying new helmets, your initial equipment purchase does not have to be new gear, the most expensive brand of gear or the most aesthetically pleasing. What you want in year one is functionality. Shop around and try to find used gear that is up for sale, donations or equipment loans from established programs to get your program up-and-running. The pretty uniforms and brand-new gear will come! By following this strategy, you can start football at a fraction of the cost of buying everything new. Your registration fee/fundraising efforts will quickly put you in a position to upgrade.
Once you are up and running your costs are quite small. In fact, football is less expensive to run than basketball! You travel less as you rarely have more than 4-5 away games, referee costs are lower, and you are not traveling to tournaments and staying at hotels! Your dollars generally go back into better protective and practice equipment where kids get to use it! Your game/refereeing costs are made up by Booster concession and 50-50 and one or two big original/ easy to organize fundraising events during the off-season will quickly put your program in the black. In fact, when you consider the GST rebate your school gets from your equipment purchases, you can come close to breaking even or even making a small amount of money for your school! Remember, once you have secured your original pool of equipment, your costs drop off dramatically. GET OUT OF THE MINDSET THAT YOUR ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT PURCHASE IS A PRICE YOU PAY EACH YEAR, BREAK THE COST DOWN OVER ITS TRUE LIFESPAN! BCSSFA CAN ALSO STEER YOU TO 1) START-UP GRANT 2) A CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP WHEREBY A COMPANY BUYS YOUR FIRST 20 SETS OF GEAR. Contact the BCSSFA executive for details.
BECOMING A MEMBER/GETTING CONNECTED
Becoming a member/getting connected is as easy as emailing contacts or picking up the phone. You will find that Island coaching staffs are more than willing to share what they know and help you any way they can. Each program has a unique perspective based on their individual school and community circumstances. As well, the BCSSFA is keen to help you out and bring you into the organization. High school Football is a small family that is very supportive of those who want to contribute to this great sport in British Columbia and beyond. Remember, all you have to do is try, you don't have to re-invent the wheel and you will never be alone as we all want to help! You will find that building a program is one of the most rewarding and spiritually fulfilling endeavors you have ever embarked upon. You will make a lot of great friends along the way and most of all, you will have fun doing a great thing for young people and your community as a whole! Have the courage to try and the rest will follow!!
KICKING-OFF YOUR PROGRAM
Kick-off your program with a bang! Once you have assembled all the personnel, scheduling and logistical pieces call a meeting with your local media. Have a press statement prepared outlining your program, league, philosophy goals and objectives. Be sure to have your administration, athletic director, coaches, booster parents and some players present at the meeting. In addition to announcing your program, describe and promote your kick-off fundraising activity. Make it an event that is large in scale and seize the excitement generated by your start-up to generate interest and notoriety for your first big fundraiser. By doing this you are starting off your program as an activist in the school setting that is working to pay its own way. From a psychological standpoint this goes a long way towards silencing naysayers and convincing fence sitters that you will not be a drain on the school's resources. The large dose of positive press is also a good way to attract players to your program within your school and catchment area.
Your players no matter how talented will only play up to the level that they are coached. Look to gain a 1:6 coach-to-player ratio on your squad. Historically, great military units around the world have modeled themselves on sub-units of six or less. This is the number where teaching most effectively occurs. Some programs are fortunate enough to have a large enough pool of qualified coaches on hand to employ this model, and some are not. Necessity however is the mother of invention. If you have quality people who want to contribute as coaches then your job is as follows: Break down your offensive and defensive schemes and develop a drill package that directly relates to what you are trying to accomplish. Get a couple players/prospective coaches and run them through each drill you have developed and video tape it! Next, with the aid of drill-book and video to support you, run your new coaches through their respective drill packages that you have developed over and over again until they have mastered them. Only when the coach can run you or someone you have designated through the drill package correctly and at the right tempo do you allow him to coach up the players. The drills and skills being taught are being delivered as you would have delivered yourself and the overall quality of teaching now meets your standard. After a season or two your new coaches will be confident and seasoned enough to take on added responsibilities within your program. As well from the point of view of unit cohesiveness, your authority is absolute as "knowledge translates into authority" and it is your knowledge/philosophy that permeates the program at its most basic levels.
The most important facility you can have is a "Team Room" a secure room in which to store player and program equipment. This is a must as players cannot be expected to carry their gear around with them throughout the day. Also, it prevents the loss of expensive equipment. After this has been secured, the rest is all commentary. Try as a rule to play your games in the most attractive stadium/field situation possible. A colourful announcer and your school band or DJ playing music goes a long ways towards making your games more exciting for players and spectators.
