Offensive coach Matthew Ricks calls a play for the Dolphins during a 7-8 year old division game in the Murfreesboro Football League. Photo courtesy of Jim Davis/Murfreesboro Parks & Rec
Where Matthew Ricks finds time to eat and sleep during football season is a question for inquiring minds.
The Siegel High School junior is a part of the Stars football special team unit so, his weekday afternoons are filled with either practice or a game. Now add in his assistant coaching duties with the Dolphins, a 7-8 year old tackle division team in the Murfreesboro Football League, and more football time is added to the clock. They practice twice a week and play games on Saturday mornings.
Even more time is added to this football addict’s week when he is parked in front of the television Saturday afternoons and Sundays watching NCAA and NFL games, or even a high school game if one his being broadcast.
“You can say that I am a football junkie,” said Ricks. “If football could be played every day that would be OK with me. It is a great sport. It is different than any other sport.
“In football, it comes down to you and the player in front of you. I am a competitive person, and football brings out the competitive part of me.”
Ricks became involved in the MFL when his younger brother was playing in the league.
He came to one of Andrew’s practices, started to help out where needed and the head coach liked what he saw.
“What I saw in Matthew was that the kids could relate to him because he is closer to their age, and since they know he plays high school football, they seem to connect with him,” said head coach Doug Hawley of the Dolphins. “I see a role model in Matthew and the players respond to him. Matthew is a very important part of the this team.”
In the 7-8 year old division of the MFL where Ricks coaches the offense for the Dolphins, the league has a rule that allows one coach on the field during the game. One for the defense coach and one for the offense.
“At this age teaching them the basics of the game is very important. Laying down a football foundation, that team work is part of the game and that each player has a job to do at their position,” said Ricks, who says he enjoys being on the field calling the plays and watching it unfold in front of him. “We try to teach them to be skilled and efficient in their position.
“I come from a program at Siegel that has taught me a lot, and I try to pass that on to the players.”
Ricks says that being an assistant coach at this level has given him an insight on what his coaches are expecting from the players at the high school level. He has always seen the field as a player , but now that he is a coach, it has allowed him to see the game from a different perspective. A much deeper appreciation in what a coach is trying to do and what a player on the field is trying to accomplish.
“I can see me coming back and coaching as long as the league will let me,” said Ricks “Even if my little brother doesn’t ever play again, I want to stay involved. I see the game much different now that I am coaching.
“I want to be out there for the kids. They need coaches that have their best interest in mind, and that is what I believe I have.”
Ricks played in the 11-13 year division of the MFL before moving on to play high school football and being part of the Siegel Stars for the last three years.
“I just love to be out there on the football field and teaching these young athletics how to play the game, and hopefully teach them to love the game as I do,” Ricks said.