Giving Thanks to Our Football Coaches

Family, feast and football! Thanksgiving is a chance for family and friends to gather and give thanks for all that they have. However…this year is different.  Thanksgiving is unlike any other with a covid still looming. Yet, the Dons Football family is  grateful for our Acalanes football program and OUR COACHES!

“Knock knock!” “Who’s there?” “Don.” “Don who?” “Don eat all the gravy, I want some more.”

Coaching football in the age of Covid brings an extra emphasis to the life lessons the sport can teach. Ask virtually any high school football coach across the country  why they coach, and they’ll tell you football is about more than the wins and the losses, the accolades, or even the championships. Football, as a game, is about teaching life lessons: teamwork, hard work, resilience.    Our Dons coaching staff   have found  ways to bond, thrive, and endure. Building meaningful relationships that are so important to a football team, and covid can not stop that.   Acalanes football has always been about building a solid foundation for a young person’s life, based on principles and experiences that can only be taught through the game. It’s about cultivating genuine relationships between players, coaches and a community of fans and that is what Coach Burnsed does so very well.

This year as covid dominates our lives, classrooms are quiet, hallways vacant, our football bleachers sit empty and the excitement of Fright Night Lights is put on hold as our community misses the blue magic on our football field. In the midst of a global pandemic that’s affecting counties and communities across California it rings more true than ever, the importance of TEAM.  As with any season, the goal is to keep playing as long as possible. In this unprecedented season, that carries even greater meaning. No matter the circumstances the Dons just push through it. The overriding theme: Things are largely out of our control and we never know when it might be our last game, or for us now, our first football game. 

We are FAMILY!

Dons are focused to start in December to pad up and play hard.  Thom Simmons, the spokesman for the CIF Southern Section, said that he remains optimistic that the high school football season will begin on schedule. December is our kick off month to our football season.  So  the Dons  continue to work hard, grow stronger and smarter as they wait for the blow of the whistle in their first game. The pandemic  has taught  us how  important it is to have a strong, efficient coaching staff. Our coaches have been dedicated for months to our football Dons. We are very, very grateful for Acalanes Football coaches. Here is how they do it:


VARISTY:  Coach Burnsed has taken advantage of the covid situation  with his coaching staff. Burnsed shared:  fortunately football is a sport in which a great deal of practice is spent in position groups.  We are able to really teach a lot of technique to each position. I think each player has benefited greatly from the practices and has been a great release for them with everything going on.  We are in groups of 12 players and coaches have to stay with one group. It has been great to have a staff that is willing to put in the time to ensure our players have a great experience. I’ve also learned that we have to be able to cope, and live with, things that are beyond our control.

JUNIOR VARSITY:  In late August, Coach Young  was asked about covid and football:  I believe they’ll never take their high school sport or high school for granted. Our J.V. team is really working hard and driven to improve and succeed.  In small part it’s maturity, just due to this time in their lives.  In my heart, I think the maturity comes from the fact that they’ve lost so much, over the last six months, they’ll never take anything for granted. For most of them, they’ve lost one-fourth of their sports careers. Going forward, they’ll work hard not only for themselves, but for each other. 

FROSH: Covid has taught Coach Bill Hansen to be a more patient coach.  There are always things we can not control and Covid is a obviously a new one.   The Freshman coaching staff have learned to take it one practice at a time and to value each practice.  We had to think outside the box and find new ways to practice – not being able to use equipment (including a football) was a challenge but we adjusted.  The players benefited in a few ways. Having smaller groups has benefited the players by getting more individual attention.  By not having contact, we have spent more time on the fundamentals which improves them having a solid foundation. Players have had more time to learn plays both for offense and defense.  

The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.

In a typical year,  coaches are focused on Xs and Os, standout performances, key plays, and context in terms of what the games mean in the larger picture of the season. This season, that context has taken a new meaning. It’s such an unusual year for coaches, players, and fans. The most  positive thing about  Covid  is our Dons coaches. They are the big stars on the football field at the moment. A Peyton Manning quote is perfect to describe our coaches, “The most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable.” Since May, our coaches have been the super glue for our Dons, keeping them healthy, focused and unified.   Our coaches are our MVPs! The Acalanes parents shout loud and proud from the top of Mt. Diablo, THANK YOU! We know this year is likely to be one of the most challenging we have all faced. Thank you coaches for rising to the challenge, and we know you have been doing everything possible to help our Dons and build resilience. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and there is no doubt that we have extraordinary coaches.  

We give a BIG THANK YOU to our Acalanes Football Coaches!