Brookwood head football coach Philip Jones launched his program’s new Golden Helmet Leadership group in January, and it paid dividends pretty quickly.
The character and leadership shown by the 12 members have impressed Jones, who cited a selfless act in April as one of his favorite memories so far.
“Completely unprovoked, it wasn’t for NHS (volunteer) hours, three of our senior linemen just got up on a Sunday morning and went down to Atlantic Station and walked with one of our managers in his autism walk, just because they’re great guys and they care about others,” Jones said of the trio — Sean Hill, Quincy Jenkins and Aidan Perkins. “When you’ve got guys like that leading the team, you’ve got a special group of guys.”
Jones started the Golden Helmet Leadership group with a simple notion — it allows him to lead the team’s leaders. He said the group’s members, which span all grades in the high school, have taken his lessons and done even more, strengthening the bond the players have with each other.
Ideally, the unity spills over into wins this season. More importantly, Jones said, they are learning lessons that carry well beyond football.
“We start with family and we try to live it,” Jones said. “We’re not perfect. (Our motto) F.A.M.I.L.Y is not just a cliché phrase for us. It’s where it starts. For us, it is Forget About Me, I Love You. That forget about me is humility and that I love you is loving others and lifting them up. We spent, not only with this leadership group, we have about two months, two and a half months of offseason workouts, speed development, OTAs, but every day for 10 minutes we would talk about who we are, what it means to be a Brookwood Bronco. What it means to be family. That’s what we spent a long time on, just the development of our leadership and our character and our ownership. The whole family thing, we talk about it all the time and it’s on a lot of hashtags and all that stuff, and we’re not perfect, but not just as a member of football team but in life what we’re called to be is somebody who exhibits humility and who lifts others up and loves others sacrificially.
“We’re trying to develop that spirit on our team in a culture that tells us the exact opposite, that tells us to be self serving. These guys are trying to teach them to lift others up. … That’s been a really cool thing they’ve taken and run with. It definitely applies to football. Winning games is fun. But there’s a much bigger, more important thing we’re trying to do here and that’s make a difference and try to leave an impact that hopefully they’ll take when they become grown men and how they handle their relationships with their wives and their co-workers and their friends and their children. That’s what’s most important.”
The players, both in the Golden Helmet group and others, have embraced the new plan. Derrick Heberling, the school’s new representative from the character-building organization NG3, has joined Jones as a big part of the Golden Helmet team.
“I was happy about (the new group),” Hill said. “I felt like last year we weren’t as player-led as I felt like we should have been. This year that’s a big difference, being player-led. Not to the point where we’re telling everybody what to do. We’re doing it ourselves. If you’re saying, ‘Grab a bag,’ like freshmen or sophomores or whatever, we’re going to grab a bag with them. We’re staying after to clean the locker room, too. It’s going to be everyone’s responsibility to do everything. It’s not just a younger kid thing or an older kid thing. It’s everybody’s responsibility to do everything.”
The Golden Helmet representatives are expected to set the example for their teammates, as well as being a trusted source for them. They try to lift their teammates up in any way possible, even if it means sending out an encouraging Tweet.
Each Golden Helmet member has a group of eight players they are responsible for — they help those teammates as needed with things like making sure they have a ride home.
The whole process has the Bronco coaching staff excited about where the program is headed.
“On paper, a lot of folks around the state aren’t going to look at our team and say this 5-star guy here and this 4-star guy here, or this guy’s going to this big school and that big school, but our team has excellent character and excellent leadership,” Jones said. “Right now we’re in a really good place where our guys really care about each other, really care about our collective success. They want to be good and they care. They want to uphold the Brookwood tradition. … I just love the collective character and the collective leadership of this group. I’ve been working with these leaders and the rest of the team has really drawn around that.”