New Episodes Released Every Tuesday!
April 5, 2022

Understanding the Human Being w/Jay Saravis

Understanding the Human Being w/Jay Saravis

#35. This will be Jay Saravis's 28th year in education. Currently the head football coach at Cheyenne Mountain High School (CO), Jay has also coached Junior High Lacrosse, HS Softball, HS Track & Field. He is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS).

To sign up for weekly notes from each episode, CLICK HERE.

Review The "I" in Win on Apple Podcast or my website to let me know what you think of the show.  Follow me on Twitter (@LukeMertens)

Transcript

Luke:

This is episode 35 of the The "I" in Win podcast

Jay:

so I think once you understand the human being and the person behind it, they'll do anything for you and they'll play for you because you care about them. You know, that's what we're really here for.

Luke:

Welcome to The "I" in Win the show that focuses on why coaches should embrace the journey of impacting lives. I'm your host, Luke Mertens today. Welcome on Jay Saravis Head football coach at Cheyenne mountain high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado Coach Saravis has over 20 years experience in education, coaching, multiple sports and specializing in health and fitness programs for. Which is one of the main topics we'll be discussing on this episode today, coach, thanks for being on.

Jay:

Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to do this. And, you're doing such great things with this podcast. I've been following you on Twitter, and I'm really impressed by all the great things that you post and just the way you go about your business. So I'm excited to have this conversation.

Luke:

Well, I really appreciate that positive feedback and the feeling is mutual, which is why I wanted to have you on the podcast today. I want to start with your east coast roots. Obviously we could hear it come out in your accent, even though you're teaching in Colorado. Now, explain a little bit about your east coast roots.

Jay:

my, uh, my players love to poke a little fun at it and I'm all good with that. It's it's cute. So, uh, the fact that we changed from the Cheyenne mountain Indians to the red tail Hawks, they love the way I say Hawk. So. Anyhow. I know we're going to be discussing a lot of things today and sharing stories and experiences, and I could discuss hundreds of players and dozens of coaches, their stories, and what I've learned from all of them. But I just want anybody out there. Who's listening to know that I love you all. And I'm grateful for the amazing relationships and connections I've made over my 28 years of coaching. But, uh, so it started on long island. I was born in Syosset long island and. What's assassin high school. University of Delaware got my master's at Adelphi university. I got an admin degree at the Massachusetts college of liberal arts. And I started coaching at Hewlett high school with some great people there. Then I went to a massive Pico from there a couple of years, it went back to which is where my wife and I, we moved. And then back to mass Serpico again, before I came out here. And I've taken something away from everywhere. I've gone. And there been some really good people. And, the bottom line is my real head coach is my wife. She's the best thing out there. And my kids are great. But when I was at Hewlett, I was lucky enough to be able to coach with a guy named J I Quinta. And, uh, you might know the name. His son is a professional MMA fighter, and I just learned a lot of great things from him about organization, how to run great practices. And there I developed some really good relationships with players. You know, even though I was told by somebody, one of the other coaches not to get too close to the players, don't make them, your friend. I've learned to like, disagree with that. And I believe you can get close to a kid and still be their coach and authority figure. And actually they're going to respect you more after that, you know, the, the analogy, kids don't care, what you know to, they know that you care, but it's really true. if they think that you're authentic, And that you care about them as a human being, not just as a, kid on the field for them, you get a lot more out of them. and it's true. You just got to love people. So I also learned to pay my dues there and consistently do whatever it takes to grow as a coach. you know, I went to massive peak while I applied for the head job there. I didn't get. And in hindsight, I think that was good because I wasn't ready yet. So I became the defensive coordinator there for a while. Um, my coach football, I coached softball. I did the weight room for them. Um, at Hewlett I did a lacrosse as Well, and, we had a big school in, at one point we were ranked the number one. Athletic program and the state of New York, which is good. And I learned a lot of good stuff there and, I got to be able to become a mentor for other coaches. I had student teachers, one of my student teachers, Shannon McEntee. She's the athletic director in there. Uh, yeah, LeDuc director there now. She's fantastic. my boss, Denise Waldinger that's as good of a boss as there can be because I've learned so much from her. About how you can still be the boss, but let people grow and be who they are. And I really appreciate her. So I learned a lot, and, uh, you know, some people I coach with and softball, Alyssa CBRE, she was fantastic. I learned a lot from her and how to interact with kids. And you know, I've learned a lot from Massapequa, it's great And I also learned the opposite at times there was coaches there that I did not get along with and it kind of ruined the dynamic. Of the staff made me personally miserable and I've learned as much from negative. Consequences as positive interactions. So I went to for a while. I applied for the head job. Didn't get it. So I became the defensive coordinator there for a little bit. And once again, I probably wasn't ready for the job. So, you know, like coach football there, I track, we did the weights. I'm not as big of a school as massive Equa. And I first started coaching. Uh, coach that I grew up with and I played for, he was kind of old school and he does things one way and he left and then I applied for the head job again, didn't get it. And I worked with our defensive coordinator that the original staff, and there was some great guys there. Uh, Keith Sachs, Jim Morrow, Tony Carter, may he rest in peace? He unfortunately passed from COVID and I learned from those guys really about giving players. And I was really cool as how you can be a leader, but give your people ownership. You can have fun and still be incredibly successful. after those couple of years, it went back to Massapequa. again, football, softball, and weights. And in my, I guess, 23 years of coaching, a long island, we were in the playoffs 19 of those times. So I learned a lot of goods and positives from that. Then I finally got the job at Cheyenne. And four times a charm. And from all those experiences along long island, I think that's, what's made me be who I am today.

