“When things get tough, you get tougher.”
It’s North Oconee coach Will Peters’ edict.
“He says it all the time and it’s kind of his thing,” said Titan senior Brady Burruss. “He’s a character, and he’s very intense.”
As North Oconee’s defensive coordinator and strength coach, Peters’ phrase echoes off the walls of the weight room and across the practice field.
Imitating his saying on Monday at the annual Clarke/Oconee Football Media day beget a chuckle from fellow Titans Khalil Barnes and Davin Busby. Burress admitted, however, that the phrase resonates among teammates.
“I think it sticks with you, especially in the weight room,” Burruss said. “Sometimes you have to push yourself more mentally than physically. You’re trying to get the right mindset when you’re attacking a lift. You’re not just trying to get through it, you’re trying to get better through it, and he’s just reminding us of that.”
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New season, old phrases
At the start of each season, coaches come prepared with cliche phrases and sayings. Their teams just want to “get one percent better each day.”
They are focused on “one game at a time'” and their teams “can’t go to 2-0 before going 1-0.”
The hits were on full display on Monday.
Cedar Shoals’ coach Leroy Ryals used “next man up” to answer how the Jaguars would replace running back Jerdavian Colbert. He did preface his comment with “like the old adage says,” affirming he understood the use of ‘coachspeak.’
Does the repetitive reinforcement of the quips and phrases coaches constantly throw out to their teams sink in?
Clarke Central coach David Perno remembers a Billy Henderson motto that was plastered on the weight room walls.
“It can be done.”
He believed it as a Gladiator player during the 1985 state title run and projects the concept onto today’s team.
“It can be done,” Perno said. “And sure enough, these players are simulating that and believing in it.”
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Hammer or nail?
Athens Academy defensive coordinator Marvin Barton asks Spartan players “Do you want to be the hammer or the nail?” Senior linebacker Jimmy Humphries thinks about that when closing on an opponent.
“I think that sticks with a lot of us,” Humphries said. “I think we sometimes get cute on defense and are overthinking it. You just kind of need to put your head down (and be the hammer).”
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Hold the Rope
North Oconee goes heavy on the motivational jargon, from weight room sayings to social media posts.
Head coach Tyler Aurandt especially likes the term “hold the rope” as a symbol of team unity.
It’s much like the University of Minnesota’s “row the boat,” a phrase that illustrates the teamwork needed to reach the desired goal.
To Aurandt, it’s not so much about throwing around cliches but more about simple communication that teams understand.
“I think you’re looking for buzzwords, things you can say and they know exactly what it means,” Aurandt said. “You’re trying to get your team to speak the same language and understand what’s being said.”
Since a 1-9 beginning at North Oconee six seasons ago, Aurandt is 34-15 and last year led the Titans to their first state semifinal appearance.
Although the adages and mottos are only a small part of their success, the mentality of working for each other, even through overused phrases and team maxims, translates into unification.
“When I say ‘Hold the Rope,’ they know what we’re talking about,” Aurandt said. “Or (when I say) competitive excellence or relentless effort, they know exactly what that looks like when we’re talking about with those things.”