COCHRANE—The Cochrane High School Cobras were back on the field for a spring training camp from Tuesday (June 22) to Friday (June 25), after receiving permission to resume the program from Rocky View Schools.
“We got the go-ahead from the school division that we can go with 20 people at a time at a certain spot on the field,” said head coach Robbie McNab.
When they got word from Rocky View Schools they were able to host a spring camp, McNab said, his team was ready to go. After so many years of running a championship-calibre program, there was very little planning involved.
“I’ve done it so many times that it doesn’t take me, as the head coach, lots of time to gear up for spring camp at all. We were hoping and ready, but I didn’t spend a lot of time on it because I’ve kind of got it down. I can do it in my sleep now,” he said with a chuckle.
The way a football team breaks down naturally lends itself to cohorted rules, as the different sections of a team are able to work with their respective coaches.
“Defence will be over with the defence, offense over there, linebackers over there. We’ll put them all over the field and do our thing,” he said. “We’ll get out for 90 minutes or so and get them thinking football before they leave for the summer.”
Getting the young athletes focused on football over the summer is one of the main goals of the spring camp, McNab said.
As the seniors who are most familiar with the Cobras programs are moving on it is crucial to instill the Cobras’ systems and culture into the newcomers to the program early.
“It’s more about just getting them thinking football again,” he said. “Get them thinking our systems, how we play it. Remember these kids, they haven’t played in a year. The kids who were in Grade 10 are now going into Grade 12, so there’s a big learning curve for some of those kids coming in and then there’s young kids that have never been in a Cochrane High helmet before. We’ve got a little bit of strategy and things to work on just so that we’re ready to go in August.”
Keeping the athletes focused on training during their summer break is tricky thing, McNab said, but he hopes some of the senior players, the leaders in the program, will keep the team on track.
“We have no access to the kids other than our Remind 101, or Twitter. Just try to keep in touch with the leaders and keep them going,” he said. “We don’t get started until late August so it’s a tough one. We just encourage them through our social media to keep working out because you want to be prepared when you get here, that’s for sure.”
Leaning on the older students to teach and lead the younger ones to success, McNab said, has been a crucial ingredient in the Cobras' recipe for success.
“That’s kind of been our secret for all of these years. Young kids learn from the older kids and the leadership that the older kids have to bring every day to that football field is the secret to our success,” he said. “The kids going into Grade 12 it’s going to be a learning curve for them too, but I think they saw enough when they were in Grade 10 that they’ll be ready to go.”
The legacy of creating and maintaining a winning program, and placing that responsibility on the shoulders of the players themselves keeps the momentum and championship mindset alive and thriving within the Cochrane Cobras.
“We always tell the kids that if you’re on this field you’re playing for those people that have played before you as well, that have worn that C before you. They’re awful proud of what they’ve accomplished and awful proud of what’s going forward too,” he said. “We’ve had great success with that once a Cobra always a Cobra attitude.”
The culture of the Cobras program, he said, is a driving factor in motivating the kids during their summer break. McNab said he’s worked hard to instill a sense of hard work in the players, and the expectation that they are to return to the program in shape and ready to play.
“I think that these kids understand that there’s an expectation wearing our helmet that they need to be ready. They don’t come to camp in August to get in shape, they better be in shape, because, once again, the most prepared kids are the ones that are going to play and we’ve made that perfectly clear. Our culture is we come out and we are prepared in August, and we’re hoping that’s the case,” he said.
McNab said he is unsure what the fall will look like for competitive football, but is preparing the players for another competitive season.
“We’re gearing up for it. I don’t know what the state of affairs will be after a summer of people being vaccinated and doing the right thing staying safe. All we can do is anticipate that there will be and look forward to the fact that there may be,” he said.