Luke:

that's a great background. There's a lot to take from your answer there, which we're going to dive into some of that later on in this episode. But before we do that, I have to understand how pro sports work in New York, as you know, I'm from Chicago. And we are a city divided in the summer between the Cubs and the Sox, which really is based on geography. And then after the summer, We all becoming United with our football team. That is the one thing we definitely unite with. And then winter hits and we are United with the bulls and the Blackhawks, but there is still even a little division because some people are more hockey people, and some people are basketball people. So very interesting dynamic here, but I think it's more so interesting by you guys because you have the Yankees, the Mets, the jets, the giants, the Islanders, the Rangers, the Nixon, the. Right. So let's start with your allegiances Yankees or Mets.

Jay:

Uh, the problem is I was raised a Yankee fan cause that's how my dad was. The Mets. were good when I was in high school, but I could take it or leave it. I'm not going to have a bad day if either one of those teams lost same thing with the jets and the giants. I'm a giants fan. I was an Islanders fan because I grew up near them and you know, my friends, I would go to the games with them, but every now and then you'd go to the garden and watch the Rangers. But to be honest with you pro sports, I could take it or leave it when they ask you may ask me, who's my favorite team. I say, it's my guy. Who's my favorite team, Cheyenne mountain. Those are my guys. That's my, that's my lifeblood that, you know, the kids that I've coached at Hewlett and massive people and wants, well, those are my guys. So those are really my favorite teams. And as far as allegiances, I find a Legion spike coaches that helped me out and that are good. so like here in Colorado, I can go to all the colleges around here. They treat you like gold. I'll sit down. One-on-one with coach Maxie at CU. And how could I not be a CU fan when he gives me all his time to make me a better person.

Luke:

Yeah, no, I appreciate your answer and I, to a more of a high school and a college sports fan, I just have always been intrigued with the loyalties of. New York sports fans. But I definitely appreciate your answer and where you're coming from.

Jay:

Yeah. I'd rather put the time into my own team, to be honest with you that's that's my heart beat itself.

Luke:

So let's talk about one of those teams. Let's go back to your time at massive.

Jay:

Okay.

Luke:

you were, as you mentioned, defensive coordinator there, you weren't the head coach, but you were in charge of the strength and conditioning program. And each geographical region has its own uniqueness. So what made massive peak was special enough place for you to stay there for as long as you did throughout your career?

Jay:

Well, I was lucky enough when I first got offered the job. The head coach took me into the weight room first cause he knew that's my thing. And the first kid I met, his name is Roy He was our captain. He was the captain of west point, lacrosse. He was an amazing quarterback and amazing lacrosse player. And you know, he was, big time in the army. And he's as respectable and nice in his quality of a kid. As you can have hope for an on the field, you want him on your team, not on the other team. And that's what a lot of the massive peak with kids were like, as well as everywhere I've been. So, I mean, I can go on and on about all my guys, but, and then these kids just left an impression on me that if you care about them and you work hard for them, they will go to battle. You know, I, I had a kid that's a Navy seal right now had I had other guys that have done amazing things. people that have become. firemen, policemen, everything in New York city and just guys that are just great human beings. And the parents, when the parents see that you put that effort in for their kids, you got them hooked too. Now it's not a hundred percent, you know, there's always the one that, you know, you took away the NFL career, but It was just great. These kids would do anything for you. And they're tough as nails. It's a big school. There's a lot of kids there and. You know, I love them all. I had some really great relationships with those kids,

Luke:

So given such a positive experience, I have to ask you why you chose as a lifelong east coaster to move out to Colorado.

Jay:

New York stuff. And, sometimes it's just time to go. you know, we kind of had it, I knew I would probably retire from New York in 10 years and I said, my wife and I looked at each other, like it's time to get out. And it was, and why wait the 10 years? And we came out to Colorado and I love it here. I mean, I really appreciate everything that I got from New York and the people there, but, you know, Colorado was amazing. It was just time to. It really was. And the opportunity presented itself and everything fell into place. The school district is school where we could live And it was a good choice.

Luke:

And now your head football coach, and one thing you learn once you become a head football coach is you weren't as prepared as you thought you were. And there's always things that surface that you didn't learn at a clinic. You didn't hear on a podcast, you didn't read in a book. So what's one of the first lessons you learned as a head.

Jay:

