You see all kinds.
There's Buddy Ryan, originator of the Bears' fabled "46" defense in the 1980s, all decked out in his standard NFL issue Bears' sweater.
You've got Greg Robinson, the blitzing schemer from the Broncos' back-to-back years in the late 1990s, in standard Shanny staff wear. Don't forget the Sleeveless Sweatshirt Man, Bill Belichick.
They study film like head coaches. They immerse themselves in the game plan like head coaches. They prepare everybody from the third-string linebacker to the waterboy just in case the other team goes shotgun. They put the "D" in defense, and though their names may not show up in the papers like head coaches, their tactics will likely determine the outcome of any game.
They're the defensive coordinators, and they sport a fashion all their own.
Khakis and gameday green, pacing like a coaching machine, he's got a look all right, but it's not some passing fad. He's the fiery one with the freshly-shaved, gameday dome that resembles a visor-crested volcano. He's 100 percent passion. 100 percent preparation. 100 percent intensity. 100 percent commitment. His name is Ryan Whittington ("Whit"), and he's one of the best young coaches in the state — in any sport.
Delta Panthers head coach Ben Johnson says, "Football is the one sport where you really rely heavily on good coaches around you . . . To have someone as passionate as Whit who just loves the sport and wants to see our kids succeed is special. He puts so much time into it. It's hard to find assistant coaches who will work as hard as you do (as a head coach). Whit works every bit as hard as I do."
Whit was a two-time All-State football player for the Rifle Bears in the early 2000s, earning the award as a defensive back in his junior year and at quarterback in his senior season. Add a wrestling state title at 171 pounds in his senior year, and you start to get a sense of Whit's athleticism.
"I knew I wanted to go into coaching probably since my freshman year in high school," says Whit. "I love everything about teaching and coaching. I love just being there with the guys. I love everything from the weight training to the meetings to the football field to the camps."
Now in his seventh season as a coach, Whit's looking to make his mark in the lives of the young, impressionable student-athletes with whom he works. "My favorite part of coaching is teaching a kid something and watching him do it and succeed," says Whit. "Whether it's a big thing or a small thing, I just like to see them have success. Anything I can do to help them succeed in the game or in life — that's what I'm in it for.
"There are so many little things that football teaches you, like discipline, toughness and teamwork," continues Whit. "Those are all coach-speak words, but they're true, and you're going to need those traits in the work environment today."
Much like his mentor, Coach Ben Johnson, Whit enjoyed gameday growing up. "Gameday was huge in my family," says Whit. "I was probably the first one [in my family] to come along who was truly into sports, so it was a big thing, not just for my immediate family, but also for my aunts and uncles and grandparents. They all came together to watch the games.
"There's nothing like it — even playing college football on Saturdays," he adds. "There's nothing like Friday night lights. The atmosphere, the school environment, the band, the cheerleaders — everyone's there to watch football. It's the intensity between two teams. It's the league we play in and all the rivalries that we have. There's just nothing like it."
Love of the game comes standard in Whit's world — a world where hard work and the will to win mesh to form the fabric of a young man's life. Whit is dressed for success. In fact, success is his fashion statement.
It's a look that never goes out of style.blog comments powered by Disqus