“We’re going to hammer this into these seniors, because if you think back on your own lives, what’s made you successful today is that you’ve been emulating a role model, whether it’s your dad, your older brother, maybe somebody else,” LHS assistant Jamie Bell said Tuesday night. “You had somebody else that you copied and we want to keep a steady tradition. A steady football culture has to have good leadership, you have to have role models.”
It’s part of a character-driven approach the Lumberton staff, led by incoming head coach Joe Salas, is taking with the team.
Salas and his staff spent nearly two hours talking about the program Tuesday during Meet the Coach Night, held at Candy Sue’s in downtown Lumberton, focusing more on the character-driven aspects of the program than the on-field play.
Salas used the night to talk about the program’s values and introduce attendees to his coaching staff for the upcoming season. Salas’ staff includes assistant head coach Taurius Baker, offensive coordinator Lawrence Ches, defensive coordinator Ronald Cook, Frank Jernigan, Clay Jernigan, Jordan Reisman and Bell, along with a few more coaches that will be named later.
Salas told the crowd, which included community members and several players, that he is building the team around four cornerstone values: Attitude, leadership, work ethic, and discipline. All are values of which Salas believes translates into successful athletics, as well as a success off the fields.
It’s a lesson Salas learned first-hand as a child in a single-parent household.
“Everything I learned about being a man, I learned from football and without it I wouldn’t be who I am.”
The program will have an emphasis on good behavior and players will have the chance to take part in a new Fellowship of Christian Athletes group.
Ches spoke on team rules, which includes a zero-tolerance policy against stealing, drug use and abuse of women.
Ches said the team has positive mantras, including statements encouraging players to conduct themselves properly in the community and the classroom. Cursing will be discouraged.
“That all comes from having a positive mindset, so we’re going to teach our young men to have a positive attitude, positive minds, and positive thoughts,” Ches said.
Parents were also put in the spotlight multiple times.
Salas stressed parental involvement in team activities such as pregame meals and fundraising activities.
“What we’re telling you is that as parent, you’re not a fan,” he said. “You’re not a Pirate fan, you’re a Pirate. You are part of our program, and that’s a big deal to us.”
Parents were also encouraged to help push their sons for academic success, which can help get them recruited for collegiate play.
“We have many kids in Robeson County that have the ability to go play college sports, but can’t get in because of their GPA or SAT scores,” Clay Jernigan said.
The team is also encouraging strong academic behavior from younger athletes, giving freshmen an “academic camp” during camp in August.
“The idea and the vision of Academic Camp is to have a program for the incoming freshman athletes to introduce them to being student athletes, with a big emphasis on the ‘student’ part,” Cook said.
The camp will consist of several classes per week, with information ranging from time management and organization to responsible use of websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“We want to impose the importance of being a student first and not just an athlete, and hopefully they carry that to their college career, when they play on that level,” Cook said.