I think this is also as a teacher, but when you look at a kid, sometimes you have to see what goes on behind the scenes, you know? School or football. It could be the best part of their day could be the safest part of their day. And maybe if the kid isn't paying attention or they're having a bad day, you really not sure what's going on behind the scenes. And a lot of people aren't willing to delve into that. So what I say is I really get close to my players and they get to know them, for instance, you know, you'll know which players had, a rough struggle at home you'll know which players may be lost a family member. And, you know, maybe that's why they're having the bad day. And I was talking to another teacher in the building. And I said, I just want to give you a heads up on some of my guys, this player lost his brother last year. This player's brother was hit by a car and killed last year. You know, this player just lost his mom, you know, so they might have a few bad days and she said, wow, thank you. That's good to know. And I think people have to understand it's a human being there. You know, I had another kid that would have issues at school and he had a real rough time and a real rough life at home. He would call me at 11 o'clock at night, crying out is like, I just got kicked out of my house, but he knew he can come to me, which is what football is all about. And so he, you know, he moved to Texas. I missed out on him. His senior year is a heck of a football. But he calls me up and he goes, coach, he just want to let you know, I'm graduating high school today. And that's one of the best phone calls I could ever get, you know, things like that. So I think once you understand the human being and the person behind it, they'll do anything for you and they'll play for you because you care about them. You know, that's what we're really here for. And the bottom line is, you know, wins and losses. Does anybody remember who won the championship in 1986? But the bottom line is how did you treat them and what kind of human being did you create? What kind of parent are they in the future? You know, what kind of credit to society are they? And that's this monstrous list that I make in a, when I have meetings with my parents, I show them, these are all the guys we've had, and this is what the successful in liberal dads. And this is what I care about. So when I talk about colleges with them, the first thing is, what do you want to study? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Let's find your life and then find the map. And they appreciate that, they really do. So I brag about all my guys of what they've done in the past. And hopefully at some point I'll get to that list with you, but

Luke:

Yeah, no, I really liked your answer. And I agree with you. And definitely been a common thread throughout a lot of my episodes that coaches and teachers are mentioning It's our duty to understand where kids are coming from and to appreciate the fact that they're going through things and maybe English class or the football practice is not on the forefront of their minds. And we have to know the person to know what they are going through. And I think a lot of teachers and coaches not intentionally miss the mark on that. And they're so frustrated that I cannot believe. know, this kid is not doing his or her homework and they don't realize what he or she is going home to. So let me ask you

Jay:

Can I add one thing to that? it's really interesting. Cause when, when I taught in Hewlett, that was a very upper-class neighborhood yet. Not everybody was upper-class and not everybody had the perfect little life, just like where I grew up in SaaS it, same thing, massive peak. Woah is upper middle class. Not everybody. Has that perfect little life. And you know, you never know what they bring from home while on tour is a little more middle-class here at Cheyenne. Cheyenne is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the entire state of Colorado. That doesn't mean that every kid has that, that perfect upbringing and everything is great. And they, you know, they go, they go to home to a life of luxury. They don't, or they go home to, a family. Everything is this like green acres. It's not. So people need to understand that just because you live in a certain neighborhood doesn't mean every kid has the same.

Luke:

That's a great point. Absolutely. And, unfortunately hardship does not know or discriminate by a area geographically or by social economic background. Right. Unfortunately, something we all deal with. So. So the question I was going to get to before is how do you get to know your students? And I know that might sound like a obvious question, but I do think we need to help our listeners understand that there are little things that they can do intentionally throughout their day to get to know their students and their players as individuals. when.

Jay:

Well, you got to break that trust barrier with the kid. Once, once they, once they can trust you and relax and realize you're not going to judge them for who they are, where they're from, that helps also as a leader, like a teacher or a coach or a parent or whatever it is when you become real to them, because you admit your flaws, you'll take ownership on things that you did wrong. you'll joke with them. You'll appreciate their life. Outside of the classroom or outside of the field, which basically is a classroom. all of a sudden that that repetitiveness, that, that continual relationship starts to grow and develop to the point where I, I'm still close to my kids who are like in their mid to late forties and thirties and twenties. And it's just because you care about them and you stay in touch. You know, I do this thing. It's, it's the littlest thing. I have a list of everybody's birthday. And when. I get up, get there in the morning. I try to remember, I look at the list whose birthday is today and they just send out happy birthday, little meme or whatever to them. Oh, thanks coach. You know, you remember me thinking about me? Yeah. I have a new kid that just transferred from California. It was his birthday today. I remember to send it out. I had the track team sing to him on the bus yesterday, you know? So all those little things go a long way. You know, when, a kid's having a rough time or a bad day, put the blame on them for it. You talk to them, how's everything going, what's going on? what can I do to help you? That builds a relationship. And a lot of that relationship is also built in the weight room. And if anybody's listening that knows me, they know that's where I get a lot out of my players, that weight room relationship, that's a big deal for us

Luke:

So here's what I heard in your answer, which I agree with. We have to build trust. We have to be authentic as human beings, and we also need to be vulnerable as leaders. It's okay for kids to see that other side of us. And, I agree with all three of those points and taking these little things, like you said, their birthday and showing that, Hey, this matters to me. I'm going to take time out of my day to acknowledge that this is your birthday. I think those are great points. Then you segue into what I really want to talk with you. The weight room. I think it's one of the most important yet underutilized classrooms. And I want to stress that word classroom. It is a classroom. That we are missing the mark across the country in how important it can be, because at the end of the day, we do share a common thread between us and that is we want to make better people, not better players. And what better area to make a better person then in the realm of health and fitness, So you're a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and you're, very dedicated to this. And you could hear it as you mentioned, your previous answer. So how do you use the weight room to make better?

