More than 1,000 South Florida youth league and high school football coaches yearning to hone their skills registered for the inaugural Miami Dolphins Coaches Clinic in a rare opportunity to learn from the professionals.
Dolphins coaches along with college coaches from Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and the University of Miami recently donated their time and expertise “coaching up the coaches” at the Don Taft University Center Arena at Nova Southeastern University -- across from the Miami Dolphins practice facility in Davie.
In traditional Dolphins’ style, entering through the iconic inflatable Dolphins Helmet into a large auditorium decked in aqua and orange, the attendees were warmly welcomed by Dolphins Head Football Coach Joe Philbin.
All eyes focused on Philbin during his opening remarks to the attendees.
“The most important aspect is how we teach some of the fundamentals,” he said. “With young players you’re obviously concerned, as we are with the NFL players, about teaching the game safely.”
The head coach relayed to the coaches what drew him into coaching. “The beauty of football is that the education process never stops,” he said. “We’re continually looking for better coaching methods and ways to improve ourselves.”
Philbin expressed gratitude for his mentors who taught him and led him on a path to becoming an NFL head coach. He explained what he deduced after many years of ”paying his dues” and working his way up the ranks at every level of college coaching and eventually every level of professional coaching to reach this point.
“I’ve learned that no matter what level of football player you’re dealing with, from little kids to the pros, the fundamentals never change,” he said. “Truthfully, I can’t think of any games that we’ve won due to some masterfully schemed coaching game plan. Games are won by players playing hard, playing together and playing fundamentally sound football.”
Twan Russell, a former St. Thomas Aquinas High School, University of Miami and Miami Dolphins linebacker, is the Miami Dolphins Senior Director of Community Affairs. He was the lead organizer of the coaches clinic.
“We can’t teach all the kids in South Florida,” Russell said, “but if we can train 1,000 coaches and they each then turn around and train 100 kids, then we’ve indirectly impacted 100,000 young football players.”
Coaching attendees received intense training sessions, stressing the fundamentals of the game. Powerpoint lectures were utilized to emphasize what were felt to be key aspects of coaching. After Philbin addressed the coaches, they broke into groups by position for more specialized training, which included live demonstrations.
Davie Broncos Coach Alex Korakakos of the American Youth Football League was impressed. “This is a great opportunity to learn from professional coaches and bring those techniques back to our players.”
The Dolphins are eager to have a greater impact on the South Florida community, and the inaugural coaches clinic was a positive first step.
Carol City High School Coach Roy Griffin added: “Football is an evolving sport, and there is a lot to learn, and I’m proud to be in the coaching community and to have been included in this clinic…We have to remember that many of these kids use sports to stay on track and stay out of trouble in a dangerous world.”
Russell reiterated the importance of keeping kids on the right path.
He said: “I believe in using sports as ‘the hook’ to encourage kids to study and do well in school. The possibility of having the sport they love being taken away is enough to motivate them.”
The Dolphins may also be secretly hoping one of the coaches trained at the clinic will develop the next Dan Marino for the hometown pro team.