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Category: Dane Johnson

Santa Ana winds: Get ready for some gusty high school football fun

DanejohnsonThe last few days, Southern California has really been getting hammered by, of all things, WIND!  Gale force winds have been howling thru the southland, taking away power lines, trees, small pets.... and pretty much anything that isn't welded down.  I think I saw a Hyundai go flying by my office this morning!

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If this keeps up thru Friday night, football coaches are going to have to rethink their pre-game coin toss strategy.  I mean, think about it!  A player with average speed is going to be twice as fast, running with the wind.  Of course, running into the wind, is going to make a 4.5 40 guy look like a prime recruit for the "Fighting Slowpokes" of Molasses High!  The funny thing though, will be watching kickers and punters.  Their averages won't change much, because they'll most likely have a kick or two of "minus" 12 yards, but not to worry.....they'll be mixed in with a couple of 70-yard bombs that finally touch down somewhere out in the parking lot!  It's going to be GREAT!!!!!!

The refs are in for a long night too.  They're going to have to keep their whistles in their pockets otherwise we'll have a constant stoppage of play due to "wind-aided" whistling, and can you imagine coming out your front door on Saturday morning....to find twenty-three yellow flags all blown up into the corner of your patio, from the football field across the street?!  It's going to be GREAT!!!!!!

Other parts of the game are going to be impacted as well.  I hear some schools won't be allowing their cheerleaders to be thrown into the air, for fear they may wind up down the street in a  different stadium.  Mascots with "larger than life" heads are being encouraged to "strap it on tight", as there is a REALLY good chance this night is going to produce some epic YouTube footage starring them....doing "The Tumbleweed" across the field.  And Tuba players.....well....Tuba players are being encouraged to suit up with the football team, because it'll definitely be safer playing football, than playing that dang "wind tunnel" tomorrow night!  It's going to be GREAT!!!!!

As a coach though, I'm really looking forward to Friday night.  Because I have a little extra "junk in my trunk", I'm not going to have to worry much about blowing away (although, if I fall down I may ROLL all the way to Hemet!).  With the howling wind, I'm going to be able to say anything I want to the refs without them hearing me (they don't listen to me anyway).   And when the final whistle is dug out of the white hats' pocket and blown....the high school football season will be down to one last week....CIF Finals!  It's going to be GREAT!!!!!

See you at the stadium!

--Dane Johnson

RELATED:

High wind forecast: 'It isn't over yet'

California windstorm: Widespread damage, more wind coming

Santa Ana winds: 42 buildings red-tagged in Pasadena

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . CCV is providing over 1,000 needy children and their families with gifts and toys and entertaining the masses with a holiday musical performance, "The Sound of Christmas," December 14 and 15 at Azusa Pacific University. To learn more or request tickets please visit www.ccvsocal.com/sharetheseason.  
Photo: Dane Johnson. Credit: Dane Johnson.

Playoffs are a lot like life

"Playoffs!?  You're talkin' about playoffs?!  Playoffs!  I just hope we can win a game!"  --Jim Mora

DaneJohnsonThe CIF playoffs are upon us, and as a high school football coach I can honestly say, "and not a moment too soon!"  After three months of weight training and agility drills, a month of spring practices, summer workouts, seven on seven, seemingly endless days of fundraising, two weeks of two-a-days, and ten weeks of the regular season.....it's about time the playoffs have arrived!

But this time of the year means different things to different teams.   Coming into the season, most coaches and their teams set goals for themselves.  Some are lofty (win league, a CIF championship), some are noble (teach players fundamentals, character, teamwork, have the most scholar athletes in the league), some are realistic (compete in every game, give ourselves a chance to win in fourth quarter), and some are just downright fantasy (USA Today top ranked, State Championship, sign all starters to D1 scholarships).   But regardless of all the variations in expectations, there remains one consistent theme for all of these coaches and athletes; I hear it all the time, "I can't believe it's already week 11, it was just yesterday that we were handing out gear!  It went by so fast!"

