by Gene Galin
Pittsboro, NC – New Northwood football coach Cullen Homolka held his first meet and greet event on Monday evening. This was an opportunity for Northwood parents and students to come out and formally meet the coach. They learned a little bit about the man. They got to hear about his football philosophy, and of is plans and expectations about the future of Northwood football.
Below is a video and rundown of the coach’s presentation.
Coach Cullen Homolka: It’ll build itself. We do have right now … 24-25 kids showing up about twice a week. In another two days, we probably have 12 or 13 guys show up. We have some kids in consistent
Right now you guys can kinda read through my coaching philosophy, but really the biggest thing with it, is that I’m not here to tear your son down. Now, will I get frustrated, and will I raise my voice? Yes. That’s part of the coaching method. But my coaching philosophy really is, I’m here to motivate, I’m here to teach ’em how to become men. I will build them up before I ever tear them down. Have I tore anybody down in that weight room yet? You guys come in there and you work hard, we work together. I want to see you become a better athlete. I want to see you become a better person, a stronger minded person, and I think football does all that for everybody.
I can change a boy into a man. I’ve seen it numerous times, through my own [inaudible 00:01:37] you can do the same thing at home, but through my experience through football which has been a very awesome road for me, I became a man through football and I was a farm kid from Western Kansas. I thought I was a man doing that. But no, I was a boy trying to be a man. When I gotta go do it at the college level and see how it was done, the right way, my spring coaches, even in high school, then I learned what it really took.
Now I want to instill that into your kids too. I wanna give them that. So that’s why I give you this. I know not a lot of high school coaches do, I wanna put it all out there for you. I wanna see that come out of our program. It’s worked one time for me before. I’ve only been a head coach one other time. I did it for about…seven, eight months all right? Now obviously I was chasing a dream that probably wasn’t conducive to a family and sometimes that gets in the way. It doesn’t anymore. I know where I am and I know what I wanna do.
I’m not going back to college, so if anybody ever asks that question, that’s the god honest truth. I’m not leaving Raleigh anytime soon, we love it here. This is a great location for me and the opportunity to be a head coach somewhere, I’m never gonna ditch out on that again. I did that once and it was hard on me and the kids. I felt bad for everybody that I helped out and then kinda left them running. I won’t do that every again. Just so you understand that.
But I truly believe the growths of learning happens in the football, not just on Friday nights. It’s all right there, the way to build a player’s confidence by recognizing every exceptional part of their life. So I’m gonna build up every kid. I’m gonna see that their doing well in the classroom and I’m gonna see how they’re doing on the football field, I’m gonna see how they’re doing in the community. I want to hear everything. I want to know that you got everybody.
The more we can see a positive outlook on them, the better reflection it is on the community, the better reflection it is on the football field, and I think it helps the entire process of the school. When your football programs successful, I feel like it happens throughout the school as well. I want to breed winning habits, I guess you could say. Through the classroom, through here, all that stuff.
That’s what I want to do. A learning, working environment that will show individual group successes, giving the team a sense of confidence that which will bring accountability to student’s everyday lives. So I want to see that in everything they do. And it starts with really- I’m gonna go through all this stuff with you here and really it starts with just holding themselves accountable first.
You know, if I have 7a.m. weights and you can actually be there, I know that not every kid can be there. I know right now, some of it’s a culture shock for other kids, but if your son can be there, I want him there. I don’t care if I have 60 kids there, I will make it work. And then 3:15 is another opportunity, so if your kid can be there, great. If they’re playing another sport, as long as they’re competing, I’m happy.
I am not a person, you don’t come to me and ask me, should my son really focus on this, this and this. No. Focus on playing the next sport, because I tell you, that’s gonna have more carry over as an athlete than just playing one sport. So if you can play three or four sports in your career. While you’re in high school, you are a blessed person. I tell you what, when you hit 20, 21 years old, you’re not doing that anymore. You might play one sport, but you’re not gonna be playing four or five.
