Thirty years ago, Ted Cosgriff started teaching, and he couldn’t have asked for a better profession.

San Rafael head varsity football coach Ted Cosgriff runs a drill during practice in San Rafael, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

By Cody Dalton, FNF Coaches Contributor

A retired history teacher, San Rafael (Calif.) coach Ted Cosgriff remains engaged in his players’ academic success. He recognizes that the greatest contribution he can make to a high school football player is to mold him into an exemplary man.

Thirty years ago, Ted Cosgriff started his journey in teaching, and he couldn’t have asked for a better profession.

“It was a natural fit,” Cosgriff said of teaching. “I just got involved and fell in love with it.”

Even though he retired a year and a half ago from teaching history, Cosgriff still remains active as the head football coach at San Rafael High School in California, and he still places a heavy emphasis on how his players do inside of the classroom.

“When you teach, you have these students in your class, and you get to know them. You do what you can to get them on the right track,” Cosgriff said. “If you coach sports, you see what a great avenue it is.

“You are invested in their academic life,” he added. “That’s what is going to benefit them in their life. We tell our players here (at San Rafael) that they are here to be a student because if they graduate in four years, they are going to have opportunities that benefit them as a young man.”

Through the school’s AERIES Portal, Cosgriff regularly checks on each of his player’s grades in every one of their classes.

“It’s a nice way to follow up and track their academics and progress in general,” he said of AERIES. “It’s been very rewarding.”

Players participate in study hall sessions after school, and if extra time in the classroom is needed, Cosgriff and his staff operate Saturday study halls, which typically run 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

All of the study hall sessions have been well received by all of the Bulldog football players.

“They really like study halls because it gets them a chance to catch up on work,” Cosgriff said of his players. “I think they like that part of it. If they like the sport (of football) enough, they will appreciate the opportunity to get academic awards and scholarships and continue to play it.”

Changing the culture of a team takes time, so coaches should not get frustrated and abandon the plan if it does not produce immediate results.

“It’s an ongoing process,” Cosgriff said. “It’s changing the mindset and the culture, and that’s a long-term process that requires a consistent message.”

While Cosgriff said the academic progress of San Rafael’s football players is “slow going,” he believes their results will continue to get better as time goes on.

“I think the message is there,” he said. “It’s starting to resonate throughout the team.”

Not every student will commit to maintaining a 4.0 GPA in AP classes. Start small, encouraging a student to show small improvements.

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About the author

Dan Guttenplan