Men's Breakfast Report, April 2013
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, April 13th with Ben Rudolph, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach of Brazosport High School. Ben played football in high school but was really interested in coaching. He was recruited to Oklahoma but changed to Texas Tech after a conference with the Texas Tech coach. He played football as a freshman but when offered the choice of playing as a sophomore or being an assistant coach he chose to be an assistant coach. After college he had coaching jobs at schools in Brazoria County and then went to a coaching position in Abilene where football was a religion. Last year he accepted the Athletic Director position for Brazosport High School.
Ben is athletic director of Brazosport High School and Brazosport Intermediate School. He is responsible for supervising all the athletic teams at both schools. This makes for full evenings and weekends since he tries to make as many games as possible. The athletic director is the only full time coaching position. All other coaches teach other subjects and have coaching as an added duty with added stipend. Ben taught history before he became athletic director. He misses the classroom and tries to meet as many of the students as possible even if they are not involved in football.
When he came to Brazosport the football program was in decline, dropping from 120 students to 80. Since the number of coaches allowed is proportional to the number of students, this meant that he had to cancel some coaching contracts. He also brought in some of his own people which made the problem worse. He said that most coaches look for other jobs if they lose their coaching assignment. The program has recovered somewhat this year.
Coaches are often the only male mentor that the boys see. This is especially common in Freeport where so many boys come from single parent homes. Because of this he is setting up a program where men from the community can mentor boys at the school. This would involve having frequent contact with the boys by meeting and phoning them. In the future a similar program might be set up for girls. Athletics can help students stay motivated and stay in school. Counselors say that students who drop out or skip classes usually do not participate in any extracurricular activities.
Ben tries to teach his players respect for others. He has his team stand not only for our school song but also for the opposing team’s school song. This is often surprising to the other team since they often don’t even pay attention to their school song.
One of the main jobs of the athletic director is scheduling. Ben tries to reduce conflicts with other activities at the school. The orchestra director was pleasantly surprised when he came to meet her to find out when her concerts and competitions were. Previously, students were often forced to choose between athletics and music. He also does not schedule games on Sundays or Wednesdays. He is helped in this in that away games are fairly near, unlike in west Texas. The games being scheduled on Sundays, Wednesdays and late at night are independent league games, not school games.
These adult-run leagues may be one reason, along with television and the Internet, that there are so few sandlot games being played by children these days. The intermediate school coaches often have to teach fundamental skills such as how to throw and catch a ball. Children do not play outside nearly as much as they did fifty years ago.
The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be Saturday, May 11th with Nat Hickey, Freeport property manager and city historian.