So embrace the opportunity, enjoy the ride and you’re only young once. I would never stop a kid from playing other sports, so don’t ask that question. Now. We’ll get on to the rest of that here shortly. But my priorities, so if you go to the next page. I want to have the highest GPA, that’s just me. I was not a great student in high school and it definitely limited my opportunities coming out of high school. If I can help a kid have multiple opportunities because not every kid’s gonna get that division one scholarship. That’s just not how it works at all.
Andrew, could you go let my wife in right there. Oh okay. She’s gonna get in. So, she probably tried to call me. I didn’t answer. I’m in trouble. Oh I’m not. Okay. All right. Okay so, to have the highest GPA in the conference. That starts with everything we do in football. Every week, I will check grades with the students. I know maybe some people don’t like that. If you don’t, let me know.
I will also have a study hall once- Now plus one is awesome, I love that. I love the whole concept of that. Hopefully I can get everybody in a situation where I can have a plus one with just football team. If I do, that’s great, the study hall for us has a time to check grades. And that’s what it would be used for. The past place, I did have a at-risk study hall for anybody that was struggling, we would do a separate one. During the season, just to help ’em get through the season if we do need that.
I think the way they run the programs here within academics, I think is awesome. They have plenty of opportunities to go see teachers and get that stuff done, so there really is no excuse when it comes to getting their work done. I also want to develop and prepare students athletes for their future careers. Each student will find success through routine and organization. There must be a schedule of academics work out to practice. It’s all gonna be laid out there for you.
Everything is gonna be right there so you guys can know, at the end of this is a calendar for May, June and July so you already know what to expect. Not everything on there’s completely accurate and as I change it, I’ll definitely, I’ve got your E-mails, I’ll just shoot it to you through E-mail. Okay? That would probably be the best way to do that. I’ll have a schedule of all those things. The weekly routine will be understood by the student athlete before the school year begins.
I will have practice schedules already- I already pretty much have my practice schedule together. How we’re practicing is how we’re practicing. Now I want you to know exactly how we practice in Spring and then we’re gonna carry that right over to the season. During the season, a weekly schedule, I believe it’s in there so you can see that [inaudible 00:07:44] too.
I help my student athletes find opportunities to play. If they want to play collegiate football and you guys are asking questions about it, I will answer those questions. I will be brutally honest, but if a kid wants to play college football, trust me there’s a home for every kid. Anybody can play college football if they wanted to. Anybody that tells them differently is wrong. That’s just a fact. If you have the heart, it doesn’t matter how big you are …
You stand up for me, big guy. I had a kid that walked down from on [inaudible 00:08:15] University named Joe Aces, was about his size, now and he played for the 49s. So anybody could do anything they wanted to, it’s completely up to them. All right? If they have the work ethic and the heart, they can go play college football. So if anybody tells you differently, they are lying.
In the other part, I’d like to develop this from a program that a player and community will stand by with pride. So the weight room, I have rules for the weight room. There’s a certain conduct I expect you to uphold in there. I don’t like horseplay. I don’t like laughing. I think there’s a time for fun, but we’re in there doing stuff like that, I would rather have a structure group of people working in there together.
Practice schedule, like I said, they’re pretty much put together. I’m not changing that unless weather hits which around here, we do get lots of weather. We’ll have to work with that. I do like community service, we have done in the past, I do know they have the stuff with the thrift store, I’d love anybody to get involved in that with that through football. I’ve been trying to gat ahold of them to try to understand that better.
As soon as I do know, I will get you guys up and let you guys know what’s going on there cause I think that’s an easy way to start raising money for the program. I also, on top of all the [inaudible 00:09:24], I do want to have a fun learning environment. Trust me I can have fun. I can make it fun and I do believe football is not fun unless you make it fun. If you don’t like being at practice, you don’t like being a part of the stuff that matters, outside of the actual football game, then football’s not for you.
You’ve gotta love the entire process and I will make that a fun environment, I promise you. A place where the players and coaches can work together to become a team. Everything, We’ll try to do to make ourselves a better team. Every year, I want to win the Conference Championship and I think we can do that here.
