News: Football has arrived in full force on station
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - The telltale signs of July and August are becoming more apparent every day; steadily climbing temperatures, insects buzzing about and change of commands. One unfamiliar spring and summer sign station residents will soon hear and see is football pads and tackles.
Matthew C. Perry High School is slated to participate in its first full-tackle American football season this August. This will be the first time in eight years the school has participated in football.
The man leading the charge is Frank A. Macias, Matthew C. Perry High School head football coach, who is also the head baseball and wrestling coach, math teacher and former Army officer.
Macias, a Riverside, Calif. native, father of two and husband, brings a wealth of knowledge to the table as a football coach and math teacher.
“I’ve been teaching for 19 years,” said Macias. “I actually started coaching at 16 years old, believe it or not. I had a real knack for coaching.”
Macias found his love for coaching extended beyond sports involving a pigskin, hoop or wrestling mat.
“I’ve coached volleyball, soccer, basketball and softball,” said Macias.
The restructuring of many bases and station in Europe was the main reasons for Macias finding himself at Iwakuni’s doorstep.
“My first assignment was in Manheim, Germany,” said Macias. “They hired me as the head football coach and I was there for seven years before the school closed. They closed down our garrison as part of the reformation in Europe. That’s why I was transferred here.”
When he first arrived on station, he found a group of young men who were eager to try their mettle at full-contact football and not a variant, such as flag football. He also found an administration willing to help provide football to them and supportive parents.
“The administration was fantastic,” said Macias. “That was a huge help. They had already ordered all the equipment for football so a lot of things were already in place. We had a group of young men who were waiting for these types of sports. It’s a certain kind of kid who does wrestling, baseball and football. It tends to be the same kids.”
Without football, there was a void at M.C. Perry. There were many students who wished to try something other than the sports currently offered by the school.
“We had those particular kids who basically had nothing,” said Macias. “They weren’t soccer players, basketball players or cross-country runners. The way it was explained to me by the administration was that they were looking to fill a need they had for a group of our kids.”
Macias believes in winning but not at all cost and not at the expense of his student-athletes forgoing being students first and athletes second.
“I’m like any other coach,” said Macias. “It’s about winning, discipline and doing things the right way. That’s the only way I know how to coach. I always tell them student-athletes, student comes first.”
Though he is new to the base, Macias already has long-term goals in line for the football program, hoping to build the team into a respectable football program competitor.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that,” said Macias.
In order to do that, they will have to work small, building the foundation for the program with fundamentals and a genuine enthusiasm and understanding of the game.
“I realize Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Macias. “My goal is to build a solid foundation. It’s going to take time. The next two years we’re just going to be junior varsity, which is a good thing. We’re still the smallest school playing football in Department of Defense Education Activity Japan. The biggest thing is not the X’s and O’s part of the game but teaching the football mentality. No other sport requires you to condition your body in the offseason like football. That’s what we’re trying to preach now. It’s really hard to explain until they’ve been through seven weeks of getting broke up.”
With summer and the start of the new school year fast approaching, the long awaited return of football to the station may arrive with a sense of enthusiasm not seen in some time. One can hope those young people who don helmets and pads will learn fairness, safety and camaraderie through that little game known as football.