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March 1, 2022

Creating a Successful Path Using Athletics w/Brennan Spain

Creating a Successful Path Using Athletics w/Brennan Spain

#30.  As if being a first-time head coach wasn't tough enough, Brennan Spain was named Head Football Coach at Cardinal Ritter College Prep (St. Louis, MO) in the midst of a global pandemic. How has Coach Spain's teams responded? With back-to-back trips to the MO State Semifinals. This year, the Lions have their sights set on winning a state championship.

In this episode, Coach Spain discusses:

  • What makes Cardinal Ritter College Prep successful
  • The recruiting process
  • The importance of honesty between coaches & players
  • Balancing athletic talents with academics

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Transcript

Luke:

This is episode 30 of The "I" in Win podcast.

Brennan:

I tell my guys all the time, your natural life will outlive your, athletic life. So make sure that we put ourselves in position to be successful when it happens.

Luke:

Welcome to The "I" in Win podcast. The show that focuses on why coaches should embrace the journey of impacting. I'm your host, Luke Mertens. And today we welcome on head football coach at Cardinal Ritter College Prep. He's also a father, husband, role model, leader of many follow of none, Southeast Missouri State Football alum, Mr. Brennan Spain. Thanks for providing that great bio off your Twitter coach. Welcome to The.

Brennan:

Greatly appreciate it, coach.

Luke:

Sorry, I'm trippin all over. My words has been a long day, you know, recording this after a long day of coaching and teaching. bear with me. Let's start with the little snapshot of your school. I know you're located in the St. Louis area. Talk a little bit about the size of your school, the dynamics of your school and what kind of makes it unique.

Brennan:

Cardinal Ritter college prep is in the city of St. Louis. The only private school is located in the north side of St. Louis. Splits the Dell more divider. So it was kind of right down the Delmore. On this end, you have different ethnic on the other end. You have, you have another one. The good thing about it is that it's, it's, it's a family like atmosphere. It's a total, maybe 386 total students, uh, student to teacher ratio is maybe 17 to one, 16 to one depending on, you know, what class you in pre-calc and things like that you can have maybe six or seven students in there. So it's a great close-knit family. Full of energy, full of love. Uh, we have a great mission, faith development, academics, and leadership. So, I mean, it's, it's those great things that we have going on there. And I absolutely love the envinronment.

Luke:

So given where the school is located geographically, then, is it a pretty diverse student?

Brennan:

No Now it's, all black, it's the only all black private school in the state of Missouri. So, um, we, have students there who were able to learn about their culture, their upbringing, their ethnicity, and able to kind of figure out who they are as a person, you know, not just them, but just, you know, their The families and you know exactly what drives us, where we come from. Just kind of learning more about us, as a African-American race.

Luke:

And what roles do you have inside the school during the day, in addition to being a head football coach,

Brennan:

During the course of the day, I am a college planning coordinator and what I do is help and allow students to be able to transition from high school to college, help out on a scheduling, but most importantly, one thing I love is when students not, not just athletes, but students who are interested and getting to the next level and just ask them for advice and tips and things like that. And sit down and help fill out applications and fans from things like that. that's the beauty of job.

Luke:

What are the challenges that you see both teachers and students facing in the classroom today?

Brennan:

I would just say I, uh, realistically, still, still trying to get used to being out for maybe a year, you know, and then coming back, not coming in fully to coming in fully. I mean, you know, we, we might not think as big, but we're still trying to get adjusted to that. if you look at it, this 20, 25 class, the freshman class, this is the first time being in school since maybe seventh grade. Uh, so things like that, that we kind of take for granted that we really overlooked. Those are the things that the students are, are dealing with. Not just students, but teachers as well. You know, it takes a while for us to be able to get accustomed to what we were doing compared to what we are doing now in reference of the.

Luke:

Yeah, that's a great point. And I'm sure you deal with this too. Being a head football coach, teachers tend to knock on your door a lot and tell you all the things that your players are doing wrong in the classroom. And I think that we forget as adults, how much the world of these teenagers have been turned upside down the past couple of years. So yeah, it's only natural when they get inside of classroom, they're going to be like, squirrely, whatever you going to say. Right. Because you know, I know we talked before we hit record, you have a teenage daughter. I have a teenage daughter, like they've been trapped inside and they miss their friends and miss just kind of the normalcy of it all. So, uh, yeah, that's definitely a difficult piece. I think adults, when you take into consideration, What about the athletic piece? What are some of the challenges that you see happening within your school right now as a coach?

