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From Marco Salas: Messages Sent To Us Getting Ready For First Game

Nov 5, 2020

Marco Salas: A Sun Devil Writing About Sun Devils

(Note: Marco Salas is a redshirt sophomore for the Sun Devil football team in 2020. A 2018 Dobson High School graduate, he is an aspiring journalist. He is telling some stories this year and chatting with some Sun Devils in all sports.)

by Marco Salas, Sun Devil Athletics Communications Student Writer

After months of preparation and working around the pandemic, the Sun Devils will finally kick off the 2020 football season against USC on Saturday, November 7 at 9 a.m. PT/10 a.m. MT on FOX.  After months of uncertainty regarding whether the season will actually start, the Sun Devils will now finally be able to showcase the result of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been put in to make this season a reality.
Through those months of uncertainty, Coach Herm Edwards instilled daily messages in the team meetings to keep players humble and hungry as they started their quest for a Pac-12 championship.
As a student-athlete sitting in the meetings hearing Coach Edwards give his daily speeches, I felt a similar feeling to that of a churchgoer listening to a preacher reading scripture. Everyone was locked in and attentive to what Coach Edwards showed. The main themes that stood out to me were being coachable, having the right attitude and staying true to the program's foundation.

 During a team meeting, Edwards had shown us a paper that had a big title in bold letters that read, "COACHABLE" and has explained what it meant to be coachable.

"If you want to work well with a coach or staff member, you have to be willing to adapt yourself."  
Redshirt freshman Ben Scott found the meaning of these words to be evident as offensive line coach Dave Christensen put Scott in multiple positions throughout the abbreviated camp. 
"In football not everything is perfect, and players have to be able to be mentally strong and adapt for the better of the team," Scott said. "Especially for me, I was being moved around the offensive line to multiple positions to where the line would be best, and it was tough at first. I had to be mentally tough because in the beginning it was not going great and I was getting frustrated."
Even though it was tough for Scott, he listened to Edwards' words and bought into the idea of being coachable.

"I had to buy into what they were coaching and allow myself to get better every day in order to do my absolute best in the position they put me in. These coaches have been coaching and playing for years now so they know what's best for the team, we just have to trust them and do our best in the position they put us in."
The most important factor in being coachable is being able to listen. When able to listen Edwards said, "The first step in teachability is learning to listen. Being a good listener helps players to know their coach better and learn what they have learned. If you listen to your coach, you will begin to learn things that can help you expand your talent." 
For Scott, the ability to listen to coaching has helped him believe in his talent as he progressed through camp.

"You have to believe in yourself, focus on your craft, prepare for what you need to do, be teachable, be responsible, practice sharp, and have passion. Coach Herm said if you follow these steps your talent will be converted into results. I like this message because I have never been the most talented, but I try my absolute best to follow these steps in order to better myself and the team."
With less than a week to go before the opener at USC, Edwards opened up a meeting talking about attitude. In his speech, Edwards said, "Our attitude towards life determines life's attitude towards us. How we think affects our approach to having success. If you expect the worst, you will certainly get it. If you expect the best and negative circumstances come your way, you must make the best of it and keep going."
Graduate transfer Kellen Diesch tries to follow Edwards' words by staying positive even when it felt like we wouldn't make it to the point of having a season. He said, "When we're at practice and in meetings, I'm locked in and I try to keep a positive attitude even though we've been going at it for two months now without playing anyone."
Another message that Edwards relayed to us was to "Enjoy the moment." Edwards said, "A good attitude makes it possible for you to be successful. It gives you fuel so that you want to pursue your purpose and grow to your potential. It gives you staying power to improve. It also makes the journey more enjoyable."
For Diesch, he wants to see the team apply that positive mindset as they travel to play in Los Angeles on Saturday. 

"I'm going to keep it in the back of my mind that we have to have a good attitude going into this game and be prepared for USC."
Edwards runs the program off of three principles: Be on Time, Words and Actions, and Compete.

"Being on Time" means being where you're asked 15 minutes prior.

"Words and Actions" means do your words match what you're doing on and off the field?

"Compete" means compete in everything you do, whether it's in the classroom or on the field.
For sophomore Ethan Long, he sees the program's principles grounded in being prepared. 
"Everything comes down to preparation," notes Long. "If you're on time you're going to be prepared.  Coach Herm always has a broad spectrum of what a certain word means. So, when he says, "time," a lot of things go underneath it. So I think preparation is huge, [With] Words and Actions we all know what we want to do and how we want to play and we have to back that up with our actions, and Compete is just what we want to do at the end of the day and really give it our all."
During our abbreviated camp, Long said his favorite message from Edwards during camp was playing every day like it's your last. 
"Just play every day like it's your last. You don't really know if tomorrow somebody is going to get COVID or if they might close the season again or just anything like that during this period. I think just being ready and always be ready to be the next man up because you don't know what's going to happen." 

As we get ready to kick off the 2020 season, Coach Edwards is doing more than preparing the team for the upcoming season.
Not only is Edwards preparing us to be better men after our playing days and college career. After our playing days and college career is over, Edwards is preparing us to live a life after football in which we are able to adapt to whatever life throws at us with the right attitude -- and with actions that match our words.