Change in philosophy helps Division-III Texas Lutheran end losing streak

first_img Comments The 0-10 Texas Lutheran football team needed a community. And it was going to take some prodding. That is how bad the situation got in Seguin, Texas. Danny Padron is the solution to the problem. Padron, a man who was already the head of a different community: the O’Connor High School (Texas) Panthers. Texas Lutheran went back to school, back to the roots and back to the community for the Texas football connections it needed. And through five games, it has worked. The community is there. And it is because the leader is there. ‘Coach Padron and his coaches did the right things across campus — they’re vocal about a student athlete’s success academically,’ TLU Athletic Director Bill Miller said. ‘They made themselves visible across campus. ‘They’ve become part of the community.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text And in the process of becoming part of that community, he has brought Division III Texas Lutheran back to its long forgotten traditional Texas football roots. Currently, Texas Lutheran sits at 3-2 on the season. On Sept. 18, TLU snapped a 14-game losing streak with a win in the second game of the season against East Texas Baptist. But for the school, it is less about the record and more about the change in philosophy. ‘What we were doing before wasn’t working,’ Miller said. ‘As a result, this new coach has come in and increased the level of discipline in the program.’ At different points in TLU’s football history, that sense of community wasn’t there. After it was a powerhouse in the mid 1970s in the NAIA, the football team sunk into submission. The Bulldogs weren’t in a conference at the time, making scheduling in-state opponents nearly impossible. So the sport was dropped after the 1987 season. In 1998, after a change in dynamic for small colleges in Texas, the team joined the American Southwest Conference and started to rebuild what was once a strong program. Naturally, it had problems along the way. But that 2009 season was the tipping point for the school. A change was needed. Enter Padron. Padron, a long-time high school football coach, had all the connections, including perhaps the most important one in Miller. Miller and Padron coached together at Judson High School in Converse, Texas, for six years in the 1980s, and Miller had followed Padron’s progress as head coach, even after he left to work at Texas Lutheran. In a state as big as Texas, and with a sport as popular as football, Miller knew the talent was out there. And he knew Padron could reach it. But Miller also knew Padron wasn’t going to be an easy recruit himself. Texas high school football is a big deal, and Miller knew Padron was happy at O’Connor High School. And TLU does not even have a football stadium. ‘Our facilities,’ Miller said, ‘probably aren’t as good as where he was at.’ Padron himself wasn’t sure if he wanted to make the switch, either. The team was playing well, and he had the opportunity to coach with his son, a math teacher at the school. He was next in line for athletic director at the high school and kept turning down offers from schools to coach elsewhere. But his old friend Miller came to him with a strong appeal. Padron met with the then-Texas Lutheran president Ann Svennungsen and was impressed with the pitch she had. ‘She had a great vision,’ Padron said. ‘I said, ‘Well, I could at least go through the process.” What sold Padron was that he could surround himself with the coaching staff he wanted. When he began to think harder about the decision, he started phoning in some friends and getting their take on the situation. One by one, those friends were sold, and his would-be coaching staff came together. However, one thing was holding Padron back. His son, Andy, had just joined the O’Connor staff. And Padron didn’t want to lose the opportunity to coach with him. But he didn’t want to force his son to coach at the college level if he wasn’t ready. After all, Andy had just graduated in 2007 from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where he started at quarterback for championship teams. ‘He was one of the reasons I didn’t want to leave. I told him, ‘I’m not going to go because of you,” Padron said. ‘He said, ‘Dad, I want to coach in college.” So the Padrons took up coaching over in Seguin. When he arrived in January, the team was decimated. After the fall 2009 semester, only 50 players remained. Miller said this turnover wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. ‘Some of the players we had in the program were not good fits for the university, both on and off the field,’ Miller said. ‘He had to completely change the mindset of some of the players that were already here; he had to develop an expectation of winning.’ So the coaches took to recruiting. These coaches were so accustomed to the recruiting aspect from the other direction that they had to make adjustments now that they were the ones trying to get players to come to them. ‘We didn’t get our feet back on the ground until the summer,’ Padron said. ‘We were learning on the run. We worked our heads off. We were working six, seven days a week and did a great job all over the state of Texas. ‘We relied on a lot of our friendships. We know a lot of high school coaches. They were able to trust us, and we got good boys. Not the best ones, but it’s a start.’ The coaches were able to recruit about 90 freshmen, and of the top 44 out on the field, 36 of them are fresh out of high school. The coaches and administrators are excited about the quick start to the season, but they recognize the rest of the road won’t be smooth. Upcoming games include conference matchups against No. 10 Hardin-Simmons on Oct. 23 and No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor on Nov. 13 to end the regular season. Regardless of how the season ends, Padron is satisfied with the change he’s already seen in his short time in Seguin. The community is getting there. From one person to the next. Padron was the start. ‘It’s about teaching them how to be a good person — that’s the reason why I coach,’ Padron said. ‘It’s not just about winning football games, it’s about making the people we work with better.’ [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on October 13, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img

