Wojciech Weekly: Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus

Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus - We do not learn for the school but for life.

This Latin sentence was engraved above the doors of the St. Mary Magdalene High School in Poznań, that I graduated almost a decade ago-quite an intriguing mission statement for an educational institution don’t you think? 

Last weekend I’ve enjoyed a small Halloween party with a bunch of my high school classmates. As we have been chatting the topics shifted from NSA controversies to – stereotypes and racial controversies, with Redskins case being discussed. Eventually we agreed that since Poland is rather homogeneous society it is hard for us to understand the situation of Native Americans. Apparently knowing the fact that Sam Bradford was first player with native American background helps sometimes, a great upset yesterday.

However even if we don’t get repressed because of the tone of your skin, you can get easily mobbed or harassed at workplace or receive a nice dose of internet hatred, because of your views or just for no apparent reason.

In the competitive world of football it is easy to cross the line, it is much harder to rebuilt the bridges that were destroyed. As legendary sports agent said the key in this business are personal relations .While I was at the party the news about John Fox’es heart attack was reported via Twitter….

Let’s win this one for the Coach!
If you are a football coach – this hasn’t been the best week – my prayers and thoughts go to John Fox, Gary Kubiak and their loved ones. I hope that you will get better soon. Their sudden health issues provoked the discussion about coaches health - do we take care about ourselves? Are we workaholics? How do we deal with the pressure and expectations? These are some tough questions we have to ask ourselves. 

It’s true that in NFL or Div. 1 NCAA the work-hours can be inhumane, but in Europe besides coaching you have your daily job, family obligations so you end up doing x’s and o’s late at night. Just to face the reality that because of poor attendance your practice schedule can be thrown away. And how does the loss of a coach impact an organization, can it be a motivator like in #ChuckStrong case or it can happen only in Tebowland.

I had experienced this ride before during my 2012 season I spent with Wroclaw Devils. The HC was Keneth Skip Poole, who in 2010 performed a truly Andy Reidian turnaround of the team. From 3-4 in 2009 and a must win in the relegation game to stay in PLFA, the Devils stunned everyone with Championship perfect 10-0 season. Coach Poole could not witness the glory as his cardiac problems forced him to come back to the states earlier that year. In 2012 the board decided to once again appoint him as HC. 

In our season opener we hosted Seahawks Gdynia, after a thriller Devils came up short. As we were leaving the stadium Coach Skip felt pain in the chest, luckily the ambulance was still there. As I was driving to the hospital with Dawid the Team’s VP to the hospital, there were tens of questions running through our heads is Coach going to be ok – should he be released and allowed to go home?

Eventually after medical examination, the team decided to stick with the Coach and for some time we held on. 

One Tuesday as I came for practice from Poznan, I’ve heard the news that Coach has been taken to hospital for another checkup. The team understood and we tried to operate in the “business as usual mode”, we couldn’t do it. As we were preparing for the tough game against Kozły Poznan the tensions grew, our game wasn’t clicking. On game day Coach Poole was released from the hospital but you could see something was going on. The game was close it came down to a bubbled snap on a two point conversion with zero time on the clock – Devils prevailed 7:6.

Few weeks later, Coach and Devils amicably parted away, as it turned out on that Tuesday he suffered a heart attack – not as if it was the first, but as he admitted in a private conversation was in the state that nearly seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

The 2012 Devils didn’t won the PLFA title and my description of that season as an emotional roller coaster ride with no seat belts on – is pretty accurate.

As for Coach Kenneth Skip Poole he came back safely to the USA, and referred to the whole incident as a catharsis, that helped him redefine his life. As if this whole story still doesn’t apper to make a Football Twilight Zone top 10 stories, in one of the preseason interviews Coach Poole admitted the goal is simple – another ring for the Devils and either he will reach it or he will return home in a coffin! 

The other related story I can think of is the late Joe Avezzano, who passed away while serving as a HC of the Milano Seamen. Should import Coaches be questioned about medical condition while being interviewed for a job in Europe? If we want to lead by example, and we preach reasonable nutrition we should lead by example – just look at Rex Ryan aka “Sexy Rexy “. I’m a Pats fan and I think he’s the Biggest Looser in the NFL! So I must give him exact amount of credit for shedding those extra pounds.

Be more social
Earlier this week my TDEU colleagues Charles McCrea and Lance Kriesen signed with Gdynia Seahawks- congrats guys and good luc . We are all still waiting for the official news on Seahawks Facebook and website. Luckily, Panthers Wroclaw welcomed new imports in their notoriously pleasant fashion - by posting a picture of Panther ripping a bird. 

With this I wanted to show to radically different approaches to social media as a marketing tool. Sure being a successful team is about the numbers you produce on the field not about the likes and followers. But if we are going to reach the higher level anytime soon we follow the leaders in the business. I find social media a great networking tool and a cheap platform to build a community around the program.

