The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

Hunger to W.I.N.

Football head coach Alex Bettag changes team culture with his leadership
Darcy Leber
Offensive linemen Craig Reed and Dylan Jarvis line up before the play begins. They went on to block the defensive linemen.

W.I.N. Every day, every huddle, every moment of practice. This acronym drives the SHS Cards football team.

Since the end of last year’s season, the team has incorporated this acronym, which stands for “what’s important now,” into everything they do, and this new mantra is a physical representation of the culture shift that the football team has undergone under head coach Alex Bettag.

His coaching philosophy of building up players as people and students first has not come without struggles, but his belief in what will come has kept him going.

“(Bettag) knows and sees more potential than you’ll ever see in yourself,” senior and team captain Bryce Calvert said. “When he sees that and is looking for that day in and day out, it just brings the best out of you.”

For Bettag, seeing potential in his players goes beyond football, and his number one goal is to turn players into productive young men.

Despite pressure to win games, Bettag has remained grounded and not altered his priorities, keeping the future of the players at the forefront of his coaching.

“Nobody wants to win more than me …,” Bettag said. “But we’re never going to sacrifice our morals for winning.”

Tight end Uriah Steerman and offensive lineman Manny Castillo-Vazquez jog across the field at the scrimmage against Decatur on Aug. 11. This action marked the end of the play. (Darcy Leber)

Before Bettag became head football coach in early 2021, the team had no academic policy for players beyond IHSAA guidelines, which allowed failing students to play in games during the first quarter of the school year as long as they had passed their classes the previous year.

This didn’t sit well with Bettag, who believes that his players are students before athletes and should be doing well in the classroom before they are allowed to play on Friday night.

“I don’t care how good of a football player you are,” Bettag said. “If you don’t meet the academic expectations, you are not going to play.”

To provide support for this new policy, the team has mandatory study tables after school twice each week during which players are expected to do schoolwork.

Evident by the team grades, Bettag’s new policy has had an immense impact on the academic standings of players. During the most recent grade check on Aug. 16 there were only five total F’s among all 71 sophomore through senior players.

The culture shift goes far beyond academics, though, extending to turning his players into respectful and responsible people in all areas of life.

Wide receiver Braylon Koenig blocks a Decatur corner during a run play. The team ran plays throughout the scrimmage. (Darcy Leber)

And this kind of team, one that values academics and morals so highly, is “very easy for teachers to cheer for,” according to math teacher Jason Adler.

Bettag is not only concerned with players’ academics and interpersonal relationships, so his intentional coaching style carries over to the football field.

Since he has done an immense amount of background work, Bettag believes that this year, he has a team full of committed young men who are primed to learn and soak up all of his advice.

“It’s more productive work when you’ve got kids who are bought in, who understand, who are good kids and want to do the right thing and they understand that their coaches have their backs,” Bettag said.

According to Calvert, this readiness to learn has changed practices immensely. This year, practices are more intentional, and players’ attitudes have shifted from having to go to practice to being able to practice.

“This year, … it’s just uplifting to be there with everybody,” Calvert said. “Everybody wants to be there. Everybody’s getting better every day.”

They deserve to win, they’ve earned it.”

— Head coach Alex Bettag

Bettag believes that the team’s hunger to improve and commitment to the W.I.N. motto will lead to a win this season.

“Support these guys, they work their butts off … ,” Bettag said. “They deserve to win, they’ve earned it. We think it’s going to happen this year. We really believe it, (and) the players believe it.”

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About the Contributor
Lucy Hiller, Sports Reporter
Howdy! My name is Lucy Hiller, and I’m a senior this year (whoop whoop), so I’m savoring every last second I get at SHS. For my third year on The Journal, I’m back as a Sports Writer. I spent last year as the Sports Editor, and while it was a truly incredible experience, I really missed getting to write and share peoples’ stories with the world. Outside of The Journal, I’m on the cross country, swimming and track teams at SHS, and I just got a job at Fleet Feet, so if you ever need running shoes, come find me. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, reading and cooking (go check out @lucys.yums on Instagram). I also love spending time outdoors, especially on hikes with my family (and of course, Benny, my dog). One thing I’m really excited about this year is getting to help elementary students at Homecfort produce their own mini version of The Journal because it’s so rewarding to see their excitement when they finally hold the paper in their hands. I hope I haven’t distracted you from our content for too long already, but you should totally get back to reading all of the articles that has to offer.

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