Writing regular Koshinski’s Korner columns has been tough over the past two weeks due to a very busy schedule, both professional and personal. However, much of what has transpired on the local sports scene has been covered ad nausea without me adding my two cents.
The sight of reporters chasing their tails over who is “really” going to buy the Buffalo Bills has me bored as well as the Marcell Dareus street racing caper. My instincts tell me the most serious buyer of the Bills has not gone public in anyway and will be revealed at the proper time. Regarding Dareus, he is too good a player for the Bills to cut and thus Coach Marrone is stuck baby sitting an individual who lacks the emotional discipline and maturity to stay out of trouble.
What did catch my attention actually came out last week, but I’ve been too busy to write about and that is the fact Marrone is playing music during OTA’s. Unlike the situation where teams would blare music or the sound of jet engines over loud speakers to get players used to running plays without hearing the snap count, Marrone is playing the music to make the workouts more enjoyable.
The premise makes perfect sense because we as humans have something in us that responds to an enjoyable musical beat. Babies have it almost at birth and social media is filled with funny clips of infants dancing or bouncing in their walkers to a popular tune.
Those who run or walk wearing ear-buds almost always pick up the pace when a favorite tune comes up in your rotation. When I did run I used to stack my favorite up tempo songs in the final ten minutes of my workout so the music would motivate me to dig deeper and finish strong.
So the practice of playing up-tempo music to keep players motivated is nothing new and has been done at other NFL practices and in other sports. However, I’m here to tell you that it goes back much farther than that!
The year was 1970 and I was a high school wrestler at Niagara Wheatfield in Niagara County. The Wheatfield wrestling program has a long, long legacy of winning and the architect of all that was Hall of Fame Coach Armand Cacciatore. Armand ran long and hard practices that lasted a minimum of three hours and included an hour of drilling various moves, “live” wresting and marathon-like running. To say the practice regiment was monotonous is an understatement, but the long hours paid off as Niagara Wheatfield had consecutive match wins streaks of 68 and 88 matches under Cacciatore and his successor Dennis Mattison.
One day I had a conversation with Coach Cacciatore about the possibility of playing records during practice to make them a bit more tolerable. Normally Coach Cacciatore would rule out anything that he would consider a distraction during practice, but it was the Christmas break and we had a few days without any matches so he surprisingly gave the idea the green light.
The next morning I brought in a stack of my 45 rpm records and Coach Cacciatore brought in one of those old school record players on a stand with wheels. If you remember those school record players the cover was actually a speaker and could be detached and setup next to the player on a wire.
Coach told me I could play the records only during the “live” wrestling portion of practice so they would not be a distraction during the drill session when he had to instruct us on various techniques. So about an hour into practice we broke up into groups of threes for our live “triangle” wrestling segments. I then went over to the record player and put on the first 45′ which if I remember was the “Overture from Tommy” by the Assembled Multitude. That selection was received with mixed reviews and it quickly became apparent that the room filled with high school wrestlers ranging in age from 14 to 18 had varied musical tastes.
The whole thing became a one-time experiment between guys dancing around to the music and others loudly complaining about the song selections. Not to mention the fact that most 45′ records were only about two and a-half minutes long and I had to constantly run over and change them and still wrestle in my group.
In all the music only lasted about twenty minutes before the Coach put an end to it because it became more of a distraction than motivation, but I enjoyed it just the same. Of course I later went on to becoming a Club DJ in my twenties and did a brief stint as a radio disc jockey before getting into sports so I always loved spinning tunes.
Regarding my failed experiment at at Niagara Wheatfield, I believe Coach Cacciatore told me at the end of practice that he must have been “losing it” to allow me to talk him into such a crazy stunt as playing records during practice. I on the other hand like to believe I was just forty-four years ahead of the curve.
Filed under: Koshinski's Korner