Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Lost My Phone...

...but there's a happy ending. This only has to do with football in the very most remote sense, but what the heck. You're reading anyway.

My phone fell out of the pocket of one of our equipment bags. I think it actually happened before practice started. But I didn't notice it missing until after practice, then persuaded myself that it was somewhere else in the bag, or that I'd hadn't brought the thing with me anyway.

(I mean, with Weis and Crennel on board now, I'm just not getting the number calls from Todd that I used to get during practice last year, so I should be fine leaving the phone at home.)

So believing the phone safely at home - a fancy Verizon droid phone mind you, with way more stuff than I really know how to use - I left. It was hot, I was tired, and I figured if it wasn't at home it was in one of the  football bags or my clipboard and I'd find it later.

You do this don't you? If you can't find your phone, you call it? I have a rather, ahem, distinctive ringtone that one of my children established for me. Even if I knew how to change it, I probably wouldn't, because it deeply embarrasses my other children and my wife. And that's what I live for.

So I called my missing phone, listening intently for waka waka waaaaaka waka waka waaaaaka waka waka waaaaaka waaaaaaa. (I told you. Distinctive.)

It didn't ring. It didn't ring in the car, or either football bag, or anyplace else in my home.

Now for ordinary football coaches, this would be a nightmare scenario. You've come home from goofing off all night at football practice, and you've lost your fancy cell phone.

"Why Jim" you say, "You don't goof off at practice. You and all the coaches work very hard with our children to give them a great practice, even in the heat and when things are difficult. You're patient, and kind, and the kids have fun, and it certainly doesn't seem to take all night.. you don't seem to be goofing off at all!" To which I respond, yes, thank you so much for noticing and no, it does not seem like goofing off to me at all, except that I must confess - I think practice is fun. By definition you see, anything that I think is fun is defined as 'goofing off' in our household. You may use your imagination to determine which family member of mine might hold this opinion. 

But no, as I said, I'm no ordinary football coach. I am, in fact, a card-carrying, pocket-protecting, bona-fide, full-on, unabashed Geek - and yes, that's Geek with a capital G.

This deep Geekiness has caused me to install several really useful 'apps' upon my Droid phone. App is short-hand for 'application' and it means a little program that runs on a phone. The app that saved my bacon last night is called, as you might expect, FindMyPhone.

FindMyPhone is, at its heart, a text answering machine. When I installed the FindMyPhone application, I told it to do two things, and it does those two things very happily. First, I told it that whenever it receives a text from any phone that says a very special keyword, it will ring like crazy. It will ring even if the phone is on silent. So no matter where I've lost the blamed thing in my house, the waaka waka etc. will reunite me with my cell phone.

Second, I set up another keyword that texts a reply back the exact GPS coordinates of my phone every five minutes, until I tell it to stop.

This is way cool. Because Google maps will show you, within just a couple of feet, the precise location of a set of GPS coordinates.

Last night I sent my text-me-back keyword to my phone from my son's cell phone, and a couple of minutes later he received a text with the following coordinates: 38.92975778333336,-94.82969685

If you key those GPS coordinates into Google Maps, and then switch to their satellite imagery map, you'll get a picture like this one:

Can you see the green arrow? No, no, not the comic book character. The green arrow right beside the long jump runway.

That's where it said my phone was.

By the time I managed to get FindMyPhone to cough up this information, it was dark. (It isn't dark on the picture Mom, because that's an old image, and they just superimposed the arrow over it. They didn't really task me a satellite, so please don't tell Dad that I have that type of power.) So I went back out there with another cell phone, texted the ring command, and sure enough it bird-dogged me right to it. Buried in a deep patch of grass about a foot away from the green arrow location, there was my expensive black phone, upside down and all but invisible to the naked eye.

Like I said, this doesn't have much to do with football, other than the field. But it is sort of a neat story, if you're into that sort of stuff. Plus, I wanted to write about it. More goofing off I guess.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Down, Set....


At 6:00 p.m. tonight the FCCJC teams of the ONW Ravens 2018 Football Club will gather for their first non-contact practices of 2010. We'll meet on the JV field, inside the track just east of the school. It might not hurt to be five minutes early to help everyone get their forms turned in.

We're expecting 49 players this evening. That's a great number for the three teams. When you add the 18 expected players for the Blue Valley team that will start the following week, we're up to 67 players in the club.

Remember water, helmet, cleats, shorts, t-shirt, and your player contract and physical form (if the contract has been signed by your health care provider, you don't need the physical form.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

We're Popular

We have thirty-two players signed up as of today for FCCJC teams. Tomorrow's registration will indicate whether that number will top out in the mid forties, or perhaps even approach fifty players. Coach Swinford reports that the Blue Valley team has eighteen players already, and may not be done yet.

Whatever happens over these last three registrations, we're well on our way to over sixty 5th grade football players in the ONW area.

When I think back to our start in July of 2008, I remember that we had only fourteen ONW boys, and were fortunate the league sent us two out-of-area players to push us up to sixteen.

We've certainly come a long way. ONW Raven football is popular now because, first and foremost, the boys have had fun. Nearly as importantly, our  parents find the club pretty well organized and receptive, and notice that the coaches seem to care that the players learn and that they play safely.

When you combine all of those things - we boil it down as Have Fun, Get Better, Be Safe - you create an environment that is bound to grow.

Kids want to Have Fun. As parents, we like for our kids to have fun too, and we certainly don't mind that organized athletics seems to be a great way to do that.

Kids also understand that coaches are there to try to help them. Most of them this year will discover (if they hadn't already) that success in the game comes with improving their abilities. At just this age kids really begin to grasp the point of athletics beyond participation. This is the age where they earnestly begin to apply the techniques and strategies that coaches give them to make them better players.

As a teacher, that's a rush. A handful of kids at any given moment last year could use those techniques and strategies for greater success. When I consider that SO MANY of them will be able to take that step this year... well, I can hardly wait to get started helping them Get Better. I think parents really like to see that as their kids participate - that's really one of best parts for us.

And of course, we have to Be Safe. There will be bumps and bruises along the way, but we really watch for the dangerous stuff like improper use of the helmet and heat-related issues. If a player or his parent doesn't feel like we're being safe, we're probably not going to have the player very long anyway.

I think by focusing on those three things we've created a growing program. When organizations are in growth mode, their gravity increases. Parents and kids are pulled in to look because they want to know, "Why are so many of our classmates playing football? What's the big deal?" As they discover us, and find that things are pretty much just the way we said they'd be, they get a great feeling about both the sport and the club.