Bill McLaughlin seemed very much at home with a football in his hand, throwing passes to two young receivers as part of a voluntary workout Monday morning, July 17, at Miners Stadium. McLaughlin just arrived in Trinidad over the weekend and has been named as the new head coach of the Trinidad Mighty Miners football team.
Single and 28-years-old, he’s a native of Florham Park, N. J. and graduated high school in 2007 from Hanover Park Regional High School, later getting his associate’s degree from Morris County Community College. He has a coaching certificate.
“For the past three years I was offensive and offensive line coach for Saunders High School in Yonkers, N.Y.,” McLaughlin said. “For the past two years while I was there I was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.”
His love for football inspired him to go after a head coaching job, so when he saw the Trinidad job posted online he went after it, he said.
“I looked into the town, and it seemed like a very nice place,” he said. “This is a beautiful field and stadium. When I got out here a few days ago, I loved it. The downtown, Main Street and the kids here are great.”
Mike Briggs has also been hired to coach football by high school Principal Chuck Smithey and Athletic Director Joe Vergiglio, and McLaughlin is now interviewing for another assistant coach. Three volunteer coaches are also on board. His football background had a lot of variety, he said, adding that one coach in particular had inspired him.
“I feel comfortable with my knowledge of both offensive and defensive football. As far as coaching is concerned, my biggest inspiration would be Mike Ditka, (former head coach of the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints in the NFL). I just love his personality. He’s very fiery and he knows how to get the most out of his players. At the same time he was very real. He spoke his mind, and he was a great player, too.”
He has a general idea of the types of offensive systems he would like to run in the upcoming season but he said he had not yet gained access to any of the Miners game films from last season, so that’s made his job a little bit tougher.
“It looks like we’re going to have a team that’s a little bit small in size, but very athletic and very quick. We’ll run an offense that caters to that. It’s offense, defense and special teams. They are all equally parts of the game. You can win or lose on any of the three. You need good punting, kicking, extra points and all of that.”
He was asked about leadership and how he would lead his team and how would get the players to go in the direction he wanted them to go.
“I think in football there are a couple of key facets to the game. I think a big one is respect, and it’s not only the players respecting you, but it’s also you respecting them. I think that goes a long way in gaining leadership, and having them believe in what I say and me believing in them.
“Also, I would say that you have to have pride in yourself, pride in the program and also being accountable. You have to be able to say, that was my fault,’ or ‘that was my mistake,’ and at the same time being accountable. As a coach, they’re relying on you as much as you’re relying on them. It takes 11 guys to have a successful play. It’s not like other sports, where you can have one or two people and they run the show. In football, it takes everybody doing their job on every single play. That’s how you’re successful.”
So many young people watch NFL or college football these days. McLaughlin was asked if there was any one player who stood out above the rest in exemplifying what a modern football player should strive to emulate. He brought up a name that’s very familiar to Colorado football fans.
“The first name that comes to mind is that my favorite football player is Peyton Manning. I think he’s an excellent example of leadership, with great character, a good teammate and people say nothing but good things about him. I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever seen play the game. He’s an unbelievable athlete.”
Personally, he’s a big fan of the NFL’s forever-struggling Cleveland Browns, but his heart is really with college football and the mighty Florida State Seminoles program.
“I love them. They’re a lot more exciting to watch than the Cleveland Browns.”
A football skills camp begins on Monday, August 7 and continues for the rest of that week. It’s open to all aspiring from eighth- graders through incoming seniors.
“Those will be very light workouts, but they will get a feel for me and I’ll get a feel for them. It’s a skills type of camp and that’s when we’ll start to go through the playbook.
“The double sessions of mini-camp will begin on Monday, August 14. That will last for a week. You want to try to keep them out of the heat, so we would ideally practice in the morning, break for lunch and then come back later in the afternoon.”
Practices will feature the use of blocking sleds and tackling dummies, so the players can get used to the techniques they will need to know while limiting the risk of preseason injuries, he said.
“I love the sleds, especially for linemen in learning how to block. The sled is stationary. It’s a teaching tool and I think it works very well.”
His said his biggest football thrill came just last year when the Saunders High team he coached for made it to the state playoff finals and faced a Gorton High School team that had won 23 consecutive games while averaging more that 40 points per game. Saunders pushed the game into overtime before losing by a score of 9 - 6.
“We orchestrated a brand new defense that we had only practiced for the two weeks leading up to the game. We ended up holding them to nine points, and in overtime we lost. That was a great moment. Even though we lost the game, no one gave us a chance because they were this big, mighty team that hadn’t lost in a few years. They beat everyone by 40 points. We took them into overtime and almost won.”
He’s just beginning to learn about the storied history of Mighty Miners football, but he said he knows he’s got a lot to live up to.