Skeptics believe winning is the only thing that counts in football at most levels, including high school. What happened this summer at Parkview Baptist offers a different viewpoint.
That’s exactly what first-year PBS coach Jay Mayet was going for when he opened up his team’s facilities and summer conditioning program to players from Mentorship Academy.
Mentorship is a charter school searching for its niche in Baton Rouge’s crowded football landscape. Football obviously offered a strong common bond for the players.
There is another notable bond. Mentorship coach Brian Kinchen, the former NFL deep snapper, previously taught at PBS and his sons, including one who is a sophomore-to-be, played for the Eagles.
The pairing of the two schools also highlights the disparity between top programs and those fighting to survive.
Class 3A Parkview has its field house, training room, weight room and stadium with artificial turf and has won four state titles. PBS was a select Division II semifinalist last season.
Mentorship is a Class 2A school going into its second year of football and won’t play for district honors. Kinchen’s team will play primarily a junior varsity schedule.
The Sharks don’t have a locker room or lockers. Players must take a bus each day to practice on a baseball field located adjacent to Memorial Stadium. More recently, the school relocated from its downtown location.
“Brian was hesitant to ask, but to me it was a no brainer,” Mayet said. “We have the facilities here, and they don’t, so why not help them? I told Brian we’re going to get as much out of this as you will. It’s shown our kids we need to appreciate what we have.”
Kinchen admits the workouts didn’t make the total impact he hoped for. Three Mentorship players took part in a yogalates/sprints workout Thursday. Problems with transportation have kept some players away, while others have been busy working summer jobs, Kinchen said.
“When I first approached Jay about it, I was hoping for one day a week,” Kinchen said as he watched his players workout. “He was extremely generous, offering their entire summer workout schedule. That was an incredible blessing to say the least.
“I really did feel like this would be something we could build on and get guys involved in because of the environment, the facilities and the history. Our kids do work hard when they’re able to come. It hasn’t worked out as well as I’d like.
“Getting kids to workouts is a challenge for everyone. Numbers are down in some bigger programs. There are frustrations at every level. Mine are a little different. We want to make sure we’re able to field a team.”
Mentorship started the 2013 season with 40 players, but ended with 24, Kinchen said. Lack of football experience is another issue the Sharks tackle daily. Of the three players who were on hand for Thursday’s final conditioning practice two, junior quarterback Garry Jackson Jr. and junior defensive back Kwazi McKinney, had played organized football before.
Sophomore receiver/defensive back Jacob Genovese had no football experience before last season.
“Everybody loves the perception and thought of the game as much as they love Madden 2014, but this isn’t Madden 2014,” Kinchen said. “Some kids think it’s a matter of showing up to play games. Football is a great sport that is fun to watch. The reality of what it takes to succeed is a lot different than just watching it.”
So while some teams talk about winning titles, Kinchen’s goal is to help his players learn about football and the other lessons it teaches.
“I have basically three rules I ask them to live by,” Kinchen said. “I ask them to show up, be on time and give me great effort. The idea is to teach them to be accountable to their teammates and instill some discipline. You have to start there.”
As they worked through sprints near the end of practice, Parkview players offered their encouragement to the Mentorship trio.
“I was one of the first people to sign up for football last year,” Jackson said. “I’m willing to put in the work. Last year I learned that things don’t come easy. This year I hope we all understand that football is not just a sport, it’s a team sport.
“When we came here our coach told us their players (PBS players) would help us see what a real team looks like, and that we would form somewhat of a brotherhood. I think we have.”
McKinney is set to play high school football for the first time. He said a change in his family’s work schedule made it possible for him to make most of the workouts at Parkview.
“I can tell I’ve gotten stronger and faster,” McKinney said.
Genovese said he learned how intricate football was last year and sees the workouts at PBS as a plus.
“There’s so much that goes into football, like blocking patterns and assignments,” Genovese said. “This summer I learned some ways we can be a better team.”
Mayet sees benefits for his Parkview players too.
“Our kids did embrace them (Mentorship players),” Mayet said. “When they first started in the weight room, they didn’t know the lifts or the techniques, and our kids jumped right in and showed them.
“As coaches we were ready to step in but we didn’t have to. Our kids assumed that role, which was great to see.”