Character Education – our athletes will participate in character education on a weekly basis throughout the season.  Traits built through strong character not only help on Friday nights, but throughout life.  Lessons on integrity, loyalty, work ethic, persistence, and attitude just to mention a few. 

Work Ethic – the strongest lessons provided in the game of football are the ones which are the strongest in life.  Work ethic, initiative, and toughness are all traits to be successful on the field and in life.  We will face teams which are more talented.  Can we outwork these teams throughout the week?  Throughout the off-season?  When the game is on the line, do we have the mental toughness to fight through exhaustion and fatigue to finish the play and game. 

Prioritize the “Student” in Student-Athlete – the player must keep their priorities in order – faith (depending on family views), family, school, football, hobbies.  Time management and commitment will come into place in keeping these priorities in the correct order.  One must be careful not to make excuses for poor performance in one area because of another.  If you keep your priorities in order and give your best effort, great things will happen.

Service/Giving Back
– our players will not only give back to our youth program, as those before them have, but they will also give back to our community.  In today’s world youth are often attacked as lazy or selfish.  Sometimes it is justified, but many times not.  Football is the figurehead of a school and a great opportunity to give back to those who support our great sport.  Below are some examples of activities we support on an annual basis.  It is expected that players participate in these activities in some capacity.

  • Christmas Toy Blitz: Unique to the TC West program, the football team will take donations, make family adoptions, and help distribute gifts and food to families in need during the Christmas season.
  • NMC BBQ: Players help set up and work one of the biggest fundraisers in northern Michigan.  This also supports Olesons, who has been an incredible support of TC football.  They donated $700,000 towards the turf at Thilby field.
  • Special Olympics: West football players will support our local Special Olympics.  The players are the heros to many of these special student-athletes and our players often learn how fortunate they are for the little things in life. 
  • Spring “Clean-Up”: West football players will help families in need with yard work and misc spring cleaning.  They have two rules, 1. They cannot accept money, and 2. They cannot enter a home.  This has been a huge success in building the reputation of our players.  Community members are amazed that the youth of our society will donate their time to help a family in need.  And for FREE! 
  • Youth Football: Volunteer time at camps, “high fivers” at Pop Warner games, and helping on Saturday mornings at our LEAP flag football programs.

Building the Athlete:

In the most simple terms, strength training+speed training+nutrition = the best athlete.   We want to have a 12-month plan in place for helping our athletes become the best that they can be.  Our yearly stats (Spring Combine testing) speak for themselves.  Those who put this plan into place, consisenly improve their vertical jump by 1-3” and take more than a tenth off their 40 yard dash and pro agility times.  We are here to make each player a better ATHLETE, not necessarily just a better football player.  We support multiple-sport athletes, but want to hammer home the fact that we want to train them to become better athletes 12 months/year.   They will lift and workout during football season.  We would hope they will do the same when they are “out of season” or involved in other sports.  Once the season starts, the best athletes will play.  Typically, over time, those best athletes are the ones who work the hardest.  Below are opportunities based on the time of the year:

Fall/Winter (1st and 2nd quarter)

  • Weights classes
  • Lift during your PE/Health class (freshman)
  • Lift with your team (if you don’t have the above opportunity, you will lift in AM or after practice 2 times/week)
  • After school strength and speed training – after the season is over.  November – March.

Winter/Spring (3rd and 4th quarter)

  • Weights classes
  • Lift during your PE/Health class (freshman)
  • Zero hour (4th quarter only) – 6:40-7:40 am.  M-Friday.  Students receive credit for the class.  Also an emphasis on football skills and techniques as well as other sports.  This is a PE elective credit.


  • Speed and Weight Training: M, W, Friday.  Varsity 7-8:30 am.  JV/9th 8:30-10:00 am.


On the Field Success

(*NOTE: due to the fact that this document will be posted publicly, we will keep this section very generic)


  • Win the First One!
  • Win the “City Championship”
  • Win the BNC Championship
  • Make a MHSAA Playoff Run

Offense:  Teams that make deep runs in the playoffs play a physical style.  They dominate the line of scrimmage.  Their running backs make yardage after contact.  They control the clock and keep the ball away from opposing defenses.  We will be balanced in the run game and pass game; throwing the ball when we want to, not when we have to.  Below are our offensive goals.

  • Run the ball.  Dominate the line of scrimmage.  Move the chains. 
  • Score 4! – 28 points with a ball control offense will win most football games.
  • Take care of the football – we cannot afford to turnover the football and we must create takeaways.  A punt is much better than an interception or fumble. 

