Big Play Academy, based out of Houston, Texas is extremely fun to watch. They have so many diamonds in the rough on both 15U & 18U squads. Led by Head Coach Christopher Speed, BPA is looking to put everybody on notice. I recently caught up with Speed to discuss the background of the BPA organization, check it out.
First of all, good luck for the rest of the year. I want to know what made you want to coach & especially 7v7?
Coaching and mentoring has always been a passion of mine. When I was younger, I would use all of my school tablets to draw up football plays. It was also a way I learned each position and what their responsibilities are. 7v7 came out of necessity, to help student-athletes in my community develop their skill set without taking the extra pounding on the body, while giving the tools to help drive their recruiting and teaching the value of education.
I look around and see every team with a cool name, how did choosing Big Play Academy come about?
BIG PLAYS HAPPEN IN EVERY SPORT, IN THE WORK FORCE AND LIFE. One of the ways to be successful is to be prepared when the opportunity (big play) arises. Preparation meets opportunity = BIG PLAYS. hence, our club motto #AlwaysOnGo
Have you ever learned something from a player? If so, what was it?
I LEARNED FROM EVERY PLAYER I BEEN AROUND. ALOT OF KIDS IN MY ORGANIZATION, COME FROM LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS. THE PERSEVERANCE THESE STUDENT-ATHLETES SHOW, INSPIRES ME TO WANT TO DO MORE TO HELP THEM BE SUCCESSFUL AND CHASE THEIR GOALS. Survivors of the craft.
As a leader of young men, what’s something you teach that can stick with them in both football & life itself?
EVERY MOMENT I GET AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO THEM ABOUT PROFESSIONALISM. I HARP ON A LOT OF THINGS, BUT BEING PROFESSIONAL IN YOUR APPROACH AND EXERCISING DUE DILIGENCE WITH YOUR CRAFT, WILL TAKE YOU A LONG WAY. A close second would be CHARACTER.
What was the most memorable tournament BPA have been apart of & why?
Fast Houston Tournament in 2019, For one, because the competition was stiff. Secondly, it was a coming out party for the organization. The city got to see the development in the organization. The Aggieland Classic last year was nice also, due to being able to take the student athletes on campus and walk the facility. The memories created were priceless. I still laugh about a video we made as an organization, in the middle of Kyle field.
Explain what does BPA as an organization look for in young players when recruiting.
HONESTLY, I DON’T RECRUIT. I BEEN KNOWING OR TRAINING 80% THEM SINCE MIDDLE SCHOOL. A LOT OF THESE KIDS I PRACTICALLY HELP RAISE THEM, AND WE HAVE A 5+ YEAR RELATIONSHIP OUTSIDE OF FOOTBALL. IF YOU SERIOUS ABOUT GOING TO COLLEGE TO CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION AND USING FOOTBALL AS A PLATFORM TO DO SO, I’M WILLING TO GIVE YOU ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO GET THERE. MY RECRUITING TACTICS: AS LISTED: SHOW ME YOUR REPORT CARD? I CAN TELL BY YOUR GRADES IF YOU SERIOUS.
There’s noise about some HS coaches not being too fond of 7v7 for a few reasons. Go into detail on why 7v7 is educational for the players?
BEING ABLE TO GET GAME REPS AND CONTINUOUS DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT THE OFFSEASON IS A VALUABLE TOOL FOR STUDENT-ATHLETES. HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO DISPLAY YOUR TALENTS IN MULTIPLE STATES AND EVENTS, HELPS WITH THE EXPOSURE TO THE MASSES. LASTLY, EXPOSES KIDS TO THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS.
I see you drawing up the offense & Coach Carroll taking over defensive duties. How much of an asset has he been to BPA overall?
