Phil Klaphake is the head football coach at Sauk Rapids - Rice High School in Minnesota and former starting quarterback at St. Cloud State University.
As a kid growing up, I chose to play as many sports as I could because I loved to play! As I got older, I continued to play three sports: football, basketball and baseball. As my sophomore year concluded, I realized that the sport that came most naturally to me and that I enjoyed the most was football. So, going into my junior year, I made the decision to put extra time into being the best football player I could be by attending camps all summer long, and I enjoyed every second of it. I was to some degree okay with being a “good” basketball athlete and knew I likely wasn’t going to be a dominant player. I still loved playing hoops, and am highly competitive so I wanted to help my team win and get better during basketball season, but I wasn’t willing to spend the same amount of energy on it as I was willing to with football. If I would have, I know it would have burnt me out.
One of the advantages that I have now as a football coach is that I don’t need all of my student-athletes to prepare year round specifically for my sport. I know that they will get significantly better by being part of other teams and/or spending time in a speed/strength program. In some sports that require more fine motor skills by all participants, if you are not regularly working in maintaining or developing skills, you regress quickly. Due to this, I have no problem with, and to some degree encourage kids in other programs to spend sometime in football season, working on their other sports.
That being said, I think that it is important that a conversation is had between the participant and I so that we can plan for this. As a coaching staff, we put our weekly practice and weight room plans together with our athletes’ physiological well being in mind. We also attempt to be conscious of allowing kids to have time to balance their social life and academic responsibilities.
Ultimately, I want to support kids and their passions. I also want kids to chase their passions without feeling like they can’t enjoy being part of other programs! So if basketball is their thing, that is awesome! I still want them on my team! I ask that they are thoughtful about taking care of their bodies when they train, because I know it would effect our team if they were to get hurt, but I sincerely believe that a variety of experiences is incredibly beneficial in sport and in life. So for me to make it impossible to train in another activity while playing in mine would make no sense. They are kids, and I want them to have as many great experiences in activities as possible while they still have those opportunities.
Play, play, play!