“Energetic.” “Determined.” “Enthusiastic.” These were the words used by the FM football
players used to describe their new coach. Damien Rhodes, 29, is ready to lead the team this year.
There is no question that Rhodes is qualified for the job. An FM graduate (2001), he knows the school. While playing for FM, he lead FM to a Class AA sectional title and the state semifinals in the fall of 2001. He then played for Syracuse University (2002-05) and spent the next two years with the NFL’s Houston Texans and in NFL Europe. His NFL career ended when he suffered a severe concussion in 2007, but it opened the door for his coaching career. He is the youngest coach in Class AA.
Possibly Rhodes’ biggest advocate is former football coach Paul Muench. “He’s passionate, enthusiastic, and smart. He just brings a love of the game, high school football, and everything it entails. He knows the history of FM football and he knows there’s another level we can push towards. He is the right guy to do it.”
Changing coaches can be a very difficult adjustment, but the players say the transition was an easy one. “He was already an assistant coach before this year, so everyone looks up to him,” said Erik Robinson, wide receiver and rover. “It was easy because all the seniors know him already,” added Paddy Quinlan.
Rhodes expects 100% from his players every time they take the field. He teaches the 3 E’s, energy, enthusiasm, and effort. He expects his players to perform the full 48 minutes, and tells them to get their mind right. “He has certain quotes for each day,” said Dangelo Jones. “Theres Turnup Tuesday, Work it Wednesday. He expects everyone to do their job, basically play their position like they’re supposed to and keep everyone disciplined.”
Rhodes goal for the season? “To win sectionals and move to states,” said Robinson. “State Championship” said Kyle Andrake. “Our goal is to win the state championship,” said Jones. It’s obvious the team is setting their goals high and Rhodes is working hard to make this a reality. They said he really cares about winning, and he treats every game like its 0-0.
Although very competitive, Rhodes keeps a good relationship with his players. “He likes to treat you as a friend rather than a coach,” said Robinson. “Everyone on the team loves him,” added Jones. He treats everyone like they’re his.” “He has a good heart,” said Quinlan. “He’s the man.”