Jay:

It's it's, there's some stuff you can't learn out of a textbook. There's some stuff you can't learn from a lecture, but you know, it's the daily commitment, the daily effort, You know what you do when nobody's looking. That's what the weight room is. You know, I mean, every, everybody on the first day of practice, whatever sport, they all want to be the champions. They all got these incredible dreams, but that was made a long time ago. I read a book by bill Walsh and one of the expressions he writes that I use for everything, champions act and work late champions long before they're ever got. And I say that to my guys. Like, I don't like to use that word, talk about that, but like, to get to that level, you have to conduct yourself. You have to put the effort in the weight room. Like you're already there. So I'm saying to my guys now who are going to college and I was very proud of them. Like you have to already have the effort, like you're there now, you're not just going to show up and they going to parole at the red carpet for you. You got to already be that college athlete. Who's at the top of your. So that means in the classroom, how you behave in the hallway, how you treat people, your effort in the weight room. You know, I told some of my guys like, it's time to get to college. Now you are playing with men. You are on the track team. Yes, coach, you know, and that makes a big deal.

Luke:

So you talk about championship mindset, essentially that you got from Milwaukee. So let's make a tangible and what are some championship behaviors you're looking.

Jay:

Practice effort, effort in the classroom. Uh, you are going to do something. Why, why would you not put everything you got into it? And that includes what you put in your body. That's nutrition that we're talking about. That includes showing up every day, what you do when no one's looking. So when we have our banquet at the end of the year and. Talking about kids that made honors and everything. I'll make it a point to say this kid's doing drills and doing indie period stuff. When nobody's looking, you know, I see them often a side he's taking every minute, every second he can to make himself better. That's why he's up here. And so my banquet is kind of like a little bit of a motivational recruitment for the next group of guys. Like you ought to be up here next year. You want us to talk that you're the lead. We got to start doing it now, in that effort is in everything they do. It's not just the weight room. It's not that. So the more effort that you put in the more effort that you do with every facet of your life, it's just who you become. we had some kids in our team that that's who they are, and I say, When you put that effort in, you don't have to introduce yourself when you walk into a room anymore. You know, I say to these kids, we're going to, we're going to get to the point where we don't just know your name and his school. They know everybody in the league knows who you are. And some day everybody in the state's going to know who you are and you have to start with that off season or pre-season effort. I'm sorry, I don't say you're off season. There is no off season. There's only pre-season and end season.

Luke:

So the other thing I want to go back to is you talked about. The ability to stick to it. And I think it's especially tough when it comes to the weight room or health and fitness. It's really easy to be excited. Day one, right? Like, look at new year's Eve resolutions. It's very difficult to have that grit to stick through the process. So how do you motivate kids to stay committed to the process of the weight room, where it takes a while to see the gains and the benefit.

Jay:

when you see your coach there every day, that makes a difference, especially your head coach, not just, okay. You guys are gonna go work out. Uh, we have like the school trainers are, you know, report back to me now. I am never going to ask a kid to put in more effort than me, but I'd love to see if they can match my. And so my effort is relentless and they know it's just a nonstop obsessive, what can we do to get better? And if they see that from their teachers, the coaches, the leaders, whatever your boss, these, this guy's leading by example. And that's a big deal. So I do have some really good examples of that when I, when I started in Hewlett and, you know, I was getting the guys to run track or lacrosse or whatever, great spring sport, it was. I'd say, and I wasn't married yet. So they would be done with practice and they'd come and meet me at five 30. And I said, whatever it takes and they see that I'm willing to meet them for that effort, they would constantly show up. And those people today are like really, really successful because that's just who we become. So with where we are here, towards the end of track practice, we're all in the weight room. Good to see you here. they'll see me every morning. First person there as well. Hopefully the first person there, I'm setting up, I'm doing everything. I'm putting the effort and I just want them to come and meet me, you know? So I'm not all talk. I'm going to lead by example, and I've learned that over the years, it's a lot of work though.

Luke:

Yes. I agree with you. It is a lot of work, but it's important that we be the person we want our players to be. And I think they respect that more and they'll meet the standard, but we have to show them what the standard is. And it starts with us. I would argue, I think we could have any coach on anywhere in America at any sport enabled agree that one of our jobs as a coach is to help kids create the best versions of them. Well, I think we go wrong in the coaching profession is we don't do that for ourselves. If you want the kids to be the best versions of themselves, we need to create the best versions of ourselves. And it's really difficult as they pulled on us. And it's difficult on the kids that we teach, but if we're all doing it together and they see us having the same little victories and the same struggles that they're having, we're all more likely to get there. So absolutely be the person you want your kids to be so love that.

Jay:

so it's good. Cause as you tell the team, you know, before you become a winner, you have to act and behave like a winner. That's the same thing for the coach and the leader. So same thing. If we want that. level, everybody wants to win. We better first be the same way.

Luke:

And one area where we all struggle and you've touched upon it is nutrition. It's really difficult. So let's first start with your players and your students in your health class. What do you do to. Tackle this complicated issue, because I know I have parents talking to me all the time. They just don't know what to do. They don't know what the cook, they don't know what the, by, you know, the kids don't really know what to do. There's so much confusion as to what to do, on their way to school. I pass five fast food restaurants. They're crunched for time. So how do you even tackle this large issue of.

