Martz Offers Hundreds of High School Coaches a Unique Experience
Friday, May 20, 2005

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

Most coaches spend their time educating their players about football, but this weekend at Rams Park, the coaches will be doing the learning.

Hundreds of area high school football coaches will converge on Rams Park this weekend for the fifth annual Mike Martz High School Football Clinic. All of those coaches will have to put aside local rivalries for the common goal of learning to improve their coaching ability.

Belleville West coach Dennis Snep has attended the clinic every year of its existence, but has also had an instrumental role in keeping the camp going. He credits Martz with concocting the idea for the clinic.

“This is coach Martz’s baby,” Snep said. “It was all his idea and the Rams do all the work. It’s really a tremendous place to learn more about our craft.”

The camp opens today at 5 p.m. and ends at noon Saturday. With each passing year, the clinic only seems to grow. The Rams expect upwards of 700 coaches from 120 high schools to attend.

According to Snep, that growth seems only natural because of the unique nature of the clinic. While most coaching clinics of a similar nature involve membership fees and monetary means to get access, Martz’s clinic is free to those who register.

“The lineup of coaches is always tremendous, it is organized right down to the minute,” Snep said. “Most clinics like this will cost at least $150, but I would be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity.”

The organization of the clinic is one of its greatest strengths, but it is the variety of coaches, whether from the Rams, colleges, or high schools that add the right amount of spice to the clinic. There is no monotony and coaches who specialize in various parts of the game are able to share knowledge on specific aspects.

This year’s lineup features lessons on offensive line fundamentals from Rams line coach John Benton, defensive line instruction from the Rams’ Bill Kollar, defensive back fundamentals from Rams’ secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer and an introduction and speech from Martz.

Snep says it is interesting to hear from all of the coaches, but it is the Rams’ staff that he looks forward to the most.
“I love listening to the professional coaches because you realize that they have to teach the same way we do, but they have more to teach,” Snep said. “It’s really interesting to hear the perspective of someone who has all day to focus on the job of coaching football.”

This weekend’s clinic will also feature presentations from new Illinois coach Ron Zook, Clayton coach Mike Musick, Columbia Hickman’s Gregg Nesbitt, Arkansas State’s Steve Roberts and Lindenwood’s Pat Ross.

Martz’s coaching clinic is just one of the many initiatives taken by the Rams community outreach program to work with high school football coaches and programs in the area.

Last weekend, the Rams hosted the National Athletics Testing System High School Combine at Rams Park. That combine is geared toward high school kids who want to improve in the various testing areas that college and professional athletes go through. The athletes are tested in the 40-yard dash, the shuttle run, the broad jump, the bench press, and are weighed and measured.

After the test, the athletes are given tips on what to do to become better athletes and improve their physical skills.

“The great thing about the combine is it is centered on the kids instead of the numbers,” Snep said.

In addition to the combine and the coaching clinic, the Rams also have a Coach of the Week program that they use throughout the season to honor a coach who excelled the previous week. That coach is recognized by Martz each week and attends a weekly press conference and a game. At the end of the year, one coach is recognized for his season-long accomplishments.

Another program that has coincided with the others is the Junior NFL Flag Football program that is starting to take shape in St. Louis. The Rams teamed up with area public schools in 1998 to put in the flag football program in local schools.