As an Army veteran who served in Iraq, new Central Catholic football coach L.D. Green Sr. is accustomed to a culture imbued in self-discipline and sacrifice.
In Green’s world, there are few things in life nobler than making a commitment to something bigger than oneself. It’s the military way and Green is banking that mindset will permeate the Central football program in time.
“The biggest thing is your accountability,” Green said this week before a workout. “Accountability for what you have to do. Being the head coach, I have to be accountable for the whole team, the whole program, and then I delegate responsibilities to my coaching staff.
“I tell them, ‘You’re responsible for your position. You take care of those guys. These are your duties, and that’s what I expect.’ I’m not going to micromanage. Then it’s down to the players. If you’re an O-line guy, you’ve got to know what you’re supposed to do. That’s your job. That’s how it is. No excuses.”
While this is Green’s first-head coaching job, he is no stranger to Central Catholic. He was an assistant coach under former coach Carlos Enrico for four seasons, joining the Buttons’ staff two days after ending his 24-year Army career with his retirement in April 2007.
Green, 51, left Central after the 2010 season to become an assistant coach at Trinity. He coached the Tigers’ offensive line during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Green spent last year out of coaching to help his wife, Tritia M. Finley, with the couple’s two children while she worked on her doctorate degree at St. Mary’s.
When Don Byrd resigned as Central’s coach in early June, Green quickly became the choice to succeed him. Enrico, who stepped down as head coach in 2011 to devote full time to his duties as athletic director, was instrumental in Green’s hiring.
Central opens season against Lanier next Thursday
Green, who was a chief warrant officer when he retired from the Army, was hired just one day after Byrd stepped down.
“His interview level was a big factor in hiring him,” Enrico said Wednesday. “That was a major thing. I know the way he was with the kids and the way he handled kids in a fair manner. He’s all about accountability. As people know, these Central kids will play for you.”
Being the guy in charge has been an adjustment for Green, whose intensity is tempered by a keen sense of humor. While he’s tough and demanding, Green hardly projects the image of a drill sergeant. He enjoys high-fiving his players and engaging in playful banter with them during warm-ups before practice.
“There was a lot of anxiety this summer before we started working out,” Green said. “When I was a position coach, I just had to be just focused on one thing. I’ve got the whole ball of wax now, with all the administrative, behind-the-scenes stuff that a lot of people don’t really realize. Once football started, I was back home, back in my element.
“Now, as we’re rolling around and we’re getting our battle tempo going, I see the guys, reflecting on our last scrimmage (against Somerset last Saturday), putting forth great effort. I wanted to see two things: effort and competing. That was good. As I’ve gotten back to school, it feels like I never left.”
The Buttons scrimmage Edison at 6 p.m. Friday at Central, and open their season against Lanier at 7 p.m. next Thursday in the first game at newly renovated Alamo Stadium.
Although Central has finished below .500 each of the last two seasons – 4-7 last year and 5-6 in 2012 – Green has been encouraged by what he’s seen in preseason workouts.
“When I address the coaching staff, I tell them that it’s about now,” Green said. “This is not about rebuilding. It’s about attitude. As a retired military guy who’s been outside the wire, you have the attitude that you’re going to go out there and be successful in what I’ve got to do and come back. When we get out there on the football field and we’re successful in what we’ve got to do, God willing, we’ll come back with a victory.”
Green expressed confidence that the Buttons have what it takes to be successful this season.
“I learned a lot about our team in that scrimmage with Somerset,” Green said. “I saw guys play with heart and they were ready to compete. My coaches and I can teach the X’s and O’s, but we can’t coach heart. I think we’re learning to play together as a team.
“This game goes up and down very quickly, but it’s all about how you handle adversity and how you finish. I see guys on this team with fire in their eyes. As the season goes on, we will get better.”
Enrico: Green’s enthusiasm, passion infectious
Green played college football at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, Calif., before enlisting in the Army. He started coaching when he was in the military, serving as offensive coordinator at Moanalua High School in Honolulu in 2004 and 2005, and coaching receivers and running backs at Fort Campbell High School in Kentucky in 2006.
Not surprisingly, Green’s coaching philosophy reflects his military background and the values that became second nature to him when he was a soldier.
“When you hear that saying, ‘There’s no I in team,’ I believe there is an ‘I’ in team,” Green said. “Because the ‘I’ has to be responsible and accountable for their actions, ensuring that they’re taking care of their job. From that, that ‘I’ is a part of the whole team structure.
“So if that ‘I’ fails, the team fails. It’s all about the ‘I’ has to know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and understanding that the people next to them are doing their jobs. And now we’re coming together as one. It’s like the yin and the yang. That balance is very important.”
Enrico said that Green’s enthusiasm and passion are infectious.
“That’s the main reason why I hired him back in 2007,” Enrico said. “I can remember he took over the weight room and, man, he had them jumping and singing. He was one of those guys that loved his work. He even taught them the Army chants. I didn’t have to motivate them. That was him. That was all heart. That, to me, was a big sign that he was somebody special.”
In the end, Green was hired because he embraces Central Catholic’s commitment to mold well-rounded young men.
“I’m about the whole guy,” Green said. “Everything we’re talking about is we’re building men of faith, men of letters and men of action. Football is just part of that within the whole structure of Cental Catholic and Marianist mission.
“I’m just a part of that. Hopefully, these young men will walk out of here great students, great teammates, great friends, and eventually will be great husbands, great fathers and great citizens.”
And it all starts with accountability.