Cub Football: Training Ground

Collegiate’s varsity sports teams continue to triumph and perform exceptionally. As they gain publicity for their outstanding performances on the field, it is important acknowledge how these athletes have developed. The majority of the athletes that participate in varsity sports, also participated in Cub sports in seventh and eighth grade, where they learned the basics of the sport. Coaches strive to teach young athletes the importance of hard work and dedication, while still providing an enjoyable experience. Associate Athletic Director Andrew Stanley, head coach of the Cub green football team, says his “goal is to encourage our players to stretch their physical, mental, and emotional limits in a safe environment.” Cub sports is a learning experience, and some students learn what sports they do not like. Senior Willie Hunter (‘17), a captain of the varsity track team, said, “Cub sports taught me I didn’t want to play football anymore.” The schedules and competition can be difficult on the players, especially in the case of football.

Cub green football has six total games in their season, and most teams they play have tremendous size advantage. Varsity football captain Excellence Perry (‘17) attended their last home game on October 19th against Carter Woodson. He described the opponent as “a bunch of grown men on the field.” He also acknowledged the screaming and unnecessary aggression of the opposing coaches. Although Woodson dominated the entire game, the coaches made no attempts to stop scoring, continuing to blitz and attack the quarterback, running up the score to 0 – 40. More so, there were four players injured by the end of the game.

Cub coach and defensive coordinator (and Upper School government and economics teacher) Rob Wedge said, “it’s a game of controlled violence and controlled aggression. We do play teams at the Cub level that are bigger than we are, but that happens at the varsity level as well.” Wedge also commented on the importance of preparing players for higher levels of the game, while also helping them grow and mature. “One of the most important life lessons our students can learn from football is one of resilience” he said. “It teaches them about being a part of a team and being part of something bigger than themselves.” The coaches of Cub green emphasize the development of the players, not only as athletes, but also as people.

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Cub green Football against Carter Woodson. Photo credit: Matthew Gelozin.

Offensive coordinator Chris Williams says wants his players to “learn how to deal with adversity.” This comes in many forms, whether it’s “physical adversity, mental adversity, and adversity with the team coming together and realizing their potential.” He admits that “yes, we don’t always have the success that we want, but the sooner kids are exposed to the discomfort of ‘yes this hurts a little, but it’s helping our team accomplish a goal.’” It is important to have the players feel uncomfortable, and Cub football puts them in a position to realize that they can not accomplish this task by themselves. Williams says that by being in this situation, “you’re able to tap into a strength that you might not have known you had otherwise.” This discomfort heavily contributes to player development, by teaching them how to thrive in times of adversity. One player on Cub green, Bo B. (‘21), says he loves Cub football because coaches “don’t only teach us to be better football players but to be a better person and teammate.” Bo believes that playing against tough opponents “helps the team find our weaknesses and get better.” He knows that “you’re not always going to win,” and says that playing a team like Carter Woodson “definitely opened our eyes to realize that it’s not going to be easy to win games.”

Cub green’s record may look poor, but it does not capture the powerful experiences and life lessons being learned on the field. The reasons for playing Cub are different from varsity. Williams said “on varsity you are trying to win championships, when on Cub we are just trying to win games.” Cub football is a portal for kids to learn the importance of hard work, preparation, and being a teammate. Through the adversity and discomfort provided by a physical team sport, players are able to overcome challenges and develop their abilities.

About the author

Matthew is a senior at Collegiate and is currently waiting for you in the A gap.