Archived Story

Editorial: How winless teams turn it around

Published 9:40am Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The three high schools in Freeborn County lost every football game this season.

Albert Lea went 0-8. Glenville-Emmons went 0-8. Alden-Conger went 0-8.

It’s too bad. We hope every team experiences the elation of a victory at least once a season. But prep football is not like college and pro. It’s not time for heads to roll. And there is no room for pointing fingers at players.

In covering multiple squads in the region, we know all teams have enough talent to win. It’s our view that successful teams, no matter the sport, have two distinct advantages:

1. Their squads are more disciplined. They stick to assignments and are focused on their tasks. There is a sense of mission. No matter the sports, players learn to behave less like boys and girls and more like men and women. There is a strong sense of school pride, not just spirit, but true pride.

2. At lower grades, the game is about developing good players. Upperclassmen show respect to underclassmen for joining the program, and they instill the importance of being a team. In some schools, players have been playing and winning at the sport since elementary school. The coaches at all levels work together toward the goal of a great varsity program. (Lake Mills volleyball and Albert Lea wrestling provide key examples.)

That’s it, really. It’s about creating a culture.

Some years, great athletes will come along. The team wins titles. But in the years without the exemplary talent, the team still does well because of tradition, pride and the focus on success.

We don’t have all the answers, by any means, but we know fans would like to see our teams improve going into next year. To get there, we cannot place the entire job on the head coaches. It will take a handful of key people — coaches, athletic directors, parents, volunteers and sometimes even a custodian with a key — putting a system in place.