At the end of a long day this week of school, doctor’s appointment, taking tickets at the senior night lacrosse game and soccer practice, I finally rolled in to my house at 10 p.m. on Thursday to a house full of NFL-crazed millennials, all rocking their various shades of purple.
Not long after I rolled up, my nephew came busting through the door screaming in joy for his beloved Redskins (for whom he recently purchased season tickets) and their exciting pick of hometown product Dwayne Haskins.
I joined in the fun and we waited to see how Eric DeCosta would put his own personal stamp on the Ravens future roster. As we watched as more and more picks were made on Day One, leaving all of the top wide receivers still on the board, we knew there was a chance a trade could be made for the Ravens’ first-round pick.
When the Ravens made the move back three spots to pick up two extra draft picks, everyone in our version of the draft room was cautiously optimistic. For 20-plus years, we’ve lived by the motto “In Ozzie we Trust,” so to say we weren’t a little nervous about trading completely out of the first round and kill our Round 1 excitement would be an understatement.
As we watched the picks unfold in front of us, the excitement continued to grow and when commissioner Roger Goodell stepped up and made the announcement the Ravens had selected Marquise Brown from Oklahoma — their first pick under the DeCosta administration — our house exploded with screams and high fives.
Even Molly and Bamboo joined in the excitement, jumping around with the boys and howling along with the screams making quite the Draft Day visual.
I’ve been an NFL fan my whole life and we’ve raised our boys to love their football, especially the Ravens. I’ve been a PSL owner from Day One and as my boys have grown older we’ve shared some great times together at M&T Bank Stadium and the “Grassy Knoll” — our favorite tailgate spot.
A few years ago, I was able to get some tickets to Day 2 of the NFL Draft (the Johnny Manziel draft) at Madison Square Garden for my son, nephew, and a friend. And it was certainly one of the highlights of their young lives.
As I was sitting there watching the melee unfold in front of me, I thought about what it would be like to coach a team where I could hand pick each of the players at the top of their game and put together the team that I wanted from a huge player pool. A chance to review my team’s needs for the coming season and then interview the players, watch them play, and select from the best available players has a certain allure that piqued my attention.
As a club coach in many sports, one can do a similar version to this in the restricted pool of players that have the interest in playing for you and show up at your tryouts. Occasionally, you can find that diamond in the rough that’s not already playing somewhere else and pick them up during the year, but most of the time the changes are made at tryouts.
My two Celtic boys soccer teams are built a lot like that, boasting the best players from practically every high school in the county competing together against some of the best teams in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s gotten to the point, especially on my older team that mostly are heading off to college next year, where I’m more managing who shows up than actual coaching, but to watch these boys come together and play at the level they do is heartwarming and a testament to some of the good coaches and programs that have prepared them at both the high school and club levels.
Where I don’t like the ability to hand pick the players for your team and recruit players for your squad is in a scholastic setting like high school sports. I didn’t like it before when I was the girls soccer coach and we would play Frederick County teams where players had the opportunity to play for any high school team in the county. I don’t like it any more now, some eight years later, when the rules have opened up for Carroll County athletes to do the same.
In fact, I encourage my club players to stay in their respective schools and represent their friends and family. A scholastic setting should be to teach the kids life skills, so what are we teaching them when we allow them to move away from a particular coach or maybe a weaker team to join a “winning” program? How do you learn to deal with adversity if when things get tough, the athlete “gets going” to another program?
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”
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