Monday, December 17, 2012


Old Ric Flair Being Forced Out  
Randy Bethel was fired on Friday evening.  Thus, everyone on our coaching staff was let go at the same time.  Sebastian River High School (SRHS)  decided that they wanted to go in a different direction.  I guess we all have to face the facts at least once in our life.  I am going to do my best to keep this together, and I am going to try and paint a picture of what is happening in my life (and in my head) as I face the facts that I am no longer a Football Coach at SRHS.   
You know, it's funny.  I am not really sure why I kept this blog in the first place.  Truthfully, I never really intended to retire at the end of this season, although Coach Wilson, Coach Brown and I often made false promises that SRHS would miss us when we were not here next year.  In fact, in the opening statement of my blog, I stated that this could very possibly be my last year at SRHS.  I never really believed it would happen. 
Not Being Wanted Anymore is Hell
If this would have happened last year it would have been understandable.  If this would have happened two years ago, it would have been even more understandable.  We were struggling with a young team, and our win/loss record showed it.  People were not interested in our program any longer, and the empty stands were quite disheartening.  What were we doing wrong?  Why are we not getting the athletes out for football?  Why did I feel like hiding every time I walked into a Home Depot or Walmart?  Was I ashamed? Absolutely not, but I also got tired our answering the same question: "Whats wrong with the football team?" 
This year was different.  We knew we had a senior-loaded team coming back for this season.  We all felt like this was going to be our year.  The kids worked extremely hard during the off-season.  Our seniors were showing great leadership, and we had a great looking group of underclassmen.  YES!  This was it, and we knew it.  We knew the parameters we had to meet in order to keep our job:
A:  We MUST win the district
B:  We MUST get the community behind the program.
The season started off very badly for us.  We lost Coach Washington for the year.  We lost Coach Matthews for most of the season.  We lost Coach Jefferson for six weeks.  We lost Coach Wilson for three weeks.  We were operating on a skeleton coaching crew for most of the year.  All the Varsity coaches were stretched very thin....but we kept pushing forward.  We also lost at least five varsity starting players during the season due to injury or otherwise.....but we kept pushing forward.  Somehow we were going to get it done. We just knew this was our year.   
We dropped a couple of early games to much bigger schools than us.  Both Vero Beach and Ft. Pierce Central were state ranked, but we never quit fighting.  Then, we accomplished an amazing feat.  We ripped off seven straight victories to win the district for the first time in school's history.  We did exactly what we had to do.  People were excited for us.  People wanted to be part of our victory.  Our picture was taken and placed on a banner which hangs in the gym.  Our team was so proud.  Finally our job was safe.....I thought.   Then, our world came crashing down.  All of a sudden we were being pushed out into the street.  What the hell happened?  Didn't we just win the district?  I guess it was not good enough to survive the ax.  Our staff is extremely tight, so I am sure we are all going through the same thing. What is going to happen to Coach Bethel?  Where will all my friends coach next year?  The young guys will move on, but us older guys will probably never hit the field again. 

Who am I?  Why do I really care so deeply for my coaching colleagues?  Do I have a role in coaching anymore?  Who will want a 50 something year old coach who is set in his ways?  What happened to me?  I used to be such a good football coach, but I guess time has passed me by.  I guess I am still useful at fixing or building things for the team, and maybe I could still screw a facemask on a helmet or something.  Need something designed?  Coach George is your man, but he does not know shit about football (X's & O's) anymore.  Maybe I can still be the token old guy on a know the old guy who is always holding a clipboard? 

What about my players?  What will they think?  I wanted to hang around and see Mason and Zack finish up next year.  Did I quit on them?  No I did not!  I am fighting this mental battle in my head....I am having a hard time dealing with this.  I have NEVER been fired at anything.  Am I a loser?  How the hell did that happen?  One minute I want to cry, and the other minute I want to punch a hole in the wall.  I feel hurt and I feel betrayed. 

Here is the rub.  We worked our ass off this year to finish 8-3 to win the district title.....and we still lost our job.  Hell, I could have sat on my ass and did absolutely NOTHING to finish 0-10 (and still get fired.)  I wonder who is smarter?  

