The Burnet High School football team is participating in champions week, and no one is more pumped than the Bulldogs themselves.
That’s apparent by the way they attack every challenge and how they share their enthusiasm, cheer each other on, and uplift one another while doing some drills that are part of linemen challenges. Still, the Bulldogs are displaying the reason why head coach Bryan Wood created challenge week. And it wasn’t so much to get the players faster and stronger, which are the added bonuses.
“We’re creating accountability,” he said. “We’re building unity in the individual groups.”
The players are divided into small groups of 12-15 players with upperclassmen serving as team leaders. Those in the afternoon athletic period form six teams while the ninth-graders have four teams.
“We’re trying to create some team accountability that’s not from a coach,” Wood said. “That creates a whole lot more when you get comments from your peers. There’s accountability through each one of the small groups. We’re making them communicate with each other.”
During champions week, it’s getting into huddles together to decide a course of action to win a challenge. Once the challenges start, those not competing at that time cheer on the member who is at the start and finis lines and at the turn or are running with the teammate to cheer them on as they’re competing. Coaches grade players on their finishes in each challenge and how vocal they were. It’s not enough to be strong and fast; completing the drills with enthusiasm and praise for one another as a team is equally important to Wood.
The teams will remain during the voluntary summer strength-and-conditioning workouts where each leader will be responsible for knowing where his team members are if they’re not present.
“The goal is 100 percent accountability — that’s what we want,” Wood said. “If a kid has gone on vacation, we want to know or if they’re at work or at church camp. Kids having to communicate will be a key factor for us.”
An added bonus has already happened. Wood said one team leader shared that a team member didn’t have a way to get to the voluntary workouts. So the captain is picking up and dropping off his teammate for the sessions.
“Nobody told him to do that,” the coach said. “My chest swelled up. That’s a huge step. There’s an importance of us being here and us getting better. It’s critical for us as a program right now to create team unity. When we’re getting in dog fights on Thursday and Friday nights, we always know who we can count on. We’re trying to build a strong band throughout the program. We want it to be really important to them.”
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