Jay:

Okay. I am, uh, I'm not the typical cookie cutter person, so no two people are the same. I'll get on that in a second. First off, I love to use like a house analogy I told my students had told me players, I'm going to give you $2 million to buy a house. Are you going to use styrofoam to build your house? Are you going to take the worst appliances? Are you going to have, unskilled labor, come on, come in and build that house because what your house is going to be like, it's going to fall apart. So if I gave you all the ability to build a house, you're going to find the best materials, the best appliances, the best people to build it. You're going to find, every high end thing that you can do to make your house hold up for the test. And then I also say to them, okay, I'm going to give you a hundred thousand dollars. What kind of. car are you going to buy? Oh, I'm going to get this. I'm going to get that. Are you going to buy a race car? You got to go to the gas pump. What kind of gas you're going to put in there? You going to put in the cheapest cruddiest gas. There is no cause your car won't work as well and say, well, what are you doing with your body? Because you don't get to get a new body every couple of years, like you do with the car. The better, the fuel you put in the better you're going to work in the classroom, the better your body is going to be at practice on the field and the weight room, all that, you know, what are you building yourself from? So I always joke and say, taco bell is not a food group. So if they're going to try to get stronger, if they're going to try to build that, frame to just be successful in everything they do, and you're building it from junk food, guess what your body's meeting. You know, they giggle some people get it, but if, if I wanna, if I want to be that elite level of whatever it is, how are you fueling yourself? Are you going to feel it like you're an elite level? Are you going to build it like your elite or is it just all talk? So there's this thing that I learned through my years, it's called metabolic typing. And, it, I mean, this would take a long time to describe, but it basically looks into your genetic lineage and the type of person you are and the way your body metabolizes fuel, and no two people at the same. And I'll never forget when I was at Hewlett. when you first come in to play football, you go to coach service and, he gets you in the weight room. We get you ready for football. I had a kid that came in and he was. As tall, lying down as he was standing up. So he's about five foot seven, 300 pounds, but he was Greek and didn't even speak English at home right off the boat Greek and said, well, let's do what makes sense. Okay. Since you guys are Greek at home, that is get all this authentic Greek food. Let's eat healthy for a Greek dot. And I didn't realize at the time what I was doing, it just made sense. The next year, that kid weighed 180 pounds. He dropped 120 pounds in one year, forget football. He was healthy and. That's kind of what metabolic typing is. But unfortunately, today, a lot of people are like, you know, from different nationalities and mixed. So you become a mixed type in, but there's a lot of ways to look at it. There's some really good research out there. You could be a carbohydrate type, a protein type or a mixed type, and everyone's different. And then I start to explain that to the team. And if you eat improperly for your type, this is why you feel tired. This is why you feel sluggish. This is why you notice never sat up. And it's an aha moment for these people. And then also, you know, you look at the genetic lineage. So if you're, if you are a protein type and you're from the Mediterranean, or if you're the protein type and you're from south America, central America, or you're an, it, everybody's a little bit different for that protein type and is, is a really cool stuff. They start teaching them. but it makes a big difference.

Luke:

well, yes, it does. And you have to start somewhere and the problem is, people bring in. Uh, nutritional speaker once for the whole year and just expect that the stick and it's not going to happen. It's, it's no different than drilling any type of skill in a sport or drilling any type of skill in the classroom. You have to continually attack it, head on. And it is tough, right? I mean, it's really tough because let's just. The realm of football. There's so many things that you have to get done within a day of practice, that it's sometimes hard to intentionally take that time to teach about nutrition. But if we care about our kids, we're going to do that. Secondly, if you really want them to perform at the highest level, as you used the analogy of fuel in the car, you're going to make sure that they're putting in that premium gas, but it is a time crunch.

Jay:

Yeah, but here's a cool thing that I do. And, you know, at the end of practice, every coach sits down, you've talked to your team, hopefully for not too long, you know, just say what you got to say and be efficient instead of, you know, If, if you, if you drone on every practice, they're going to tune you out. But if you have a couple of good things to say, they'll listen. I explained to them, there were so many times in the past, I've heard a kid come up to me like before a playoff game or before a big game. All right, coach, what should I eat before the game? I just sit there and shake my head. So I taught my players fuel and nutrition is just as important as the. And you got to use your practices to practice what your body works well on. So we have one of the best wrestling teams in the state. We have an amazing wrestling coach. my two DNS are all state wrestlers. It's incredible. Is it real nice? So I say, you guys know what you go to meal is before a tournament. Oh yeah. What do you eat? Oh, I eat this. And then I asked, the other guy. Oh, I ate something. Okay. It's two different things, but it works definitely for each guy. And I tell my players, you need to use your practices and your scrimmages as kind of like a test to see what fuel makes you feel good for that. So when that first game rolls around, you know, what you go to fuel is, you know, what you go to meal is, you know, what works best the night before the day of, you know, all those things you got to literally practice nutrition as much as you do anything. And the kids kind of get it. So I keep asking them that as the season goes on

Luke:

I want to transition now to some of the things. That are unique to your football program at Cheyenne mountain high school, one being your mentorship program. Explain a little bit about that.

