Creating a Sense of “Home” for your Team

I recently walked through the nearly complete Packard Athletic Center on our Campus at Baldwin Wallace University.  The complex has everything we need as a team to learn, train, and build the bonds that this great game lends itself to.  Walking through and seeing what will be our new home in just a few weeks caused me to reflect on the places I’ve been and what we did to create a sense of “home” for our teams.  While those pale in comparison to “The Pack,” at all of the places I’ve been, we always found a way to do something to make it a better place for our players and build a sense of pride in their facilities.

A short video walk through of the “The Pack” shows an update on the nearly complete facility.

One thing that was always important to me as a coach was that our players took pride in what we had no matter how good or bad the facility might be.  The efforts that my staff and I would put forth ranged from scraping together some money and supplies to paint the  locker room and display our logos, to raising thousands of dollars to create something with a huge impact.

One such effort was in 2006 when we raised money to create a feeling of pride, tradition and excellence.  The page from our newsletter released that summer gives a great description of exactly what we did.  The pdf is in the link.  Here is what was printed in the newsletter:

Field House Improvements Unveiled to Team

On May 21, the team moved back into the
Field House to begin their next phase of
preparation for the 2006 season, but it
was not the same place they left in
Head Coach Keith Grabowski
acknowledged the outstanding facility that
we have. “We knew we had a special
facility, but we also felt we could make it
even better. The changes we
incorporated were designed to highlight
everything we believe is important in our
program. The ideas we incorporated were
built around the themes of excellence,
pride, tradition, and focus,” said
The design of the changes began with
Coach Grabowski’s research of the
designs of some of the top collegiate and
pro facilities. “We wanted our locker room
to have a visual impact and communicate
to any player who walks through our
doors that he is part of something bigger.
Not only is he part of the team now, but he
is connected to the past and the future,”
noted Grabowski.
The coaching staff, especially Coach Lima
and his father worked hard to bring these
changes about.
The “Excellence” wall of the Field House
now displays the names of All-SWC, All-
Lorain, and All-Ohio players. The wall
also displays the names of team scholars
who graduated with a 3.5 GPA or higher.
The “Tradition” wall is highlighted by the
new Alumni Locker. This locker has the
inscription “1 Our Alumni” on the name
plate. Inside the locker are memorabilia
donated by former players. Along the top
of the wall is a shelf displaying the helmets
of the past from 1963 until the present.
On the wall are pictures with captions
explaining the traditions that we have
created and adopted in our program over
the years.
The “Focus” wall displays the team’s goal
Comet Pride Football Monthly
charts. The team uses the charts as a
visual measuring stick for their work each
The “Pride” area of the locker room is the
short hallway leading out into the stadium.
Plans are in place to install a trophy case.
Also in the area will be pictures of
Championship and Play-off teams, and
college pictures of Comets who went on to
complete four years of college football.
The improvements in the locker room also
involve an update in coaching technology.
The days of the chalk board are gone.
Each row of lockers now has a 32” LCD
Flat Panel TV mounted on the wall with a
DVD. Each of these areas will be used for
position meetings and film evaluations.
Coaches will be using game film cut-ups
on DVD and Power Point to teach
technique, plays, and assignments.
“Last season the coaches distributed our
playbook on a CD. Learning the plays
became like playing a video game,” said
Grabowski. The coaches expanded on
their use of technology in the off season,
and will put that to use in their coaching in
The investment in the football program is
now protected by a security system.
Coaches and players are excited about
the new and improved Field House. The
walls are now rich with tradition and
history of the program. The 2006 team
looks forward to be able to leave their
mark also.


In the photo below, you see our “Alumni Locker” on our “Tradition” wall.  As mentioned in the newsletter, we recreated every helmet since 1963.  This was done by searching through old photos and yearbooks to find what the helmets looked like.  We then had our sporting goods supplier recreate the decals and provide us with rejected helmets that were repainted to the colors we needed to recreate the 11 helmets from our past.  We did incur some cost because there was a minimum run of decals for each logo we needed.  What we decided to do was use those as a fundraiser and allow our alumni to purchase a replica of the from their era.

tradition.004 (1)

The alumni locker was a great way to bring in some history.  Our alumni were great in providing us old helmets, jerseys and other memorabilia.  We were able to accumulate so much that we would switch out the display every now and then.  That was good for our players because they would constantly be in front of the locker looking at the updates and learning a little about our past.

During two-a-days we stripped out all of the memorabilia and simply put our current helmet and one of the senior’s jersey with a sign that boldly read, “HOW WILL YOU BE REMEMBERED?”  That made a huge impact on each senior in that they wanted their legacy and contribution to the program to be a positive one.

In general, we wanted the facility to create an aura.  The “Tradition” and “Excellence” walls really showed our players that the program was about much more that that season’s team.  They were a part of something much bigger, and the expectations for them to give their best were very high.

As you have some time to prepare for the season, think about what little things you can do to create that sense of home, history and tradition, or excellence by doing something, even if small to your facilities.

As mentioned in the newsletter from 2006, “The days of the chalkboard are gone.”  Technology has allowed us to advance our coaching methods and reach multiple learning styles.  An example of what can be done by utilizing the technology available to us can be viewed in my iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays created specifically for the iPad.  You can get it on your iPad by clicking the link below.

Get 101+ PRO STYLE PISTOL OFFENSE PLAYS for your iPad from the iBookstore




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