JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — A month has passed since Marble Falls Independent School District athletic director and head football coach Matt Green took over the Mustangs program.
During that time, he has started Mustang Conditioning, a summer strength-and-conditioning course, hired four coaches and is getting to know all of his athletes.
At least 60 athletes from the seventh grade and older have been attending Mustang Conditioning.
“I think word will continue to spread,” Green said. “Getting the program started is nothing new. With the way things unfolded, ultimately, you’ll find greater progress will be a year from now.”
Green said his athletes putting forth a lot of effort.
“There’s also a desire to improve, to change the overall program,” he said. “I don’t think they completely understand what it takes to change it. They’re embracing what they’re being told.”
That includes adding yoga stretches for flexibility, mat drills at Mustang Stadium, jumping exercises using hurdles and strength drills such as pushing single sleds.
“This is an opportunity for kids to work hard and be put in adverse situations and overcome it,” the athletic director said. “It doesn’t matter how talented you are or how little talent you possess.”
Green said he wants coaches who will push the athletes beyond what they think they can do. And it’s not enough, he said, for them to lift weights and run. That makes them tougher. He wants to challenge the Mustangs mentally as well.
“Our minds will shut down before our bodies will,” he said. “We’re getting them tougher. … We’re impressing on the kids we’re not going to improve you skill-wise. Our goal is to make you a better athlete, make you stronger, faster. And make them mentally sharper.”
Because of the low numbers of high school female athletes attending the conditioning program, Green asked them if they would work out with the boys. Originally, one gender was going to work out on the field, while the other was in the weight room.
But after the first day, the Lady Mustangs went to Green and told him how much fun they had working out with their classmates and asked if it would OK to keep them all together.
“They came in all smiles,” he said. “As our numbers grow, we might not be able to do that. The girls are probably outworking the boys. That doesn’t shock me. We have a chance to improve as a whole. You have to start somewhere. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I think they’ll tell you they’re getting a great workout.”
Because he still needs to hire as many as nine coaches, Green had to postpone Mustang Football Camp for incoming first- through seventh-graders until after he has a full staff.
“We don’t have the coaches,” he said. “You have to have supervision.”
Campers will learn the different positions and participate in drill work, he said. They’ll learn to punt, pass and kick. Camp champs will be crowned with children divided into teams by age group and playing flag football contests against each other. Awards also will be given for a variety of skills.
“Everybody gets to throw; everybody gets to catch,” Green said. “They all get to do fun stuff.”
The conditioning program and the football camp both serve as a chance for Green to get to know the Mustangs and build relationships with them.
“They don’t know whether to trust you,” he said. “One of the things I try to pride myself on is you have to build relationships with kids. If you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter what you do with your schemes.”