Jay:

Well, we, uh, done this in a few places. We have a rookie draft. It's kind of fun. We do a lot of things. So I will literally have a meeting. sometimes some of those team building activities are worth taking a half an hour away from your practice. You'd be surprised. so we have a rookie draft and I'll have all the rookies in, like in a hat. I have the names mixed up. It is senior comes up and to pick out the rookie. That's your rookie for the year and they actually keep the. All the way through their college, like, oh yeah, he was, you know, he was, he was my quote unquote dad or whatever. So they adopted a rookie and the rookies, usually a freshman or a sophomore. And if I have a really good responsible senior, they might get more than one rookie, which is fine. so the mentorship is on the field. Make sure that the guy knows what he's doing, make sure that your rookie is comfortable with how the coach is treating them, make sure your rookies putting in their effort in school. How are they doing in class? How are they studying? Do they have any projects? How are the grades and all like at the end of a practice every now and then I need to do this more. I'll say, you know, Hey Billy. Yeah. Who your rookie, Johnny as Johnny doing school. How do you do in the game on Saturday? Cause I want him to go and watch his rookie in the game and tell me what he did and what he can do to help him, and you know, everywhere in the hallway, you know, with, with family issues, you know, with, with girlfriend issues or whatever, it might be, you're responsible for them. You're as big brother help with anything that they need, social life, whatever it is. And that's how we do things here. They know that and you know, I want them to be at their games and then I'll tell them. What's going on with the senior or your sometimes Jr. How did he play? What did he do? How is he treating you? And this isn't just during football season. I want them to take ownership 24, 7, 12 months a year forever. And I have guys like, oh, I want to wear this number. Why you know, my dad and my senior, that was his number three years. Oh, cool. You still want to wear his number. Yeah. And I think that's a really cool thing. So that, that goes a long way. That goes a long way. I had a, one of my seniors next year, seniors come up to me this year and he said, well, coach, I have an idea of how we can kind of tweak that a little bit. And this is what I'd like now, instead of saying, no, this is my way. I'm the head coach. We've been doing this for 28 years. You know what, if I let my kid take this ownership, that's a good one. That makes my job great. And I said, you know what? You come, you, you show me the ideas. We've been sitting down and talk to it. And he goes, this is what I think we should do. one of my coaches was a linebacker for west point and he was captain at west point. And he's like, you know, I've been talking to him too. And he said, this is kind of things that we did over there. You know, what do you think? I said, you know what? You take ownership, you take this thing and run with it. I'm cool with that. You know, and that's what I've learned as a head coach. I'm still the boss, but when you give people ownership and you let these. You know, say this is my team. that's where it happens. That's where the magic happens.

Luke:

Absolutely. And each year has its own unique dynamics. Another thing that you do that I find interesting is that the commitment cards that you hang in the lockers, explain a little bit about that

Jay:

Yeah. I read this. This is, this is cool. I've done things in the past. Like this. Um, what we did was we had, we had a, a meeting at two and once again, as a coach would improve and get better at this. And I had the kids write down, put your name on the top. And the first thing is, what is your, why? That's a big buzzword now, like, what's your motivation? What's, you know, what's your, why in life? Why are you here? You know? And every person has a deep motivation that fuels their life in some grand scheme of things, you know, If you want it, if you want to keep thinking about why you do things you do, you eventually will find your own personal. Why in life, you know, some kids in some neighborhoods it's no, I need to get out of this neighborhood. This is my ticket out. Some people it's, you know, I had this event happened when I was a kid and this, and I realized, you know, I want to be able to be a great physician and treat pediatric cancers or whatever things it is, you know, and find out what your motivation is. And hopefully it's an intrinsic motivation. It's not like I need to make my parents proud. You know, you going to make them proud if you're a good person, but you know what, what's, what's your drive. So we have that on there. What's your why? And then I have a personal goal and we have like, you know, a goal for the season for you as a player, the goal for you as a team, you know, the goal for you in the classroom and a big deal is everybody has goals and no. It's a goal is a wish until you write it down, it becomes a goal. But then when you post it somewhere and you commit to it every day, then it becomes who you are. And I explained that to these guys. So I want them to write down what are they going to do on a daily basis to help our program, to help, to help you achieve those goals. And then they took that those cards and they gave it to their position. Not even me. I don't want to see it yet. Okay. All the Lyman give it to this guy or the linebackers, give it to this guy. He's going to read it. And the re the thing that I think is good about that is it helps the coach understand who the kid is, and that builds a good dynamic. So as a leader, I start to like dissipate a little bit and put it on some other people, and you should know the kids at. Right. You know, you should know that one of my players, you know, family members, his brother died of a drug overdose and they want to be a better person because of that. And if the coach knows that that, that make, that creates a connection. And if my coaches get a connection with the players that just builds the whole. And we've learned to do that all the way down to the junior high now. Cause I have a really good man at the junior high, my quad hammer, and he's helping change this program. even more than we already have. So they give it to the position coach. He reads it and then both of you together. I'm going to go into the kid's locker and tape it and have it hanging from their locker. So every day they go to the practice, they see that thing in their face. They see, this is my commitment to myself and my team, you know? And oh, I'll say to the guys at times, are you doing everything possible to achieve your daily goals, which is going to achieve those long-term goals and we just get on it. And you know, I look at myself, I'm the hardest on myself than anybody. And I'm like, this is a good idea. How can I continue with it? How can they get better at it? How can I, you know, make sure I create the time. So on my practice schedules on my practice sheets, their handouts that have coaches on the bottom under notes, I always have remember to ask this, remember to bring up that, remember to talk about whatever, and it will be. On a Monday practice, do a check on the, you know, the rookie draft, you know, do a check on the commitment card. if you were at halftime in the game and maybe it doesn't happen anymore, but if the effort's not up to what I'm expecting, guys, go read your locker. All you are you, are you owning up to your own personal promise to yourself? Oh boy. You know, so it's that whole look in the mirror a bit, but our team in the last couple of years, God has a pleasure to coach these kids. They, they bust, they busted for me and they busted for themselves and their teammates. It's great. You know, so that whole, you have your personal goal. You have, the Cheyenne goes good and they hear this from me all the time. I say, when that ball crosses the goal line, Johnny didn't score Cheyenne scored. And that's why I want everybody to like, take that proud moment of. That we moment that we had, it's not, oh, this guy scored I'm jealous of him. No, no, no, no, no. We all did it even because you helped them in practice. So you pushed him when he needed to push or you helped them understand a concept or, you know, you made them a better person in the hallway. You kept them out of trouble. it could be anything, but it's a Cheyenne score. Not to me.

