Joey McQueen could have found better ways to use his time.
Florence’s head football coach would have preferred to spend his last few weeks of summer vacation relaxing or with his family. He could have been enjoying sports on television or working in the yard.
Instead, McQueen’s week was filled with doctor appointments.
“If I don’t get it done now, once football starts, I won’t get it done until December,” he said.
Such is the life of a head football coach.
With less than three weeks remaining until the first day of conditioning for all Class 1A through Class 4A programs, area coaches are scrambling to get all their affairs in order because, like McQueen, they know free time will be soon become a rare commodity.
“Once things get going, there is no turning back,” Lampasas head coach Brian Emerson said. “You have to make sure to have all the ‘I’s’ dotted and ‘T’s’ crossed now.”
Sometimes the list of preseason preparations can be overwhelming.
In addition to tending to as many personal matters as possible, head coaches concern themselves with everything from the upkeep of facilities to the distribution of uniforms to finalizing the team’s philosophical foundation to making requests for buses.
For Lometa’s first-year head coach D.T. Torres, who spent the previous three years as the Hornets defensive coordinator, the responsibility looms large.
“It all falls back on me when it is all said and done,” he said. “I’ve got to cover all my bases and make sure everything is in order and if it isn’t, then I have to prepare for it as best I can. It is a lot more on my plate, but I’m trying to attack it from all angles and do the best I can.”
Despite remaining hectic, over time, the weeks leading up to the start of the season’s opening practice can become less stressful.
Veterans like McQueen and Emerson, who each have spent more than 20 years as head coaches, have learned it takes a lot of foresight and planning to prevent finding themselves in a last-minute frenzy.
“Before our first practice starts, we already know what locker each kid has, and we’ve assigned them a combination lock instead issuing all of it out that day,” McQueen said. “There are a lot of little things like that. … You can either put in the work scrambling or you can put it in organized.”
In the end, though, regardless of agonizing over every detail and anticipating for every possible situation, there is always something else waiting to be done.
The paperwork can be particularly overwhelming as coaches deal with, among other things, liability waivers, physicals, consent forms, health insurance verifications, rule acknowledgements and emergency contact information.
Then, once everything is finally in order, the coaches can begin working toward their ultimate goal — winning games.
“I’ll see people in the store or wherever, and they’ll ask, ‘Hey, are you ready to get going?’” Emerson said. “I’m thinking, ‘Well, no, in reality, I could probably use a few more weeks.’
“I think sometimes people don’t realize how much there is that goes along with coaching.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org