When you think of football coaches, images of in-your-face Mike Ditka or cerebral Bill Belichick come to mind. We spotlight a football coach who first molds better young men, who happen to also be very good football players.
Brian Badke was a student athlete at Brother Rice High School in Chicago (class of 1982), played baseball and football at University of St. Francis, coached a 2011 national championship team football team at Saint Xavier University, and now has his dream job as Brother Rice head football coach and major gift officer.
Not surprisingly, Badke is a terrific coach, and was awarded Chicago Bears Coach of the Week honors during the 2015 season.
“I played for great coaches and teachers and I want to share what I’ve learned with my athletes at Brother Rice,” Badke said.
The great coaches that influenced him included his grandfather (basketball coach at St. Rita HS) and father (head football coach at Fenwick HS). He played football at Brother Rice under Hall of Fame Coach Tom Mitchell, and at University of St. Francis under legendary coach Gordie Gillespie. Badke also had a successful career as a baseball player.
Since graduating college, Badke has spent most of his career with a toe in the coaching waters. He also has fundraising responsibilities at Brother Rice; fundraising is a critical component of operating a private school, and Brian’s early career years in sales no doubt is an asset.
Despite the time commitments of coaching and fundraising, Badke manages to make family a priority. He and his wife Amy are raising their four grade school-age children (Mickey, Bridget, Lizzie and Jack) in their community near Brother Rice.
Mentoring high school athletes
Badke says that today’s teens are very stressed – by school, by peers, by society, and the pressures of academics and college prep. He views his job in part to teach self-sufficiency and accountability, and the difference between right and wrong. In a sport that rewards blocking and tackling, Badke emphasizes to his players that they represent their families, school, and team. While not every player will be a leader, he hopes they all learn leadership skills and develop work ethics. He preaches that “it is easy to be average, but really hard to excel”. When I asked him how much buy-in he gets on this messaging, he says 95%, an achievement most parents of teens would regard with awe.
He starts early to “know his players”. As freshmen, each provides bios to the coaching staff to gain familiarity, and they also are required to set social and spiritual goals. Badke tells parents that their sons will be bigger, faster, and stronger, and injury prevention is part of his DNA. His goal is to build confident young men, and judging by his track record it seems like a good bet.
Training and nutrition
Training is of course a critical component of Badke’s routine. He shared nutrition plans that included hydration and meal plans. Performance is influenced by practicing healthy habits including getting sufficient sleep.
The sample meal plans range from 3,000 – 5,000 calories; this quantity is not a problem during the season, but off-season habits are important to maintain – strength training and grades are strongly emphasized during the off season.
Hydration for football players custom water bottles
Badke preaches drinking water early and often, starting with 16 ounces in the morning and then at least 16 ounces before, during and after practice. He has a hydration formula (body weight/2) +20% = number of ounces to drink per day. He noted that electrolytes and minerals are very important to replenish, and suggested sources including bananas, dried apricots, sweet potatoes, nuts and spinach. Urine color can be tracked to identify adequate hydration (clear to pale yellow), or dehydration (dark, apple juice color).