The Athens (Ala.) High School football program finished 8-4 with a first round playoff loss in 2018. That’s fine, but hardly worth writing home about. What is worth writing about is how the program has taken the concept of player development far beyond the field.
Earlier this week, a video from Athens football’s “Manly Mondays” showcased an Athens assistant football coach teaching his players how to change a flat tire, an example of the program using valuable practice time to teach a practical, non-football lesson.
The video that was posted to Twitter by Athens head coach Cody Gross has already been viewed more than 2.5 million times.
Gross’ tire changing lesson wasn’t his first tour de force for his players. In previous weeks he’d also taught how to change a car’s oil and transmission fluid, magnetize a screwdriver and even how to cut PVC pipe with twine.
No, the life skills taught by the now famous Coach Carter probably won’t save any players’ lives. And they may not set the stage for any future careers. Still, they’re essential life skills for adults and speak to the kind of broader commitment that the best coaches have to their athletes.
So no, the Athens football team didn’t win a state title in 2018. They might not in 2019, either. That doesn’t mean they aren’t all winners, starting at the very top.