Who do I blame?  No one really.  Maybe I will blame society for placing so much emphasis on winning.  Yeah, lets blame society. When did winning become paramount over teaching the "Lessons in Life" that we have to teach every player coming through the system?  However, society loves a winner, so winning must be used to judge how successful a coach is to a community.  Its a shame really, because there are some awesome coaches looking for jobs right now. 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ending The Story

Hakeem Feeding Cooper (43 Draw) 

My Boy Zach Finnegan  Feeling Down

Nate Pryor Looking for Running lanes

Bookie Taylor Makes Another Tackle (Javonte King backing him up) 

SRHS Football Team Hits The Field

I guess most of you know we lost on Friday night 29-0.  I have spent most of the day pouting and recovering from the emotional ordeal last night.  I am trying to get my head cleared enough to write some complete sentences and perhaps write a decent final blog entry for this year.  I have borrowed a few photographs from the newspaper for some filler.  I hope you don't mind.  I was too wrapped up last night to take any decent shots. 

The game was a disaster for us.  I think we prepared the best we could, but we just did not match up with them very well.  We were much bigger for sure, and perhaps we were physically stronger, but the team speed of Palm Bay Heritage (PBH)  was amazing.  They were easily the fastest team we have seen this year....including Ft.Pierce Central.  At the HS level, a fast player will often beat a much bigger and stronger opponent, and this is what happened to us.   We had trouble blocking their defense, and we just could not move the ball very well.

We stayed pretty close during the first half.  Our defense was going toe to toe with their skilled offensive team, and the the game was tied 0-0 until late in the 2nd qtr when they returned a punt for a touchdown.  We had the man stopped on the 40 yard line, but somehow the runner broke through the tackles and went for 74 yards to score.  Then the rain started....not a hard rain, but a misty rain which got everything wet  (No excuse....they had rain on their sideline too. )  We went into halftime down 7-0. 

At halftime, we were not panicked at all.  We made some corrections which we thought would work. Unfortunately, they received the second half kickoff and marched the ball down the field in four plays to score.  I knew at that time we may be in trouble.  We are a big-time running team which thrives on long scoring drives.  Quick scoring is just not our thing.  We generally grind it out and eat the clock.  We made a QB change early in the 3rd qtr and it costs us dearly.  We had a dropped ball in the endzone which was recovered my PBH and punched in one play later.  We were done.  They added another score to make the final 29-0.  Our kids never stopped fighting, and we went out with our heads held high. 

Collecting the game uniforms was kind of a somber event.  Generally a few coaches sit in the JV locker room and separate the uniforms as the players bring them next door.  This is always kind of sad to me, because we know, and they know,  this may very well be the last time most of them will ever wear football equipment again.  Many of the Seniors will take their time and linger in the locker room trying to remember their experiences during the past four years.  I always see a few tears (from players and coaches) during this time.  Many of the players say: "Coach, it went by so fast!"   I always say the same thing....."I know it does son, I know."    This is just another 'Lesson In Life" which is taught year after year.  I have always told the players:  "You only play high school football for four years, but you spend the rest of your life remembering it."   I don't think many of the kids understand how quickly it goes by. 

I have not talked to a single coach all day long.  No texting, no phone calls, no anything.  I am sure everyone is trying to second guess themselves for their game-day or game-week decisions.  I am sure we are all beating ourself up today.  What could we have done differently?  Did we prepare our team correctly?  I went up to school today (as usual) to wash some laundry.  I was HOPING no one would be up there, because I did not want to discuss the game at all.  I am just emotionally and physically spent.  My daughter Kristin know whats I am going through.  She has not called (or texted me) all day long.  In fact, I just got a 'Tweet" from her saying "when can I expect radio silence to end?'  LOL.  Like I have said before, Kristin is the perfect coach's daughter. 

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you will know that I have questioned myself if this was indeed going to be my final year at Sebastian River High School.  I just don't know that answer right now.  Hell, I don't even know if I will be invited back next year.  Randy may want a younger coaching staff in place, I just don't know.  I will admit that it was a long walk off the field on Friday night.  As the light rain lapped at my rain jacket, I slowly carried my field gear back into the equipment room and I relived many of the memories I had over the past sixteen years.  At that moment, I just felt old.  Maybe with the rain, God was telling me to hang it up.  Do I have anything left to offer this team?  I just do not know. 

