When your program has no budget or a limited one at best, it’s very difficult to look professional. When parents come on campus for a tour they usually want to see things that remind them of bigger schools- a weight room, a locker room, and a home field.
When I arrived at CCA, we had around 20% of those things. Our locker room was a wreck filled with food wrappers, gatorade bottles and equipment and cloth thrown around the building. With some easy fixes we created the best ‘locker room’ we could. First, we obviously collected all the cloth, did an inventory, and washed it. I put together makeshift racks and bought rubbermaids to store things in. I took old PE lockers (triple stacked) and put them in the room, giving each player 3 small lockers (helmet- shoulder pads- shoes/cloth). I moved old book shelves in for old cleats, grabbed chairs from storage and put benches from outside and moved them inside. In a few hours we had ourselves a locker room.
The weight room was in disarray when I arrived on campus. Originally, the room was condemned (as I’ve discussed on here and in two podcasts). I convinced the principal that it was necessary to invest in the room. Once he did, all they did was fix the structural damages and slap paint on the walls. He added carpet even though I said to stay with cement. However, that’s all that was in the room. It was empty. Through some dealings I acquired treadmills, elyptical machines and universal machines that I sold to Play it Again Sports. I had a large white board installed and a few smaller white boards. Over the course of time more donations of equipment came in and more trades were made. Today we’re working on having two squat racks, two adjustable benches, a bench rack, two plyo boxes, and plenty of olympic, dot, and ladder space.
I spent 40 hours on a bus with my team this off-season playing 9 away games and 1 home game over the course of 11 weeks. It was exhausting but we survived our program’s first full season. In the end, the expenses for buses and food bankrupt our program. We are in the hole, but putting together a successful season (3-6, 3 plays from 5-4!) parlayed a little bit of leverage. We doubled our roster size in the off-season, made a few more weight room improvements, and did more lobbying. This summer we will break ground on a field… not a stadium, but that will come in due time. To get a field you have to work smart and find reasonably priced items like goalposts, chains, and a scoreboard. Don’t think your home field has to look like USC or Notre Dame- it’s okay to have 80 home seats and 20 away seats. Just keep in mind that you’ll look more professional having a field than not having one.
Since I was originally hired to teach and coach at Cornerstone in March of 2011, a lot has changed. We’ve added two sets of uniforms (no longer playing in practice gear). We have built a weight room and established a successful off-season program with 20+ kids involved every week. We have started funding and planning for a home field. We have improved our team GPA adding nearly a dozen players with 3.5 and above GPA’s. We’ve turned an empty room into a locker room. But most importantly, we’ve built a small pride in being a Duck.