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Forum held on Brocton-Westfield-Fredonia football merger

May 5, 2016
By Amanda Dedie ( , Westfield Republican

BROCTON - Recently, Brocton School District hosted a forum concerning the merger of the Fredonia, Westfield and Brocton football teams. The evening consisted of a presentation by head coach Mike Marshall, followed by a question and answer session during which parents could go up to the coaches and talk to them about their concerns and ask questions.

Fredonia Athletic Director Scott Stutzman spoke first, kicking off the meeting with a speech about the unification of the three teams.

"I'm glad that we're here, and I'm really thankful for you bringing your kids out tonight to join this team," Stutzman said. "Coach Marshall has been a real blessing to us at Fredonia. He's committed to the program, he works hard, he loves the kids and he just wants what's best for kids. ...You'll be very proud of how we represent your kids. Not Fredonia, but Fredonia/Brocton/Westfield. We're a unified team. ...There's some things we just don't know at this point, but we're working through them and the great thing is, we have some excellent communication with all of our districts, and every single one of us wants what's best for this unified program."

Article Photos

Photo by Amanda Dedie
Mike Marshall, head coach for the newly formed Brocton/Westfield/Fredonia football team, speaks about his expectations for the players, for the season and for the team at a recent meeting on the merger in Brocton.

Next, Marshall spoke about his expectations for the players, for the season and for the team as a whole.

"These are people that are going to be your friends, and the bonds that these boys are going to make with each other over the next few years is something that, if you've played football before, is something you can't take away.

"There's going to be a little bit of change. Quite a bit is going to happen that is different. I think our strength is in our differences. Our team is three schools strong. I challenge you to be agents of change. Often, change will only occur through difficult conversations and experiences.

"I'm not naive to think that many of you haven't come here with a pre-conceived belief about people who are different than you. Much of what you learn is based on years of experience with family, peers and, as you grow and mature. The change in our lives is that now, you're amongst people that are different from you. They don't live where you live, and they don't go to school where you go to school. This is a challenge as you try to fit in. For some of the transition, for some people it's going to be difficult. For some, it's going to be much easier.

"Each of us can do our part more. Each of us must do our part. We owe it to the ones who played in these schools in that past, and those who will come in the future," concluded Marshall.

He then spoke about team expectations, emphasizing largely on the bettering of one's self, but building of new habits, and the expectations of players at practice.

According to Marshall, players should work to be bigger, stronger and faster. Players should be lifting weights or doing other things that will make themselves better as players.

The team will also be providing opportunities for players to improve, such as a mini-camp in June, where players will come together for three afternoons, do the combine and get pictures taken to be in the football weekly.

Passing league will be in July, where players will be learning pass routes and and other things, and linemen will be in the weight room and running plays on the field.

"A lot of people think football is a sport where you can just show up, put on a uniform and go out there and play. Well, you can do that with a basketball - you can't do that with a football. Football has technique, strength and ability all rolled into one, and the stronger you are and the quicker you are the safer the game is for you. You need habits to be developed," said Marshall.

Marshall also described a website called Huddle, which has game video footage that coaches can make comments on, tag specific people in those comments, comment on specific plays, and coaches can also see the amount of time players have spent watching these videos to make sure players are actively looking for improvement.

Stutzman concluded the meeting, saying, "Some of the things we are working on are the logistics, so we'll continue to filter that information out to you as we work those out. We have to make sure safety is priority - it's one of the things we want to make sure we're all on the same page about in regards to our safety procedures, communication, and how we make sure communication is effective.

"For a team to work as well as this, where we're all represented equally and all the kids needs are represented equally and fairly, we have to make sure we have a good communication plan in place, and we're building that up to this point and we're going to continue to work on it until it's perfect. We will mistakes along the way and we'll fix them, and the hope is that as we move forward, we develop something really special between our districts," Stutzman said.



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