Brennan:

Challenges. It's just, I wouldn't, you know what, I wouldn't necessarily call it a challenge. I would just say just the, uh, motivation. Just for, the student athletes to understand that we are student athletes. So both of them work hand in hand. We can't necessarily just focus all on the athletic piece because we are scholar athletes at Cardinal Ritter so the grades are extremely important. The curriculum there is a little bit different than the typical public school. So what that does is that puts you in a position when you step outside of Cardinal Ritter out after Going through for four years, when we step on college campus, you would definitely be ready. So that's what we have to explain to the athletes. Uh, I explained to my guys all the time that it's bigger than football from the standpoint that we have to make sure that we attack inside the classroom, like we attack inside those white lines. So those are the things that is all about having a, a balanced attack. And the balanced attack with me will be academically as well as athletically.

Luke:

Well, let's talk about attack and inside the lines. Cause I know that you've had a lot of success. Most of us in this business, we tend to be humble guys. You to, uh, to be comfortable bragging a little bit. So let our audience know a little bit about the success that you've been having as a team, and then also, individually, a lot of your kids go on to some pretty elite school. So talk a little bit about that.

Brennan:

Oh, absolutely. As an individual, as a head coach, this is my first head coaching job. I walked into a situation where it was COVID. So, uh, I came in COVID really didn't have anybody to lean on the ask because everybody was going through this. Came in in January of 20, 20, and two, three months later, we were out completely shut down. So I'm a new coach, uh, was just starting to get to know the players, just starting to build a bond with them and everything. Uh, and when we came back, we were allowed to play maybe the last couple of weeks in October. So we made it, we might've had maybe three regular season games, and then we had to jump right into the playoffs. Uh, we didn't start off real good but we ended up catching rhythm and we made it to the state semifinals, but we lost to a good program and we were game away from state. So I said, okay, The next year, you know, we're going to get a full year in and we'll be able to progress and learn and, and, overcome the mistakes and things that we had. And, that year started off. We, we were just trying to be more consistent and we wasn't, we was here, we were win, lose win-lose and we ended up catching rhythm again. And I made it back to the state semifinals. So you're talking about a first year head coach, made two trips to the final. And I'm looking to hopefully knock that door then I hopefully, but we we're planning on knocking the door now to get into the state championship. the good thing about is that the guys on the team or extremely athletic, we have guys who have played, uh, on the next level have been successful in the next level. And I tell guys that is the ultimate goal. I know we all want to win state, but if we can find a way to use this game of football, As been taking all our time, energy and effort and get out education paid for that's that's big in itself. So, I do pat myself on the back, because it's a lot of things that, you know, that goes into this, that, that people don't know. But you know, at the end of the day, this is a, result driven business. So at the end of the day, wins over losses. So with that being said, I mean, it's, you know, I just, my first two years out as being the head coach, I really say one and a half because the COVID made it to the state semifinals twice. So I think that's extremely big. I don't think too many coaches, can say that, you know, their first two years out the gate. So, I'm used to playing in late, late November. And we're trying to get to that first week in December for the state champions.

Luke:

you must be doing something special to be able to, like you said, in your first two years, make it to the state. Semi-finals because, obviously you have talented athletes, but it only takes you so far. There has to be something unique, something uncommon about your program. So what is it that you do that you believe gives you that winning.

Brennan:

Well, the young man, or really believe in exactly what we're trying to do. And I think it, if you play as believe in you and you believe in them, that that goes a long way, they are willing to do anything. They're willing to give you a little bit more, even if they don't have more. So, I would just say just the trust and the relationship and the chemistry and the love and the support that you get from your players. What really gets us going, what really gets these guys to go all in for us is just the love that they have for me and the love that I have for them. And keep in mind, we are still building on that. These are still things that, you know, I'm still getting to know them. They're still getting to know me. When you compete and when you go in day by day and just continue to grind the team to get better, you'll start knowing each other even more. So this is real big. And I definitely think the, the love and the support they have that we have for one another, carry us over those tough times.

Luke:

Well, let's talk about that relationship piece because you're right. That's such an important part of the component and you come in during. There's there's no book, there's no clinic that's ever covered that situation before. And so you didn't even have that opportunity to get, to really meet your kids and establish that love. And that trust that you just said. So what do you do as a head coach now to intentionally build those relationships with your players, that they're going to love you and trust you? Because it is such an important part of being.