I am going to wrap this blog up with this entry.  I have enjoyed writing this blog more than you can imagine.  I originally started writing this blog for my own kids....more so for my son Mike who is stationed in Germany.  I thought he would get a kick out of reading about Me and and my adventures this football season since he was not here to see it.  Unfortunately, Mike did not (or could not) read much of the blog due to his situation. However, my daughter was a major fan, so I dedicate this entire blog to Kristin, Kelsey, Kirby, and Grice who all provided me with so much writing material.  In fact, Kristin would prompt me with so many of her own memories of me in my younger days....good and bad.  I also want to thank by boy Mason Wilborn who let me verbaly pick on him (with the Pussy and Honey Boo Boo) stuff most of the year.  If Ric Flair is reading this blog, a special thank-you goes out to him as well! 

I appreciate all of you who read my blog this season.  This blog as over 6000 hits and it has became one of the most popular blogs on both  and this year.  In fact, the popularity of this blog has opened up another door for me next season.  I hope that all my players have indeed learned some 'Lessons In Life' from me this year.  I am getting older, but the lessons are the same.....they always have been.  Whooooooooo!

Thanks Again!

"Coach" George Zaleuke 

Follow me on Twitter:  @CoachGeorgeSRHS

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pre Game Jitters

Kirby: Little Miss Innocent
Kirby and Grice Playing 
Grice getting ready for Grass Drills
Kelsey and Kirby
Just some random thoughts tonight.  I am so nervous about the playoff game that I can't concentrate and write a complete sentence. 
Thinking about my kids seems to relax me a little.  I love these babies more than life itself.
Had a GREAT week of practice.  Kids are ready to play.  It's funny.  It seems like the kids are really having fun right now, and we are practicing so loose.  Even Bethel is allowing the kids to have some fun. 
Brad DeMarco is ready to play.  Truthfully, I did not think he would be ready to go so soon.  Ankle injuries are a real bitch.  He followed the rehab instructions and recovered nicely.  Severe high ankle sprain to playing in less than 10 days.  Amazing. 
We are healthy going into the biggest game in SRHS's history.  Hakeem is on fire this week.  OJ is really focused and Cooper is feeling it right now.  Damn, I am getting sick again. 
I love our big linemen.  I try to tap the top of their helmets every single day. I am constantly letting them know I love them all, and I appreciate every single one of them.   We are not very deep, but we have a nice lineup. 
Our damn defense is fast....very fast.  Miller and Perry has those kids playing at the top of their game right now.  I hate scrimmaging against them to be honest.  They know our offense so well that it makes it hard to get a play off.  We need for them to have a great game.  I am their biggest fan on the sideline.  I don't say much to them (as far as corrections) but I am constantly conversing with them on the sideline.  I love these kids. 
My head is going to explode.  My ears are ringing.
We have a lot of people hanging around right now.  Where were these people when we were 0-2 to start the season?  I am hearing a lot of compliments in the public.  I guess we know what we are doing again. 
Field looks really good for our game. 
I can't look at anymore video on Heritage.  Now I am starting to get pissed at them. 
My mood is changing the closer we get to the game.  I am TIGHT TIGHT right now.  Even the Coaches know that I change for big games.  Perry, Joe and Jefferson say that they had better talk to me today, because I won't be talking to them tomorrow.  
Miller is just as bad as I am.  I have been texting with him tonight.  He is throwing up too.  We MUST be related in some way. 
Randy had a bad accident in front of the school today.  He was turning left into the school, and he was hit broadside by an arriving student. Thankfully no one was hurt. 
Hey, I have to end this session.  My head is spinning.  I can't concentrate.  Tomorrow is a big day for all of us.  See you at the game