There’s not a team out there I never believed we could beat. Every time I watch film on somebody, I know we can beat ’em. I know there’s a way, you just got to listen and believe in the process. I’m not a guy that’s gonna run a lot of stuff, what I do run has a purpose. If you ask me what offense I’m running, I’m running whatever works for us. If you ask me what defense I’m running, I’m running whatever works for us.
Way we’re gonna win games is being well-coached on special teams and being disciplined on offense and defense. If we have to go five watts and throw the ball around one game, the next game, we’re in 22 personnel running I formation, we’ll do it. I love all of it. I think there’s a place for all of it as long as you know how to coach it. That’s one thing you guys will learn. You will learn to give a football to me.
I’ve been blessed. I’ve learned from some of the best and I’m very arrogant about that. I do know the process and I know what it takes. I’ve been around some coaches at the higher levels, you’d blow your mind they’re up there. They should be coaching junior high ball, no offense to junior high coaches, but they don’t enjoy the process, they jump to the next one instead of just working on the little things, they’re working on the big picture and that’s not how we should work. So let’s enjoy the process and do it right.
Evaluation and depth chart criteria. I find this one very important cause every parent wants to know. Every child, every student has a chance to play. Dependent on grade level, kinda puts ’em kinda in some situations. JV is JV, that’s gonna be your freshman, your sophomore classes. Your Varsity’s gonna be your juniors and your seniors, for the most part. Now, could a sophomore play on the varsity? Absolutely.
That does happen. Roads all on myself, I got to play four years of varsity football, I’m from the middle of nowhere Western Kansas. Believe me, I’m not bragging. There were 22 kids in my class, so I did get to do that. Other kids in my class played JV before they ever saw varsity games, so it does happen to everybody.
Academics is important, like I said. That’s the number one thing. If your academics are not in shape and I’m constantly trying to get you in the classroom to do your work or trying to get you to go see a teacher, your opportunities to play are probably not as good. If all you’re worried about is football, and I got you out there to get two D’s and you’re almost gonna get an F, am I doing you any justice for the future? No. You need to learn from that.
Experience does matter. If I have a senior whose had three years of playing time and there might be a sophomore who might push him for that job, the senior’s gonna get the job. It’s his to lose. That’s how it works. If you’re worried about your son, you and I can sit back and look at the big picture of it and I’ll be brutally honest with anybody whose concerned about that.
Athletic ability doesn’t matter. Can a kid protect itself? Those kinda go hand in hand. Hopefully through weight training and Spring and Summer, I can get a kid to the point where he can, protect himself. He can go out there and be successful. For the most part, never ran into anybody that couldn’t. Overall character, all this stuff plays into that one piece. Are you a kid that I can sit down and talk to and have a real conversation with?
Those are the things that matter. I want you to look me eye to eye. I want you to be honest with me, I’ll be honest with you. That’s how I feel. I think that we should run our programs. So I will communicate my criteria to all of you guys, like you see there. And I want you guys to understand those things because I think it’s important. You guys can hold on to this, hold me to my word because I think it’s important. If I’m gonna be honest with you, then be honest with me. You said it in here, hold me to it. We’ll go together with that.
I do have a discipline deal here. Within the season, right now. The offenses can be from how they- you know, I want my student athletes to be at the front of the class, now there might be seating charts and all that stuff and that’s a different story. But if I just find out you’re coming in late to class, you’re on your phone, you’ve got your lap- everybody uses a laptop here and for some reason, kids love the top of those things open instead of listening. If you’re opening your laptop, anything I hear about, that’s an offense. Okay?
First time offenders will run after practice. Whatever we choose is necessary. Obviously it goes down from there. You guys can kinda read through those to see. But if it’s at the fifth offense, then I’m not gonna tolerate it anymore. The parents, everybody’s gonna be called in and we’ll talk about the next step. Okay? Like I said there, your life is either a celebration or a chore. It’s your choice. You can either make it hard on yourself or you can be a part of the team. It’s a simple simple process.
