David Alexander – Importance of Coach Development and Lower-Level Experience

David Alexander is the head football coach at Broken Arrow and a former professional offensive linemen. He played ten seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets. He played college ball at the University of Tulsa and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1987 NFL Draft.

He worked as an assistant coach for seven years at Jenks High School. In 2005-06, he was also head coach of the Tulsa Talons of the af2 arena football league. In 2013, he left Jenks to move to Broken Arrow, where had played and graduated in 1982, as the running backs coach. In January 2014 he was announced as Broken Arrow’s new head football coach.

Coach A is also one of my best friends in the coaching business. We have had the opportunity to share many moments together, some great, some very difficult. But I have always enjoyed our conversations about life and football because he has a great heart and great insight into many situations because of this unique education and experiences. He played for Buddy Ryan and Bill Muir (if you don’t know Bill Muir as an OL coach, sit in the corner for 5 minutes and think about the choices you have made in this life and then Google him). He had to block Reggie White and Jerome Brown on a daily basis in practice and then turn around to block Lawrence Taylor or Eric Swann on a Sunday or Monday night in front of millions of people. He has had more injuries than I can name, yet he managed to keep playing for 10 straight seasons in the toughest football league in the world at one of the most difficult positions.

I say these things because it would have been very easy for a guy like Coach A to be arrogant or unapproachable. To be above certain jobs. To be above coaching “lower level” football. He most certainly wasn’t. His first coaching job straight out of the NFL was in junior high ball, in addition to coaching his sons in JTA youth football.

One of the reasons we started working on Team Attack Academy and Run The Power is because of several conversations I had with Coach A and Coach Trimble. They were always mentioning how difficult it was to find GOOD middle school and high school coaches, especially young ones. I also couldn’t understand how some coaches were resistant to work or development in a job they supposedly loved very much. It baffled all of us.

I asked Coach A these three questions to sum up some of these thoughts about hiring coaches and developing coaches.

Why is it so difficult to find quality coaches at ALL LEVELS of your program (8th-Varsity)?

The biggest hurdle we face in Oklahoma is that we are ranked 49th in teacher pay. Good young coaches leave here for Arkansas or Texas, where they immediately receive a 30-40% raise.  And many young men coming out of college with a degree can get any job, in any field, and their starting pay will be $25,000+ what a teacher/coach will make in Oklahoma.

That being said, I have found it near impossible to find motivated, YOUNG coaches to take 8th/9th grade coaching jobs. The young coaches (almost everyone I have interviewed) will ONLY accept a varsity spot, and many want to be considered for coordinator spots.  My best Jr. High coaches are “Lifers” –  experienced, older varsity coaches that want to continue coaching but are ready to slow down from the grind of varsity football.

We ask our players to develop physically and mentally throughout their careers. Why are some coaches resistant to developing themselves to become better coaches, in your opinion?

This is a question that I have thought about a lot!

Developing and growing takes a long term plan, which means it takes time, and a certain amount of humility.

As a society right now, we think of TIME this way: if it doesn’t happen immediately, then I will just move on and find someplace else where I can get my satisfaction.

Being humble and working for the vision of the Head Coach or program is imperative. All motivated people think they can do as good or better than the Head Coach, and they have a vision of what they would do with a team. BUT NOTHING works (a team, a school, a society) if we do not learn from our superiors and teach our subordinates.

Do your job to the best of your ability, and you will be rewarded with opportunities for more responsibility. Humbling yourself to tasks that do not put the spot light on you may not build your ego, but I hope it builds your character and your self-esteem.

When I started coaching, I had just finished a ten year NFL career. The first four years I coached Jr. High football, one at the 9th grade and 3 more at the 8th grade. Looking back, I learned as much during those years as I did during the 6 years I worked for Allan Trimble at Jenks.

Why is it so important to develop professionally and personally as a coach?

I will NEVER hire a coach if he tells me, “I already have all the answers” or “I know everything.” We must all continue growing and learning, or we will fall hopelessly behind. As a head coach, I can tell pretty quickly which assistants LOVE their job and are sponges for knowledge. When I am looking for a varsity assistant now, my number one criteria that I want to hear in an interview is, “I love this job!”

 Follow Coach Alexander on Twitter @da_alex72 or @BATigersFootbal

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