The Steelers were recently named the 2010 Pop Warner NFL Team of the Year for their commitment to youth football and that continued when they hosted the annual Steelers/USA Football Coaching School at their practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.
Youth coaches from the Pittsburgh area and well beyond kicked off the day hearing from Coach Mike Tomlin, who shared his experiences of playing youth football and the guidance he received from coaches along the way, which eventually inspired him to join the coaching ranks.
"I got into professional coaching because I wanted to go back and help my high school coach," Tomlin told the group. "I have no idea how I ended up in the National Football League coaching football. When I was in college I loved football. I got into professional coaching simply to go back and help my high school coach."
Tomlin let the coaches know how much he appreciates and respects what they do with youth football and the shaping and development of young people and told them to always believe in the kids and have the patience with them that his coaches had with him.
"Some of the kids you work with are capable of a lot of things," said Tomlin. "You might be coaching the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's just that simple. I was one of those kids. I couldn't shut up when coach was talking. I just wanted to play ball. Their patience, love and dedication helped cultivate something in me that allows me to do what I do. I can't thank them enough for that."
Among the other guest speakers was North Hills High School Athletic Director Dan Cardone, who spoke about leadership.
"As leaders you need to teach coaches, players and parents in your organization about respecting the game," said Cardone. "You are not the first person to put this uniform on and you are not going to be the last. You are not the first person to represent your community when you take the field, but when you do, you better do it to the best of your ability. You better respect the game. That is the lesson you need to teach as leaders in your organizations."
The coaches also took part in classroom instruction in the morning, before heading into the indoor facility for some on-field coaching from some of the area's best high school coaches.
The CoachingSchool is a one-day educational program designed to help high school and youth football coaches continue to develop their skills and improve the quality of coaching at that level.
Curriculum focused on football skills, on-field offensive and defensive schemes and strategies, coach-player communication, practice planning, and proper equipment fitting. The school combined classroom sessions with on-field demonstrations of technique and practice components.