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AFCA's PDS: building better coaches.

In his first address as Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Grant Teaff spoke of the changes he was about to embark on with the AFCA membership: His ideas and how they tied in with the founding purpose of the AFCA - to maintain the highest possible standards in the game and the coaching of it.

In 1996, the AFCA Board of Trustees, along with Executive Director Grant Teaff, Director of Education Walter Abercrombie, and the NCAA, sought to further serve the AFCA purpose by establishing an educational program to assist football coaches in their professional development. This program was appropriately named the Professional Development Series (PDS).

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The PDS is a specific series of lectures and seminars aimed at promoting professional and personal growth among football coaches. The AFCA provides its membership with an opportunity to participate in this program at its annual convention in January.

Most of the time, a football coaching clinic consists of just coaching information. But the AFCA, seeking more than just X's and O's, created the PDS for the annual convention in January.

The Professional Development Series requires the member to attend a specified number of PDS designated seminars. After each Seminar, a PDS committee man will be available near each exit to provide a stamp that will verify attendance. When the series is completed, the verification cards are processed at the AFCA headquarters and a PDS Certificate of Completion is mailed to the participant.

"Each year, the AFCA convention offers football coaches on every level an amazing opportunity to learn from the most accomplished coaches in the world," declares former Director of Education Walter Abercrombie.

"The educational components included in the Professional Development Series are designed to give membership exposure to information that may not be available anywhere else.

"It has been encouraging to know that thousands of coaches have participated in the program and have benefited from it, enabling them to have a greater impact on the student-athletes they coach."

One of the featured attractions of the Professional Development Series for the past 10 years has been the Master Coach Series. This event features the coaching profession's most respected retirees - the "legends of their time."

"The Master Coach Series is by far the most popular clinic in the Professional Development Series," says Walter Abercrombie. "It has become the anchor of the PDS. Every coach who attends the Master Coach Series loves it. Not only do they benefit from hearing the legends speak, but they also get to ask them questions."

Some of the celebrated coaches featured in the Master Coach Series are; Don Shula, Darrell Royal, LaVell Edwards, Eddie Robinson, Don Coryell, Tom Landry, Vince Dooley, Bo Schembechler, Hayden Fry and many others. The 2005 Master Coach Series featured former Arizona State head coach Frank Kush and former Ohio State head coach John Cooper.

Coach Herbert Parham, now assistant head coach at Morgan State University (MO), is exhilarated over the Master Coach Series. He has attended the Professional Development Series every year since its inception. He reports:

"The benefit of the PDS is the awareness you get from going to the sessions and hearing people using the same things you use, talking about the same things you talk about, philosophies that let you know that you are on the right track. Sometimes you learn something totally new. What you do is take notes and branch off from all of it."

Over the years, many coaches have consistently brought a large number of their coaching staff to the PDS seminars. Naples (FL) H.S. has been a staple at the PDS seminars for the past seven years. Head Coach Bill Kramer attributes part of his success over the last seven years to his staff's participation in the PDS.

"Seven years ago, we went from one winning season in 17 years to a No. 16 rating in the USA Today and a No. 7 rating in the AP prep poll."

Jay Blaylock, head coach at Plymouth (MI) H.S.: "I specifically tell my staff that they must get PDS certification if they are attending the convention, I believe in it that much. I have a young staff, so the PDS series, with the different topics covered, helps them become well-rounded coaches."

The areas of emphasis in the PDS program are: ethics and leadership, media relations, emergency planning, alcohol, drug and gambling awareness, personal and professional growth, life skills, recruiting, coaching philosophy and strategies and sports medicine for coaches.

For the last two years, the PDS has featured former organized crime captain, Michael Franzese. Franzese was, at one time, heavily involved in sports gambling. His insight on gambling awareness is very valuable to football coaches who may have to deal with gambling issues at their respective schools.

Homer Rice has spoken on numerous occasions to the AFCA membership. He has received a tremendous amount of respect from the coaching profession. Throughout his stellar coaching career, he has built a solid reputation for providing strong leadership.

Rice and Franzese are examples of the abundance of information available to coaches who come to the AFCA Convention and participate in the Professional Development Series.

Kramer, along with a number of other coaches, applaud the PDS verification process and the professional curriculums that verify their attendance to the convention:

"The Convention itself is a great way to network, great way to learn. And while you are there, why not go through the Professional Development Series? Why not have something tangible to take back to your administrators at your college or high school and show that you are trying to get better? We are not going to a clinic that is just a big party. The PDS provides professional and personal growth."

At the 2005 AFCA Convention in Louisville, KY, the Professional Development Series featured topics ranging from planning for emergencies in athletics to gambling and student athletes. Topics such as these make the AFCA Convention more than just football philosophy.

"I think it's important for our coaches to see that side of our profession, the growth side. You get so caught up in the day to day that I think sometimes you lose sight of getting better. We never want to stop the process of getting better," said Kramer.

"We have a discussion after each convention, and there are things that we pull directly from the Professional Development Series that we talk about using the next season. We've benefited from one or two things, at least, directly from the PDS," said Blaylock.

Some of the topics in the works for the future of the Professional Development Series include fund raising in a small market, the workings of college administration, and more high school specific materials along with the variety of information already available to the coaches at the AFCA Convention.

"This thing is set up and offers incentives," says Parham. "Sometimes administrations complain about how much it costs to go to the convention, but when you bring back a PDS certificate showing them that these PDS seminars were there, that's justification. I'm proud of my participation; I will always keep my certificates. It's just a few days of sacrifice that go along with this profession."

Coaches can participate in the next Professional Development Series at the upcoming AFCA Convention, January 8-11, 2006 in Dallas, TX.

By Tai M. Brown, AFCA Special Projects Assistant
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Title Annotation:2006 AFCA CONVENTION; American Football Coaches Association
Author:Brown, Tai M.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2005
Words:1227
Previous Article:AFCA convention.
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