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A new approach

Andy Campbell is looking to reinvent Golden Valley football

Posted: July 8, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: July 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Andy Campbell has to teach more than football, more than blocking and tackling.

He has to teach a program how to win.

“The head coach is a salesman,” Campbell says. “He has to be.”

Campbell’s pitch is that Golden Valley will shed its sour football reputation sooner rather than later.

The Grizzlies have won just seven of 40 games in their varsity football history, and the program has been plagued by ineligibility and a lack of participation.

“My first reaction to it is, ‘How did that happen?’” he says. “We have some of the greatest kids around.”

Those kids have undergone a different regimen this summer with Campbell, who was hired at Golden Valley on March 20 after former coach Steve Pinkston resigned last December.

Right from the first few practices, Campbell knew he had to change the mentality.

“It was everybody trying to make an impression on the new guy,” Campbell says. “The impressions are gone. I tell kids you’ll be judged on who you are, not who you were.”

Campbell’s staff caters its coaching and conditioning to each unit. The skill players will run different drills and go through different workouts than the linemen, and so forth.

Compared to Pinkston’s program, the difference is noticeable.    

“It’s more organized,” says junior Andrew Avila. “Last year, it seemed like everything was planned the night ahead. Now we have a schedule every day.”

The schedule includes lifting sessions every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and two-a-day practices on weekday afternoons.

Players are expected to make it to each one, and unexplained absences don’t sit well.

“Early on we had guys who didn’t come,” says senior quarterback Jimmy Hughes. “Now they know, one more time and you’re out of here.”

Campbell believes that accountability is a big part of life, which plays into the upbeat attitude he keeps at practices and scrimmages.

“My whole thing is, nobody likes to play for a jerk,” he says. “We want accountability between coaches and the players. For us, we’re trying to build an intrinsic motivation to get them to never give up.”

Campbell isn’t teaching the Grizzlies any plays out of a playbook.

Instead, he wants them to learn the philosophies of the game and feel comfortable on the field.

“We’ve hit that crossroads where there are some kids in the new scheme and there are some who aren’t,” he says. “The kids have to ask themselves, ‘Am I the old Golden Valley player, or am I the new Golden Valley player?’”

If the Grizzlies come up short in any respect, he doesn’t want it to be for lack of effort.

Golden Valley has already displayed more fire at summer passing tournaments.

“There is no coaching staff in Southern California that will outwork us,” he says. “I just need the same from the kids.”

Because such energy is required to play for Campbell, the players aren’t having trouble putting the program’s checkered past out of their minds.

“I don’t even think about anything that happened in the past,” Hughes says. “Not even yesterday.”

Campbell has already solved one of the Grizzlies’ old problems.

The numbers are up for the football team this season.

Students at Golden Valley are buying in to the new direction.

“We have a lot of kids who should start, but we only have 11 spots,” Campbell says. “We’ve got battles going on.”

Competition is something that helps teams thrive. It has helped some teams in the Foothill League become traditional powers.

Golden Valley isn’t there yet.

Campbell knows it — and he wants to change it.

“Are we Saugus?” Campbell asks. “Are we Hart? Are we Valencia? Are we Canyon?

“No, but hopefully we’re leading into the next chapter of the Foothill League, where we’ll be on top.”    

jgulino@the-signal.com

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