Brennan:

I tell you this, the first thing that I'm doing and I'm even doing this now, I'm just, I'm letting them be able to vent and let them allow them to be able to tell me what they think and you know, what direction we're going in and how do they think The outcome can be different this year than it was last year. Just sitting down, just, just kind of switching roles a little bit, just I'm sitting on the other side of the table. Just tell me what you think. Tell me your goals, tell me your plans, things like that. And, and, and I think sometimes we're in this position, you know, we always kind of giving orders and saying what we should do, what we shouldn't do. So I just kind of reversed the. Around this time, just, just to get feedback from the players, because at the end of the day feedback is extremely important from the guys that you're going to battle with the guys that you spend a lot of time with day in and day out.

Luke:

Let's talk about the counseling piece and kids going on to the next level in college? I'm assuming you're aware of the issues with the transfer portal. It's taken away opportunities of, high school kids. So how are you handling that? Because you mentioned earlier, Hey, use football as the platform be able to get your schooling paid for, and we're seeing those opportunities. Being taken away from high school kids. So how are you as both the head football coach and a college counselor? What are you telling these families on how to handle This unprecedented situation?

Brennan:

Unfortunately, it's, been extremely rough on this 2022 class. And if you're not a four or five star, then it seems like that you kind of left out. So what we have to do is just have to find our niche, just find out exactly where we can go and what a lot of guys in parents fail to realize is that the. B one B2 B3, the higher the GPA has to be. So with that being said, that's why the academics are extremely important because now those D three schools and those D two schools where they can give you half athletic, half academics or extremely key. So we're just trying to find our niche. And a lot of the division one schools got a lot of kids out of the transfer of portals, like and AIS. What kind of still available? Kind of heavy into high school. So, unfortunately it hurt us, but it also helped helped a lot of us because academically we, we weren't positioned to be able to take those scholarships and take those opportunities. Others couldn't take on a lower level because our grades were on a higher level if that makes.

Luke:

Yeah, it does. And I'm sure you're seeing what we're seeing here in Chicago land area, that kids are kind of reaching a point. Division one or bust and they're turning away other opportunities because they're not getting that big time offer, which not everyone's going to get that. Right. So, I'm sure you have these same conversations, so what's your advice to your players when it comes to that, because not everyone's going to get that big D one offer. That's just the reality of it.

Brennan:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, and, and the, the craziest thing about, uh, and I think we had this conversation before is that, you know, it's not really the kids or the parents fault when they say, do you want a bus? Because when you cut on the TV, that's all you see, all you see is division one football. You don't see deep two, you don't see deep three NAI. Juko the only level you see is D one. So if that's all I see, that's where I want to go. And it makes completely sense. So we have to be able to not make student athletes, so tunnel vision on D one. We have to televise those other levels of football and can show that and show them that it's great athletes on those levels as well. You know? So it starts from the top, from, from the standpoint of the NCAA, this opening. And getting these division two games are getting these D one AA, games early in D three and all those schools. So the students can see that it's talent on all these levels, and it's not just talent on, on the big stage.

Luke:

Yeah, there's no doubt. I mean, in Chicago land, we have, for example, north central college. It's a division three school with just their studs on the field. And kids wouldn't know that. Right. They would have no idea if they didn't actually go to a game and watch these kids playing back. Holy cow. I mean, this this is real football. Yeah. Yeah. It is absolutely. I mean more than what you see on TV on Saturday afternoon. So that's a great point that you're making that you only know what you know, right. Or you don't know you don't Yeah.

Brennan:

would, you know, and know what you see and, you know, and like I said, that's, that's all they see if you cut it on every day and you see Alabama every week as a student athlete, why wouldn't I want to go to Alabama? That only makes sense. That's all. You know, so you have to, if you want these kids to stop saying, do you want a bus? Or if I ain't going to one ain't going anywhere. That's because they haven't seen anything yet. They hear about it. But a lot of us are visual learners. We need to see it. So in order for us to be able to change that narrative, the change that slogan is saying or what, however you want to say it, or however you want to classify it, we need to burst that D one bubble and expanded to showing these other divisions and levels on, on.

