- Rebecca Foster-Goodman
Nine Questions with Scouts’ Coach Chuck Spagnoli
By Rebecca Foster-Goodman
Lake Forest High School Varsity Football Coach Chuck Spagnoli has been the driving force behind the team for nearly 20 years. Here are nine questions for the coach as the Scouts prepare for their next playoff game against Prairie Ridge High School on Saturday afternoon.
What makes this team so special?
Like any sport, the personality of the team is dictated by the players. Our seniors are the reason everything is good right now. They understand what is in front of them, they know what they’ve been through to get to this point, and more than anything, this group appreciates the opportunity to have a regular season with regular playoffs. They are embracing what what they missed a year ago.
"More than anything, I want these boys to have a great experience in our program," says Chuck Spagnoli.
How important are the captains? Everything we do goes through them. We ask them to make policy, we ask them if there are things we need to change, do we need a day off or do we need more time on the field. We get the pulse of the team from them, and then we ask them to make the right decision. As coaches we are guided by the captains to a large degree in regards to overall morale or the general feeling of the team.
What is your favorite part of coaching?
There is no doubt that my favorite part of coaching is the day-to-day interactions. The football part of it and the games are great, but what people might not understand about football is there are lifelong relationships and lifelong lessons and the day-to-day camaraderie with players and coaches. I have players I coached 20 years ago or more that I still keep in touch with regularly. Having said that, the next best part of it is watching these kids grow up and mature and become adults. You see them as young kids and before you know it, they have families of their own, and they’ve become incredible adults and members of our society. That’s what this is all about.
What is your end goal as a coach? More than anything, I want these boys to have a great experience in our program. My hope is that these boys leave LFHS saying, “Playing football is the best thing I did in my four years of high school.” If you can get that, you’re doing a great job. Wins and losses are all part of the game, but in the end if their experience was positive, that is the end goal.
Who inspired you as a coach growing up?
I had several coaches at every level who were mentors and made an impression on me. One of my high school coaches, who passed away a year ago, we went deer hunting every year together and built a great relationship. Some teach you things that are really good and some teach you how not to do things. You get your philosophy and day-to-day demeanor by the people you play with and are coached by on the field.
What is your coaching philosophy?
The football part and the coaching part are different. As far as the coaching goes, although we have a team, that team is made up of lots of individuals. And every individual has different needs, wants and goals. You can’t lose sight of those goals, but you also can’t put the other players on the back burner. The team has to come first. And then we have to align the goals of the individuals with the team, and everybody plays a role. Where it becomes incredibly rewarding and satisfying is when everybody involved embraces their role and chooses to do whatever they can for the sake of the team.
What are the expectations for players on and off the field?
We ask these boys to do the right thing, to be good people. Today, so much of what our kids see on TV or their phones or in society, everyone wants instantaneous results. There is nothing about their lives that is instantaneous; everybody has to go through good, bad and in between. I hope they understand that whatever their goals are; you have to suffer through rough times and adversity and growing pains. You have to understand that getting through that adversity is what made you stronger.
What is the purpose of having the younger players join the varsity players during the playoffs?
It works twofold. As football players, it gives them extra practice and development time as well as more opportunity to work on their skills. But the most important reason is the relationships they didn’t have two and a half weeks ago that they have now, and the understanding of the older players that they have now, what the varsity players go through every day.
What will this team need to do to be successful on Saturday?
Nothing different than what they have been doing up to this point. There are a few reasons why we have success – there’s physical ability, there is also legitimate effort by these guys mental and physical, coaching to put them in the right positions, and last but not least is the communication of the players. So, what is it going to take? All of those things combined.