This Saturday, the Drake football team’s 2010 season will come to a close at home against Butler. The team’s successes have been celebrated, and tough losses have been acknowledged and learned from. Players have been recognized for their individual achievements, along with the achievements of the team as a whole, as a football family. But who is behind this football family? Who pushes the team, takes charge and, in a way, is the father to this football family?
In his third season at Drake, Head Coach Chris Creighton takes on that responsibility. Creighton has had a successful career with the Bulldogs, with an overall record of 20-12. Creighton’s love for the game, passion for coaching and tight bond with the Drake football program all contribute to the continued success of the Bulldogs.
TD: Why do you like being a head coach? What do you personally get from it?
Coach Creighton: I really enjoy helping a team become a true family. I love seeing individuals on a team believe in something before it happens and watching it become reality.
TD: What is the best part of coaching?
CC: The best part would be the relationships you build with people. It’s a lifelong relationship. Seeing guys grow as men, as players, seeing guys believe in things they didn’t believe possible, that’s a great part of it.
TD: What is the hardest part of coaching?
CC: The hardest thing would be seeing guys get injured and sometimes not playing again. It’s a tough thing. It’s hard to see guys not be able to travel with the team when the guys put so much into it. That’s a hard thing about coaching. Making personal decisions is also very difficult. Who’s going to play, how much and where? It’s hard because you know how much the guys have invested and how much it means to them.
TD: What is your overall goal as head coach?
CC: I have a vision, I have a philosophy and then you get into goals. My overall vision is to make playing football at Drake one of the best experiences of a person’s life. Goals are multifaceted and everything comes from that vision.
TD: What has been your biggest accomplishment as a coach at Drake?
CC: I’d say keeping the guys who were here before I got here, recruiting the guys, the young guys that are here now, just all little things. I don’t know if it’s an accomplishment, but I feel fortunate to have the staff we have. I’m really glad the upperclassmen are still here, and I feel good about our staff and the guys we’ve had the opportunity to recruit.
TD: How do you motivate your team?
CC: The way I motivate the team is to recruit motivated people. When guys are already motivated to do their best, say ‘Go, fight, win,’ then you’re ready to go. But when you have unmotivated people, it’s difficult to motivate the team. You have to surround yourself with motivated people.
TD: How important is winning to you?
CC: Very, but it’s not the most important thing. I don’t focus on winning as much as becoming our absolute best, and winning is a by-product of that. When we play 11 days out of the year, on those 11 days part of being your best is knowing how to find a way to win. I’m very competitive by nature. Winning is a lot of fun. But I can also say that my self-worth is not dependant on winning.
TD: What makes a good football player in your point of view?
CC: A good football player has natural talent, passion to be the best, ability to put the team before himself and has the ability to make his teammates around him better.
TD: What do you think makes a good team?
CC: There are so many things that have to come together to be a good team. You have to truly be a team. You have to have a group of guys that put the team in front of themselves, which is difficult to do. There has to be year-round effort and multiple years of intense commitment. You have to be committed and sacrifice throughout the year to be a good team. You have to block well on offense, tackle well on defense and not turn the ball over.
TD: What is your opinion on this season in terms of the team and how they’ve played?
CC: I think we’re a very tight group and from the very get-go we have played together, worked together, practiced together. The team has a tight brotherhood.
TD: What would you have changed about this season?
CC: We’ve lost four games to teams whose combined record is 33-6. We really could’ve won three out of those four games. We were so close. I would’ve liked to win those close ones.
TD: With this season coming to a close, what are your goals for next season or in the future?
CC: You always strive to get better. We were five points away from beating Jacksonville at Jacksonville, and literally one second away from beating Dayton at Dayton, so we were really close. The guys know there’s another level we need to get to and we can get to it. Finding a way to work harder and commit more in the offseason will be key. Our trip to Africa will be good for bonding and building relationships, and I think that’ll be good for next season.
Photo: Drake University Athletics