The Royal Oak High School football program is eager to turn around its fortunes – and parents and administrators are ready to rally around them.
“I think we’re starting to come together as a team,” said junior Sam Simon at practice on Saturday. “There is not one person that stands out - it’s about teamwork.”
New head coach Ryan Irish, who served as the Ravens' offensive coordinator last year, was directing drills on Ravens Field this morning in the drizzling rain. Irish was hired in May to replace Jeff Hill, who had to step down from the position in January after just one year when he and his family learned their infant daughter Maleena had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“I think the new coach is fabulous,” said Terri Downs, mother of freshman Ryan Downs. “He makes the players believe in themselves.”
One particular thing that stands out for Downs is the fact that Irish is requiring the team carry out community service.
“He’s teaching them that the community is bigger than they are,” Downs said. The players have plans to visit patients at Beaumont Children’s Hospital, she said.
“They are learning they can be super heroes in the community,” Downs said. “He is building their confidence.”
Athletic Coordinator Pam Moore watched the practice from the sidelines Saturday. Moore noted she observed “constant teaching” on the field and that the team has “more size and numbers” this year.
“I am impressed with what I am seeing,” she said.