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Kelsey Bug
Many years ago I realized that football was so much more than a sport.  It is our job as coaches to constantly teach the "Lessons in Life" that every young person needs to be successful in the game of life.  I have often stated (in this blog) that we have a huge job on our hands, and these little lessons in life are often ignored (or forgotten) until much later in a player's life.  A coach is never really sure if his lessons are actually getting through to a young person, but sometimes we are reminded, in the most innocent way, that indeed the kids are listening. 
Let me set this up a little.  When my granddaughter Kelsey came to Florida and visited with me over the summer, I signed her up for the Shark's Cheerleading Camp being offered over the summer.  This was a very special time for me because I was able to spend some quality one-on-one time with the love of my life.  Kelsey would hang with the cheerleaders while I worked with the players over the summer.  It was awesome. 
 I noticed that the cheerleaders (and the campers) would run a single lap on the track to get warmed up before the practice.  Of course, all of the little girls would wind up walking the lap, and I noticed that Kelsey was no different...she was actually walking with the other little girls while the regular cheerleaders were running ahead of them. I was running my regular laps around the track and I ran up on Kelsey (who was walking) behind the cheerleaders.  I jumped her little ass: "KELSEY, get your butt running and FINISH your lap.  We are ZALEUKES and that is NOT what we do!"  She took off like a rocket and ran the rest of her lap.  I sort of chuckled to myself and finished my own run. 
Lets fast forward to this past weekend.  Kristin (and the kids)  were watching the Atlanta Falcon's game on TV last weekend.  I guess there was a "Hail Mary" pass to the endzone that a receiver could have easily caught and scored....if he would have kept running.  This infuriated Kristin of course.  Then, Kelsey pops off:  "WE DON'T STOP! I AM 7 YEARS OLD AND EVEN I KNOW THAT!"  I love this story of course.  It just proved to me that indeed Kelsey was listening to my lesson in life.  It also taught me that we have to keep teaching these just never know who is listening to you. 
Randy Bethel is a great coach...much better than I realized.  It is interesting to watch him navigate these playoff waters which are not so familiar to this program.  He always has something to say which is appropriate to our situation.  He is demanding that we coaches keep our tempo up high this week, yet he is demonstrating complete calm and confidence at the same time.  I certainly get pissed off at Randy at times, and I often get aggravated with him, but make no mistake, this guy knows what he is doing.
Don't make plans to go away for Thanksgiving folks.  We will be practicing on Thursday morning. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

VICTORY! Moving On!

SRHS Senior Football Players: Special Group 
Little BIG Man: Zach Perkins 
Big Brad DeMarco (Baseball) 
Here are a few photographs I took with my cell phone on Friday night.  This was our last home (regular season) game, and it was actually SENIOR NIGHT as well.  Every senior football player (and their parents) were honored on this night.  It's funny, I always thought this class was special,  but some of these kids have surprised even me.  Brad DeMarco started out being soft as cotton, but this kid turned out to be a real beast, and I hope to watch him at the next level someday.  Zach Perkins is not going to over power anyone, but there is not a finer long snapper in all of Florida.  We depend on Zach for ANYTHING dealing with our kicking game, and we are really going to miss him.   Mr. AUTOMATIC on every snap.  Amazing.  As you can see from the above photograph, we have a very large senior class, so all these kids will be moving on.  It is always bitter sweet for me, because I remember each of these kids coming into our program.  However, we hope that the "Lessons In Life" we try to teach the kids will stay with them the rest of their lives.  This is when all coaches get paid.  If any of you guys have followed my blog for any length of time, you will completely understand this statement.  Coach Wilson was PAID IN FULL on Friday night.   
Last night I promised I would tell you more about the game.  Truthfully, we did not know much about East Ridge (ER) High School, for I think Randy picked up the game late in the scheduling process.  We had some video on them, so we prepared for them just like we would for any opponent.   ER arrived to our stadium very late as far as we were concerned.  I think they finally arrived at around 6PM....and we played at 7PM.  By then, Coach Miller and I were well into our usual pre-game for skill kids.  I greeted the other team with a nod as I usually do, and I noticed the opposing coach walking towards me near the center of the field.  He asked me if they could borrow a couple of balls to warm up with, for they had accidentally forgot to bring their footballs.  Of course, I obliged with a couple of our Spalding balls knowing full well Randy would not mind at all.  I was thinking to myself: "Bethel would FIRE me if I forgot our footballs")  We finished our warm-ups and everyone went inside as usual. 
Pre-Game Prayer.  Don't like it?  Tough! 
Randy surprised us all and asked Coach Wilson (DANK) to give the players their pre-game speech before taking the field.  This has never happened before.  Usually, this is a time for Randy (alone) to address the players before the game.  So, the rest of us coaches decided to crowd into our locker room to witness Dank address the team on this special night.  The room was deathly quiet as Dank began speaking.  He started out slowly and his voice quivered slightly as he spoke to the kids for the last time in his career.  The room was so full of emotion, for all of us were witnessing a life-changing event as the hall-of-famer was speaking.  Tears filled my eyes as Dank slowly explained that it was his time to move on, but he wanted to leave them with one last story.  (Dank told this story, and I will have it posted on You-Tube by the end of the week.)  After Dank finished speaking, I was ready to play myself. 
We began the game a little flat truthfully.  However, we quickly gained control and kicked the shit out of them.  Their players were a little mouthy, and baited our players into altercations all game long.  They had nothing to lose, and we had EVERYTHING to lose.  If a player was thrown out of a game Friday night, that would mean they were through for the rest of the season, and it almost happened......several times.  In fact, my boy Mason retaliated against one of their players, and had a flag thrown on him.  I jumped his ass pretty hard as he came off the sideline, because we cannot afford to lose ANYBODY from our already thin lineup.  Once he cooled down, I am sure he saw it my way.  I was glad when the final seconds ran off the clock, and we got off the field clean.
At halftime, we honored Dank at mid-field.  Mr Stutzke pre-recorded a long message in honor of Coach Wilson listing all of his accomplishments.  Dank was surrounded by all his family, current players and former players from both Sebastian and Vero Beach.  Stutzke presented Dank with a special plaque, and allowed him to speak to the crowd one last time.  When it was over, Dank led our players in one special chant for the crowd.  It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was so happy for him.  It must be a special feeling to have so many people love you like that. 
We have continued our preparation for Palm Bay Heritage.  They seem to have a lot of athletes at every position, and we have our hands full.  I will keep you filled in all week long. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Legend (WIN 45-27)