Luke:

Yeah, I really liked that. And it's especially tough in football because the quarterback, the running back the receivers get all the attention and the most important people on the field that Lyman don't get much. Right. And it's getting more and more difficult to get kids to play. O-line because of that, because we're in such a attention seeking world one place I coached. St. Rita high school, our O-line coach, John Johnny. He did a really cool thing. And. We have a pizza party for his own alignment, if they reach certain benchmarks in the rushing game. And when he started to do was tell the running backs, cause they're the ones that always get interviewed. If you're able to work in all five lineman's name and it gets in the newspaper, you're then welcome to come to these pizza parties. And yeah, it was great because anytime a skill player was interviewed, he would make sure to pub all five or six. Because he wanted to get to that pizza party. Really? Obviously he wanted to pop up his friends too. Right. Cause those are all his buddies. But anyway, yes, absolutely one score. We all score. It's not about the individual. And that is what I love about team sports. Especially a sport like football.

Jay:

Well, that's built in the film room. So I'm a lunatic with watching game film, and I'm sure a whole bunch of people just smiling right now, uh, watching game film, and I will go nuts on the effort of a block. I will realize so many times if I have a receiver, like one of my kids this year, we'll Weinstein, he'll be 30 yards down from. So the moon 30 yards downfield throwing a block when it has nothing to do with him, but he knows if I throw a block at the third level, that's causes a touchdown. If I throw a block at a second level, it's a big play. If I throw a good block in the line of scrimmage, we get good positive yards. So I spend a lot of time just throwing the bone out there when Lyman throw pancake blocks, and we have a pancake award and. And I have the running total on the coach's door, in the locker room, the pancake award, and I make a big deal out of it during our, uh, our banquet at the end and this year. Well, I'm not gonna say cause one of my kids at 34 pancakes this year and. I got something good in store for him when the season starts, I think but like, you know, I also, I coached the offensive line, so those are my dudes. And, uh, we have that running total. I have another great thing for special teams as well. And for everybody to understand that my role. Isn't it cause I'm the star quarterback of the star running back or whatever. My role could be huge for this program in a different facet of the game. And we, we promote that so much. Like you wouldn't believe so. I have a takeaway award, which is good. I don't know. I guess we just rolled

Luke:

Yeah, no, I mean, you're right. It that's really what the podcast is about. The "I" in Win. It's the fact that every single person brings value and everybody is important. And despite what you might see on social media, You're all important and you're all going to play a role in our success. Right. It's not my success. It's our success. So

Jay:

So I got another one for you. what I do is we have a practice practice player of the week. Doesn't have to be a starter. Doesn't have to be a star on the team. It could be just a kid on scout that just busts it for us. So we could be a better team that week. So I have a practice player of the week and I have a special teams player of the week. Right. And it's hard this the past two years. Cause it could be everybody. I mean, that's how much I love these guys. but they get to pick the uniform combination for the game and they walk our team out and they lead stretches for the game. then what happens is some of my captains are like, okay, you know what? I don't have to walk out to the center of the field. I'll make the practice team player of the week, walk out and I can stand behind him. and we push that so much that your value to the. About what you do. And when it gets to the point where I don't have to push it anymore, and it's the players doing it for themselves, we're in a good shape.

Luke:

Let's go back to something that you touched upon at the very beginning, talking about your east coast roots. And that's the fact that you have come around to learn. That it is important to develop a relationship with kids. And some again, I understand we don't have to, we're not going to be friends with them, Hopefully long-term, we will be right when as as the older they get. And I think you agree with me on that statement, but I think it's important to be people first have a relationship it's not just on the dictator and you're my subordinate. So explain in closing why it's so important for teachers and coaches to have a personal relationship with each kid. They come in contact.

Jay:

