Stamford is the first of three schools I’m working with where the coaching staff is actually smaller than the staffs I worked with in Reno. Stamford has only seven coaches, however, as with the bigger schools in Texas, coaches at Stamford are all teachers and all work with the football players two athletic periods every day. This is the biggest difference between the Texas system and the one most of the country uses; mostly volunteer coaches with no regular athletic period where the team works year around on football skills. I can’t overstate the difference it makes to have a staff made up entirely of educators, coaching as part of their profession rather than as a hobby. Watching practice, it’s clear the model works as well with a small school as with the bigger ones.
One area that the small schools are more in line with the rest of the country than the larger Texas schools is just how many things the coaches here have to do. This week, I’ve seen the seven Stamford coaches lining the football field, doing laundry, and acting as trainers for their program as well as coaching all five of the Stamford football teams (7th & 8th grades, freshmen, jv & varsity) For all that they are still a lot better set up than most coaches from the other 49 states. Unlike most places their extra work for the football program is recognized, appreciated and built into their teaching schedule.
The Stamford kids are not especially big, fast and many don’t look all that athletic. This is what you get when virtually every male student in the school is on the football team. What they lack in ability they make up for with hustle, reps and execution. All week watching practice I have seen very solid fundamentals, good stances, few alignment mistakes, good routes, good passes, the ball hardly ever is on the ground and despite playing both ways, almost no confusion about assignments. In short, they do all the little things well and this adds up to a lot of wins. I’m guessing this isn’t a team that beats itself very often. From a coaching standpoint it’s truly amazing to see how much can be done with only seven good coaches in a system that allows them to do the job the right way.
It’s kind of exciting to see this town getting ready for the game tomorrow nights. Stamford Bulldog flags are hanging everywhere and everyone in town seems to be wearing blue and white Bulldog tee shirts. Everyone I’ve spoken with tells me about the pride this town takes in the team and the wonderful support all the Stamford teams get. I’m really looking forward to seeing what it all looks like tomorrow night.