Off the Gridiron: Castle motivating players with weekly awards

Sports

PARADISE, Ind. (WEHT) – Football coaches are always trying to find creative ways to motivate their players.

But what does a wrestling belt, a lunch pail and a John Wayne photo have in common? Allow Castle coach Doug Hurt to explain.

“I will take credit for the John Wayne because I’m a big John Wayne fan, but at the same time, I think every one of the staff members, we sat down years ago and thought what would be a good trophy for each particular award that could float, and we came up with some good ones,” Hurt said. “It’s a great thing for us to kind of recognize some players, and make sure that everybody got recognized for performance. I think it’s something for the kids to get excited about.”

At the start of each week, Hurt’s staff gathers the Knights in the locker room to recognize the biggest performers from Friday’s game.

The team give out eight awards each week, each symbolizing various attributes the coaching staff is looking for out of its players.

Some of The honors include the knockout award, given to the player with the biggest hit, the John Wayne toughness award and the Players of the Week, given to deserving freshman, JV and varsity players.

“It’s excitement,” said senior cornerback Aiden Raibley. “Especially after a win, we all know whoever is getting the awards gets to celebrate and show it off to everyone the whole week. It’s something special.”

“When you put that much work in every week, it’s always nice to be congratulated, and especially to congratulate your teammates, too,” said senior safety Evan Reff. “We get to see everybody work all week, and you know who’s worked hard for it and what they’re trying to earn. So it’s always appreciated.”

Each recipient gets to display their award in their locker for the ensuing week, and then it’s up for grabs again the following week.

Win or lose, each player is eligible for an award. It’s a way to make every player feel appreciated for their hard work.

“It definitely brings team comradery whenever someone wins an award,” Raibley said. “You can go congratulate them, you can celebrate with them, even if we lose. You can celebrate them, and then the next week, someone else gets it. Then we can celebrate all of our teammates.”

The unique trophies have given Castle players even more of a reason to compete on the practice field and on Friday night.

“I think everybody likes to feel like their work is appreciated,” Hurt said. “Whether you’re a principal, a football coach, a player, whoever. When you’re doing a job and you do it well, it’s nice to have somebody recognize it.”

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