By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
One way to bring excitement to a program – and increase participation numbers – is to get the local community involved. Fan interest can inspire young players to want to become members of the team.
Gary Robinson was hired to start the Krum High (Texas) football team from scratch in 2008, after the community voted to build a new stadium/field house in a bond election. Robinson had no equipment, no assistant coaches, no coaching experience – and a small budget.
Within five years, he built the program into a perennial playoff contender. In 2012, the program had 170 football players – up from 51 in 2008. School spirit spread throughout the school and community, as the number of Flag Corps members, cheerleaders, track athletes, marching band members, powerlifting participants and booster club members increased.
Robinson, who left Krum in 2017 and later accepted a positon at Joseph High (Texas), shared five tips for engaging a community through the sport of football.
Football 101 for Moms
“Before the middle school season started, I got all of the moms together and had ‘Football 101’ class. We used a pink football and had the moms actually run plays. We had a lot of fun and made it a learning experience. I felt like the moms walked away from the experience having a more positive attitude towards football.”
Teach the Youth League Coaches
“The Pee Wee football program was about to start its second season so I got all of the volunteer coaches together to go over my philosophy and playbook. One of my goals was to have all of the Pee Wee teams use the same terminology as we do in the school program, and I wanted them to understand that we are one big team working together to develop a championship football program.”
Host Youth Camps
“Every summer I have a camp for the little kids in the community just like most football programs do. I usually average about 120 kids each summer. When I get a registration form in, I send a thank you note.”
Market the Program with Gear
“I send any participant in the camp a window sticker. I have gotten more compliments about the thank you notes than anything else I have done, and it didn’t take very long to see football stickers on cars all over town.
“The first day that the UIL would allow us to practice, I scheduled us to start at midnight. I wanted to send the message to the kids that we are very serious about football in Krum and we were going to start practice the very minute that the UIL allows us to. At the same time I had the booster club make it a big party for the community. The booster club would start all of their activities at 9 p.m. – about three hours before practice. The community came out to enjoy the band, cheerleaders, tailgating, bounce houses, dunking booths, shopping, face painting, fellowship, etc. At midnight they would form a huge spirit line for the players to run through to start warm up. This started a new tradition that we have done every year since 2009.”