Luke:

That's a great point. And especially a team, you look at you probably going to have, I mean, I don't know how many D one guys you have on your team, but you know, you're only going to have maybe one, if you're lucky, maybe you're going to have four. Right. But most of your kids aren't on that trajectory. So how do you motivate all of your kids? Because sometimes when the reality hits and they're 17 and they're going into their senior year and like, okay, I'm not going to Michigan. I, the reality just sets in and maybe it's gotta be D two or D three and AI. And they kind of lose a little bit of motivation, especially when they see their buddy who they grew up with got that scholarship. And they feel like they are just as talented as that. How do you motivate those kids to keep coming and keep contributing and let them know that they are important to the success of the.

Brennan:

Well, you know, if everybody has to find their own niche and I tell parents, and I tell players this all the time, I can not get full off looking at somebody else plate. And I think sometimes that's what we do. We look at the next guy played and we see what he had. And we think we deserve it. No, everybody has their own plate. And what's put in front of you is for you. The thing is, is that like, we all have to also be realistic and be able to understand that, everybody's not a division one player and sometimes it may hurt. So my thing is I tell my guys all the time, I'm not going to lie for you. I'm not gonna lie on you. It's my job as a coach is to put you in the best position possible to be successful. Now. No today comes in my office and I don't call you down to see Notre Dame. That's because it's my job to put you in position to be successful. Putting you in front of Notre Dame is not putting you in position to be successful. So that's what they have to see. They have to be able to understand, understand that that it's different levels for a reason. my thing is, I said all the time, what's your end goal. I ask my guys all the time, like, what's, what's your end goal. And of course, everybody say, I want to make to the NFL. Well, if that's your end goal, why does it matter which way we take to get there? So if your ultimate end goal is to make it to the NFL, Then it's different routes you can take. Why are we all trying to take the same route? You know, when everybody's taking the same route when everybody's merging and that's when you get accidents, that's when you get traffic. So it's different ways to get there. And I tell my guys all the time, like if that's your dream, chase it, but this is what I want you to do. Meantime in between time, while you chasing it, take advantage of this because these guys are paying you to come play for them. So what you need to do is make sure we handle. Inside the classroom, because if it doesn't work out, you still want to be able to leave here with a smile on your face. So I tell them that all the time, from the standpoint of, we just got to make sure what's our fit fits for us. We can't look to our right can't look to our left, to see what's on their plate. We gotta worry about what's being served on our plate and handle that.

Luke:

So, let me ask you this. Cause I get asked the question all the time and I don't always know if I have a great answer for my. What's it take to get that division one scholarship? What, what's the advice you give your players? Or you just say, Hey, it's out of your control and all it's in your control is, you know, how hard you work.

Brennan:

So it takes, a couple of things. First and foremost, you have to be able to pass the eyeball test. That's first and foremost for something. I mean, regardless if we like it or not, it's all about the measurements. So that's the purpose of us working hard, making sure. Putting the proper and correct things in our bodies to give us that look that they're looking for, whether we like it or not, we know what they're looking for. So we have to look the part. Secondly, it takes the God building up the God ability that he's given you natural ability. Run jump, catch balls, things like that. You know, w which we, think that are extremely simple, but those are the key measurements that really gets the guy at division one. Look, you know, and just being consistent, you have to be able to put a quality film together, consistent film together. You have some guys that go to camps and get it. And some guys who just put together great film, and it's all about Just getting a good opportunity. Working hard, definitely comes with it. Uh, I have a freshman now who has maybe 11 to 12, uh, division one offices. He's a running back. And I tell him all the time, you know, just like you got it, you have to maintain that because when it's time to cash out on it, if you didn't handle your business, then that will no longer be there. So we have to what was given to us. We have to make sure that we keep it by maintaining the ability. That has gotten us to get it, if that makes sense. So it's one of those things that I tell kids all the time when a division one school offers you it's, it's it's for two reasons. It's because it's a quick knee that you can get there and be able to play and, or they see the potential in you and you just have to maintain it. So size is everything. Speed is one thing, explosiveness. Just being a good football player, a great football player will also get you, offers.

Luke:

So how receptive are the kids when you give that speech, like using your fresh and running back as an example of, Hey, now you need to maintain that. Excellent. So are they pretty receptive

Brennan:

unfortunately some are not some more. And you know, it's, it's, it's all about the truth, you know, and I know you heard the saying the truth hurts. Sometimes it does, but like I tell them all the time, I'm not gonna lie for you. I'm not gonna lie on you. So I'd rather shoot you straight now. So later on when the truth hits you, won't be up to. and also sometimes me giving you the truth might make you elevate your game, and that's just what it is. We have to perfect our craft. I tell guys all the time, it's a million guys that's working, you're not just competing against the guys. That's on your schedule. It's guys that are on their schedule and that are on their schedule. I mean, it's everybody through this country you're competing with, I tell my corners all the time. I mean, there's only two corners on the. There's 2 million corners. So what do you think you have to do to be able to get on the field? You know, so those are the things that, that sometimes they take in, it's hard to swallow, but it's the truth. And once they can deal with the truth and deal with reality, I think the better off that they will be

Luke:

Well, one thing that, uh, we talked about before hit record, and I see the picture behind you is the track. And, that plays a role right in.