Those words rang in my ears today, as I conducted the memorial service of a thirty-six-year-old man who recently lost his battle with cancer.  Years ago he had played ball at San Dimas High.  A life that started out with such promise and potential, cut short by this horrible disease.  I thought about all the dreams and plans he must have had for his life.  His parents must have envisioned so much more for him.  And yet there we were, laying this young man to rest.  Another season has come to an end.

It's true, you know.  Whether in life or something as simple as a football season, time flies!  If you stop and listen closely, you can almost hear it.....tick....tick...tick...tick...tick...                and just like that...... it's over. 

So.... whether you set your goals high or low....realistic or fantasy....noble or not....SET THEM!   "If you aim at nothing, you are more than likely going to hit it."  Take AIM at something!  And for goodness sake, put in the time, energy, effort and hard work to achieve them!

Who knows....you might make the playoffs!

See you at the stadium.

ALSO

Past commentaries by Dane Johnson

--Dane Johnson

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.

Photo courtesy of Dane Johnson.

Happy Veterans Day: You can see it in their eyes

DanejohnsonLast night the San Dimas Saints ran into a buz saw in facing a much improved team from Pomona High.  Before the fans had even settled into their seats, we were down 17-0 in the first quarter!  I overheard one of our coaches say, "Well, we can either fold our tents right now....  or we can suck it up and play our way back into the game!" 

One of my morning papers had an article  about a 84-year-old World War II veteran, accompanied with a picture of him in his home today.   To tell you the truth, I still haven't read the article because I can't get past his picture!  His eyes, even at 84...so clear and his jawline so firm!  There is a depth of character and nobility in that face that has stirred my soul.  This man has risked and given so much for a country that at times has seemingly lost its way, and yet I'll wager he would say it was a worthy cause.

I think the reason that picture effected me so, is that as a coach, from time to time I get glimpses of that same noble resolve and character, in the faces of some of my young football players.  Don't get me wrong...I'm not equating football to war, and I'm sure not elevating a pimply faced high school running back to the hallowed status reserved for the brave men and women of our military.  But every once in awhile, I get a glimpse of "that look"....a fleeting reflection on young faces representing a depth of character and nobility yet to be explored.  When a student-athlete deals with hard times at home, or his girlfriend dumps him for the tennis star, or he struggles with his homework, or like last night - he and his teammates simply run into a worthy adversary on the field.....you can see it in their faces!  They know they're in for a fight, but that's OK because what we're trying to accomplish is worth fighting for!   And so fight they do!

Last night, after going down by 17, we scored 20 unanswered points before halftime and went on to win 35-30.  I wish I could say the key to our come back was coaching (maybe it DID help a little) but I can't help but believe, that victory came out of..... the character of our players. 

I'm watching more and more, for that look in the eyes of our young people.  Who knows, maybe there is hope for our country after all.  And if there is, it'll be because of the character and nobility of our young people.

God Bless our Veterans, and God Bless America.

See you at the stadium!

ALSO

Past commentaries by Dane Johnson

 --Dane Johnson

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.
Photo: Dane Johnson. Credit: Dane Johnson.

Hut Two, Hut Two..........Weather!

That's what my mom calls it when the weather begins to cool down during football season.  Her idea of DaneJohnsonperfect football weather is a little on the cooler side than most fans prefer.  And if it should rain....well, all the better!  Her logic goes something like this; it may be uncomfortable for the fans, but the players have to lug around all that gear and it's just better if it's not too hot for them.  Plus, she surmises, a little bite in the  air breathes some life into the fans because they stay engaged in the game, if for no other reason than to keep warm!

As I head out to our ballgame this afternoon, with rain here and more on the way, I'm reminded of just how cool it really is to be involved in the greatest game on earth.  This weekend, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, siblings and friends will bundle up in winter gear, grab their umbrellas, and head out to the stadium.  And they'll do so, despite the discomfort brought on by the weather.  "So what if my feet get wet....  Big deal if I catch a little cold!  Johnny's playing, and doggone it, I'm going to be there to support him!"

