Football program revisions underway; all extracurriculars will be evaluated

At the November 17 meeting, Athletic Director Mark Trout updated the board and community about efforts to improve Milford’s football program.  Working with school coaches, youth coaches, parents and players, Mr. Trout has identified systemic issues that have unfortunately been ingrained in our culture.  He and Dan Yeager, the Junior High Athletic Director, are working with various constituents to change this – although, as with any systemic problem, it will not happen overnight.

In addition to the football program specifically, Mr. Trout stressed all sports programs are evaluated every year to identify what’s going well and what can be improved.  A new parent survey will be added to the feedback opportunities beginning with this winter’s programs.

I feel the athletic department is currently on the right track to improve our football program as well as work to make all programs as strong as they can be.  I did ask Dr. Farrell to look at implementing similar evaluation measures to ALL district extracurricular programs.  It’s important to be able to offer extracurriculars in a variety of areas so various interests can be explored by our students.  However, if Milford is going to sponsor an extracurricular, it’s also our responsibility to ensure these programs are being executed in the best way they can.  It’s impossible for district personnel to evaluate each and every program – and one of the most effective ways to truly learn about the good & the bad is through parent and student feedback.

I will keep you updated on progress both in football and other extracurricular evaluation processes.  In the meantime, if you would like to read Mr. Trout’s statement from the meeting, it is below:


Football Update for BOE, Presented by Athletic Director Mark Trout – 11/17/11

I am happy to be here to update the board and the community at large on the progress and state of the MHS football program from both a historical and current perspective. Obviously there is concern and a great interest by everyone associated with Milford to put a winning football team on the field. We have an outstanding overall athletic program here at Milford and we want the varsity football season in particular reflect that excellence along with the hard work and effort by our kids, coaches, parents and administration. We care deeply about all of our teams and athletes and while there have been isolated seasons of average or above records, in general, football has struggled for a long, long time. There are many areas that may be attributed to this, most going back further than the people holding current positions in this room. Consistency in staffing, youth program connections and a general winning culture to name a few big items. We understand this problem needs to be looked at as a systemic issue from K-12 and networking is critical to solving the problem. Our current head coach, Shane Elkin, has and is working tirelessly to change some long-standing issues. He has only just completed his second year. His efforts are being supported by his staff, youth football program leaders, and all of us administratively as we are all pulling on the same end of the rope to get the football program back to where it should be – a source of pride for our community.

In light of this ongoing effort, the message I want to get out to our community is that we are listening to stakeholders input and making changes based on constructive valuable feedback. We have not been idle throughout the year and particularly since the 2011 season has concluded. Coach Elkin, in an effort to get first-hand feedback, has recently accomplished many things including the following:

* attending a JH parent meeting during Kings game (last week of junior high season) with Mr. Yeager to listen to JH parent concerns

* holding monthly TDC meetings for parent input/involvement

* completing end of season one-on-one meetings with each player 9 to 12

* completing end of season one-on-one meetings with each coach

* holding a meeting on November 13 with two community coach leaders (J. Dombroski and M. Stahanczyk) and 2 JH coaches to discuss restructure of JH program and connecting youth programs to JH

* scheduling meetings with 8th grade players and parents that are considering leaving Milford for another school

* discussing issues with a new defensive coordinator and arranging a meeting with present defensive coordinator at Ryle High School to discuss their techniques

* reaching out to a local college coach who turned a program around and will provide assistance in better structuring of our program

* connecting with successful alumni regarding the program as well as demonstrating leadership through presentations to our teams/athletes (N. McCallum, Z. Strief and M. Biller)

* connecting with local business leaders who were invited to speak to our team in spring – there was a weekly book study on leadership and teamwork in conjunction with those business leaders talks (T. Odom and D. Strief)

Some proposed changes that have come out of those meetings already:

* Will start 8th grade lifting on November 28 with HS returning players compared to the spring start last year

* Weight room program has been tweeked and updated (it is a BFS hybrid with comparison data to establish baselines and goals for our players)

* Complete restructuring of JH program coming from multiple input sources including how players are held accountable and how playing time determined within the philosophy of the district

* A comprehensive JH coach interview process is being established with clear expectations

*  JH practice times will be adjusted next year to later in afternoon to give more options of hiring qualified coaches who may work during day

* Implementing a monthly attendance, behavior, and grade checks throughout year and an incentive program for excelling beyond minimum standards – emphasizing academics and lessons beyond the sport

* A parent handbook specifically for football is in the discussion phase

Our understanding is the youth football programs will be merging together which will greatly enhance our community feeder program – they have been separate for many many years and they have now eliminated some barriers to merging. As a school program, we have historically been active in helping this endeavor and continue to offer our assistance when needed. The youth program leaders have been very impressed with Coach Elkin’s efforts at trying to encompass everyone and building a community-wide program top to bottom.

