By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches managing editor
Westwood (TX) head coach Anthony Wood has always preached the value of education to his players because he knows football doesn’t last forever. He strives to help his players prepare for life after their football careers end.
Wood’s list of alumni from the Westwood football team includes graduates and students from Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago. His high school consistently ranks in the top 100 in the nation academically, and his own team has a failure rate lower than that of the entire school.
The 11-year veteran coach with a Master’s degree from Southern Methodist University has had a player post a perfect SAT score, another gain election as president of the National Honor Society and – his personal favorite – more than a handful tutor younger players on the same team.
“What we try to do is approach it in fact,” Wood said. “Don’t look five years down the road. Look at where you want to be in 30 years. Your education today will set you up for the next 30, and then give you an opportunity to enjoy the last 30.”
Wood starts each season by asking his players if any would forgo college in exchange for a full-time job that pays $20 per hour. Each and every year, at least one player raises his hand.
“Kids don’t really see what $20 will get them after life’s bills,” Wood said. “I have that talk with all of my players.”
Woods delegates the responsibility of monitoring his players’ academic performance to his assistants. Each position coach is responsible for his own positon players. If the system works as it should, there should be no surprises during the course of the season.
“Each coach has about 15 to 20 kids, and he’s going to have an update on them every week in our staff meeting,” Wood said. “In school now, everything is done electronically, so we get to check every kid’s projects, his missing assignments or any other zeroes. Any kid below an 80-percent average is reported to us, and required to attend tutoring three days a week.”
Wood coordinates with his fellow teachers at Westwood to ensure that tutoring sessions do not interfere with his practice times and strength and conditioning sessions. Tutoring hours run from 4:15 to 5 p.m. each weekday, and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Wood does not schedule any other team-related activity during tutoring hours.
“We have it set up so they don’t miss practice,” Wood said. “We’ll open our weight room before and after, but we’ll close it during tutoring times.”
TEACHING LESSONS LIFE TAUGHT HIM
An experience with auto theft as a recent college graduate left Wood quite the expert on insurance protection, at least among his players. Wood bought a car shortly after finishing graduate school at SMU, but did not bother to purchase car insurance.
Wood’s car was stolen within a week of the purchase, and he was left paying for a car that he no longer possessed.
“I had to go immediately into debt after being debt-free after college,” Wood said. “I always try to explain that to my players. I have a certificate in math, and I try to teach them math-modeling lessons.”
Wood believes the biggest misconception among players is that any money they make in the work force will be saved. He stresses that once a player leaves the protective shelter of his parents, he will be faced with additional financial stresses.
“There’s the expense of buying a house or paying rent for an apartment,” Wood said. “There’s taxes, insurance, childcare expenses. I learned from what happened to me, and I try to make my players aware of it before it happens to them.”
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Dan Guttenplan is FNF Coaches senior managing editor. Do you have a thought about this article you would like to share? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us @fnfcoaches or share it on the Coaches Chat Board.