Defense:  We will play an aggressive, physical style of defense.  Our 3 defensive goals are:

  • Stop the run!  As mentioned in our offensive goals, the teams that win multiple league titles run the football and play great defense.  We must stop the run and pressure the QB.
  • Pressure the quarterback!  Playing an aggressive style defense means we will take chances with our athletes in coverage vs their athletes.  They had better get rid of the ball quickly though, because we will bring pressure and hit the QB.
  • Fanatical Effort!  The number one thing our program has control over is how we work, practice, and the effort we can put forth on the field.  We will have 11 players running to the football and getting as many hits on the ballcarrier as possible.

In Season Attendance:

Once the season starts (see MHSAA start date), all practices are mandatory.  Please see our Google calendar for specifics.  If there are extenuating circumstances, an absence can be excused, but proactive communication from the player is critical.  We ask that basic appointments, senior pictures, work, dentist appointments, etc. are scheduled outside of practice times.  The coaching staff reserves the right to reward those who attend practice.   Unexcused absences can result in additional conditioning and/or suspension from a whole/part of a game. 

Responsibility of Injured Athletes:

In an unfortunate instance where an athlete is injured and cannot participate for a period of time, we ask that they continue to attend practice, if they are medically capable.  Their health and recovery is the first priority.  Players will work with our team trainer and doctor to layout a daily plan and a treatment timeline. Our staff wants the injured player to continue to feel part of the team and the team enjoys having the player around and visible.   All doctor appointments, physical therapy appointments, and appointments with the school trainer are excused.  If weather is an issue and the player has physical restraints, they are excused to stay inside.  If the injured player is behind in homework due to injury/appointments, they can meet with teachers to make up work.  We want our players to continue to be members of the TEAM.

Dress for Success/Class:

Football is an important sport within our community of Traverse City.  Whether it is a Friday night game, a road trip to an opposing school, or you are doing something outside of school, you are representing the football program and Traverse City West Senior HS.  We have a strong tradition of quality football and how we act both on and off the field.  All gamedays and banquets we will “dress for success”. Gameday attire could include shirt/ties, dress pants, dress shoes and socks.  Grooming will consist of clean shaves and haircuts, and no jewelry.  We often receive compliments not only for our effort and execution, but also the class in which we get off the bus and return to the bus.  How you are evaluated by outsiders goes beyond they game inside the lines. 

Playing Time:

Our evaluation of an athlete’s performance is very transparent.  Parents and players can review performances in both practice (varsity films nearly every practice) and scrimmages/games on HUDL, a web based program.  Games and practices are complete with annotations of quality play and things players and position groups need to work on.   Below are philosophical beliefs of each program:

  • Freshman – Every player will play, but not necessarily equal playing time.  More of an emphasis on winning than in the middle school, but still more of an emphasis on fundamentals and building for JV and varsity. 
  • JV- Every player will play, but not equal playing time.  A stronger emphasis on winning, but still building fundamentals for the highest level in the program, the varsity – 12 months from playing on the big stage.
  • Varsity – Number one goal on Friday night is to win.  The best players will play.  The best players will play on all three phases – offense, defense, and special teams.  There will be a thorough evaluation process.  If players are comparable, we will play as many as possible.  This will help keep players fresh and playing at a high level throughout the game.  The month of August will be a strong evaluation month during our three scrimmages.  Once the season starts, winning takes precedence over evaluation.  That being said, we often have players win playing time with their effort on the practice field and improvement throughout the season.  When the game is in hand, we substitute and re-evaluate by position. Regardless of game playing time, EVERY player can seriously contribute to improve our team and increasing our level of success.

Playing at the ‘Next Level’:

Although it is not technically a job description, our coaching staff will do everything we can to help promote those who want to play at the next level.  Please have good communication with the head coach throughout this process.  Be careful of “scouting services” and promises of outside services.  TC West has a great track record of placing players into programs at the next level.  Please see the attachment provided (College Recruiting Information – parents)

                                       Beyond Traverse City West: A Plan of Playing After High School

I. TEAM First: Enjoy your senior year!  I’ve seen too many players and parents stressed about what will happen after high school and they lose some of the enjoyment of their Senior football season.  Enjoy your friends.  Enjoy high school athletics, as this is your only and last opportunity to enjoy high school.

II. Dreams/Goals: Dream big, but keep an open mind to all opportunities.  It’s okay to dream big, but if things don’t fall perfectly into place, you cannot allow it to destroy your dreams.  Dream big, but have a safety net in place if things don’t work out perfectly.    

III. Videos/Film: Continue to keep your highlight video updated and have your HS coach review.  Keep highlights short.  10-20 highlights are sufficient.  The goal is to get a coach to say “Wow!”.  It is better to have eight “wow” clips vs. twenty “good” plays.  Coaches will also want to see at least 1 full game film of your best game.  Although our coaches always preach hustle and playing fast, college coaches pay close attention to these details.  They often say “Get in the last frame”, meaning get into that last shot on film whether you are blocking until the end of the whistle, or hustling to the ball on defense.    