I’ve talked about academics, but the role of academics playing in my program, academics is the main priority to having a successful program. Without academics, I can’t get any of you to school somewhere else. I think that’s the biggest recruitment possible. We go all those kids in junior high, wanting to pick out where you’re gonna go to school. I want to come here. I want to be part of our program. And the way to do that, is you guys have got to be successful in the classroom. Everybody can say what they want, but that is reality. We’ve got to be on top of our stuff here. Academics is everything. I can help you get somewhere else after that. Okay?
Personal conduct. You guys can read through those. I expect my student athletes to look out to their community. You know, they get looked up to particularly by young kids, so go through those things, you guys can see it. No alcohol or drugs, I don’t tolerate any of it. Okay? I didn’t do it. You shouldn’t do it. Especially during a football season. I expect something higher from every one of you guys. So if you do hear about it, anything like that, I will take care of that on my own. But those are the big ones.
The curfew thing, we can discuss that but I don’t see any reason during a weekday, anybody’s out past ten anyways cause it is obviously school weeks. And then weekends, nothing good happens after ten anyways. So why be out after that anyways, okay? The last one there, during a competition, if you guys feel like your son should have played more or this or that, give me a 24 hour window. Because I’ve had my experience with it right after a game, and my emotions got the better of me. 24 hour window on that stuff.
Meeting guidelines, obviously I want them there early. I want ’em to be- I don’t want any headphones on in my thing and I’ll go without for the kids, it’s more for them. Obviously, if we’re gonna be taking notes, I want them to have some sort of way to take notes. And then, respect the presenters whether it by eight- cause I’ll bring in other people to talk and so I want to be respectful to them people as well. All that stuff matters.
I got locker room conduct as well. If they don’t take care of the locker room, we will run forward out- that’s how I was raised, so if I set five stuff on the locker room floor, you know, we’re not cleaning up after ourselves and we’ll go out there and we’ll run. I do believe in all that stuff so we’ll go from all there okay? Moving on.
[inaudible 00:17:14] have my sheet here. College recruiting, this is a business-like situation, okay? I did that for three years, well I did longer than that, I guess you count all my years of college, but as the actual director of player personnel, I did that for three years there. Within that three years of being there, I saw kids come from all lots of life. I saw some kids that did an awesome job. I saw some kids that came in wearing headphones on their cellphones the whole time, falling asleep while we were trying to talk to ’em and I don’t want that.
If your son is going with me to go visit a campus, seven on seven, to go work out, just to go see a football game, this is what he needs to know. This is what I’ll expect of him. And I’ll go over it with him too. So if he’s got anything that you think is not necessary, then take it from him. Okay? The cell phone thing is the biggest one. I’ll bring a digital camera or something like that. I’ll take all the pictures and I’ll share it with everybody. I know they wanna post stuff. All right? But obviously, we’ll figure out a way to do that so everybody can post everything. But I don’t want cameras out while we’re doing stuff. That’s something you guys gotta talk to ’em and we’ll figure that out as we go.
Game time context is just another one of the discipline things we’ll go over when we get close to the season. And then you’re game schedule’s there, like I said. Grades, stats, the film, prepare the next weeks opponent, players are off maybe. On Saturdays they’re always off and Sundays they’re always off. Okay? And then we’ll lift weights and it won’t be a heavy lift, but more for flexibility and all those things and go through all that stuff as well.
There’s your game table and then your practice guidelines, all that stuff as well. That is on there. And your calendar’s the last part. Your calendar goes through May, July, June, May, June, July, okay? You guys can look through that. The only thing that’s really on there right now, thinking about doing a liftathon on May 17th. Spring practice does start May 1st. And then the liftathon, I’ll get you guys more information on that when I get it finalizes, I just talked to a guy who does fundraising stuff. He gave me some ideas of how to do it. I’ll get with you guys more on that then.
Seven on Seven, on NC State on November 14th. Those are the only finalized things. The rest of those camps you guys see in June, those are just ones that kinda, they’re out there, we can actually think about doing, but the NC State one you can circle with a pen on the November 14th, that is one I’m gonna try to get guys to. I don’t know how many yet, we’ll see how Spring ball goes and then I’ll go from there, but I’ll probably be able to get one team in there, so I hate to bring 50 kids at 25 dollars a pop, and you know 15 or 25 are standing there. So I don’t want that either so, I’ll figure that out with you as we go.
