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Local coaches to hold virtual clinics for youth program peers
April 22, 2020

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Football coaches across Southwest Florida are getting creative during this shelter-in-place order when it comes to saying connected and will share their knowledge about the game they all love on a virtual platform.

High school coaches in the 239 area code will offer their wisdom to youth coaches in the area, and also with each other, while practicing social distancing.

Mariner High School offensive coordinator Stephen Pigott organized these coaches clinics, which will take place for free on Zoom Video April 25-26.

Pigott has always wanted to find a way to connect the youth coaches with some of the information high school coaches obtain at the top camps in the states.

He's seen what some other coaches around the country have been doing to stay connected and figured he and others could do the same in Southwest Florida.

"I thought we could get a handful of coaches who wanted to help the youth coaches, who in turn help the youth kids, to teach them stuff that we have learned -- and that we could do it online," Pigott said. "Why not help the whole community out?"

The two-day virtual seminars will feature different speakers discussing different areas of the game.

Coaches will break down different areas of offense, defense, special teams and game planning.

Specific positions and topics will be talked about, such as offensive/defensive line, defensive backs, quarterbacks, coverages, tackling, how to utilize your whole roster, keys to being a head coach and more.

"We wanted to cover as many topics and positions as we could," Pigott said. "All of the different things you could see on a football field, not just key in on one or two things.

"One coach may be very experienced at one facet of the game, and the other a different thing. So, we're just trying to share and get all of us together to learn from one another."

Each day will feature a myriad of speakers that include local head coaches, assistants, coordinators and specialists.

Seminars begin at 1 p.m. each day, and speakers will have roughly an hour to discuss their topic on the Zoom platform.

David Pasquale, North Fort Myers quarterbacks and special teams coordinator, will discuss on day two how he goes about game planning for offense and special teams.

"We wanted a way to bring the brotherhood of coaches together here locally and share some ideas, thoughts -- things that work well for our program, things we might excel at, just share ideas and bounce ideas off of each other, our challenges and our successes," Pasquale said.

He can see when some kids come into high school that they're either ready to play or still very raw when it comes to the game.

"It's getting everybody here locally on the same page," Pasquale said. "It's a good mix about talking about developing young athletes in our community, but also educating the adults that are teaching these young men how to play a sport that we all love."

Josh Nicholson, newly named head coach for Mariner High School, will be talking about offensive line play, also on day two, and is looking forward to absorbing information from others as well as sharing his craft.

"We're all going a little stir crazy cause we can't coach," Nicholson joked. "We thought it'd be good for the community and really good for the sport. The more we develop other coaches and the more we share ideas between coaches, the better we get as a whole unit."

The head coach said they want to build relationships with Pop Warner coaches.

"They play do play a big part in the development of the sport and our future athletes," Nicholson said.

Pigott agreed.

"It will help develop the young guys before they get to the high school level," Pigott said.

While Pigott, Pasquale and Nicholson concurred that youth coaches in the area certainly know their stuff, it's never a bad thing to share insight and knowledge of the game. Each one of them said they were looking forward to hearing from each speaker and to potentially take away ideas they could implement into their own style.

"When coaching, you have to develop players, make them buy in," Pigott said. "You have to worry about your whole team. I think it's important for youth coaches to develop kids because that's where it all starts. If a coach connects with a player, they're going to keep wanting to play. If he doesn't, you never know what he's passing up."

In turn, it will really be the youth of the area that will benefit from coaches taking the time to better themselves for the betterment of the kids.

"Ultimately, this goes back to the kids," Nicholson said. "The better we are, the more it benefits them.

"It goes back to the development of the sport as a whole. If you're teaching kids the right way to do things, how to play football safe, more kids will have fun playing and there will be fewer injuries. The better coaching that kids get at a young age, the better it is for the sport."

Pigott said it's about connecting the community and growing the sport in the area.

"We want as a community everyone to come together," Pigott said. "We want kids to be more interested in football."

Pasquale hopes this is a way to keep coaches sharp and prepared while the state, country and world all deal with the crisis of a pandemic.

"Right now, we've got nothing but time to be available and talk football because we're not consumed with our norms," Pasquale said. "We discussed what we could provide while we were in sort of this holding pattern until we go back to some normalcy."

The clinics will also be recorded on Zoom for coaches to go back and look at.

Day one includes the topics of: QB Training (Colin Saring), Changing the Culture in a Program (Richie Rode), Defensive Game Planning (Vincent Papley), Passing Concepts (Trevor Cottrell), Screens and RPOs (Chevi Logan) and Tackling (PJ Gibbs).

Day two topics include: Defensive Drills (Nate Sund), Offensive Line (Nicholson), First Year Head Coaching (Andrew Layton), Offensive and Special Teams Game Planning (Pasquale) and Utilizing All of your Weapons/Skill Positions (Pigott).

Nicholson said this could be something coaches end up doing every year.

Those who are interested in attending the virtual seminars can reach out to Pigott via email at stephentp@leeschools.net or on Twitter @CoachPigott239.

- Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

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