To some coaches, the game may be about more than pure sport. Athletics grants the opportunity to bring together young individuals and introduce them to teamwork and work ethic. Coaches may focus on the little things that they need to work on to teach these young athletes that the small things in life matter.
NAU’s head football coach, Chris Ball, is entering into his first year in the program. He emphasized to his players that they are to hold themselves accountable both on and off the field. Ball uses the acronym “CHOP” to describe the goals he wants his players to achieve.
“‘C’ stands for great character because it defines who you are,” Ball said. “The ‘H’ stands for hardworking because it’s the only way you will be successful. ‘O’ stands for ownership, because we want to take great ownership in ourselves and in our program. Lastly, ‘P’ stands for present, because we want to make ourselves better everyday.”
Ball’s former college roommate and new defensive coordinator Jerry Partridge said he couldn’t agree more with the team’s mentality. Partridge said he believes that football is a great tool and sport to teach players about the difficulties in life. It helps teach them lessons such as working together, learning defeat and knowing how to get up after you have been defeated.
“We grow together, we learn together, we represent together,” Partridge said.
Partridge said his job as a coach is to change the lives of the young men he is instructing.
“When we send them out into the world we want them to be good fathers, good husbands, good friends and people who are part of the community while being productive in their job,” Partridge said.
The players themselves have taken these lessons to heart and have matured since Ball has taken over the team. Sophomore defensive back Anthony Sweeney said it’s all about the little things and his coaches are making sure they are being held accountable in everything they do.
Sweeney came off a strong foundation year. He was a freshman who was able to make it to a starting position, racking up 25 solo tackles his first year in the program. He is someone players and the coaching staff respect heavily, who has taken the lessons he learned in high school and continued to mature everyday.
Coming from De La Salle High School in California, known for having great coaches and a historical background in athletics, Sweeney said beginning his college career has been an easy transition because of coach Ball’s coaching style. Sweeney explained that Ball is always focusing on the little things that will make the big picture happen. Ball makes sure his players are helping out as much as they can and making sure they are representing the culture and organization well.
“I have always been a guy who loves to carry myself as a leader and coach Ball really brings that out,” Sweeney said. “He demands it, which is awesome. It’s not all about football. You can go talk to him about life, school and family.”
Flagstaff is a small town that is proud of the teams that represent it. With a tragedy striking the city not too long ago as a forest fire forced people to evacuate their homes, Ball and his team took action. They helped fill sandbags to help prevent any potential flooding after the fire. This showed the people of Flagstaff that this team is dedicated to this city and will help them out as much as they are able to.
“We’re going to do some work with the Salvation Army,” Ball said regarding other work within the community. “We did some work with grade schools on their first day. We will be very involved with the community because one of the best things about this game is that we can use it as a platform to serve our community.”
Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Marlow emphasized the need for community and student engagement in his introductory press conference. Ball has exemplified nothing short of this since the time he arrived at the university. A college team with the community and students behind them will only strive for greatness.