CARROLL HAS BEEN A TREMENDOUS ASSET. HE IS AN ADOPTED HOUSTONIAN, ORIGINALLY FROM CHICAGO. HE KEEP ME ORGANIZED, BECAUSE SOMETIMES, WITH SO MUCH GOING ON, THINGS CAN SLIP MY MIND, HE USUALLY THERE TO PICK UP WHERE I LEFT OFF. HE’S SUPER VALUABLE, I TRUST HIM, WHERE I CAN LEAVE THE ORGANIZATION IN HIS CONTROL, IF I EVER HAD TO STEP AWAY FOR VARIOUS REASONS. NOT ONLY IS HE WELL ORGANIZED, HE IS A GOOD COACH AND KNOWLEDGEABLE OF ALL ASPECTS OF THE PROCESS OF BEING RECRUITABLE AND MARKETABLE.
Name something that you would like to see more of & something that you want to see less of in 7v7 culture.
I LOVE THE CULTURE OF 7V7. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE CONTROL OF EMOTIONS, MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE REFEREES, ELIMINATE THE DIVISION & MORE DEVELOPMENT. FAR TOO OFTEN TEAMS DON’T PRACTICE AND JUST PLAY. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, QUIT CALLING US STREET AGENTS, HANDLERS, ALL THE DEROGATORY NAMES THAT SOME PEOPLE CALL US. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE MORE UNITY BETWEEN THE HIGH SCHOOL COACHES AND 7V7 ORGANIZATIONS.
Without giving up your game plan, how would you describe your coaching style?
A Players coach. I tailor everything to the athlete.We do have a system on OFFENSE AND DEFENSE THAT WE PRACTICE, BECAUSE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ATHLETE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WIN. OF COURSE, WE WANT TO WIN, BUT WE RATHER THE ATHLETES IN THE PROGRAM PROGRESSIVELY GET BETTER, SO HE IS PREPARED FOR HIS HIGH SCHOOL 11-MAN SEASON.
I hear this often, but expound on the importance of practicing.
PRACTICE IS IMPORTANT. NATURALLY, HOW DO AN ATHLETE PERFECT HIS CRAFT WITHOUT PRACTICING? HOW DO A TEAM BECOME COHESIVE IF THEY ARE NOT GRINDING WITH EACH OTHER? BROTHERHOOD, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS AND NETWORKING ALL HAPPEN AT PRACTICE. BIG PLAY ACADEMY IS BIG ON MENTORING. THERE IS NO WAY YOU CAN BUILD A MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BROTHER IF YOU’RE NEVER AROUND. DON’T GET ME WRONG, I HAVE LOST A LOT OF KIDS OUT OF THE ORGANIZATION, BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T WANT TO PRACTICE, JUST WANTED TO SHOW UP AND PLAY. NOT IN THIS ORGANIZATION. PUT YOUR WORK IN. GET REWARDED.
What is the ultimate goal & why should young athletes want to play for BPA?
WE HAVE A GOAL EVERY YEAR TO HELP ALL THE GRADUATING SENIORS INTO COLLEGE, IF THAT’S THEIR GOAL. IF NOT, WE USE OUR RESOURCES TO PLUG OUR ATHLETES INTO OTHER OPPORTUNITIES. THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS A DEGREE. DEGREE ME PLEASE. THEN COME GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY. WE WANT EDUCATED YOUNG MEN, WITH THE TOOLS AND RESOURCES TO BE SUCCESSFUL AS ADULTS – BEING PREPARED FOR LIFE AFTER SPORTS.
How do you want BPA to be viewed by other teams, players & parents?
DEVELOPING YOUNG MEN, the old adage “he has some bad weight, but he is a good person”.
Lastly, any upcoming events/tournaments?
OUR NEXT EVENT IS MARCH 13, 2021. KATY, TX. WE ARE ALSO HOSTING A 6-WEEK LEAGUE STARTING March 20.- Htown Showdown 7v7 League. FOR DETAILS CONTACT ME THROUGH DM.you can follow us on Instagram: @bigplayacademy Twitter: @bigplayacademy.