Tom Goddard, Clarence high school football head coach, who led the Red Devils to the Section 6 Class AA title this fall, has been named the Buffalo Bills High School Football Coach of the Year for 2010.
Goddard recently announced that he will retire from teaching and coaching at the end of the school year after a 38-year career.
"Thirty-eight years is a long time," Goddard said. "I still enjoy working with young men and seeing the results of a lot of work. The kids are just great."
Clarence finished 10-1 this season and beat the Orchard Park Quakers in Ralph Wilson Stadium when Stephen Hughes kicked a 37-yard field goal on the last play of the game. The Devils lost a 42-34 shootout to Section 5's Rush-Henrietta in the Far West Regional game.
"Our kids never quit," Goddard said. "We were down 21-0 and came back and we were down 35-14 at the half and made it a ball game. These kids just refused to quit."
Goddard said that this, his last season, may have been his most enjoyable.
"The way the kids came together as a team from Day 1 was awesome," he said. "They enjoyed being together in practice and on the sidelines. It was fun and enjoyable for all of us."
Goddard started coaching in 1972 when he landed an assistant varsity job at Pembroke High School. In 1980 he was hired as the head coach at Cheektowaga Central and stayed there until 1985.
In 1986 Goddard was hired as a Physical Education teacher at Clarence, his alma mater. He was an assistant on the Red Devils staff until 1993, when he was hired as the head coach.
Over the past 18 seasons, Goddard led his team to Ralph Wilson Stadium four times, winning two Section 6 titles. He will leave the sidelines with a career record of 115-98.
Goddard instituted a year-round training program for the Clarence football team.
"I work for the kids year-round now," Goddard said. "It was illegal until they lifted the ban on off-season training about 10 years ago. If our kids were working out on a football field and I showed up, our team could be disqualified from playing that season."
Most coaches encouraged off-season work but were not allowed to have any formal contact with their players.
"We all had captain's practices," Goddard said. "The kids would practice and then come and talk to us afterward but we were not allowed to oversee anything."
As a Physical Education teacher at Clarence, Goddard was instrumental in developing a new curriculum for 9th grade students called, "Fit For Life."
"It isn't just gym class anymore," Goddard said. "We don't just exercise but the kids learn the how, what and why for being healthy. It's a course on how to be healthy emotionally, socially and mentally. We do in-depth learning about making good decisions and consequences for your actions."
Goddard developed the class over several years.
"It's a 10-week course for every freshman at Clarence," he said. "It was a process that took several years. I kept adding and modifying it each year."
When the ban was lifted on off-season football work, Goddard threw himself into making his football players better. He incorporated Dr. Greg Shepard's, "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" program into the Red Devils weight-training work.
"I really like the philosophy of Be An 11," he said. "On a scale of 1 to 10, everybody wants to be a 10. Why not try and be an 11? It's a neat concept. I liked it so much that I incorporated that into our Fit For Life course."
One of Goddard's most important traditions at Clarence is the "handshake" at the beginning of the year.
"I have every kid shake my hand and shake a teammate's hand," he said. "They have to look me in the eye and look a teammate in the eye and promise that they will not break any of the training regulations. A promise is more than a piece of paper."
Goddard reminds his players of their promise after every game.
"I'm not naive enough to think that every kid follows the rules every year," he said, "but we really placed an importance on the players' promise and their handshake. My father taught me that a handshake was a contract. I just hope that I was able to influence a few young men in the same way."
Goddard has also had his players focus on the community outside of the locker room.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Goddard cancelled practice and had his team work all day loading supplies onto semi-trucks that were bound for the devastated area.
Goddard's daughter, Erin, was an accomplished athlete at Clarence. She earned a cross country and track scholarship to the University at Albany and graduated in four years, despite playing three sports in college. Erin is now a Middle School Math teacher at Frontier High School. She coached cross country and track until the birth of her son.
"That's my first grandchild," Goddard said. "He celebrated his first birthday in December."
Goddard says that he will leave teaching and coaching satisfied with his career.
"I guess I was just an average football coach who worked as hard as he could to make his players better," he said. "Hopefully I made a difference for a few kids along the way."
This is the 14th consecutive year of the Buffalo Bills High School Football Coach of the Week program. Each week during the 11-week high school football season, a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills selects a head football coach as the High School Football Coach of the Week.
The honorees received an official certificate from the commissioner of the NFL, plus a Bills Coach of the Week cap and a $1,000 donation to the school's football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation. Recognition of the winning coaches was shown on the Buffalo Bills official website (www.buffalobills.com).
As the High School Football Coach of the Year, Coach Goddard received an additional $1,000 donation to the Clarence football program.
The Buffalo Bills congratulate all of the 2010 Coach of the Week winners for all that they do for the youth in our community, and especially wish Coach Goddard well in his retirement.
2010 Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 1 – Rich Harris (Kenmore West Blue Devils)
Week 2 – Tom Goddard (Clarence Red Devils) – COACH OF THE YEARWeek 3 – Ed Wilson (McKinley Macks)
Week 4 – Brandon Harris (Canisius Crusaders)
Week 5 – Dennis Gilbert (St. Joe's Marauders)
Week 6 – Jay Sirianni (Southwestern Trojans)
Week 7 – Pat Slater (Randolph Cardinals)
Week 8 – Bruce Lakso (Lackawanna Steelers)
Week 9 – Dick Diminuco (Alden Bulldogs)
Week 10 – Bob Ball (Fredonia Hillbillies)
Week 11 – Angelo Sciandra (Cardinal O'Hara Hawks)