When Jeremy Reed took over a winless Yukon program in 2016, he knew he would have to make changes to get the program back on track.
One change he made off the field is an event that kicks off each new season: a father-son retreat.
“We just wanted, in our program, to invest more in our kids,” said Reed, who has compiled a 10-10 record in two seasons at Yukon. “We want to do something with our seniors that honors them and lets them know how much we appreciate them for the time they put in to our program.”
Prior to fall practice, 25 seniors joined their dads and the Yukon coaching staff for a cell phone-free weekend of fun, games and conversation.
“It was outstanding,” said parent Jayson Asher. “They had a nice mix of team building exercises and plenty of free time to get to know some of the other players and parents, and most importantly, just spend some time with your son.”
“I observed fathers and sons reconnecting at a perfect time,” added parent Danny DeKinder. “This type of retreat establishes a very strong foundation, not only for football, but the child’s senior year.”
The highlight of the retreat is when seniors take turns praising their teammates and their dads.
“Each kid stands up and everyone in the circle talks to that kid with words of affirmation,” said Reed. “Once all the kids do that, we let the dad address their kid and that’s always a very impactful, emotional time. Then it ends with that kid who’s standing up getting to speak back to his dad.”
As you would imagine, the impact was enormous.
“To be able to take my dad to something like this, I’ll remember that for awhile,” said team captain Colton DeKinder. “We talked about things that were really emotional for us. Seeing everyone and their dad, the emotions were flowing, and honestly, it brought everyone closer to their dad and the whole team grew closer too.”
“It felt really cool to hear people say something positive about you,” admitted senior defensive end Dylan Asher. “Saying stuff to my dad and him saying stuff to me, I got kind of emotional.”
The event meant even more to the Asher family, who lost daughter Mackenzie to cancer in 2017.
“The bond you have between parent and child, unfortunately, we’ve seen that be broken,” said Jayson Asher. So building those strengths in anything we can do is really important to us.”
Yukon, which kicks off its season this week at Edmond North, is hopeful this retreat can springboard them to a successful season.
“It’s been my belief for a long time,” said Reed, “that it’s more about the relationships and ability to want to play for the guy next to you than to want to play for yourself. When you have a group of seniors that really embody and embrace that, it can make for a special locker room environment, which usually leads to success on the field.”
“Coach Reed is such a special person for our program,” said Colton DeKinder, who came to Yukon prior to his sophomore year. “He welcomed me into this program with open arms and he’s been close to me ever since and I really appreciate him being here.”
“I give the highest compliments to Coach Reed and his staff for putting this together,” added Danny DeKinder. “It’s not just football leadership, it’s community leadership, and a lot of people can learn from it.”
To catch Yukon live in action against Edmond North this week, tune in to Yurview on Cox Channel 3. This Ford Game of the Week will also be streaming live on Yurview.com.