At one point in my coaching career, I wanted to experience coaching at as many levels of football as possible. I’ve been blessed to have been a head coach, defensive coordinator, and offensive coordinator at several different levels of football – high school, collegiate, semi-pro. The multi-level experience has given me the opportunity to learn and grow as a coach. Some challenges are different but others are the same. But there’s one level that is closest to my heart – high school football.
It’s not often we get a chance to go back and repeat incredible experiences and memories that shaped our lives but I have been blessed with that chance. Recently, I became a volunteer head coach of Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario, a high school team that finished in last place in the lowest division in the Halton Region Senior High School football league. This gives me the chance to do what I do best – salvaging a lost program. Turning around a program, starting from scratch.
This is my fourth volunteer high school head coaching job. My first, in 1984, started a pattern of taking over extreme underdog teams that were stuck in the basement. The next two high school programs were just as bad. Then in 1994, I became head coach of a brand new expansion semi-pro team with only 22 players. Three years later in 1997, we started a summer football team as part of an original six Ontario football league to help high school players develop and get recruited. If you’re Canadian, the team/league was the equivalent of Jr. B hockey. If you’re American, it was the equivalent of AAU-style basketball travelling team. The team, Niagara Colts, started from scratch with bare minimum resources. After 5 years, we changed the team name to Niagara X-men and moved to the next level, becoming Canada’s only collegiate non-profit club team that played in the USA against American colleges to give unrecruited high school grads a second chance at getting recruiting. Bateman High school is the number 7 reclamation project.
Coaching down-and-out teams is a blessing. It’s a challenge that I love because it’s life-altering for them and me. Changing a loser into a winner goes beyond the scoreboard. It teaches student-athletes one of the most important life-lessons that I preach every year – you’re not second-class citizens relegated to last place. Goliaths can be knocked down. Extreme odds can be beat. But there’s a cost. A price has to be paid. Nothing just happens. You can’t steal a championship ring. Championship rings are made out of iron. Triple meaning. They have to be built from scratch, they’re built from solid metal, and they’re built in the gym. Lifting lifts. Last place doesn’t just happen. Neither does first place. Both are conscious outcomes, the products of choices exercised from free will.
We started our off-season lifting program because the turnaround starts in the gym. S/he who lifts the most, wins the most. The good news is you control how much you can lift. The bad news is you don’t know for sure how much your competition is lifting. But there’s more good news – if you consistently lift heavier, the odds are in you favour/favor by 90-10 because less than 10% have the balls to keep lifting heavier no matter what.
May we all have a safe football season, all around the world. Football is a high-risk sport. The only way to make it safer is by building armour/armor through high-risk training. This doesn’t apply exclusively to football. It applies in every aspect of personal and professional life.
On another note, here is an all-time classic workout song that’s on my top 100 workout music that I’ve compiled during my 44-year lifting career The link is after my signature. I chose this version because it pays tribute to one of Canada’s toughest athletes ever – Arturo Gatti. He was born in an Italian village near the Italian village where my parents were born and immigrated to Canada just like my parents did. RIP Arturo.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
head coach- Robert Bateman High School – GO WILD.
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at: www.ginoarcaro.com His books include: 4th & hell: seasons 1-5, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur . He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in the spring of 2014. And just released, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.”