The off-season didn’t mean time away from football for the Gryphons players and coaches.
A lot of present and former Gryphon players decide to give back to the sport by trying to pass on their knowledge to the next crop of football players.
All three Guelph Minor Football Association Junior Gryphons teams in the Ontario Provincial Football League had Gryphons in charge. Former offensive lineman and current Offensive Assistant Coach and Football Operations Manager Matt Nesbitt was head coach of the varsity squad. Former linebacker and current Strength and Conditioning Coach Andrew Graham was head coach of the junior varsity team. Defensive back Mike Carney was head coach of the bantam squad and guided them to the Regional championship game.
Carney took over as head coach of the bantam team when former coach and Gryphon teammate, receiver Rob Carnegie, had to step down when he found full-time employment.
“Last year, Rob asked me to come out and coach and I had some time so I figured ‘Why not? I’ll give it a go.’ I fell in love with it and that’s what brought me back a second time and I’m going to continue doing it,” Carney said. “I love doing it.”
While there is plenty of time given to the position, it’s one that gives a lot of satisfaction.
“Just seeing the kids develop and go out there on game day and make plays, have success and have a lot of fun,” Carney answered when asked to list his favourite parts of the job.
The coaching experience can also give the players a bit of an insight into what their Gryphon coaches go through with the,
“To a degree, but they’ve got a little more pressure,” Carney said. “That’s their job. If they do a good job, they keep it. If I do a bad job, I’ve still got my volunteer head coaching job so I’m all right. Not as much pressure.”
All three head coaches added current or former Gryphon players to their coaching staffs. Carney’s staff included defensive back Dotun Aketepe as defensive backs coach, running back Harry Robinson as running backs coach and offensive lineman Eric Starczala as offensive coordinator. His staff included coaches who volunteered and others who were recruited.
“It was a little bit of both,” he said. “Whoever wanted to come out and volunteer, I let on to the team. If there were any positional spots I needed to fill, then I went and sought out some individuals.”
Included on Nesbitt’s coaching staff were quarterback James Roberts as offensive coordinator, former defensive back Mac Myers as defensive coordinator, offensive linemen Colin Jerome and Nikko Moriot-Barber as offensive line coaches, receivers Aidan Fraser and Thomas Bresciani as receivers coaches, defensive lineman Charlie Taggart as linebackers coach, defensive backs Shaq Munroe and Elijah Walker as defensive backs coaches, former kicker and current kicking coach Dan Ferraro as kicking coach and academic counsellor, Graham as strength and conditioning coach and Orion Edwards as team chaplain.
Graham's staff included Bresciani as special teams coordinator and receivers coach, Gabe and Daniel Ferraro as kicking coaches, linebacker Dean Yaromich as linebacker coach and offensive lineman Andrew Pickett as offensive line coach.
All approached the position the same way with the main goal of passing on information and tips to help the players progress.
“I just try to coach these guys based on my experience of playing at their age as well,” Carney said. “I played in Grade 8 and Grade 9 I can understand what they’re capable of and how they learn so I just try to implement that as best I can.”