By Brandyn Campbell, Player Engagement Insider
The NFL hosted the High School Coaches Forum in New Orleans on December 11, providing a unique opportunity for coaches throughout Louisiana to come together to learn from colleagues at all levels of the game, enhance their professional skills and personal networks, and make a positive impact on their players in the process.
The forum is part of an ongoing focus by the NFL to encourage football personnel at all levels to view the league as a partner and resource on issues including awareness, safety, leadership, and education. By providing health and safety information from USA Football, coaches came away with the tools needed to ensure their players’ safety. While professional football remains the most popular sport in the country, youth participation rates have fallen 2.5% since 2008. Providing coaches with the tools to engage on issues of primary concern to parents and players may help stem that tide.
The forum featured discussion of topics such as enhancing the personal development of student-athletes, X’s and O’s, and health and safety. Austin Moss, Manager of Player Engagement and moderator of the “Enhancing Student Athlete Development” panel, said that the forum also discussed the role of coaches, “as leaders in the community, and the responsibility that comes with that title.
Jason Winchell, Wide Receivers Coach at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, found the opportunity to connect with coaches off the field incredibly valuable. In particular, he was impressed by his interaction with Jay Roth, head football coach at Archbishop Rummel High School who competes in the same division. Roth’s success is legendary in Louisiana--he reached 200 career wins at Archbishop Rummel this season.
After his interaction with Roth at the forum, Winchell came away with additional admiration for Roth’s personal and professional skills. “In between the lines, he’s another coach I’m trying to beat,” said Winchell. “Outside the lines, I saw that he’s a great guy, which is probably why he’s so successful at what he does.” What Winchell saw in Roth was a leader who displays humility and strength of character in every interaction, traits Roth models for his student-athletes on and off the field,
In addition to the personal connections, Winchell valued the opportunity to hear from panelists representing all levels of the game. “It was good for me to see that whether on the high school, college or pro level, it’s all football. Just because you're a pro doesn’t mean you have it all figured out. We got to see all viewpoints from all levels.”
Jason Trosclair, director of youth programs for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, saw the forum as an important opportunity for athletes, coaches, as well as the larger community. “If you give coaches the tools they need, then open the dialogue in ways that they can assist their student athletes, we think that's just a win,” Trosclair told WDSU. “So we felt the need to do this for our community and our coaches.”
Winchell came away from the experience more confident in his coaching. He will return to work with his players with a few new approaches to push his student-athletes to excel on and off the field. He has a better understanding of the challenges those who rise in the game will face at the next level—and how to prepare them to succeed.
Learn more resources available through NFL Prep’s resources by visiting the program’s website here