The first week of high school football is now in the books. You can mark your calendar every year – 99 percent of the first games will be played in extreme heat.

With or without a heat issue and following a year of hard work, the coaching staffs and players are discovering the characters of their teams.

Over the past three weeks we have asked area high school football coaches to make guest appearances on our radio show to discuss expectations for their 2013 squads. Coaches and activities directors from a variety of programs, small to large and state champions to developing programs. The discussions centered around the steps to building a successful program and how.

We spent a lot of time talking about how you build a program and how if you have a great program, you are able to stay on top. There is obviously no magic formula for success. And no one has an answer to how a program can be converted from a losing one to a winning one.

Talent is always a factor, but an intangible factor is commitment. When lame excuses are given, such as “We don’t have any parent support,” or “We never have had any success at this school,” a red flag goes up. An excuse to justify failure is not acceptable.

With or without a high level of talent, most athletes can be challenged and coached into making success a priority in the football program. Leaders do not look for excuses. Rather they search every angle to improve and set goals.

A pamphlet titled “Turning Around Athletic Programs,” written by Bruce E. Brown, is an excellent resource for coaches and ADs. Bruce was a guest speaker for the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association state convention when I was president of that group. His informational pamphlet offers options for turning around a program. His focus is for everyone connected to the team to understand the stages and challenges of changing a culture within a team. He broke the process down into five basic stages:

1. Getting started stage: Have a vision and make a decision.

2. Getting together: Build a solid foundation and develop your inner circle.

3. Commit stage: Are you in or out?

4. Getting tested: Let the games begin (competition).

5. Championship stage: Teams and programs of significance.

He explains these stages in depth. What I like most about his philosophy is that it can work for programs trying to improve and for programs already successful and trying to stay on top.

At one time I felt that turning a football program around involved being at the right place at the right time. I now realize that it is more about a total community involvement. It has to have a vested interest by all involved with pay day at Friday night games.

Championship teams just don’t happen. It takes an attitude and understanding. The program evolves through a commitment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is not a part-time job. It is a full time way of life.

A lot of coaches talk the talk, but it is important to follow through and also walk the walk. The outcome is based on a steady philosophy and plan to reach team goals.

Once a school experiences success, the excitement will spread like a wildfire throughout the school and community. Everyone will want to become a part of the Friday night ritual that we call high school football.

n Kansas City high school football programs are the best in the state. All the teams are setting the bar high. They all work hard and are committed to the program year round. The greatest way to improve is to compete with the best. A mixture of success and challenge should make up the chemistry of every high school football team.

n The Chiefs have a plan now, but it is going take a little time for them to find out who is in and who is out. The only way to figure this out is to play.

n It has been a much better baseball season for the Royals. They are learning about themselves and learning that it is not all about potential. It is about being consistent day in and day out throughout the entire season.

n My quote this week is from the great Vince Lombardi: “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work and civilization work.” (This is so very, very true.)

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at