Q-and-A: Catching up with Ridgefield interim football coach Chris Abrams
RIDGEFIELD — Chris Abrams stepped into the job as Ridgefield’s head coach with just two weeks until fall camp after four-year coach Kim Ulman was fired.
The Columbian caught up with Abrams after his first appearance as Ridgefield head coach, the inaugural midnight practice, which he brought back in an effort to drum up excitement within the program.
The Columbian: How do you feel like the midnight practice went?
Chris Abrams: It was a lot of fun. I’ve always been pretty enthusiastic and they’re a good group of boys. Hopefully we’ll get everything we can out of them this year. They sure gave a lot of positive feedback, which I appreciate as a coach.
Columbian: With the change in the program in recent weeks, did that make a practice like tonight, meant to drum up excitement, more important to you?
CA: Yeah. When I was talking to the A.D. and going through the process they kept saying culture change, shift in momentum. I really like Kim (Ulman) and he was very supportive through the whole process, but we just thought, hey, we’ll try something to bring some new energy to the program. This is the first step. We have a lot of ideas coaches have come up with that we’re going to try to implement. That was the idea.
Columbian: When you look at the roster, who stands out from a leadership perspective?
CA: Brock (Harrison)’s just a given, because he’s been on the varsity football field since he was a freshman. He has a lot of time on the field, all the boys look up to him for that. We have four senior linemen that will play a significant role, have great attitudes and they’re great friends, so I think they’ll relate really well. I think they kind of embrace that no-name type of roll, like, ‘we do the dirty work,’ while others get the attention. Calvin Staker, Makani Schultz, Cole Anderson and Simon Berkey. Good guys, really good guys.
Columbian: Is you first order of business as coach coming in and touching base with leaders?
CA: Yeah. I think those leaders were established, though, because of their personalities and being seniors. It was kind of giving them an opportunity to take lead, and we did a lot of asking them what they would like to see. Also this is a good group of coaches. When we met the first time, immediately they were like, given the situation let’s make the most of it. Then they started to embrace the expectations that the A.D. had placed on us. The coaches have really stepped up. They’ve done a really good job.
Columbian: That must be encouraging.
CA: Yeah, it was nice. I think anyone would feel a little uneasy at first, but they’ve all been very supportive and enthusiastic about getting things going.
Columbian: This is your first head coaching job. But you were an assistant at Star Valley High School (Wyoming). Quite a powerhouse, right?
CA: Lately they’ve done really well. Won two state championship and lost in the semis last year. I got to coach with some outstanding head coaches in Chris Howell and McKay Young. They both really did a great job with the culture, so I just tried to embrace some of the ideas. [Midnight practice] is something they’ve done before but I just stole it and put it into action.
Columbian: You’re implementing a new offense?
CA: An offense I felt like I could coach. I helped out with the receivers last year with the wing-T. I’d played against the wing-T and it’s a very effective offense, I just didn’t feel like I could teach it very effectively. A lot of timing-based type of approach. Coach Ulman always called a good game out of the wing-T. I just didn’t feel comfortable that I could do that. I just went back to some of the things I’m more comfortable with so I could teach it appropriately.
Columbian: Do you mind elaborating on what folks should expect to see out of the offense?
CA: No, I don’t want to talk much about it just because nobody knows what’s coming and I would prefer to wait until we have at least an opportunity to figure it out ourselves. We’re trying to build around our key players and things we feel like will be our strengths. Strength is probably the line, so I guess that would probably indicate we hope to take advantage of that strength and make the most of it.