With his shaved head, goatee and tattoos, Andy Campbell, the new head football coach at Golden Valley High School, has just the right attitude to turn the "Bad News Bears" into a winning team of Grizzlies.
Since its varsity debut in 2005, Golden Valley football has earned a reputation as the team you play for homecoming to ensure an easy win. But look for that to change as the Grizzles take the field this fall.
"Everything we do in practice and preparation, in some aspects, transfers not only to Friday nights, but to playing (playoff) games in late December," Campbell said. "I guess my big question is, if you're not preparing to be a champion, what are you preparing for?"
Campbell, 29, describes his style of coaching as a "new school" approach.
"Most of us remember playing for that old school coach. The guy who put the fear of God into you as a player where you didn't dare mess up because you feared the wrath of the coach," Campbell said. "My style is more of a teacher role versus a dictatorship. In my 29 years as a student of life, I've learned that no one responds to continuous negativity and fear."
But just because Campbell uses a kinder, gentler coaching style, that doesn't make him a teddy bear. Like President Obama, Campbell simply prefers to turn mistakes into "teachable moments."
"Like many before me, I do yell and scream, but that is only one tool in my teaching toolbox and not my usual form of communication. I never yell to teach, only when I have to repeat myself or when I get less than our best effort," he said.
To help the Grizzles overcome their mentality, Campbell had to think outside the box a bit, signing his players up for mixed martial arts training at the Stand Up Training Academy at Santa Clarita Athletic Club in Newhall.
"It's been my experience that most coaches apply a fitness program they've either used in the past or is the next flavor of the month," Campbell said. "My approach has always been to keep things fresh and be on the cutting edge of what's new and different."
During the summer, the Grizzlies trained with mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Oscar Linares and his team at the academy.
"Growing up as a wrestler in Minnesota, and as a huge MMA fan, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Oscar. When I put MMA Training on our summer conditioning schedule, the kids were very excited and inquisitive," Campbell said.
Mixed martial arts combines martial arts like Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai with boxing and wrestling for the ultimate workout experience. The Ultimate Fighting Championship television shows and video games have made MMA very popular with young athletes.
"When diagnosing the two sports, the parallels between football and MMA are quite frequent," Campbell said. "The teaching of hand-eye coordination, the importance of inside positioning and leverage on top of relentless conditioning combined for a wonderful experience with Oscar and his coaches."
"I kept telling the kids that no one trains like wrestlers--no one-- and now they know," he said.
According to Campbell, physical fitness and conditioning are probably the most important factors when changing the culture within a losing program.
"Let's be honest, football is a game of physics--the bigger, faster, stronger kids win," he said.