Head Coach Shawn Dodd shares about returning to coach at his Alma Mater, Eastlake North High School, dealing with adversity and his coaching philosophy. For the full interview, check out The Leading Edge Podcast player below.
Q: You’ve been coaching for 20 years, what keeps you coming back year after year?
I enjoy it. I kind of crave it. I like the challenge of trying to motivate kids in the off season and the game planning. It’s relationships, that's the best part. You know I’m here every year but it's a different group of kids every year. It's never the same team. You know you can stay in the same place forever but it's always a different group of kids that come through and you try to give them the very best experience that they can possibly have and keep moving the program forward. So there's always challenges to it besides the Friday nights.
Q: You are a product of the school where you coach and teach -- how special is that for you?
Yeah it's pretty unique it's pretty special. I don't know how many people would get a chance to go back and coach where they went to high school but also means a lot to have found my soulmate there. I met my wife there and I've had two kids graduate from there when we'll be graduating. We've lived in the community our entire lives so, pretty unique and pretty special situation for us.
Q: As a teacher and a coach, what have you done what have you found to be successful for you during school closure and and limited contact with your students and athletes?
Yeah it's a balance because obviously what we're in is the relationship business both as a coach and a teacher. So we're working hard. I'm fortunate to have a staff that is really invested in this as well and we're trying to do different things as far as connecting with the kids. We obviously have the texting chains that are going on and I check in with two kids a couple of times during the week. More so with the seniors and then have them check in with younger guys and we do a lot through Twitter. We got to do some things through our Facebook account as well. But Twitter is where we spend the majority of our time trying to connect with the kids and get information out there. We send our workouts through Google Classroom and our kids know that those are updated-- all of the at home workouts that they can do. And then, we've put out goofy a lot of challenges for the kids to do on a daily basis. I kind of just embarrass myself and it looks silly just kind of break up the monotony of just trying to tell the kids to work out and stay competitive and we're working the mindset as well keeping them focused and motivated.
Q: What kind of silly challenges are we talking about?
We did a putting challenge, a juggling challenge, a whistling challenge. A dad joke challenge. Just silly things like that. Now I don’t have any talents so I really look like a fool doing all these things. I don't know how to juggle. I can barely whistle. I missed my putt so, I'm just kind of throwing it all out there. We try to get the parents involved as well. Some of the parents have joined in so, just trying to keep everybody connected and also throughout some of the challenges that some of our other sports and our band and cheerleaders and some of our local media people as well. They've kind of joined in so that's been pretty fun.
Q: How is the ENHS Football program's spring going to be affected due to COVID-19?
Yeah we don't have spring football so our off season in the spring is lifting conditioning all of that kind of stuff and we really encourage our guys to multi-sport athletes. We probably somewhere in the 90 percent range of our athletes play a spring sport. So that's where their focus is. But we will lift at 6:00 a.m. So we lift Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday in the mornings and we'll get the kids for an hour and it's do our speed and agility and our weight room stuff. So we're losing all of that on top of the spring sports that the kids are participating in. I mean it's really what we would be focusing on throughout the spring along with leadership meetings and some small group things that we would be doing with the kids that were allowed to do in the state of Ohio.
Q: You mentioned the leadership meetings you guide your players through. Is that something that you've found you've been able to continue during this time?
Yeah. The seniors right now have a book that we started before all of this unfolded that we're working on. So they have chapters they have to read and then I'll send them some questions and shoot them some things, just text some things to think about. I don't want to be overwhelming. I want them all to get their own experience from it but we'll do a weekly meeting and kind of share some ideas. It'll be 15-20 minute type of thing. I don’t want to spend too much time on it or overwhelm them with it.
Q: Which book are you using this year and how to you run the program?
“Powers of a Positive Team” right now is what we're working on. I haven't really used a book before in the past-- we just use all different materials. It's more it's just been kind of question and answer sharing ideas sharing thoughts, goals and strategies. You know, “How do we keep everybody in line with our mission statement and our vision?” This year, we started with the seniors and then we're gonna have seniors write a message in the book and then they have to pass it down to an underclassmen who will then pass it down so, that by the time we start camp in August, every kid will have read the book and everybody would have left a little message in the book for the next guy.
Q: Have you been pleased with the content and the engagement of the players ?
Yeah yeah absolutely. We got through the first three chapters before we ran into the lockdown stuff and the kids all seemed to be getting the message that we wanted to get. It's a pretty easy read. I mean it's pretty repetitive and that's something that the kids mentioned quite a few times but that's the important thing that the same message is being repeated often throughout the book and it's hitting home. Some of the things they'll text me, I'll say "You took that from the book!" So, that's encouraging.
Q: Coach you seem to posses a relentless positivity, where did you acquire this platform of positivity and this style of coaching?
I'm pretty positive optimistic person by nature. I've been through a lot of different things in life. Life challenges kind of force you to either give in or find ways to overcome them and I have a great support system with my family to help with that.
But I'm the person that just refuses to give up or to quit especially with all the things I've had to go through throughout life. When I was five my mom passed away of cancer and then when I was 22 my dad died of a sudden heart attack. And four years ago my wife and I lost our oldest son Zach. So life's really thrown us a lot of shit to be honest.
You know you can either give in to that and have that self-pity and just kind of give up on life but that’s something that I absolutely refuse to do. Especially after the passing of our son. My wife and I made the commitment to each other and to our other two kids that we're still going to live the best life we could possibly live and have our kids still experience to the best life they can live.
How to overcome adversity--it's a message that I share with all my players over the years. I try to tell them, you know life will throw stuff a lot harder than I'm ever going to give you. You have choices. You can give in to all that and go down a bad path. Or you can choose to be relentless and resilient and fight your ass off. And so that's what we choose to do.
Q: You’ve been pretty open to sharing information with other programs, what is your approach to sharing with other coaches?
You start to see more and more people open up what they're doing to other people to help out in any way they can. And we open up our Google Classroom to anybody. I put our code out there online on Twitter and Facebook and offer it to any program or coach locally and out of state. Getting the word out there and sharing ideas and thoughts. I'm fortunate, I've got a lot of people I can lean on to to bounce ideas with but not everybody is as fortunate. Take us up on it-- we don't have all the answers. We're trying to figure this out just like everybody else.
You can follow Coach Dodd and Eastlake North High School Football on twitter at https://twitter.com/enrangerfootbal
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