It's funny, you brought that up because like on my little notes in front of me, I have something in capital letters, in bold, putting it all together. What I've learned from the places I've been in the first thing. And everyone's heard this from a lot of coaches, but me included just to trust the process. Trusted. So the things that we do at cm, it all started with building the right staff to reflect on how I want things done. It took a little while, but I have some good men. I think the football knowledge is great to have, but if these are people that you want to look, you know, if you see them when you're in college and you see in PA, you know, when you're in. I want to give this man a hug cause he made me who I am and those are the type of coaches that I want. So we built the staff to reflect how I want things done. And when I hear them starting to echo the things that I say. I'm like, Yeah. I got this going in the right place. So everybody fits into a role and I've learned to allow them to fit into a role. And these are the things I've learned from the east coast, not to force feed it, but you know, this coach has the good role of being, you know, the crazy motivating coach. This coach is the one that the kid can go to and cry on his shoulder. You know, this coach is the one that will judge you. This coach is, you know, I try to be all those things, but if the assistance of that too, we're in. so I try to have the players take ownership. That's one of the greatest things I've learned over the years from the east coast, give them ownership as much as possible. And it starts with listening to the player. If it's softball, look for us, whatever tracks. If it's football listened to them as human beings, they will tell you in, in, I've heard that I w I remember once I was, I have to stand in the middle of everything. So I'm standing between the two linebackers and practice, and the coaches yelling at the kid to, you know, to do something, you know, you gotta get there. And I heard the kid come back and stands right next to me, and he just closes his eyes. He's like, teach me how to get it. This is 28 years later. And I remembered what a 16 year old kid said under his breath, teach me how to get there, tell me how to get there. And now I have that in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. It's just like, you got to remember, you can't just tell them you have to show them. And every kid learns differently. So everything we do here is all about facing. And family is stands for forget about me. I love you, which is something I heard. That's great. And people start to take notice of how I treat their kids, parents, administration. I hope, you know, the alumni past players that they keep in touch with me. How are things going with so proud of what's going on? other students. So my numbers are going up because the kids are like, we want to come and play for you guys. Why? Because they see how the program is. And that, to me, that's winning, that's better than any winter loss I've ever had in my life. You know, during slide shows, we promote, uh, what kind of human beings these guys have turned into. I know we could have gone that direction too. Cause I have some guys that I'm really, really proud of, you know, where they are now, their coaches, they, you know, they're partners in a law firm they're fired up, you know, FDN Y big time in the military, whatever you mean. Yeah, they're just great kids. So we promote that. And so I have that, I literally have a slide in front of the parents, how successful some of our people are as human beings. And that's what we do. And we promote the multi-sport athlete. That's a big thing I've learned from the east coast, and unfortunately now everyone's trying to specialize and That's not good. Kids get burnt out, I'll show you a good football player. Who's a good wrestler. I'll show you a great baseball player is a good football player. I'll show you a good, you know, track and field. Who's an amazing football player, all those things lacrosse, all that stuff. You know, at some schools back east, we call lacrosse spring football. So all those things go together. So the multi-sport athlete, but what I really do as a coach. is we like to use a lot of humor and have fun with our football family, kids, parents, you name it. We can laugh with each other. We can cry with each other. And then when it's time to go to work, we get. Because they know that we're a family and the family gets after and a family protects the family. we literally had players break down in the locker room in front of their team and, uh, just things that happened in their life and the whole team gets up and hugs the kid. And I couldn't be prouder. Sorry. So

Luke:

all right, coach. I appreciate you sharing these stories.

Jay:

Yeah. You know, I don't want to get specific cause I want to respect some kids privacy's but you know, some kids have had tragedies in the family and they opened up to the team and then before I could even jump on it, the whole team comes up, gets up and hugs the kid and he, and he was new. And now he's like taking ownership. He's one of the leaders that we got and you can't get that in a classroom. That's that's football family. That's amazing. So, you know, we do that, you know, so it's all about our work. You know, we, we had to get through COVID together as a family. the kids understand that the pay their dues that starts in a weight room. And what we do in the summer is amazing. That really builds our program. So we could spend a lot of time with that, you know? So it's just a constant message that we send over and over and over again, that I hope these kids get into college and they see that you still care about them, whether or not it's football. That's great. And you still, you do everything you can every minute of the day in the hallway, on the phone. Calling parents saying, you know, I got this college looking at your son, but let's make sure that his grades are there. So that, that part's easy. And the parents appreciate that. They're like, you know, this is good motivation. And I make sure our coaches treat the players with respect as Well, And if they don't, we have a problem, We treat administrators, teachers custodians cheerleaders, everybody would respect. And that thing has just returned back to us. And we're always trying to get. So I'm always trying to get better as a person and hopefully they will to

Luke:

Well, your emotion, your passion, your commitment to what we do in this profession is very obvious. I really appreciate you putting it out there and being vulnerable like you are right now on the podcast. I think our listeners can take a lot from you, and I think there's even more that they can get from you as well. So if there's someone that would like to. Reach out to you and hear about that summer program you alluded to or, and talk more about nutrition. What are best ways on social media and email address to share with our listeners?

Jay:

Uh, I've learned Twitter's a great way to contact people. I hate it, but Twitter's really good. So I'm at coach Sauer vis on Twitter, or, you know, you can email me, CMHS football@cmsdtwelve.org. all that stuff is great. And the funniest thing is, you know, I try to be the leader, but then I go home in my, in my best teachers, my wife. And, uh, we just, we just keep at it. You know, she's part of the reason I was able to get out here and she's, she's, my motivation. You know, you want, you want to be a better man for her as Well, And my kids and you know, when they see that, you know, hopefully people follow the lead, you know, once they love you as a person that want to follow what you do.

Luke:

I appreciate you sharing all that information. both your, personal commitment to your family and also the commitments you make to your players and to all of our listeners. If you go to The "I" in Win dot com again, that's The "I" in Win. You will find all of coach services, contact information on Twitter. Instagram is email. If you'd like to reach out and learn a little bit more about him and what he does as a program. And with that coach, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. And I appreciate this connection. We have made via a previous guest on our show. So hopefully we continue to stay in contact and look forward to found your success in the upcoming football.

Jay:

Oh, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I, uh, I just love what I do. I love the people who I'm with, and I really appreciate what you do as well.

Jay Saravis Profile Photo

Jay Saravis

This will be my 28th year coaching HS football
I have also coached Junior High Lacrosse, HS Softball, HS Track & Field
I am a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS)
Taught Health (and a little PE) in NY