Brennan:

you a huge role. Because at the end of the day that, you know, speed is speed. And I tell my guys all the time, what's, what's the difference between, a guy sometimes going around one around. If the skill level is the same, it's the 40 times. So that just goes to show you how important it is, man. All my skill guys must run track. It's one of those things that, you know, sometimes they shy away from it. And I understand because it's, it's the one sport where you can't hide. You're not coming off a block. And if you're a basketball player, not coming off a pick and roll anything, it's just you in that lane and you can't tell me how fast you are because the clock is going on.

Luke:

how receptive are the kids to that concept? Joining track because by the way, I have the same conversation, but unfortunately, How many, if you think about right? I mean, we use running as a punishment, so we kind of ingrained in these kids that running is a punishment. So they're playing football in third grade and a kid makes a mistake and wants the coach say, take a lap. So they're taught that running is a form of punishment. So they end up not liking it. So here I am a varsity coach. Shane, you need to be fast, you need to run. And they're, they're afraid of it almost. So how receptive are the kids?

Brennan:

Some are receptive. Some are kind of like a, you know, some trying to hide trying to duck the workouts because the. by any means the toughest workouts you could ever go through. and what it does is it kind of breaks down the whole body. And a lot of those guys. On use of that. This is the first time it might've been through their whole life where they, they whole body was actually kind of shut down. But what it does, it builds you up. Track does more for you mentally than anything, because it puts you in a mind frame. I can run with anybody and I can run all day, you know? And when you have that confidence as a football player, especially as a skill player, there's not really too much, you can't do, you know? So that, alone helps. But I will tell you this, our veteran guys that ran last year, They understand the importance of it. So for the younger guys that are making run, I don't necessarily have to convince them to run because they see it in the older guys and the older guys tell them, Hey, listen, this is what you need to do. It's going to hurt. It's going to be painful, but it's all going to pay off.

Luke:

Yeah, there's no doubt about it. And it's funny because you know, you have kids that will have no problem getting in the weight room and squatting and benching or dead lifting, and then they don't want to get on the track and run a 400 they're petrified of And, they also don't realize that that two is building strength and power in your legs. It's probably more so transferable than what the squat is doing for you. And I think sometimes because lifting has become such a big part of football that these kids forget that at the end of the day, we're not putting a squat rack out on the 50 yard line, man, right. At the end of the day, it's about athleticism and, uh, yeah, I mean, you're right on it. It's a great way to put it. There's nowhere to hide on a track,

Brennan:

Nowhere. I mean, every, every everybody's in their lane, it's, it's really like an individual sport. So you can't blame anybody hit you understand? Here's another key thing, codes that I think a lot of us miss is that the biggest transition from high school to college or college to pros, it's not necessarily the strength of it. It's the speed of it. So if we know that the game gets faster and faster, why don't we think we need to get faster and faster? that right there alone will put you in position to be able to play when you get. you can have a guy who leaves early and enrolled into school. You might have a guy who don't leave early. He's trying to get that last track season and he's trying to compete. Once he gets there, he's going to be able to run. It's going to be able to move and it's going to put them in position to be able to get that plan time. But he he's looking for his freshman year. So if the game is getting faster and faster and each level you go is getting faster and faster, why wouldn't we invest more interact or invest more in. Getting our minds together to understand the importance of track and why we need to run it. the difference between running a track and getting speed training is that spree training really doesn't keep that competitive edge in you running track. Does you have to compete? You have to have that mindset and you have to, you have to be able to put your mind in the places never been, I will always say, always choose track over. typically speed training because speed training. Doesn't give you that competitive edge that you need, like track bills when you compete against others.

Luke:

Yeah, that's a great point. You know, you think about when a college coach comes through, they don't ask you, Hey, does he go to a speed coach, but they will ask you, does he run track?