As administration, we have also gained feedback from a variety of community members in a variety of ways which has been valuable as we pass along ideas to Coach Elkin and assist him in program restructuring. Myself, Mr. Lutz, Mr. Willson, Mr. Yeager, Mr. Ackermann and Dr. Farrell have all analyzed ideas, had interactions with stakeholders and ultimately provided direction for the program. Personal meetings with parents, open meetings, emails, phone calls and seeing community members at various places in Milford have all provided opportunities to hear what people think and thoughts about changes. Key pieces from these conversations are evaluated, synthesized and finally shared with Coach Elkin to see how the valuable pieces fit in the big picture of his program. Internally, there is also a formal head coach evaluation process where goals are outlined and enumerated for the upcoming year.

It should be noted that this program analysis is not unique to football or sports that had a struggling season – we look to improve in all programs every year. Ongoing seasonal methods of feedback include 1 on 1 meetings with athletes, senior exit surveys, Athletic Leadership Council meetings and general constructive criticism communication which occurs in and for ALL programs so that our head coaches have the stakeholder feedback they need to make positive strides regardless of past win-loss records. We all have areas to grow. Future improvements in the area of stakeholder response include adding a new parent survey to our repertoire of feedback methods so we can reach out to those parents currently involved in a program who are more comfortable using that tool than other opportunities to connect with us. This survey should be ready to implement sometime during the winter sports season.

To summarize and assure our community: we care about football. We are working to make it better. We are not ignoring the problem or giving up. We believe many aspects are moving in the right direction and realize it will take time to change a decade’s old problem. We are still in the process of getting feedback, acquiring more information and outlining additional changes. I’d be happy to return in Dec or Jan to highlight additional planned changes for future. We can also utilize the Athletic Superintendent Committee to give a progress report. We can inform our current participants via a parent meeting and email blasts of information so they know where the coaches are headed and everyone can grab the same end of the rope that I analogized before. We appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we continue the process of community involvement and working together to improve the program – we have received a lot of positive constructive ideas and Coach Elkin, his staff and all of us are working hard to put those pieces that make sense into place. No one is foolish enough to guarantee instant results in 2012 but we will guarantee it won’t be for lack of effort. Conventional wisdom says it takes 4-6 consistent productive years with the right vision and personnel to create a winning program. We would love to be ahead of that schedule. Thank you for your time.

2 Responses to “Football program revisions underway; all extracurriculars will be evaluated”

  1. Gregory A. Keer Says:

    I lettered in football in the 66-67 school years, so long ago and so far away. I watched Moeller begin year-round weight training under Gerry Faust. I put myself through college officiating grade school and high school football. Beginning in 1968-70.

    I and my other lawyer friends who played high school football would not want our children to play. Faust professionalized high school football and made it a year-round project. A friend’s son was given the choice of playing high school football or high school baseball. Approximately 10 years ago. He played college ball, got drafted and got his five years in for pension.

    I consider high school football as the greatest learning experience I had in high school.(Check and old 65 Droflim and you will see that I placed 25th in the state in world history.)

    I would not play football. In today’s football obsessed culture. Milford joined theGMVC to increase football and basketball revenues. How much of those revenues did they share with the players. The professionalization of high school football makes it more and more unattractive to the mediocre athlete wants to play for fun. The kid I know who played professional football was picked as a college prospect as a sophomore in high school.

    As the Milford school district gets progressively more upscale fewer parents will want their children to play football and will steer them into soccer.

    If you cannot get the parents and the kids to support the football program. All of your studies and all of your verbiage amount to shreddable paper.

    My comments on football apply across the board to all high school sports. I suggest reading this blog again and highlight every word that discusses the kids viewpoint in playing sports and not playing sports.

    Gregory A. Keer, J.D
    MHS 67
    XU ’71
    Gonzaga law school ’80

  2. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Greg,
    One thing I hear consistently about our HS football coach is that he does not focus just on winning – he teaches the kids to be a team and to enjoy playing just for love of the sport. I know very little about football, so I can’t address what you’ve said specifically. However, football is a no-cut sport, so anyone who wants to play, can. In addition, the “revenue” from the sport (and from other sports) does not go to the district; it goes back into the athletic programs or to the Boosters.

    Milford did not switch leagues to increase revenues, but because we wanted at least the majority of our teams to be in our area and to have programs that are more similar to ours.

    Last year, I was part of the board’s Athletics Committee, which became the Extracurricular Committee. Changing our focus like this was extremely important to me. I believe if the district is going to offer a program, it needs to be high-quality and beneficial to our students. That was not happening in all cases, and having a person in charge of all extracurriculars has helped a great deal in moving in that direction. Certainly there are still opportunities for growth and change, but I do feel we are moving in the right direction.

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