IV. Be Smart!

  • Academically: GPA can help fill some holes that maybe an athletic scholarship leaves void.  GPA/ACT can also open doors to schools that other athletes cannot qualify to academically, thus narrowing the field of those to compete against.
  • Social/Outside of school: Facebook, criminal history, and other outside factors are all taken into consideration.  If a school is going to invest $40,000-$120,000 in an athlete, you can bet they are going to do a thorough character check, starting with the high school coach and principal.  

V. Divisions of college football:

A. Division I:

  • 85 “full ride” football scholarships.  Division I scholarships are full rides.  They are classified as being annual scholarships, but unless you are in the SEC, almost all DI scholarships are renewable for up to 5 years.  Zero dollars out of pocket! 
  • Cannot test.  Their only way of evaluation is through summer camps and film. 

B. Division II:

  • 36 football scholarships.  These scholarships are partial scholarships.  DII schools can break full scholarships into as many partial scholarships as they wish.  Typically they offer ¼ to ½ scholarships. 
  • Testing: DII schools can test and typically do so during the months of December and January of an athlete’s senior year of high school.  They also have summer camps for evaluation purposes and are at many DI school summer camps.

C. Division III:

  • No athletic scholarships available, but access to quite a few grants/financial aid.  Division III schools are private, and thus quite pricey.  However, please don’t close the door.  Go through the process and see what types of academic/financial aid they can provide.


College of Interest?  Can you give coaches an idea of what schools you are interested in?  Does this match your athletic ability?  Communicate with your coach.  Although coaches are busy, they enjoy promoting their players.  Here is our suggestion:

  • Pick a few schools that are dreams and maybe a bit above your level.
  • Pick some schools as a “safety net” a division lower and don’t snub these schools.  You may need them someday. 

Camps/Combines: How can you maximize your time/exposure to the schools of interest and keep cost reasonable?

Junior/Senior 1 day camps (usually late May – late June): These camps are designed specifically for recruiting purposes.  They provide good instruction, but are also “meat markets”- their primary goal is to size up players.  To keep numbers down, most camps are by invitation only, or their marketing of the camp is under the radar. Camp cost: approximately $40/camp

  • Michigan State: They may have 200-400 athletes in attendance.  Unless you are a national recruit,               Michigan State will give little attention.  The good news is that Michigan State allows other schools into their 1 day camp, so the exposure to multiple schools is GREAT.  All MAC and GLIAC schools will be in attendance.   

  • CMU/WMU/EMU: All good 1 day camps and some have multiple day or even multiple site offerings.  Most of these schools will have GLIAC schools in attendance (Division II).

College/University over night camps:  Much more costly, but the athlete can be front of position coaches for multiple days.  Cost: $300+

Combines: Be careful here.  A lot of people want to get their hand in the cookie jar.  A combine that I feel comfortable supporting is Michigan Preps or Midwest Elite Big Man Camp, directed by George Yarberry.  George’s cell phone number is: 248-765-3200.  There may not be college or university coaches on site, but they have access to the film.  We have had university coaches contact us the week following these camps as they have watched film.

Zero hour.  Depending on the year, we will have nearly every DI/DII Michigan school come through WSH in the spring.  Zero hour is a good opportunity for them to stop in and see athletes in action.  The bigger the recruits, the more coaches will come in during that particular spring.  I typically expect to see, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, CMU, WMU, EMU, Ferris, Grand Valley,


“Building the Person within the Program”


“Building Champions One Day at a Time”

Chain of Command:

If there are questions or concerns, please use the following steps to get answers:

1. West middle school head coach
2. West Liason (middle school AD or coach Morrow)
3. LEAP Department

LEAP Information:

Janna Deering, LEAP director   933-1758

Julie Gorter, LEAP assistant  933-1758

Sign Up:

Please visit for information on sign up, start dates, and other pertinent information.

Middle School Liasons:

Mr. Jason Morrow, varsity defensive coordinator, middle school physical education teacher.

Mr. Ryan Ranger, middle school assistant principal.

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Traverse City West Football

Template of Success:

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS - When making decisions within our program, we study successful programs throughout Michigan.  Schematic decisions as well as program wide philosophical decisions.  Teams making team runs in the playoffs often come from the Grand Rapids area.  These division I and division II schools have two middle schools which feed one high school.   Therefore, they have two middle school teams which feed that same high school.  Not only are they developing depth, but they are developing skills with increased playing time for these players. 

GREEN TEAM/GOLD TEAM – For the reasons above, West will have two teams at each grade level (West is the only team left in the Big North able to do this!).  West, will in turn, have great numbers when these players enter their freshman year at the high school.  Instead of 1-2 quarterbacks, there will be 4.  There will be 6 linebackers, 4 centers, on and so forth. 