Brennan:

run track? And I tell my guys all the time, you know, I'm not interested in giving out 40 times. I'm, I'm interested in giving out miles split. When they ask me, what's your 100 year, 200 times before a hundred times. Those are the times when I'm looking to give, I don't want to give out 40 times. I'm looking to give out those mile split times and the one and the 200, 400.

Luke:

Well, I think part of the problem is there's a false narrative out there. That speed is inherent and you can't teach it. You can't become faster. You know, we both know that isn't true, right. mean, you can absolutely become faster. And this idea that someone was just, born fast, my daughter ran track and you know, even here, when you're at a track meet like, oh, well, that girl's always been fast. Well, I mean, yes, it's, there's some truth that some people are born faster than others, right? Just like some are born stronger than others, but you can absolutely. Get faster and you get faster by running fast.

Brennan:

Another good thing that, you know, the reason why I think track is extremely important is because you can see progress in you each week. You go out there and compete. You can see if your time is getting lower every time. It's not just like we break down film, you can break down your race, you can see the things that you need to work on. Uh, what makes you faster is when you get stronger, the technique of the running, knowing how to run, those are the things that will increase or decrease your time. So it's extremely important. My older guys love it. My young guys are really trying to get a feel for it. but it will all pay off, you know, I'm I'm in it for the benefit of them. And I tell them all the time, if you want to be successful, this is what it takes. And all of this isn't driven for you to become a professional athlete. This is driven to be able when you get in the real world, when the ball goes flat, we're able to be comfortable because we've been uncomfortable trying to strengthen ourselves mentally and being able to have that competitive edge will go a long way.

Luke:

So the point you just made is a great segue to my next question. Why do you call it?

Brennan:

I coach because I enjoy helping young men reach their goals. I think I get more excited when coaches call me. In reference to one of my players and trying to extend the offer because I understand the importance of it. It's a life changer. And I definitely love to be in these young me in life to be able to change their lives, put them in, put them in position to be successful academically and athletically. And. A lot of these guys really don't understand this, another side of this world that you can accomplish and you can get to by just working hard. And those are the things that I really, I really love. Like I said, we all want to win championship. We all want to win state rings, man. But it's, it's just something about when a young man is able to say, thank you, coach. I greatly appreciate. what you said, I didn't understand it at that particular time, but now I do. And also coach just thank you because I'm using those things in my daily life right now, and I'm not even playing football. So those are the great things that I love to hear it. Those are the things and the reasons why I coach and I understand what, what it can do for individuals to be a part of a team. I said this before, you know, growing up, I had everything I wanted and needed from my mother and father, but it was something that the game of football gave me that I can get from them. And that's one thing that I tell young men all the time, you will be able to find out who you are. When you're a part of someone you're a part of a team because it breaks you down and you really have to find out who you truly are and your true identity will be revealed. So those are the great things that I think as a coach, I see growth in my players, not necessarily the physicality of it or the speed and all that, but the maturity of it and how they approach their, day to day routine.

Luke:

So I think I know the answer you're going to give to this question. But I'm going to ask it anyway. How do you know if you're successful then if that's the reason why you coach, how do you know are successful and how do you celebrate those successes as a coach.

Brennan:

so I will answer the second question first. I don't necessarily celebrate, you know, I just kind of just in my head, I just say I'm proud and I just keep pushing because a, celebration is really needed on my side. And I say that because if, the athlete has accomplished and got everything out of it, that's a celebration in itself. one thing I know for sure is that when you have. Accomplished something that you didn't really think that you can really accomplish. it just feels more fulfillment, especially from the athlete. I just share with my guys all the time is that, listen, one thing that this this game would do, it would just put you in a position when you step out there in the real world, you will be able to endure and handle anything. So I'm not necessarily looking for a pat on the back or let's go celebrate. I can see it from a four. I keep up with them and I can see definitely all the tools and everything that they use to definitely be successful in exactly what they're doing.

Luke:

So you entered the career as a head coach in a very precarious time to say the least, what have you learned? Now that you've been a head coach for a season and a half, because that's one thing that I know from being a head coach is that you think you're right to be a head coach into become a head coach and they're like, whoa, I didn't expect that. Or I wasn't prepared for that. So what have you learned that you weren't prepared for that now you are a lot more prepared.