A Booster Club is a group of people, some football fans, some not;
some fanatical football fans, some not; some alumni, some not; some
parents of players on the team, some not; but all with a common goal.....
to have fun while fundraising and otherwise supporting the football team!
Following are some of the things the Ballenas Whalers Booster Club
has done to raise money for the team. Some are year-round activities
and some are once-a-year events. There is a place for everybody in
a booster club. A booster club is limited only by its imagination when it
comes to fundraising ideas. You may find it keeps things fresh and
takes into consideration the desires of various members of the group
if the location of the club's meetings is periodically moved. Perhaps
once at a pub, then at a member's home, maybe at a restaurant or in
the backyard, on a boat.....but whatever the place, remember...all work
and no play is not the booster way.
Frozen meat sales - This is a year-long activity. All you have to do
is find a local restaurant or other supplier from whom you can buy the
meat. They may want to make a small profit for their trouble or they may
forgo that as a way of helping to sponsor the team. Nevertheless, you
need to be sure they will be reliable and that you can get good pricing.
Be sure not to mark it up too much once you get it so as not to price
yourself out of the market. Remember, aside from helping out your team
people generally are attracted to meat sales because they are
convenient and economical. Somewhere between 5 and 15% is probably workable. Remember too if you do this year-round it is
continual revenue and not a "get rich quick" vehicle. It is not important
to beat Costco or the supermarket pricing in every event. As long as
you are priced comparably or lower than their everyday pricing you
will do fine. When someone points out that a local store was selling
its chicken for "a lot less" than yours it was probably a sale and you
can point out that yours is "everyday" pricing.
The Whalers Booster Club has secured a "top quality" meat deal so
it has the added benefit of pointing out the grade of meat one is getting.
Make up a price list of what you're offering and be sure to include
how you can be contacted and any other ordering particulars. This
is an easy fundraiser to do and makes for consistent
Raffle ticket sales - There literally is no end to the types of things a
booster club can do here. Once the raffle item is selected you must
apply to the BC Gaming Commission for a raffle license. There is a
$25.00 fee and you will receive a license number to be put on the tickets. You can get the form on-line from the Gaming Commission's
website. The trick to this one is to find an item that people will get
excited about both wanting and selling. Raffles items might include
things such as trips, lodging, furniture, appliances, groceries etc. You
should know that the Gaming Commission prohibits raffles that
include firearms or alcohol. The Ballenas Whalers Booster Club has
raffled off a number of different items. Our current raffle is an idea
we borrowed from our Cowichan friends.....a cart full of groceries.
You might get the groceries donated whether through the store you
do the promotion with or perhaps another sponsor puts up the money. You may decide to match the donation the store puts forward with seed
money of your own. In other words, if the grocery store puts up
say $200.00 worth of groceries you may want to add $200.00 to it.
This is the kind of raffle item everyone can use and get excited about.
Thank you to our friends in Cowichan program for sharing it with us.
Remember too that everything you do is newsworthy in some respect!
Once again, imagination is the key. For example why not invite the
press to take a picture of some of the team members in jerseys around
a shopping cart full of groceries. Get the store manager into the act.
If the press won't come, stage the event yourself, write a press release
and send it in with your own photo and see what happens! Be sure
the store's name appears on the raffle tickets (get approval first) and
mention them with every ticket you sell.
Spring garage sale - Talk about a "no cost" fundraiser! Don't throw
anything away! Plan a garage sale at your school. Make sure you let
all booster members and parents of players know about the event.
Put some posters up around town letting people know you are looking
for items to be donated to the cause. Put it on the community programming TV channel.....this costs nothing. What about a small
concession at the event? Coffee, orange juice and muffins etc. for the
early birds and hot dogs for the afternoon crowd. Don't forget your
Recycling - Do you have a recycling depot in town? Perhaps you can
arrange with them to start an account for your program. All year long
people can then take their bottles and cans to be recycled and ask for
them to be donated to your team. Check with the depot periodically
to be sure you collect any monies coming to your program.
Concessions - Every program has someone who can run a concession. Home games are a must. Be sure you get the necessary
permits from your local health officials. Imagination here is again key
to how successful your concession is. Do you have a hut or building
in which you can hold your concessions? If not, how about a tent?
Can you get one donated? Once set up what else can you sell other
than food? T-shirts, hats, key chains, bandanas, stadium horns, pom
poms?......really, the sky's the limit!
