Over the past couple weeks there have been stories of numerous teams around the nation claiming they resemble the San Antonio Spurs. Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and the entire San Diego Chargers tried to pass themselves off as the "Spurs" of the NFL. Sorry fellas, not buying it.
If you're looking for a sports program that emulates the same characteristics on and off the court/field, all you have to do is head north on 281 for about 25 miles and you'll find a High School football team that fits the mold, the Smithson Valley Rangers. I'll be honest, I'm a little biased in my views when it comes to the Rangers as they are my Alma mater and I played football there for four years. However, I know the program well and I know the Spurs well so my observations on the topic are very well thought out.
Lead by long tenured head coach, Larry Hill, the Rangers pride themselves, not on athletic ability or "cool" uniforms, but three simple yet important words. Class, Discipline, and Effort. Coach Hill has stood true to these beliefs and demands that of his players as well, both on and off the field. He keeps it simple, if you don't play with class discipline and effort, you don't play period, no matter how good you are.
While Coach Hill has a slightly softer demeanor than Pop, they run their programs very similarly. We've seen coach Pop treat the greatest power forward in NBA history just like every other player, if he screws up he hears about it. Coach Hill is the same way, he doesn't care if you're an All State talent who's committed to UT next fall, you're still held to the same standards as everyone else.
The Rangers philosophy of class, discipline and effort spills over into the player's everyday life. To paraphrase coach Hill, there's more to my job than teaching young men how to play football, I need to teach them how become men. He would preach to us daily on how to be the example by your actions, not your words. Coach Hill truly cares about each and everyone of his players and wants them to be successful in football, yes, but more importantly in life. Too often today we see coaches who only see wins and losses as their job description. Take Jimbo Fisher, for instance. How many times does Jameis Winston have to get into trouble before the kid gets disciplined? I got in trouble in class one time as a Freshman at Smithson Valley and Coach Hill told me, "you aren't going to get in trouble anymore or your aren't going to play football." I then got to endure the pleasure of bear crawling the entire field a few times. Needless to say, I stayed out of trouble.
On the field, Hill's meticulous approach to practice a preparation paralleled that of Coach Pop's. Playing recordings of marching bad music over the PA during practice to simulate crowd noise was just one of the ways he would prepare us for games. Extensive scouting reports, film sessions until you thought your head would explode, running plays over and over until they were perfectly executed, even a segment timer that sounded every five minutes so we knew which drills to run and exactly what time to run them. Attention to detail is a must when playing at SV and for Hill, sound familiar?
So you see, all those other teams and schools can claim they're just like the Spurs, but Coach Hill's Rangers prove they are and they do it in perfect Coach Hill fashion, with their actions.