Brennan:

It's almost like, you're riding in the car and you know, at times when you're riding, you know, you, you do a lot of, what I call passenger driving. You know, you gotta make sure you watch this, make sure you do this, make sure you do that. But when you're actually behind that wheel yourself, I mean, it's, it's totally different. And I say that because you don't really know exactly what you ready for until you get in it. And, there are still things that I'm learning. There's still things that I need to work on. There's still things I need to clean up. But one thing I do know is that being a head coach puts you in position to really look at everything a little bit differently. it's not necessarily about the football in itself. Just want to make sure all the guys on your roster are happy. Anything that needs to, dealt with. You have to deal with it. You have to take her any issue. You have to take her. There is so many hats as a head coach that I didn't know you had to wear that needs to be worn. So it's those things that I'm learning as a head coach, those things that I'm working on as a head coach, and those things that I'm striving to become a better head coach. Those are the things that I have to master.

Luke:

Yeah. Sometimes football's the last thing you get work on as a head coach.

Brennan:

Absolutely.

Luke:

at my assistants and sometimes I'm jealous because they just to break down film and game plan and, and I'm like, oh, I gotta go call Johnny's mom and get yelled at for about 10 minutes here. So, but yeah, that's the nature of of the game, but let's talk about the pressures of being successful. And, you said yeah, two years straight in the semi-finals and correct me if I'm wrong. I believe before you came in, the school was successful as well. So there's a standard of success for the football program.

Brennan:

Absolutely.

Luke:

How do you deal with that pressure and, and not get caught up in just the wins and the losses? How do you still focus on the development of young boys to men and not just caught up in winning and losing.

Brennan:

It's extremely hard not to really put pressure on you as a head coach, because naturally we are all competitors. When you set the ball high or when you come out the gate and you'll just kind of make it to the final Florida state semifinals. I think anything under that. You would kind of measure maybe as an underachieved season. so those are the things that I kind of put on myself as pressure. I don't know anything about not playing through the month of November, not playing past Thanksgiving. I've been doing it for the last past two years. So those are the things that I just always keep in the back of my head, but yet, and still, I always tell the players that, you know, this ship can only can only sail as far as, as you want it to sell, that means it's not just me. You know, this thing is, uh, as a team, I can only do so much outside the white lines. So we have to make sure that we're doing what we're doing inside the white lines to get this job done. One word that I use all the time with my guys is. We have to take ownership and ourselves, it's so easy to point the fingers when things aren't going according to plan or, or this play call wasn't good, or this went that way. But if we just take ownership and exactly what we do, I think we will have a successful season all the time, and a successful season, unfortunately doesn't mean winning state all the time, but a successful season, meaning you are able to accomplish those goals that you set out at the beginning of the year for yourself and for the team.

Luke:

And how are the numbers in your program in the St. Louis areas? It's been well-documented and not as many kids are playing football in today's world. And, you know, my theory is honestly, I think the, the head injuries. the cause I really don't. I think that, in today's world, I don't know if football jives with the type of kid today. That's just my theory. you know, we live in this instant gratification world and football is the exact opposite, You know, my son plays. the practice, the game ratio was so out of whack, right? I mean, they're playing 80 games in a season where he would play nine football games in a season. So what's going on with your community as far as the numbers and kids playing.

Brennan:

So, I've been extremely blessed. We have a good group of guys that come out. We have a JV and a varsity squad. So, JV typically runs maybe about 20, 21 guy. Varsity takes the rest. So we haven't had any effect of that, but there are surrounding schools that are suffering from that. I know the public schools are suffering from that. And I think that kind of merged a couple of schools. So, we have been. To not have that issue, but that is a problem. And I think it has something to do with, like you said, not necessarily the head injuries because you know, concussions, unfortunately I've been around for a long, I just think it's, the kids, not really willing to put in the grind to really work. It's one thing to cut the TV on and you see a football games. I want to play football, but what they don't realize is that they're really seeing the finished product. They are seeing the Saturday product. They don't understand that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, friday product. And those are the things that I think that kind of detour, a lot of young men away. And, uh, unfortunately we are losing guys, but I think we have enough to maintain this sport and still be successful.

Luke:

So, if you could wave your magic wand and you could somehow get people to come back to football, what would be the magic wand? What do we need to do as a football community who loves the sport and want to get it back to its prominence and get kids back to play. And what would be your suggestion?

