After Battery Creek's spring football game ended, my mind filled again with thoughts that summer is as important to a football program as the season and spring practice.
I learned as a coach that player academics created one of most stressful aspects for coaches and players, and summer school was the final opportunity for academically deficient players to regain eligibility and keep their scholarships for the upcoming season. At one college where I coached, academic stress was high because two or three starters and two or three good backup players were battling to pass courses to remain eligible. These kids had an important impact on the team.
One of the most stressful summers I recall was when I was worrying about the starting quarterback I coached, who was very instrumental in getting the team to two bowl games and was struggling to maintain his eligibility for his senior season. That summer was tough, because I was tracking him daily to make sure he was going to class, fulfilling class requirements, and attending study hall with tutors.
Another critical and stressful aspect for coaches during the summer is keeping tabs on players who are going through the rehab process after serious injuries during the season or in spring practice, some of which require surgery. Thankfully, summer provides enough time for players to rehab so they can be physically and mentally prepared to play in the fall.
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It's important for coaches to encourage players to make the same effort to rehab as they did playing during the season and in spring practice. I kept my fingers crossed all summer hoping players would put in the work to recover from their injuries.
Summer workouts are another critical component for college teams. "Voluntary workouts" were created years ago by coaches to hurdle the NCAA's summer practice restrictions. Coaches can't be involved in voluntary workouts in the weight room and on the field, but summer workouts are essential for players to be prepared for the upcoming season. Summer was time for many players to get bigger, stronger, faster and improve cardiovascular conditioning essential to be an impact player. Coaches couldn't direct the workouts, but they encouraged players to work hard on the days they worked out.
Also voluntary workouts are a time to help players bond with each other and become better teammates.
During the summer the staff spends a great deal of time reviewing films of past season games and spring practice to make X and O adjustments and meeting to improve all parts of practices. I watched far more game tapes than TV or movies during the summer.
Whoever said summer was supposed to be a time to relax obviously wasn't a football player or coach -- or at least they probably weren't a very good one.