From the moment practice starts, the assistant football coaches at Arlington Martin High School are intense and they are focused on the job they have ahead of them to get these players ready for the opening week of the 2015 Texas high school football season.
This Monday morning was no different.
At just before 6am, the players begin to arrive at the school to get ready for the day ahead. They go through their normal routine of getting changed into their pads, shorts, and helmets and head to the practice field. It’s still dark, the field lights haven’t been turned on yet and the Texas humidity is still quite high.
The players gather around the end zone, talking amongst themselves like they’d do on any normal school day. But the minute some of the coaches begin to arrive at the field, the atmosphere changes and so do the focus of the players. There’s a job to be done and a big week to get ready for.
As the sun begins to rise, a cool breeze starts to whip around the field and the temperatures began to fall just enough. What seemed like another hot, humid, and uncomfortable morning practice turned into a day that most, if not all, football players would love to have.
Then, shortly after 6am and shortly after the cool morning breeze began, head coach Bob Wager makes his way to the field.
Some might say he walks to the field with “quiet intensity.” But Wager is calm, cool, and collected. He walks through the line of players standing around in the end zone and begins throwing the ball around with one of the players. Almost like a game day pitcher warming up for his start that day. He’s all smiles, stops to talk to players in a way that seems like any normal conversation.
The drills begin and coaches are blowing their whistles, making corrections, and doing so with an intensity of a United States Marine drill sergeant just without screaming in their faces. They have a job to do, each one focused on what Wager calls, “teachable moments.”
He walks from one drill to the next, watching what is going on at each one and even praises players for things they do correctly. You can tell he wants to get the best out of every player on that field.
Even when practice came to an end, there was no screaming, there was no yelling. Even though you could tell there were some things that needed to change, Wager was still his old cool, calm, and collected self. He got his point across and did so in the same tone of voice that never changed from when he began talking to them to the time he finished.
It was never angry, it was never harsh, but the result was still very much the same.
But it’s not just about the head coach and it’s not just about the players. It’s about the men who surround the head coach. Each doing their respective job, each getting the best out of those players, that make the biggest difference. There was little doubt that this group of men love what they do, they love to teach the game of football, and they respect the man they do it for.
There are few head coaches that do things with the same mindset from start to finish. There are few coaches that keep the same tone with their players during practice and take each one of those “teachable moments” to make each one of their players better. The more they get out of them, the better the Arlington Martin Warriors will be for the 2015 season.
For this squad, it will be Wager’s leadership that will get them to the top of the mountain. It will be that same calm, cool, and collected that will end in an all out celebration of another state title.