I wish, in life,  we were as committed to one another ALL the time, not just in sports.  When "Hut Two" weather strikes in other areas of our lives, and life gets cold and hard, and almost unbearable (which it does for all of us at one time or another), wouldn't it be cool to know there are folks out there who can't wait to come to our support.  Folks who wouldn't dream of bailing out on us now!  "So what if the situation is messy...Big deal if he deserves much of what he's getting!  Johnny's in trouble, and doggone it, I'm going to be there to support him!"

My final high school game was played in sub-zero weather with frost and sleet falling, eighty miles from home....and we lost 36-6.  And yet my mom never missed a play.  And when the game was over, there she was....AND dad....AND sisters....aunts, uncles and cousins.... to wrap their arms around me and share our collective warmth, as we celebrated our love for one another, even in defeat.

Thirty-five years later, I can honestly say there's never been a day in my life when I didn't believe all of those folks were still rooting for me.  It's a great feeling, and one I'm trying my best to pass on to the folks around me.  You ought to try it today....it's pretty cool!

See you at the stadium.

--Dane Johnson

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.
Photo: Dane Johnson. Credit: Dane Johnson.

Brain freeze.......it happens to the best of us

DanejohnsonAs the Offensive Coordinator (OC), one of my jobs is to call the offensive plays during the heat of the action on game day.  Of course, we’ve practiced our offense all week and have come up with a game plan of how we want to attack our opponent's defenses.  And I’ve spent considerable time OFF the field, going over different scenarios that may happen in the game, and how I plan to respond to each of them.  So… why is it then, that I found myself last week, standing halfway out to the numbers on the field…my quarterback standing there anxiously waiting for the play…the clock ticking….and I’m stuck?!!!!  I mean, I had my play sheet in hand, knew what I thought the defense was going to do, and knew the down and distance we were in….and yet I had nothing!  The page looked jumbled, nothing made sense, uncertainty flooded my mind and it seemed as though I could literally hear every single parent, coach and player’s thoughts as to what THEY believed I should call.  I was in the zone for sure, but it was the BRAIN FREEZE zone (BFZ).

Am I the only one  this has ever happened to?  Amazingly BF doesn’t JUST happen on the field does it?!  I’ve experienced it at times in raising my sons, making financial decisions, interacting with my wife, and quite often it happens at work.  So what does one do when they find they’ve entered the BFZ?

I’ve learned to start the “big thaw” by going back to what I know to be true.  An OC goes back to that short list of plays he knows will work.  A father goes back to the baseline of unconditional love he feels for his kids.  A husband is reminded of the deep sense of commitment and love he felt for his bride in the beginning.  And at work, the great employee/boss/co-worker refocuses on the mission and vision that inspired him to take this job in the first place.

You see…the TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE and you can stay “cool” in the heat of the moment!   See you at the stadium!

--Dane Johnson

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.

Photo courtesy of Dane Johnson.

 

 

You can learn a lot from football

DanejohnsonIt's been said that "sports imitate life".  I believe this is especially true in football.  One can learn perseverance thru adversity, teamwork, and self-discipline from the game of football, and those who train harder, work smarter and are highly dedicated to the game, tend to be more successful than others, even those who might be more naturally gifted. That nugget is not only true in football, it's true in life.

Yesterday I was reminded of another great lesson learned from the game that applies to life.  As I watched a young high school coach and his team run the same two plays over and over again resulting in the same exact result.....no gain.... I couldn't help but want to scream, "Try another play!  That one ain't workin'!"  Of course, as a coach I know that many times we feel our options are limited.  Our star player might be injured or the fact we are missing several of our starters may very well dictate how we call the game.  And sometimes....we're just out matched by our opponent.  Whatever the reason for not changing our game plan, it usually feels like it's what we have to do.  Again, this is the way many folks feel about their life.

