“In 10 minutes practice or game time you can see if a coach is organized and if his players are coached well and respect him.” – @davecisar
For the past few weeks, the Niagara Storm, led by newly appointed JV Head Coach Matt Hill, have been training every Wednesday at Ridley College in St. Catharines from 7-8:30 p.m. The training camp has been scheduled to run for a total of eight weeks, and hopes to give players a definite leg up on the competition for the upcoming 2014 season.
“You’ve got to turn things around sooner or later,” said Coach Hill. “At the end of the day, you put together the staff and you start building things, and these kids are seeing it. This is a good opportunity for me to paint my own pathway here, and get a team on the right foot and start to do things my way; get my coaches in – the guys I want to work with, and turn this program around.”
Last year, the Niagara Storm entered into their inaugural season with the Ontario Football Conference (OFC), but like any new challenge, they experienced a significant amount of adversity and growing pains.
“I think everything’s gonna come together this year,” added Coach Hill. “It started in October when my high school season wrapped up with Sir Winston Churchill, and there I was, recruiting and surrounding myself with good coaching staff. I’m just gonna be pulling it all together. I could put a team on paper right now with 40 players and probably go collide with anyone, but it’s just gonna be a matter of everything meshing together, the kids buying into the offensive and defensive systems, as well as the special teams.”
Upon arriving at practice, I was immediately impressed by the efficiency of the warm-ups. Players were diligent in their execution, and the coaches represented the perfect blend of humour and discipline; a nice combination which always makes practice fun without compromising the required discipline and work ethic that a sport like football requires in order to be successful.
“I’ll tell you right now, we’re gonna be a good team.”
Having been involved with the Niagara Storm at the coaching level in recent years, it was nice to see a few familiar faces, but even more incredible were the number of new recruits.
“I remember playing throughout the high school season and talking to the kids and introducing myself when I knew I was gonna be coaching for the Storm. I was trying to get the best players from each school.”
The initial 15 minutes of warm-ups, stretching, and footwork ladder drills, were chalked full of enthusiasm and positive feedback. I loved seeing the players whiz past me with a great big smile on their faces. Aside from looking good, it also told me that the players were feeling good as well.
Coach Hill then brought all of the players together in the middle of the gymnasium (by the way, if you haven’t been to the gym at Ridley College before, let me just say that it’s a beautiful and spacious facility) before quickly breaking the players up into position-specific drills with the various other coaches.
“We’ve got some University coaches here. These guys are University football players that are coming out here and working with these kids in camp. I mean, if that can’t get you ready for the next level, nothing will.”
I enjoyed watching as the coaches took the time to explain the functionality of movements as they pertained to playing, but also, their insistence that speed meant nothing if the mechanics and form were in any way compromised.
“No one else is working out here like these kids are right now,” said Coach Hill. “That’s what I think is gonna really separate them come summer time. If these kids continue to come out and put the time in, we’re gonna be there.”
For more information on how to register with the Niagara Storm, please visit www.niagarastorm.com
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