CHISAGO LAKES WILDCATS
After a disappointing 2000 season, the football team at Chisago Lakes High School set some lofty goals for the next year. This year, those goals became achievements.
By Matt Shepard
Published: Summer 2002
At the end of the 2000 football season, the Chisago Lakes coaches knew that if they did not want a repeat of their 2-7 win-loss record, work had to start immediately. They designed a master plan and set it in motion early in the off-season. By sticking to their plan and, of course, taking fervent action, their next season ended with an amazing 10-2 record. This was the first time in fifteen years that the Chisago Lakes Wildcats had been named the Rum River Conference Champions and, for the first time in school history, they were named the 4A Section Champions, earning them a trip to the state playoffs in Minnesota.
The Master Plan
The first part of the Wildcat master plan was to establish goals. Head Football Coach Bill Weiss explained, “After the 2000 season, the coaches and juniors (the next year’s seniors) got together for a goal setting session. This was the first step toward our championship season. It created excitement because the goals were big, long range, measurable and, most important, realistic. We all believed we could do it.”
In the four seasons previous to the 2001 season, the Wildcats had averaged only four wins per season. In the history of the school, they had made it to the playoffs only once. So earning a title was a lofty goal. However, by the end of the 2001 season, the Wildcats had turned their master plan into an achievement.
To convert their plan from ideas to action, the Wildcats decided they would hold a BFS Clinic. Coach Weiss elaborated, “We decided we needed to have a BFS Clinic to show the athletes, other coaches, and administration how serious we are about weight training. We do not offer weight training as part of our PE curriculum, and this was a great opportunity to teach ‘the program’ to a lot of athletes and coaches at one time.”
The clinic was scheduled for spring in order to set the stage for a great summer program. BFS Clinician Doug Ekmark delivered the kick-start experience Chisago Lakes High School needed. Illustrating the experience, Assistant Football Coach Jason Kerkow said, “We struggled for a few years trying to invent a program of our own and were never satisfied. The BFS Program gave us something motivational and easy to learn, and the record-keeping aspect is outstanding.”
About the clinic, Coach Weiss added, “The clinic reinforced and validated what we have been teaching in the weight room. It gave the coaches without experience in the weight room confidence in teaching proper lifting techniques.”
The players were heavily impacted by the clinic as well. It got them fired up for a busy and successful summer strength program---nothing was going to stop them. Coach Weiss described the dramatic effect the clinic had on his players: “After the clinic the younger players felt comfortable going into the weight room. The clinic informed and educated the athletes about how to properly lift, set goals, and lift with a passion. It also reinforced the importance and necessity of weight training on the BFS System---especially when they heard the success stories about other schools who have committed to this program.”
Jeff Saueressig, Offensive Coordinator, came to the same conclusion. “Having a professional organization like BFS work with our younger athletes instilled the confidence they needed to get into the weight room and start training.”
The Wildcat football team adopted the theme from a Van Halen song titled “Right Now.” They focused on the “now” in everything they did, whether it was pre-season workouts, two-a-day practices or season practices and games.
Coach Weiss commented, “We played with a sense of focus and desire in everything we did. Prior to the 2001 season, Chisago Lakes had won only one play-off football game in school history. The general feeling about football outside the team was that we never would or could be successful. Our players had a different set of ideas and beliefs. Our focus on positive mental attitude was as important as strength training. The 2001 season was the year to “turn this thing around . . . right now” [lyrics from the Van Halen song].
Coach Weiss realizes that, although this year was a pivotal point in Wildcat history, work still needs to be done. His program is a work in progress. He knows that complacency is an enemy that would bring to his program nothing but degeneration---there is always room for improvement. With all the ideas and traditions that make his team unique, fun and successful, Coach Wiess knows that one of the most important traditions is the drive to always learn more and do better.
To facilitate his desire to always improve, Coach Weiss has already begun making plans for BFS to return, and he stated, “I plan on having a clinic every three years as new athletes and coaches cycle into the high school athletic program. Or, possibly every year to have ‘refresher courses’ about specific lifts such as the power clean.”
Now that the Wildcats have won the sectional championship, the obvious next step is the state championship. As they continue to improve and push themselves to new levels, this highest achievement will become more and more feasible. Is it possible? Sure it is!