I've always felt though, that if somethings not working out there, we might just as well  try something different.  Who knows, maybe it'll work.  And if it doesn't....well, at least we tried something different and failed, rather than continuing to repeat the same things over again and acting surprised when it doesn't work!

So if the landscape of the game or work is starting to just blur together and the results of each day are the same...."no gain"....perhaps it's time to change it up a bit!  And if by chance, you experience a victory.....never act surprised!!!!  Act as though you planned it that way all along, and people just might begin to think you know what you're doing after all!  

RELATED

Archive of previous Dane Johnson posts

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.
Photo: Dane Johnson. Credit: Dane Johnson.

High school coaches could learn a lot from John Wooden, Tom Landry and Tony Dungy

DaneJohnson I went to a freshmen football game yesterday, and something I saw there made me stop and think.  After the punter shanked his kick, a member of the receiving team was running down the field unaware the ball was quickly coming his way.  His coaches were frantically screaming for him to "GET AWAY FROM THE BALL!"  After the play was blown dead with no ill effect to their team, at least three of the coaches took turns laying into this 13-year-old kid for failing to see the urgency in "GETTING AWAY FROM THE BALL!"  One by one they assaulted everything from his knowledge of the game, to his lack of athleticism, and his stupidity. I think they may have even  questioned why his poor parents had bothered bringing him into this world in the first place! It was painful to watch and hear.

Now, I've witnessed that scene countless times over the years (and been a participant on both ends), but for some reason it struck a chord with me yesterday.  I've heard parents and coaches scream such edifying counsel as, "HIT SOMEBODY!...or, YOU CAN'T JUMP OFFSIDES!....or, RUN!...." or my all time favorite rhetorical, "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!!"   While there are many variations of these profound coaching moments, the one commonality seems to be that they're delivered by red faces, with veins bulging and much spit spewing!

It appears many of us (parents and coaches), have forgotten a valuable character trait. It's the one, the men on my list are famous for.  A very wise man once said, "Blessed are the meek, for they will become the proud owners of all that can't be bought!".  Coaches John Wooden, Tom Landry and Tony Dungy possess(ed) legendary meekness (Strength under control).  These great men all won athletic championships, but perhaps their finest hours were those spent calmly and compassionately TEACHING...not haranguing their athletes.  No locker room "F-bombs" here.  In fact, none needed!  You see, young men are naturally drawn to good character and they'll do just about anything for someone they respect. Come to think of it....OLD men are drawn to that kind of character too!  Which is why....while I still have a long way to go....when I grow up, I want to be just like those guys! 

See you at the stadium!

Archive of previous Dane Johnson posts

--Dane Johnson

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.
Photo: Dane Johnson. Credit: Dane Johnson.

How many high school football traditions can you spot?

Danejohnson Over the years I've had the opportunity to experience high school football all over America.  It's been amazing to see all the various levels, variations and renditions of this great American tradition.  Speaking of tradition, THAT may be the one constant I experienced where ever I went.  You see, high school football is a series of one tradition after another, and it doesn't appear to have changed much over time!   

When I close my eyes for a minute and do a quick inventory of some of the rich memories I still have of those glorious days on the gridiron (that's what we used to call the field back in the day!), it seems that almost all of them are somehow tied to a tradition. 

Beginning at the end of summer with "hell week", football becomes a continuous parade of traditions.  "Up-before-dawn" workouts, pancake breakfasts, cheerleaders putting up posters (and giving players homemade chocolate chip cookies), pep rallies, pregame meals, marching bands, students wearing school colors, car windows painted, parents at the stadium early to get "their seats", pregame locker room speeches (I learned some new words during some of these!), running through the huge banner held by cheerleaders.... and THAT guy.... falling as he ran through the banner, captains holding hands as they meet in the middle of the field for the coin flip, helmets raised for the opening kick-off (I'll never forget the hair standing on the back of my neck as I sprinted down that field for the first time), post game handshakes, celebrations and commiseration,  huddles with teammates and hugs from your girl, watching the game video and eating pizza.....and then the feelings of anticipation as we start the whole thing all over again on Monday!  These traditions and others too numerous to mention, are all a part of the fabric of American high school football.

