The Mississippi High School Activities Association has strict rules about how many times, when and where coaches can meet with prospective players, so the first organizational meeting is critical to get everyone on the same page.
“I’ve been starting school for 40 years and this is my 33rd year coaching,” said Vardaman coach Larry Gann. “I like to do first things first.”
Gann said coaches hand out the forms that have to be signed at these meetings. He said coaches also hand out practice schedules, season schedules and the times and locations players need to be to stay on the team.
“Parents need to keep up with these things, too,” said Gann. “Getting you kid to practice and then being there to pick them up afterward is important.”
Gann said players who are late to practice face additional drills. He said having to walk home after practice can also discourage a kid from playing.
“I also say this at every meeting at the first of the year,” Gann told the crowd. “I want everyone to understand that your ability on the field does not negate your responsibility off the field and in the classroom.”
Gann said players who get in trouble on the weekend hurt the team, the school and the community. He said players who don’t make the grades are often forced to sit-out games as the season winds down and the playoffs approach.
“Football is a family sport and everything a player does affects the family,” said Gann. “Football is also a lot of hard work and parents, coaches and teachers are glad to help a student athlete when they can.”
Gann said he gets a progress report from teachers each week. He said coaches can try to head off problems with grades, but parents and — most importantly — the student athlete have to do their part.
“Our booster club meets on Monday night and it doesn’t cost anything to join,” said Gann. “This is a great sport and it can teach a young man a lot of things that he can carry on in life.
“I was here when we were going to the playoffs on a regular basis and I am well aware of the expectations of this community,” Gann added. “We’ve got new helmets and new royal blue home jerseys. We’ve also got a group of young men that know what is expected of them this year. I think the community will be pleased with the direction this program is heading.”
More than two-dozen parents showed up at Thursday’s first meeting at the Vardaman High School Cafeteria.
The Vardaman Rams open the 2014 season at home at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 against the East Webster Wolverines.