Coach Chris Sanborn (seated) goes over the equipment list with Jonathan Morse at equipment distribution on July 29. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
August 11, 2014PLYMOUTH — The fall sports season hadn't "officially" started yet, but don't tell that to the Plymouth Regional High School football coaches.
Under the direction of new head coach Chris Sanborn, the team's coaches spent each evening the week of July 28-31 in the bowels of Plymouth Regional High School amidst stacks of shoulder pads, pants, shirts and helmets, as the team prepared for its annual football camp and the season ahead.
"We can only have a few kids in here at a time," Sanborn said as he got ready to welcome juniors picking up their equipment on Tuesday, July 29. With the stacks of equipment and four coaches helping out, there's only so much space in the room for the athletes.
In fact, the whole process, which longtime coach Chuck Lenahan and his staff used for years and which Sanborn has continued, began out in the hallway outside the room, where assistant coach Tom Lamb was stationed with the helmets. The previous night, fellow assistant coach Mike Boyle helped out with the helmets, but on Tuesday, Lamb was on his own, making sure each kid had a helmet that fit their head properly and offered the proper protection.
Once the kids were through the helmet station, they stood in the doorway, waiting for Sanborn or one of the other coaches to direct them into the room to start the rest of the process.
After the kids grabbed an equipment bag, longtime assistant coach John Spear was the next stop, as he got them set with the proper pants, while assistant coach Tom Howard was in charge of making sure the players had the right size girdles (with built in pads) to wear under their uniform.
Additionally, there are two different types of girdles. One set has thigh pads and is given to the majority of the players. But players such as running backs, receivers and quarterbacks got a girdle without the thigh pads and they picked up separate thigh pads.
The kids also had to get knee pads and a practice jersey before picking out shoulder pads. Assistant coach Mike Bownes and Sanborn did much of the work fitting shoulder pads, with Howard and Spear helping out as well. Once a player had the proper fitting shoulder pads, he got in line at the desk, where Sanborn went through the checklist, making sure every player had everything they needed. He handed out mouthguards and practice belts and recorded everything that the player received on a sheet of paper with his name on it.
Next up, Sanborn made sure that each player had the proper paperwork. If they hadn't signed up for football camp, he gave them a sheet for that, along with the athletic form and the co-curricular contract that each player must fill out. He told each player that the paperwork was due the first day of football camp, which began on Monday.
While the experience of some members of the coaching staff and the experience of the older players made things fairly easy on Tuesday night, Sanborn knew that he'd be in for a longer night on Thursday when the freshmen were scheduled to come in and pick up their practice gear.
"It's always a battle," Sanborn noted. "Setting it up is a nightmare."
He noted that the equipment goes off to the reconditioning company, Stadium Systems, at the end of the year and basically, they store stuff throughout the winter.
"They deliver when we want them to," he said.
While Sanborn has been part of a lot of equipment hand-outs, both from his days as a player for Plymouth and in his long time as an assistant coach, this was his first year being the man in charge and he noted that came with a whole other set of concerns.
"It's definitely different," he said of the new responsibilities. "You have to make sure everyone gets what they need and before that you have to make sure they get here to get equipment.
"Then you cross check who hasn't showed up that should be here," he continued. "As an assistant, you didn't always worry about that stuff.
Not only is Sanborn a longtime assistant, he is also returning a number of experienced coaches to the sidelines and having them in place makes things a little easier, though he admits that change is not an easy thing for anyone.
Lamb will be moving up to take charge of the defense, a job held by Jon Bownes for many years. Boyle will be stepping up to coach special teams, a job Sanborn did for many years. Spear will continue to be the team's scouting and charting guru, while John Sullivan will work with tight ends and linebackers with Dan Pierce. Boyle and Spear will also work with the defensive backs. Sanborn is helping ease Howard and Mike Bownes into the job of coaching the lines as they get their feet wet in the high school coaching positions. Mike Currier and Boyle will also work with the quarterbacks and Boyle will also spend time with the running backs. Glenn Mausolf will be the team's JV coach and Todd Austin will coach the freshmen, with assistance for both teams coming from Jordan Daigneault.
"It will all be new, but there's a lot of familiar stuff," Sanborn said.
With the juniors (and a few day-late seniors and a couple of early arriving sophomores and freshmen) in and out the door by just after 6 p.m., the equipment portion of the day was done.
But as he walked outside the school, Sanborn glanced down at Zoulias Field and saw players working on drills and quickly walked down to the sidelines.
A coach's work is never done.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org