Brennan:

My suggestion will be, I think we need to allow the kids to be kids. I think sometimes it's head coaches who, you know, especially football. We just kind of want them to, do everything football related. Football is a physical sport. Football takes a lot of time. A lot of wear and tear on your bodies. I think we need to allow them just to be kids, especially in high school. I mean, you, you, you're talking about, you know, sometimes after football season, kids may take a week off and they want to get right back at it. but now they need to enjoy themselves. They need to be able to relax and kind of wind down and understand what they just went through and be able to have fun. You know, I think sometimes what may run a kid away as they feel like football is 12 months around and to a certain extent it might be, but just the physicality be able to just the responsibility of it, the accountability of it. I think it kind of maybe, deter a couple of kids away.

Luke:

Love the answer. I couldn't say it any better. Completely agree with you. I think we forget the fact that it's called a game. We tend to be OCD and perfectionist as football coaches. And we forget that they're a 16 year old kids and they're just playing because they want to have fun. And that's why they're doing it. They enjoy the game and we're out there treating them like they're professional athletes when they're high school kids. So you're right on with that coach and the way things are becoming year round. And yeah, you, you definitely have. your athletic performance year round that I fully agree with, but you don't have to be throwing a football around. You don't have to play seven on seven. You don't have to be, working lineman camps year round. so I do agree with you and I don't want to get on my soap box. Completely love the answer. So let's talk about resources as we start to wrap up this interview. What are some recommended resources that you would give to our coaches out there that would help them grow? And it doesn't have to be just football. Maybe it's a resource for leadership. It's a resource for how to coach kids. It could be a podcast, a book, a video, anything you could recommend to our listeners that would help them become better leaders and better.

Brennan:

I will say just to really identify who we are as first. I think we can't really give advice on how to do this and do that until we kind of identify exactly what our point of reference will be for self. I look myself in the mirror all the time and say what are the areas I need to work on? What are the things I need to do? And I just try to focus on that. And I tell all my guys, my assistant coaches, we just had a meeting today. I said, let's just. Sit back and just kind of identify exactly what we need to do, uh what direction we want to go in just exactly how do we hold ourselves accountable, just, and just try to build up on self. I think we focus more on self. I think the outcome will be greater.

Luke:

And what about some contact info for people who want to reach out? I love the coaching community, you and I connected over Twitter. It's a great resource. Uh, you want to share Twitter, handles, email addresses any way for people to reach out. They want to get to talk to you more about some concepts.

Brennan:

Definitely through Twitter. Twitter is my only social media. Twitter is a great networking piece especially for football, like I said, I was able to contact with you and other coaches. And I think Twitter is everything in reference to, into that. So you can do. Reach me at my Twitter is @BrennanSpain as B R E N N a N. Spain spelled like the country S P a I N

Luke:

Great. And to our listeners, I will link that in the show notes. And before we go, I know that you're in. The football game. So if you want to throw it out there, some weeks you're looking for, because we have a lot of football coaches listen to the podcast.

Brennan:

Absolutely. I am looking for a week seven. A week seven for us will be October 7th, which is at Friday, October 8th, which is the Saturday. So we're definitely looking for at week seven and. Hoping that it can be a home game because we're on the road week eight and week nine. So You can reach out to me via Twitter and, um, hopefully we can make that connection.

Luke:

All right. Yeah. So anyone listen looking for a game, make sure you reach out to coach. It sounds like you, uh, we'll have a tough game heading over to St. Louis to take them on, but. Please do hit them up. If you are looking for a game and coach Spain, thanks so much really enjoyed this conversation. We only talked on the phone and on Twitter, a direct messaging each other. So it's nice to actually at least see your face through the video screen. Appreciate the time and taking away from your family right now. Hope to keep in touch with ya and, Best of luck coming up for the season in 22.

Brennan:

All right. Same thing with you, coach. I, I greatly appreciate being on here. I know I was the first coach from St. Louis that was able to get on here. So that's extremely big. So. One thing I know about coaching is that it shrinks the world in a good space because you're able to connect with guys who have similar mindsets as you, but it also puts things in perspective to let you know that, there are good guys out here that are definitely doing what you're doing and Pushing young men to become positive, adults as they progress. And as they get older, outside the game of football, I tell my guys all the time, your natural life will outlive your, athletic life. So make sure that we put ourselves in position to be successful when it happens.

Luke:

Great advice and way to end the podcast episode, Coach Spain and everyone else. Thank you for listening. Take care.

BRENNAN SPAIN Profile Photo

BRENNAN SPAIN

Raise by both parents would provided and given me everything I wanted and needed. However its was something that football presented / gave to me that I couldn't get from my parents!!