WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — On Friday nights, it's showtime for members of the Northside Eagles football team, but recently their coach started emphasizing a different set of skills.
Coach Chad Alligood has devised these "Life Wednesday" experiences. He says he never would have imagined the bond that has been created from open and honest conversations, resulting in a tighter group for players and coaches. He says it just goes along with what makes the Northside community great.
Coach Alligood pushes his players at every practice.
"Our kids love to play and our kids love to workout," he says, but "hump days" are starting to rank just as high when it's time for "Life Wednesdays."
"Football here at Northside takes care of itself. We're always going to have a bunch of players," said Alligood.
Coach Alligood has been a teacher and assistant coach on Green Street for 17 years before taking over the reins as top Eagle.
After being promoted, he saw a need to focus on wins beyond the game.
"I wanted to put an emphasis on something outside of football to make them great men. We say that all the time, but we're we going to actually do something tangible to help them," Alligood said.
Every Wednesday, he requires his players to dress professionally, even providing a walk-in closet of donated clothes so there is no excuse to not participate.
It was a learning curve for the players.
"At first, the players were, 'Ugh...' about dressing up every Wednesday, but we started to like it. Then we started noticing other kids outside of the team dressing up, too, because they follow the football team because we're like the head of the school," said player Oceen Raines.
"We spend time on how to use the correct handshake, how to talk to a lady, how to sit a table with more than one fork, how to change oil, how to do anything that you're possibly going to do outside of high school when you go to be a grown man," said Alligood.
Alligood demands the same greatness with these life skills as he does with running plays on the practice field.
He says he and his coaching staff are not just talking the talk but walking the walk as well, and the players are growing because of it.
Player Demarcus Allen says it's all about, "Accountability, doing your part and helping the team reach higher levels. That's the biggest thing I took from life Wednesdays was accountability."
These days are focused on making an investment in the future for many years to come.
"I want them to come back to Northside married with successful jobs, because football is going to end for us all. At some point, one day, I want them to carry these skills for the rest of their lives and teach their kids the skills that we're teaching them," stated Alligood.
Alligood says on occasion during the regular season and now because it's spring football, he allows the team to dress uniformly in team gear during the midweek assignment, but the teaching of valuable lessons still remain the priority of Life Wednesdays.