That is the counter. So I’ll just go through this with you real quick. If your kid can be a something, I want him there. That’s common sense and I’m giving you guys these calendars, if it changes I will do everything I can to get it back out to you. I don’t do the reminder app, it’s not me. I expect the kids to- if you guys wanna give them that calendar, I got plenty of sheets, just I thought we’d have more shown up, hey take one, hang it up at home or put it in their phone. Be reminded through making reminders, okay?
That’s my belief, and trust me they’ll get plenty of reminders through me as we go anyways. So we’ll do that as well. It’s kinda like what have you done for me lately type deal. I’m gonna work my tail off. I’ll be here 7a.m. for them and I’ll do it at 3:15 and then when the summer gets here, I’ll be here all day, whenever the times are allotted, I’ll be here. I’ll be here probably a little bit after. If your kid is here and he’s working his tail off, he’s gonna get every opportunity. If he’s got a thousand reasons why he can’t be here, then I’m gonna struggle with that.
Now, is it another sport that goes through this high school? He’s got stuff going on with that and that’s the priority? Yes. If it’s a family vacation? Do your family vacation. All right? But if it’s like AAU basketball, I’m gonna have to say, this comes first, okay? If it’s any kind of club sport, I’m gonna struggle with that. Now, family came to me and said their son has Eagle Scouts. That’s great. That’s a leadership type deal. That’s scholarship opportunities. That stuff there, I get.
But I’m gonna give you the same exact [inaudible 00:22:11] probably more because I think I can get more hands-on with you, I think I can teach you a few more things. Okay? Just understand that part of it. Okay? And I don’t play favorites. It’s not me. I struggle with it everyday of my life, I know people want to get involved, I know parents want to get involved. I get all that. But I’m gonna play the kids that are invested and the kids that deserve to be out there. That’s who I am.
I’m not gonna play the politics game. I can’t do it. I’ll go down swinging in that world. Just so you guys all understand that. If your kid has an opportunity to play college football at a high level, I’m gonna voice that opinion strongly with you and I’m gonna do everything I can to help him. Plenty of contacts and plenty of people I can get ahold of to help you guys get to that point and that successful world. All right?
I’m gonna open up to you guys at this point. Any questions you guys have?
Parent: I have a question.
Coach Cullen Homolka: Yeah.
Parent: When will you allow the rising freshman to come and start working out?
Coach Cullen Homolka: Probably be June, that first day of pride, like June eighth or ninth or tenth or somewhere in there. I probably can’t get them in here until they’re done with the school they’re at.
Parent: They’re not considered passable students until they’re finished.
Parent: So my son is out May the ninth because he’s not in
Coach Cullen Homolka: He’ll probably have to be in … I would say June 14th is the safe bet on that one. I wouldn’t want to push it. Cause we won’t be doing much of any type Spring ball at that point. We’re just finishing up really, then. So, just hold out until June 14th and that will be fine. But he can definitely come to any
Parent: How long is practice?
Coach Cullen Homolka: Practice will go probably depending on the day, two and a half hours? I’ll probably go … I try to break it up to where, I won’t have a lot of coaches in Spring, so it’ll be broken down into JV and Varsity the best I can. Maybe offense going here, Varsity with my JV defenses going and then I’ll do a special teams in-between. And if so, two, two and a half hours probably. We’ll see how many kids we get out there. I’m hoping for a two and a half hour practice right now. Any other questions? Nothing?
Your playbooks, are you- how do you do those?
Coach Cullen Homolka: I think the best way to do it is to write it down. I’ve done the playbooks in the past cause I’ve found about 20 of them sitting around. The way we’ll teach ’em, they’ll know it. I’ll hand out a notebook to every one of them. Let ’em write something down, so they can help them write it themselves and study that way. Hopefully the way we teach it through Spring and Summer, you start small and you get bigger, so hopefully the core is taught. They know it before Spring ball is over. Where we can move on and get a little more exotic through the Summer and the Fall.