Tonight we said goodbye to Coach Wilson at halftime of our game against East  Ridge.  Everyone around here calls Coach Wilson "The Ranky Dank" so I will call him "Dank" while I am writing about him.  Like I said in an earlier posting, Dank has been coaching at the HS level for fifty years.  Behind my own Father and Grandfather,  Dank is probably the most influential man in my life.  I have learned so much about coaching and more importantly, "Lessons in Life" from this man.  Dank has touched the lives of countless young people in our area, and it would be impossible  to even begin listing all of his accomplishments.  Check out this link:
We won last night 45-27.  It was a great game for us, and we came out healthy heading into the playoffs.  My back-up QB Austin Hatch played the whole game, and he did a fantastic job. I was extremely proud of him.  I was also proud of Hakeem for being a leader on the sideline and helping me out all night long.  The entire team played very well, and we are ready to make a run in the playoffs. 
I have lots more to say about the game and our preparation for Palm Bay Heritage, but I wanted Dank to have the focus tonight.
Check the blog tomorrow night. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Please Come To Game!

Vince Lombardi
Tom Landry 
Bobby Bowden 
Don Shula 
Paul "Bear" Bryant
Adolph Rupp 
Quite a list isn't it?  All of these guys are legends in coaching, and I remember watching every one of them.  I often talk about Lombardi in these blogs, but I also grew up idolizing Adolph Rupp of the University of Kentucky Basketball.  I am sure everyone knows at least one of these coaches as well.  I do not have one of his pictures to post, but we have a living legend right here on our coaching staff.  Coach Bill Wilson will be honored at halftime of our game on Friday night.  I do not have enough time to list all of his accomplishments on this blog, but Coach Wilson has touched the lives of thousands of athletes over his fifty years of coaching at the high school level.  PLEASE come out and support Coach Wilson when we honor him at halftime.  Someday, our players will say: "I once played for Coach Wilson."  It is an honor. 
I am having trouble putting together a coherent sentence or paragraph right now.  My mind is really not on writing.  We are preparing for our last regular season game against East Ridge High School right now, and we are also preparing for our first round playoff game against Palm Bay Heritage as well.  The workload has doubled, and I have watched hours and hours of video. 
I am going to call it quits for tonight.  Hang with me for one more day.  We play tomorrow night, and I am sure I will be in a better frame of mind to write a little more with only one game to prepare for.  I appreciate you guys reading this blog.