I have the impression that pre and postgame Trollolo should be considered a sport- why don’t we include it to 2017 Wroclaw Post Games? As long as it’s intelligent and doesn’t cross the line I’m ok with it, the We want (To be) Bama mocking t-shirts are amazing.

Revenge of the Nerds
Speaking of Oregon, what an upset – just as everyone predicted. Don’t get me wrong I’ve nothing against the Ducks. I find the innovations of Chip Kelly and Nick Alleotti refreshing and inspiring. But sometimes the whole #DuckSwag and the bandwagoners are just owerwhelming… Just today as I was leaving the house I saw that my neighbor keeps a duck in his garden, amazingly he grows a nice pine tree. Congrats to the Cardinal for yet another upset, they have the know-how, just look at page 18 of the July edition of American Football Monthly. And the idea of players wearing the nerdish glasses at the post game presser – got to love it.

A trivia fact amidst the Redskins controversy - did you know that since 1930’s the official mascot of Stanford Cardinals was an Indian and as you can imagine the name didn’t refer to the bird. After protests by students the mascot has been dropped in mid 1970’s – so it can be done? I know that the pine tree doesn’t look sexy at all, but at least this week there is a “hug a tree week” among FSU, Baylor and Buckeyes fans.

If you watched the Baylor- OU game there was a huge controversy on the ejection of Baylor safety after the targeting call, it was reversed but my question is will IFAF adopts this rule in 2014 ? Via Twitter I’ve asked the newly appointed head of Polish Officiating Committee Mr Wojciech Ratajczak- on the matter , his answer was that it all depends on IFAF.

Do you remember my Football innovation story, where I referred to “Stanford Probing Offense”. There is another good one on MMQB entitled Get your popcorn ready, about HC David Shaw and the unique organizational culture of Stanford Football.

The NERD Revenge, leads us to the story of the week the Miami Dolphins bullying crisis. I find amazing how many people takes shots at Jonathan Martin for exposing the story. Imagine yourself being bullied at work or school referred to as let’s say idiot add some racial slur or other random hate-speech. You report the story to your superiors and no actions are taken – you go public what do you have to lose? The sad part is that Richie Incognito has a long history of off the field issues – there was a big story published on him at NFL .com in September – the subtitle was very powerful a quote from Richie’s father- Payback you’re gonna have yours one day.

I’m not trying to find excuses but for a guy, who had been given a second chance he just should know better. I have heard the story that he was bullied at school but maybe from that fat kid that everyone picked on he transformed into a bully . Did I mention that both Martin’s parents are Harvard educated lawyers – bad luck Richie . As questions arouse the discussion started to grow about rookie hazing in NFL and football in general . Where the line needs to be drawn ? Why is hazing allowed in football at all?

Singing with the Wolves
In 2005 as many polish students I had a summer job in UK, I practiced and helped during game days at Edinburg Wolves Football Team. On a return from a road game at Glasgow all the rookies were invited to the back of the bus, where as a part of a welcome to the pack ritual they had to perform a dance or sing a song or face consequences. I sang a song – not sure what it was, but barely past the test. 

While at Edi I was reached by one guy Sebastien Ossywa half-polish half french player, who studied and worked there. Few years later Seb came to our Fireballs practice in Poznan – pretty cool story? If you want my view on rookie hazing – in order to preform it, you need to have rookies first!

Happy Camper Alert
As promised, I would like to invite all QB’s and Coaches to the second editon of Husaria QB School with Philip Hickey. It will take place in Szczecin Poland on the 23th of November 2013. For more info on the event please contact Husaria Szczecin via their website or facebook fan page.

Tribute to The Answer
As I was trying to organize the chaos of my room I have found many interesting artefacts, my 2005 Wolves Playbook and 10 editions of Slam Magazine from early 2000’s. April 2003 Cover story was Allen Iverson The American Hero, when I was at high school I was playing basketball a lot . With his recent retirement I want say a big thank you #AI3, for showing that it really is about the size of the fight in the dog. Did You know that he was a decent football player at Bethel High School? 

The School of Hard Knocks
As I was leafing through the issues of SLAM magazine I realized that back in my high school days, that was the source of basketball news and a nice sample of sports journalism. My favorite column was Post Game always by Kenny Smith and the best article Dropping Jewelz – about the social responsibilities of an athlete on Iverson’s case. As obvious as it may sound sports – the school of hard knocks- prepares you for life – the qualities you acquire on the field can be transferred into other areas of your existence l. Does participation in sports make you immune to social pitfalls? Unfortunately not-but we should know better !

It’s nearly a year since I’ve been part of TDEU, thanks to Mia and all the TDEU crew for giving me the platform to share my views and opinions. It has been a great ride so far and I look forward for the next chapters.

As always we invite you to post comments about the story. If you liked the story please share it with your football friends.

Wojciech Andrzejczak