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What Patriot Night Means To Our Valpo Vikings Community

This blog post is adapted from a speech that Coach Marshall gave to our players before Patriot Night. We hope that you enjoy the read!

Patriot Night is one of my favorite evenings each and every single year. Our seniors had an opportunity to go to see the men of Valparaiso Fire Department Station #1 to thank them for what they do.

We live in a country in which we have freedom to do a lot of things. We are allowed to do these things because of people like the men in Firehouse #1.  They are the type of people that when there is danger, they run towards it- they don't run away. They are the ones that we call upon to protect our house, our communities and in fact our entire country. Those are our First Responders. Those are our Patriots.

What is it to be a patriot?

IMG_5429Very early on it was actually not looked upon as a good thing. People from England looked at our Patriots as individuals that were disobedient; individuals that went against the monarchy. Because of the struggles that they fought and for the struggles we still fight for today; both here and abroad, our meaning of patriot has transformed.  

Now a patriot is somebody who has great pride in their country. It doesn't mean that they have to agree with everybody in power, but they have great pride in our country and its history; no matter how good or how bad that history may be. They are patriots because they love their country and what it stands for; the freedoms that it provides us.

I'm going to relate this to something that we hear a lot of times in football. We hear that our game is won in the trenches, right?

Who fights in the trenches?

What position groups would that be? Many would respond “the O-line and the D-line”. Well I'm sorry but if you only include five people in a struggle and the other team has 11, we know what the outcome is going to be.  Or if you look at it from a defensive mindset if there's only four people on the D-line, or let alone 3 if we’re running an odd front... 3 on 11 is not good odds.

So, we use the term trenches. In the trenches is where the game is won. I can get on board with that, I agree. I think if the offensive line and the defensive line do their job you have a pretty darn good chance of winning the game.

But let's adopt a new phrase.

Ever heard of a Foxhole?

What does it mean when we say foxhole? This has its roots in ancient warfare before specifically we as Americans used this term a lot during World War One.

WWI was identified by trench warfare, as in a physical trench.

The term foxhole was adopted because it refers to a fighting position; one of which is beneficial to your team.  Here's the gist about a foxhole as I read it. In basic training Prior to WWI, one of the objectives during basic training before they were deployed was that they had you take their collapsible shovel, (which they had to carry with them) and dig a pit or a trench.

They didn’t say to go dig a fox hole, because a fox hole a fighting position and a pit or a trench is where you are at.

Once completed, and here's the big part; this is how it attaches it to our game… Once completed it was always a work in progress. A foxhole wasn’t dug to the right depth and they were like “perfect, now we’re good, we’re safe.” On top of that, once they were through with digging the fox hole they would have to dress it up. They would have to camouflage and make constant improvements, because lives are on the line. 

Maybe a little far-fetched for the game of football but you get what I'm trying to tell you.

  • Practice and refine those skills
  • Constantly look for ways to improve

To get better, the foxhole is never complete. Our season is never going to be at a point that we're the best we could possibly be.  No, just like a foxhole, it must be improved, it must be maintained. Every day, meticulously, at practice and throughout the rest of this season.

A foxhole is not built to protect an asset. We don’t build foxholes to go ahead and protect the president, we don't build a foxhole to protect a general, we build a foxhole to protect each other.  Now that’s a team. 

It is about being vulnerable.

PATRIOT NIGHTIf I were to ask you to be in my foxhole, here's what I'm going to tell you. “I am going to cover left to middle. You are going to cover the right to the middle.” I have to turn my back to the enemy and trust you're doing your job. 

There's no difference between that and what we ask you to do every day of practice and every single Friday night and Saturday morning for JV.  Those are position groups. Offense, Defense, Special Teams. That is Who We Are. Each soldier must trust their buddy to protect them. Just as each player in every segment of our team must trust not only their segment but also on top of that they have to trust that the opposite segment ss going to go ahead and do their job.

The offense can’t go and do the defense’s job, its not possible. Just as the defense can’t go and do the offense’s job.

We’ve got to trust that we all do our own jobs.

The mission is achieved only if team members honor their commitment to the team. That's the only way.  This is one of the only sports where you win as team. Individuals cannot take over the game. They just can’t do it, not when there’s 22 moving pieces.

Each of us must develop a level of trust within our own teams to win together. 

It boils down this; do your job

Do it better than you’ve ever done it before.

That’s what a soldier is asked to do in the foxhole, because your job protects everybody else and their job is protecting you.

We have to be confident, but we also have to be vulnerable.

What does it mean to be vulnerable?

We have to give up control

We have to understand we all have strength we all have weaknesses

Every single one of us; that's coaches; that’s players; that’s everybody.

Ultimately, our weakness is somebody else's strength.

That makes us a strong, dynamic team. Because there’s no one person on this team that does it all.

There's no one person on this team who can carry this team.

You have a weakness, I have a weakness and you have a strength that maybe I don't have. 

It's that work together, in the Foxhole, that goes and makes our team.

We talk about operators. Individuals at work in close combat with one another. I’ve referenced these gentlemen before, some of them used to play for us. Navy Seals, Army Rangers, so on and so forth. That right there are the people you want in your foxhole.

It's built on trust. The trust that they are going to do their job.

They're not told to protect an asset. They’re not told to go protect the president.  I'm not telling you to go protect Valpo football. I'm not asking you to go out on your own and win the game with just you and another man in your fox hole.

I'm asking you collectively to go ahead and take charge and honestly be vulnerable, work to your strengths, work to someone else's weaknesses in order to preserve that foxhole.

We Are Valpo.

See you all at Patriot Night!

Topics:   Coaching Staff, QBC, Weekly

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