CHALLENGES OF 2 TEAMS – Dividing talent in half has its challenges from a success standpoint.  We will continue to play teams who have one team.  Local teams like the Kingsley, Benzie, Glen Lake, and St. Francis, we would hope that we can compete and beat.  West has a high school enrollment of three times these schools.  We should be able to compete.  The challenges will be when these teams face larger schools like Petoskey and Cadillac when they only have one team.  We need to celebrate the small successes and look forward to when they get to join forces in 9th grade!  In years past, our teams have won some of these and lost some, but regardless, they have been competitive and our players are gaining experience. 

DEVELOPING PLAYERS – Every graduation year we reflect on some of our seniors who were not great players in the middle school, freshman, or even JV levels, but stayed the course.  We have numerous examples of players who were too small, too slow, or tentative, but worked hard in the weight room throughout high school and eventually played college football at the division II or III level.

ADVANCED PLAYERS – We would hope our “superior” players will accept the challenges of becoming leaders and make those around them better players.  The superior players may need to raise their level of play to achieve success.  We would hope our best would become better.

Middle School Scheduling:

See note above for philosophy on two teams at TC West.  Please understand no schedule is perfect.  We will play big schools with only one team.  Some schools lose numbers and drop and team, leaving us empty handed and searching for games.  Games and contracts are signed and in place by early spring and well ahead of time.  LEAP administration works in conjunction with the varsity head coach in scheduling and philosophy.  We can assure you, we are doing the best to provide a quality experience for our players.

Middle School Playing Time:

See above philosophy on two teams and developing players.  We expect all players to play, develop fundamentals, and enjoy their experience.  That being said, there is a level of EXCELLENCE expected if we are to become an excellent program.  Players are expected to do their part to earn this priviledge.  Every player will play and learn, so long as they do their part (attend practice, give their best). 

Attendance/Team Rules

Middle school coaches will set standards and expectations and communicate with both parents and players.  They reserve the right to cut playing time for attendance, effort, grades, or inappropriate behavior both in school and on the field.

Health and Safety:

Concussions, Hitting, and Full Contact in Practice - Live, full contact hitting is minimal. Research and resources related to concussions have greatly improved in recent years, and we continue to adjust accordingly to keep players safe.  We will do a 4 minute live “W drill” on a Monday.  We will also have a four play live goal-line period on a Monday.  This is the extent of our weekly live, full contact, full speed, hitting.  During team time (offense 15 minutes, defense 15 minutes), we hit vs shields/dummies or make it a “thump” period.  Thump is where the defense and offense are moving, but form up on contact.  ZERO players are to go to the ground and it is full speed to the ball carrier.  Once to the ball carrier, we form up. 

Facts about reducing concussions:

  1. There is not a helmet on the market that is better than another. 
  2. Neck strength is the only factor that we can control in reducing concussions.  A strong neck can help reduce the “whiplash” affect.  We work hard in the weight room on shoulder (deltoids and traps) and neck strengthening exercises.
  3. Our practice time and full contact hitting has been reduced drastically over time.  The MHSAA set strong practice guidelines two years ago on full contact in practice.   We are well below their guidelines in amount of hitting in practice.  The amount of full hitting plays for each player in a week would equate to approximately 7 plays on a Tuesday, and at most, 7 plays on a Wednesday.   Not all players will get in time during these periods (W drill and goalline). 
  4. The concussion rate at West has dropped drastically in the last 4 years. We will continue to strive to take this number to zero during a season.

Does reducing full contact in practice affect play on Friday nights (or game night)?  Our staff would believe the answer to this is yes.  There is no way a player can be fully prepared for live collisions and preparing for the “toughness” end of the game without getting live, full contact reps.  That being said, for the safety of our players and the value in having a full, healthy team on Friday outweighs the preparation to block and tackle live.  We WILL prepare our athletes as best possible in live environments.  A recent purchase, the “shadowman” is a moving tackling dummy.   Our defensive players practice constant repetition of putting yourself in the right situation and body position at full speed.  Reaction drills and angles of pursuit.  For the past two years, West has stayed current with NFL practices of “keeping the head out of football” and tackling techniques made popular, effective, and safe from Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.  Offensively, our offensive line blocks shields, dummies, blocking sleds, and at times, hand to hand combat, but like our scrimmage situations, they are “thump” and they make every effort not to take players to the ground.

FAMILY:We will be united as one, grades 7-12.

FRIENDS:We will develop friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

FOOTBALL:We will enjoy lifelong lessons of success on and off the field of play.

FUTURE:Our youth programs are the future of the program.  “Tradition never graduates” .