[inaudible 00:25:35] a lot of days [inaudible 00:25:38] Field schedule, I think it was?
Yeah, we’ll try to watch films about every day.
So, we’re gonna get plenty of film study. Anybody else?
Parent: Yes. Do you have your staff yet in place?
Coach Cullen Homolka: I’m working on that, I don’t want to put anything out there yet on that stuff okay? I got a lot of fillers out there [inaudible 00:26:01] we got some great coaches in the building right now that I’m definitely gonna get to know better and work with them and build from there with. Anybody else?
All right. So this is the start. We’ve all met now. Please spread the word. If you see somebody and you want to give them one, that has a student we know is playing, obviously we know this isn’t everybody. I’ve had more in the weight room than this. Please give it to ’em. You know, we want to get to where we’re at about 120 peep. I wanna grow this program to where we have a lot of success and have a lot of fun. Okay?
So any questions you guys have, feel free to ask ’em. My contact info is on there. That’s my G-mail and the good thing about it, is didn’t add my other E-mail actually, but the other E-mail is C. Homolka the same first part at Chatham County. All right? Chatham.k12, so they’re both very easy to memorize so you guys can hit me up on either one of those. That’s the best way to reach me, is through E-mail.
All right. I’d rather it that way than any way cause I’ll check that and I’ll get back to you soon. And I’d rather you hit my Chatham one up, but if you go my G-mail one it’ll be fine. I’ll see it. Okay?
Parent: Now, will you send out something regarding the fundraising and stuff?
I will. I will communicate with you guys through E-mail now that I have that. So you guys should check your E-mails regularly on that and I’ll try to put a big headline on so you at least notice it. And go from there. It’ll probably be my Chatham County E-mail that you’ll see. But it’ll be C. Homolka so it’ll be easy to pick out. Anything else?
Parent: Because during the season, I see on the schedule, there’ll be a little bit of weightlifting
I’m gonna try to do it so that we can lift almost three times a week. So I’m working through that right now to get it all on the schedule to where the kids can get that in. So we’ll see how that works out. I’ll let you know more about that soon. I think that’s an important part of rehab and all that stuff.
Basically how weight training works, I need two guys. I know a lot of you guys were wondering. You can ask a few of the guys that’ve been there. A lot of what I do, lifting wise, is gonna work your flexibility as much as anything and then your power. So we work a lot on the backside here, not as much on the front. Cause that’s where all your explosion is.
So we’re gonna work- Our squats, once a week, we’re doing pause squats. And pause squats, were getting as low as we can and we’re sinking our hips, we’re trying to get our hips below our knees and we’re gonna pause for a two count. Then we’re gonna come back up. So we’re doing lighter weight on that, but it’s all about flexibility in your hamstrings, getting the correct position.
So I’m gonna teach that and the first couple of weeks, we didn’t go real heavy with the guys that had been there, but now we’re gonna start getting heavier. So there’re probably gonna be a little more sore now. But we’re gonna work that. And then Cleans, I work everything from the foot. We’re not doing hand cleans, we’re gonna get in an athletic position and we’re gonna pull from the floor. I believe that’s kinda the position you’re playing in football so, we’re gonna work out that position as much as possible.
Everything we do is definitely to help the back end here. We do bench twice a week, we do incline twice a week, that’s your chest lifts. Everything else is pretty much working back end stuff. I don’t overthink and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I think those are the holes that are important. And that’s where we’re gonna focus on.
As we get into it more, we will start running a lot more, conditioning them and getting that part going as well. They can be an all-around athlete, with a good change of direction, way to sink their hips and get a little faster. All right. Any other questions. So this is my wife Kristin, so if you see her around, say hello. She is the boss, but here she can’t tell me what to do, so I like to hang out here. I’m just kidding.
If you guys don’t have any questions, you’re free to go and hopefully see you guys around more often. We have more if you guys want to take a couple with you, hand them out to some of the other players that are gonna be there, that’d be great.