Coaches try different techniques and drills to help their players learn and keep learning, always attempting to explain the importance of one movement, one step. Unfortunately, not all players listen or they get distracted listening to the same coach over and over.
Being able to have a current college athlete come to a program and teach players everything he or she has learned and is currently learning is an incredibly beneficial way for athletes to really tune in and focus on the smallest things.
On July 30 and 31, the Madras football program was able to bring in player and aspiring coach Stephen Noonan, a graduate of Henley High School, in Klamath Falls. Noonan is a 6-foot-8, 295-pound senior lineman at George Fox University.
From June 22-25, the Madras football program had taken 40 players and eight coaches to the George Fox Team Camp, where Noonan was working with the linemen, teaching them high-level technique with high energy. The Madras coaches took notice of that and invited Noonan to come down this summer and help the local program.
"I came from Henley High School, where not a lot of kids, if any, were able to play college and any level," Noonan said. "These kids now know a small school kid from Klamath was able to do it; they can too. Sometimes players don't know what it really takes to be a college athlete, but anyone can do it. There is opportunities out there if they work hard and find the right people around them, like the Madras coaching staff; they will be in good shape."
"One of the reasons I did this is because I really saw all the promise that this program has," said Noonan. "It really came down to the right people and the right environment for a new coach like myself to contribute in any way possible."
"I really know what it is like to start up a program," said Noonan. "The George Fox football program started only five years ago and I know what kind of hard work and dedication it takes. This is a great start to coaching for me, really starting and trying to impact these amazing kids."
Noonan had all the players warm up thoroughly for 15 minutes to start practice off, and make sure every single player was using the proper form, teaching them every second of warm-ups. He spent the rest of practice teaching the linemen footwork, one step at a time, explaining to the kids that being a lineman is 80 percent footwork.
Noonan did not leave any room for error, trying to improve the athletes' steps from being balanced, to having their feet point the right direction. The lineman followed intently, motivated by the words and example the young, aspiring coach was teaching them.
"It is incredibly beneficial to have coach Noonan, or any college level player that is aspiring to coach," said head MHS football coach Kurt Taylor. "Firstly, it gives our kids the ability to be around a player that is playing at a high level. It allows our kids to understand that they can also make it to that level. For us as a program, it continually validates why we do and say the things we say as as coaching staff."
"When our coaches are talking about specific fundamentals, and then they hear it from a player in college, it helps our kids understand that what we are teaching is what a player in college is getting," Taylor said. "More than anything though, it gives our guys more opportunity to learn the game. With our program being so young (in football knowledge) it just gives them more opportunity to understand the small nuances of the game that make teams better."
"Linemen in the game of football are everything (on both sides of the ball)," said Taylor. Linemen don't get a lot of the credit, but they make everything happen. Every play is determined, good or bad, via linemen play. Last year, we had some really decent linemen that are now gone, and we are very young."
"Getting the young guys to understand the basic fundamentals of blocking is key for us right now," he said. "Specifically for us, and our offense, as we like to run the ball a lot, we need to be able to create those running lanes via our blocking assignments. If the basics are not a priority, those blocking assignments never happen."
The Madras football program went straight from practice and weights to heading over to the main field for their youth football camp.
Madras opens the season with a home game against McLoughlin High School (MacHi), of Milton-Freewater, Friday, Aug. 31.
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