Local sponsors - Boy, this is really an open field! There are all kinds
of possibilities here. One that the Ballenas Whalers Booster Club is
fortunate to have: Captain Jim's, a local seafood restaurant features
a "Whalers Special" on its menu. $1.00 of each special ordered goes
to the football program. The special is prominently featured on the
menu with an explanation that the purchaser is supporting high school
football. Whatever sponsorship arrangements you are able to make
in your locale, always be sure to continually publicly acknowledge
your sponsor(s) and the fact that they are supporting the development
of your community's youth (assuming you have first cleared this with
Activities - Throughout the course of the season there are a number
of non-fundraising activities to be completed. The purpose of these
activities is to create or elevate an awareness of the football team in
both the school and in public as well as to "sell the football culture."
You will want to have posters and banners made up for each week's
game that can be hung throughout the school that show support for
your team. The catchword is "spirit." Those who elect to take on this
type of activity might be called the "spirit group." Students from the
school supervised by someone in the booster club are an excellent
arrangement for the spirit group.
You may choose to run a contest or two during the season that helps
people to focus on the football team. Ballenas recently held a "Who
Knows Whose Nose is Whose" contest. A collage of snapshots of
just the noses of the football players was displayed in the school.
Each nose was numbered with a list of the players names attached
to the collage. Participants had to match the players name to the nose
number. What better way to get students to focus on the football
players! The entry with the most correct matches won a Sony Discman.
Community service - The Ballenas Whalers Booster Club maintains
that it is important for the athletes involved in its program to recognize
the need to give back a little something to a community which gives so
much to them. Last season the team participated in the Salvation Army
food drive conducted by the local fire fighters. The team members
sorted donated food for sixteen hours over two days. They also
participated in a "Pancake Breakfast with Santa" on behalf of one of the team's sponsors. Neither event provided the players with anything
other than an opportunity to experience the kind of giving that is so
abundantly provided to them throughout the year.
BC High School Football limits the amount of time you can practice. You are allowed nine (9) practices and an exhibition game/jamboree in Spring Football. You may not start practices in autumn until two (2) weeks before Labour Day. From the stand-point of when to schedule team practices, ask around. Some teams practice five days a week, some only three. Some teams practice at night, some practice after school. As a general rule, publish and commit to a set practice schedule months in advance and stick to it. Players, coaches, families, and school administrators/athletic directors can count on these times. This is a major factor in eliminating work conflicts with your players and coaches as they have months of advance notice to schedule their availability. Most employers are quite flexible given adequate and reliable information about availability. As well your practices will be far more effective as a result! This carries over to game day. It is no stretch to state that this is also a good model for scheduling weight-room sessions, banquets etc.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION
Information is your greatest ally. Keep everything you do out in the open and publish it using every medium available to you. Football is a huge and equally beneficial/positive undertaking. Get the word out!! When you do something good, let people know and when something works for you, share the knowledge! This makes for a healthy climate. Network your program electronically to other programs and within your program start an e-mail list at its various levels. The more quickly you can relay information and gather feedback, the more effectively you can project ideas and incorporate timely information into your program. This quickening of information exchange frees up the most important thing of all, time to train-up your players and coaches!
Build a Financial Plan! List your income versus your expenditures. Project what you think you might have to spend one two and three years down the line. As well keep track of the equipment/capital projects you have as assets. This information is a great tool when applying for grants, gaming events, and when you need to demonstrate the degree of self-sufficiency you operate at to your superiors. Often a football budget has huge positive implications for your school PAC's ability to demonstrate need when applying for a Bingo license. It is a sure bet that your PAC will not distribute nearly that amount to your program but in turn will infuse your schools other programs with much needed cash. Do not let this disturb you because it in effect makes you a very, very valuable asset to the school and at an altruistic level...great...it's good to help your school be its best!
Top Ten Canadians in NCAA 1A, 2006
1. Jon Cornish, New Westminster, BC, KANSAS
2. Jamal Westerman, Brampton, ON, RUTGERS
3. Eric Deslauriers, Gatineau, QC, EASTERN MICHIGAN
4. Jabari Arthur, Montreal, QC, AKRON
5. Aaron Wagner, Lethbridge, AB, BYU
6. Corey Mace, Port Moody, BC, WYOMING
7. Andrew Woodruff, Victoria, BC, BOISE STATE
8. Kevin Challenger, Montreal, QC, BOSTON COLLEGE
9. Keith Shologon, Edmonton, AB, CENTRAL FLORIDA
10. James Judges, Pickering, ON, BUFFALO
Previous Top 10s
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