Continue reading »

Dane Johnson: Everyone has potential, but how does a coach reach it?

"That kid has more athletic ability in his little finger than most of you guys have in your whole body!”
DaneJohnson Those were the not-so-encouraging words my high school football coach gave our team at the beginning of two-a-days my senior year. He was speaking about a young man who stood over six feet tall, weighed somewhere around 190 pounds and could run! The problem, of course, was that this “future Heisman” had decided football in the Oklahoma heat was too much work and so he was sitting out the season! Coach WAS able to get the kid to play, but I’m not sure he was ever able to help him capture a vision for just how good he could have been.
I was reminded of that young man today, when someone asked me about Walter. You see, Walter was a skinny freshman I coached a few years back. He was so skinny his huge smile seemed to run off both sides of his face. But he was quick as a cat, could jump through the roof, and just flat out could run! I remember thinking to myself, “He had BETTER be able to run fast because if they ever catch him, they’ll break him in half." He was skinny!
But there was something special about Walter, and most of our coaches could see it. Eight years of weights, countless sprints, hours and hours of on-the-field work and a lot of encouragement from coaches and friends finally paid off when Walter Thurmond III was drafted out of the University of Oregon by the Seattle Seahawks, for whom he still plays.
Funny thing about potential…everyone has some. If you watch people for just a little while, you can usually spot it. The big question is, “what are you doing to inspire them to pursue it? And what are you doing to help them to attain it?” A good start might be by pursuing the potential in your own life!
See you at the stadium!
--Dane Johnson
The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.
Photo: Dane Johnson. Credit: Dane Johnson.

Dane Johnson: Repossessors and referees

I worked my way through Bible college, repossessing cars for a living.  Really, I did!  My junior and Danejohnson senior years of college, and the eight years following graduation were filled with the adventure of sneaking into folks backyards and driveways....usually in the middle of the night.... and stealing their car on behalf of several major banks in the Southland.  

As you can imagine, pretty much every night that I was in the field, I would come face to face with an angry car owner who wanted to rip me limb from limb....and then REALLY hurt me!  When in confrontation, I would always tell them the same thing; "this isn't personal, I'm just doing my job."  The problem was though, that it was NEVER a win for me!  If I took the car, the owner was angry.  If I didn't, the bank was mad and wouldn't pay me...which meant my wife was mad because our baby wasn't getting new shoes!  And sometimes, if the car was junk, EVERYONE was mad!  I couldn't win!

 I got to thinking about those repo days this past week. For the next several weeks of fall, all over America, we will witness a very similar interaction between football coaches, furious at missed calls (or made ones), referees defending those same calls, coaches complaining about the lack of parental support for the program, and fans shrieking at the incompetence of the coaches....AND the refs!  And the players get caught up in the middle of the mess, leading some to think, "We just can't win!"  

The amazing thing is, that 99.999% of the coaches I know really do care about the young men they coach.  They have a heart for developing them as men while representing their school and winning games (why else would they work countless hours for a couple thousand dollars a year)! And 99.999%....well maybe 99.997% of referees I've encountered over the years, really don't have an agenda other than keeping the game inside the rules and safe for the players.  They genuinely want the game to go well and the best team to win.  And what may surprise some coaches.....those parents really DO care about the program, but just like us, they don't always show it in the right ways. 

 So....what if we all just stepped back and took a deep breath... reminded ourselves that football is the greatest game on earth and we get to participate in it....and began trusting one another's good intentions?  I bet...that if we began expecting the best out of one another, we would end up getting more of the best, out of one another!

I love this game and the people in it!  See ya at the stadium!

--Dane Johnson

The Times is pleased to have Dane Johnson blogging his thoughts on high school football throughout the season. Johnson, a football coach at San Dimas High, has been a football coach for more than 20 years in the San Gabriel Valley and is also a pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley . You can connect with him on Twitter @PastorDaneJ.

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