first_img Comments The 0-10 Texas Lutheran football team needed a community. And it was going to take some prodding. That is how bad the situation got in Seguin, Texas. Danny Padron is the solution to the problem. Padron, a man who was already the head of a different community: the O’Connor High School (Texas) Panthers. Texas Lutheran went back to school, back to the roots and back to the community for the Texas football connections it needed. And through five games, it has worked. The community is there. And it is because the leader is there. ‘Coach Padron and his coaches did the right things across campus — they’re vocal about a student athlete’s success academically,’ TLU Athletic Director Bill Miller said. ‘They made themselves visible across campus. ‘They’ve become part of the community.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text And in the process of becoming part of that community, he has brought Division III Texas Lutheran back to its long forgotten traditional Texas football roots. Currently, Texas Lutheran sits at 3-2 on the season. On Sept. 18, TLU snapped a 14-game losing streak with a win in the second game of the season against East Texas Baptist. But for the school, it is less about the record and more about the change in philosophy. ‘What we were doing before wasn’t working,’ Miller said. ‘As a result, this new coach has come in and increased the level of discipline in the program.’ At different points in TLU’s football history, that sense of community wasn’t there. After it was a powerhouse in the mid 1970s in the NAIA, the football team sunk into submission. The Bulldogs weren’t in a conference at the time, making scheduling in-state opponents nearly impossible. So the sport was dropped after the 1987 season. In 1998, after a change in dynamic for small colleges in Texas, the team joined the American Southwest Conference and started to rebuild what was once a strong program. Naturally, it had problems along the way. But that 2009 season was the tipping point for the school. A change was needed. Enter Padron. Padron, a long-time high school football coach, had all the connections, including perhaps the most important one in Miller. Miller and Padron coached together at Judson High School in Converse, Texas, for six years in the 1980s, and Miller had followed Padron’s progress as head coach, even after he left to work at Texas Lutheran. In a state as big as Texas, and with a sport as popular as football, Miller knew the talent was out there. And he knew Padron could reach it. But Miller also knew Padron wasn’t going to be an easy recruit himself. Texas high school football is a big deal, and Miller knew Padron was happy at O’Connor High School. And TLU does not even have a football stadium. ‘Our facilities,’ Miller said, ‘probably aren’t as good as where he was at.’ Padron himself wasn’t sure if he wanted to make the switch, either. The team was playing well, and he had the opportunity to coach with his son, a math teacher at the school. He was next in line for athletic director at the high school and kept turning down offers from schools to coach elsewhere. But his old friend Miller came to him with a strong appeal. Padron met with the then-Texas Lutheran president Ann Svennungsen and was impressed with the pitch she had. ‘She had a great vision,’ Padron said. ‘I said, ‘Well, I could at least go through the process.” What sold Padron was that he could surround himself with the coaching staff he wanted. When he began to think harder about the decision, he started phoning in some friends and getting their take on the situation. One by one, those friends were sold, and his would-be coaching staff came together. However, one thing was holding Padron back. His son, Andy, had just joined the O’Connor staff. And Padron didn’t want to lose the opportunity to coach with him. But he didn’t want to force his son to coach at the college level if he wasn’t ready. After all, Andy had just graduated in 2007 from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where he started at quarterback for championship teams. ‘He was one of the reasons I didn’t want to leave. I told him, ‘I’m not going to go because of you,” Padron said. ‘He said, ‘Dad, I want to coach in college.” So the Padrons took up coaching over in Seguin. When he arrived in January, the team was decimated. After the fall 2009 semester, only 50 players remained. Miller said this turnover wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. ‘Some of the players we had in the program were not good fits for the university, both on and off the field,’ Miller said. ‘He had to completely change the mindset of some of the players that were already here; he had to develop an expectation of winning.’ So the coaches took to recruiting. These coaches were so accustomed to the recruiting aspect from the other direction that they had to make adjustments now that they were the ones trying to get players to come to them. ‘We didn’t get our feet back on the ground until the summer,’ Padron said. ‘We were learning on the run. We worked our heads off. We were working six, seven days a week and did a great job all over the state of Texas. ‘We relied on a lot of our friendships. We know a lot of high school coaches. They were able to trust us, and we got good boys. Not the best ones, but it’s a start.’ The coaches were able to recruit about 90 freshmen, and of the top 44 out on the field, 36 of them are fresh out of high school. The coaches and administrators are excited about the quick start to the season, but they recognize the rest of the road won’t be smooth. Upcoming games include conference matchups against No. 10 Hardin-Simmons on Oct. 23 and No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor on Nov. 13 to end the regular season. Regardless of how the season ends, Padron is satisfied with the change he’s already seen in his short time in Seguin. The community is getting there. From one person to the next. Padron was the start. ‘It’s about teaching them how to be a good person — that’s the reason why I coach,’ Padron said. ‘It’s not just about winning football games, it’s about making the people we work with better.’ [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on October 13, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img

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