The football season of 1996 was the year of the Trojan: the St. Anthony Trojans on the island of Maui in Hawaii. This was Charlie Ane's fifth year as head coach. It had been 16 years since St. Anthony had made the playoffs. They had won less than five games over the last seven years combined! Coach Ane decided to have a clinic.
As their BFS Clinician, I could see that every coach and athlete was hungry. I could see it in their eyes. As far as I was concerned, they were a success story just waiting to happen. It was a great clinic. It was an emotional clinic. Everyone was fired up, including me. One athlete went home and his mother asked him how the clinic went and he replied, "Mom, today was the very best day of my life." You can't imagine how wonderful that makes me feel as a coach/clinician.
I watched Coach Ane's team at his 1996 spring practice. They were running the Single Wing. Coach Ane has to play some schools six times as large and he believes the extra preparation time that his opponents must spend gives his Trojans an advantage. I noticed the center had some difficulty getting the 5-yard snap to the back. I showed the coaches a unique but simple two-hand center snap and they loved it. When I went back to Maui after their football season, athletic director, Pat McCall beamed, "You know that center snap you showed us? We did not have one bad snap all year." I should have charged extra...just kidding.
Offensive Coordinator, Kevin O'Brien, stated after the season, "In my five years of coaching here, this is the first time in which I saw a St. Anthony team physically beat another team. That is a credit to the BFS program."
"The success of our season," stated Coach Ane, "had a lot to do with our BFS Clinic. Our kids understood what it really takes to win. The clinic gave them confidence. We did the bumping instead of the other way around."
After an important late season victory, the newspaper headlines read, "Trojans sing victory tune." Coach Ane was quoted as saying, "I thought they sang very well. The final outcome was achieved because my players fully accepted our team's Five Power Axioms For Success." One of the Axioms given at the clinic was to "Play the song you came on earth to play." I know the experience with the Axioms coupled with their fantastic season will be lessons learned that will last a lifetime.
Another one of the Axioms is "Keep your eye single to the glory of accomplishing your goal." In other words, you must stay focused no matter what happens. There are no problems only challenges. One week before the Trojans first game, Pili Ane, the 6-3 280 pound grandson of Coach Ane got into a car accident. Pili, arguably the Trojan's best player, was out for the season. If there was ever a time to take your eyes off the goal, this was it. When you only have 140 boys in your school and you lose your only sure-fire college prospect, that can take the wind out of your sails. Shaking his head in respect, Coach Ane said, "The kids paid their dues."
Among the miracles that no one would have or could have predicted are as listed: Coach Charlie Ane was honored as Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) Coach of the Year. The Trojans made the playoffs for the first time since 1980. Six players made the MIL first team offense or defense with two of the players making it both ways. Taua Cabatbat, RB, was the Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Joe Nekaifes, DL-OL, was Defensive Player of the Year. Pili will come to a junior college in Utah to play next fall. You just have to expect a miracle!
Last January I called Coach Ane to talk about the season. He said, "Greg, you just can't believe these kids. Our season ended before Thanksgiving. I told the kids to take some time off to let the bumps and bruises heal and that we would start the BFS program in early January. After eight days, I heard a knock on my door. Two of my leaders came in and said they wanted to start the program today. I asked them how many others felt the same way. They opened the door and the whole team was standing there."
How can America fail to be great with youth like that? Thanks to Coach Ane, his staff and especially his players for being Upper Limit and Playing their Song.