FNF Coaches Talk — Strength Coach Helps Dynasty, Loss of Control During Offseason, NFL Coach’s Yoga Routine

Happy Friday, Coaches. We’ve got three more stories to wrap up the week.

1. A high school strength coach who has provided the energy for eight state championship game appearances in nine seasons (The News-Herald)

A strength coach is so important to any program — both in the way he trains the players and the way he provides energy to the team.

Kirtland High (Ohio) strength and conditioning coach Ray Sullivan is a perfect example of the impact a strength coach can have on a program.

When the Hornets take the field for their eighth state championship game in the last nine years, they will do so galvanized physically and emotionally by Sullivan — the energetic coach who has not only sculpted the physical presence of the the weight room, but has also injected an emotional boost with his battle cry.

“It’s 24-7. That guy’s a nutcase,” senior defensive end Jaymes Torok said of the energy Sullivan infuses into the Kirtland players. “He gets everybody excited. You like seeing him on your sideline, because if he was on someone else’s sideline giving somebody else hype, you’d be like, ‘We need that on our team.'”

Sullivan is a manager and superintendent at PCC Air Foils in Wickliffe. He’s not a certified athletic trainer.

But Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde isn’t worried about his strength coach’s certifications.

In his 14 years at Kirtland, LaVerde has a 173-17 (.911) record. Sullivan has been with the program for eight years. The Hornets’ record during that time?


“What Coach Sullivan does in the offseason is probably the most important part of our program,” LaVerde said in a point-blank manner. “The time he dedicates to the weight room and how wonderful he is with the kids, you can’t overlook that in all of this.”

How important is a strength coach to a high school football program?

2. In Cincinnati, coaches strive to keep players out of trouble year-round (Cincinnati.com)

Do you like the sense of control of the regular season when you see your players for several hours a day and can keep tabs on their behavior on and off the field? And do you struggle with the loss of control during the offseason when you’re unsure of what your players are doing on a daily basis?

These Cincinnati coaches in this story can relate.

High school football coaches who attended an Cincinnati Enquirer coaches panel talked about what it’s like to lead a sport that serves as a salve for the wounds some teenagers face.

Football is a teacher. No matter the walk of life, the sport changes whomever it touches.

“I’m not going to say, ‘Hey, you guys gotta go home so I can go do whatever. I’m not going to say anything. I’m going to sit back until they’re ready to go. Who knows what they’re going home to after the fact?”

When new Withrow coach Kali Jones noticed some boys were subsisting off chips and soda, it was little wonder a few got light-headed during practice. He also noticed some don’t eat regularly during the weekend away from the breakfasts and lunches the school provides during weekdays.

“When the body doesn’t draw from any real nutrients, …now you have the attitudes, and you have uncharacteristic behavior you have to address. Somebody from outside the program will say, ‘Hey, those kids are crazy.’ (I say) ‘Wait a minute, they haven’t eaten today so you don’t even know what you’re looking at right now.’

How do you make sure your players are safe and healthy during the offseason?

3. NFL coach reveals how he gets ready for game day — yoga (Panthers.com)

Perry Fewell will make his debut as the Panthers interim head coach in Atlanta, but there are a few things he’ll have to get done before the game kicks off on Sunday.

Before he watches one last film review, before he eats his traditional pregame meal, Fewell will start his game day the same way he always does.

“You might laugh when I tell you this. Maybe I shouldn’t reveal this,” Fewell said. “My pregame routine is yoga in the morning. I love a good hot yoga in the morning.”

Fewell added the workout to his Sunday morning ritual five years ago when fellow NFL coach Bill Callahan suggested he find something to help him decompress. The two coached together in Washington. Since then, Fewell has tried a bit of everything, from yoga to tai chi.

Hot yoga is his go-to on game days, though, even when he has to create his own make-shift yoga studio on the road, like he will this weekend in Atlanta.

“I put a towel under the door of my hotel room, I cut up the heat and I turn on the YouTube and I go at it,” Fewell explained.

What is your game day routine?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk