Originally posted on June 3rd, 2015 on texasredzonereport.com
Methods of communication for high school football coaches have changed over the years. While tried and true methods still have their place on the sidelines, technology has changed those methods over the years.
Social media has long been thought of as a kid’s game, something you are more than likely to see a high school football player on, while coaches seem like they’d more naturally utilize it begrudgingly.
That may not hold true any more. Coaches aren’t just signing up for Twitter accounts just to follow a trend, they’re starting trends of their own.
Chris Fisher, who is the offensive line coach and academic coordinator at Ridge Point High School in Missouri City, started the Texas High School Football Chat in January with the hopes of connecting coaches.
“Texas High School Football Chat (#txhsfbchat) started in January after a friend of mine created a Facebook post asking for coaches’ Twitter handles. I was already active in different education-related chats and felt that coaches could benefit from the same thing,” Fisher recalled. “So I created the hashtag, set the first date and publicized it using Facebook and Twitter. I believe that first week we had maybe 15 coaches participating, but it was a great experience and enough people started talking about it in order to spread the word.”
Fisher sees the weekly chat as a professional learning network and a forum for coaches, promoting growth and education.
The weekly chat, hosted by Fisher and often featuring special guests, has grown each week. Fisher says the coaches that participate become an example to their student athletes.
“I was definitely surprised at how fast the chat grew and the number of coaches that join each week,” Fisher told Texas Redzone Report. “I think one of the great characteristics of the chat is that it is an opportunity for coaches to show their athletes how Twitter can be used appropriately as they expand their education and make connections with other coaches.”
While students can benefit from having an example, and coaches are sharing knowledge, Fisher hopes the chat will provide even more benefits to coaches.
“I definitely believe that the direct connection to coaches opens up opportunities. I am visiting with great coaches all over Texas and the United States. I have had the opportunity to talk with different people about what they do to help coaches and athletes,” Fisher said. “I have also been able to visit with different college coaches and build relationships with them while hoping to have them serve as guest hosts to the chat as well. It would not surprise me at all if someone told me they were able to find a job because of a connection they make through the chat.”
While there are a bevy of coaching clinics peppered throughout the offseason for coaches to learn from their peers, most clinics are annual and the chat serves as a way to keep coaches in contact between clinics.
“I believe in the value of attending clinics, but I believe that #txhsfbchat is a great way of extending the conferences and continue to learn. I haven’t had time to attend a conference since starting the chat, but I can’t wait because I will be live tweeting it for #txhsfbchat.”
Each chat usually focuses on a central theme. Last week, coaches from around the state talked about the use and value of 7 on 7.
Brandon Houston, a coach and founder of CoachHuey.com, talked about how 7 on 7 helps develop leadership skills, and Lonnie Norton, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Paris High School said it keeps kids competitive.
The week before that, Jason Aubry, the head coach of Joliet West, hosted the chat on coaching staff organization.
Fisher says that he has already started applying some of what he has learned on Wednesday nights, including implementing different drills.
The Wednesday night chat has been such a success that there are now chats on every week night.
“Many of the chats that you see now each night of the week are all run by coaches that have been active participants in #txhsfbchat since it began. I have even had a couple of coaches from Europe that coach “American Football” ask how they can be involved,” Fisher said.
“My focus on the chat right now is to continue getting more coaches involved every Wednesday night at 8pm and to provide the best possible opportunity for coaches to grow professionally. I would love to see more college coaches not only guest host, but also become active participants to create an open dialogue between high schools and colleges.”
Perhaps the best part of the chat for coaches, especially those that discover it late or that have to miss, is the on-demand chat archive that allows coaches to view the full archive and transcript going all the way back to the first one on January 14.
Tonight, high school coaches from around the state will once again be tuned in on Twitter.
Alex Kirby, who is the author of several books, the lifeafterfootballblog.com and a former high school and college coach, will be hosting tonight’s chat at 8 p.m. CDT. Follow along on Twitter or on the website.