Pueblo South coach Ryan Goddard, Fountain-Fort Carson coach Jake Novotny and FFC offensive coordinator Jeremy Mercer text each other and chat football often. Sometimes maybe a little too often, but that turned out to be a good thing about a week ago.
Confined indoors and away from their players due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the three friends started thinking about how to use this time to get better as coaches. And also to help coaches throughout the state get better with them.
With technology on their side, they worked quickly to create the Box State Blitz Online Coaches Clinic which is set to launch on Monday.
"We consistently talk football," Goddard said. "We wanted to continue to talk football and I had seen (camps) happening in a few other places. This was the opportunity to get it going in Colorado and we thought we had the opportunity to do and it took off from there."
The idea actually stemmed from a roundtable discussion not too long ago. CHSAA assistant commissioner Adam Bright hosted a collection of football coaches from around the state to assess the state of football in Colorado and continue to move it in a positive direction.
"One of the things we talked about was that we needed more communication between our coaches with clinics and different things," Bright said. "Ryan and those guys had the great idea that since we're all sitting at home why don't we accomplish one of those goals while we have the downtime."
This camp aims to do more than just check one box. Goddard was encouraged by the response he got when he announced the launch of the clinic over the weekend.
"The response was better than what we were originally hoping for," he said.
After an initial trial clinic with Goddard, Novotny and Mercer all conferencing each other in, they moved quickly to get other coaches involved both in terms of speak and attending.
"We feel it's one way for us to give back to the state for what football has given to us," Novotny said.
He also feels like it can kickstart options to ensure that coaches aren't falling behind when it comes to preparation for the fall season.
"It's even spurred ideas for my own staff," Novotny added. "We're talking about doing online staff meetings and doing some virtual stuff. We've met with kids online in terms of just checking in on them. And some kids have reached out to coaches about watching film and that kind of stuff. What it's done more than anything is make us realize there are so many possibilities out there for us as a staff moving forward that we can save time as coaches and even for our players."
The idea alone was enough to spark interest from coaches all over the state. While social distancing has become a national necessity, these coaches are working to balance family lives while making sure kids of their own are getting educated from home. And online clinic has become something that they can utilize while doing both those things and making sure they're keeping themselves healthy while adhering to the national call to stay home in order to stay healthy.
"The world has really changed the last few decades with the amount of information you can access online," Arapahoe coach Rod Sherman said. "An online clinic such as this is a great way to learn and learning might look different when I started my coaching career when it was all about sitting in the audience at a coaches clinic. Now you can do so much coaching development just by going online."
The time between the idea being floated out in a group text chain to the launch of a potentially vital tool was right around a week. Just like they tell the athletes they coach, Goddard, Novotny and Mercer didn't wait around for their idea to just materialize. They jumped into action and saw their hard work generate their desired result.
"I think what Ryan and Adam are doing is trying to bring a collaborative mentality to Colorado so that football coaches can all grow together," Sherman added. "It will be good for all the kids and let's put the competitiveness of the fall aside and do what's good for kids."
Their genuine hope is that coaches from all over the state at every classification can benefit in the long run.
"It shows that we have coaches who want to keep getting better but also want to help other coaches," Bright said. "They want to see the game grow. I'm happy the guys putting this together are some of the ones we've partnered with at the CHSAA level to talk about where we want to get to and these guys are showing what kind of leaders they are."
This week's clinic speakers include Jason Mohns (Saguaro High School, AZ), Brian Nelson (Mary Persons High School, GA), Jeff Rayburn (Lone Star High School, TX) and Woody Blevins (Assumption College, MA).
Goddard is hoping that the online clinic can consistently feature speakers and also run on a regular basis for the foreseeable future.
Coaches who are interested in online access to the Box State Blitz Clinic can email Ryan Goddard at firstname.lastname@example.org.