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Coach Bruich Returns to Fohi

On August 10, 2011, legendary football coach Dick Bruich returned to his old home field. “The Fontana High School Athletic Department is refocusing its athletes on becoming well-rounded individuals and active members of the Fohi Athletic Family,” said Amanda Bentley, the school’s Athletic Director. Coach B. spoke to all the athletes during their 6th period athletics class to inspire them to achieve both athletically and academically.

“The biggest problem that we have is that some of our best athletes aren’t eligible or don’t stay eligible to play,” said Coach B. That’s why this year, Fohi is placing an emphasis on students becoming not only an outstanding athlete, but also a scholar and on building a community among all athletes.

Kicking off the year with Coach B. was inspiring for the student athletes and the staff, alike. His legendary status took root at Fohi when he started at the school back in 1974, first as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, before becoming head coach in 1977. “When we started in 1974, Fohi had never won anything,” said Coach B. “That was 20 straight years of not qualifying for the play-offs.” During his 22 years at the school, the team won the 1987 National Championship, two state championships, two CIF championships, one CIF runner-up, four CIF semi-final appearances, twelve Citrus Belt League titles, and twenty-two consecutive playoff berths.  And that is just his record at Fohi; his record at Kaiser High School is equally impressive. When someone with stellar credentials like Coach B. speaks, everyone listens.

Foremost, he has always tried to motivate his student athletes to be the best person they could be and to be successful in the classroom. “It is all on you – study skills, learning, attendance. Every one of your teachers wants you to be successful,” said Coach B. “But you have to do your part.”

One of the factors that has the biggest impact on a student’s grades, he said, is attendance. “If you aren’t there, you can’t learn.” And while you are there in the classroom, he advises, pay attention and ask questions.

Coach B. cited Dennis Green, former head coach of Stanford University's football team, for his “S.L.A.N.T.” technique:

S Sit. Sit in the front row of the classroom. “When you sit in the back of the class, there are too many distractions between you and the teacher,” said Coach B. “And sit up straight – your body language tells your teacher a lot of things about you.”

L Listen. “All of you are hearing me but not all of you are listening to what I am saying,” said Coach B. “Some of you are talking to your buddy or you’re texting on your phone.” So, when you are in class, listen to what your teacher is trying to teach you.

A Ask questions. If you have a question, chances are five other people will have the same question but are too embarrassed to ask. Said Coach B., “You can’t get answers if you don’t ask questions.”

N Note taking. Good note taking is an important skill. “I always told the guys I coached with, if you don’t have a written plan, then you don’t have a plan,” said Coach B. When you write something down you will be more likely to remember it. Keep it simple and don’t get too wordy. Keep your notes organized - be sure to date them and keep them in a binder.

T Think.  "Work smart, not hard," said Coach B.  "If you think about it before you do it, it will be easier."

He also stressed the importance of developing a solid study schedule. "Athletes are really busy – with practice, games, and after-school jobs," said Coach B.  "That’s why you need to have a schedule. Somewhere in there you need to write down that instead of watching Monday Night Football you are going to study. Leave time for fun but schedule time to study. Take your phone and give it to your mom. You can’t have distractions. Turn off the computer – you can’t be on FaceBook while you are studying. Eliminate distractions."

“Coach Bruich is helping us to lay a strong foundation for a successful year,” said Ms. Bentley. An essential component for that success is the new Athletic Tutoring Program. Student athletes will be required to participate in at least two days a week of tutoring/homework time during their 6th period athletics class. “We are emphasizing the ‘scholar’ in our scholar athletes,” said Principal Lisa Romero.

“Coming back here to speak to the athletes is one of the highlights of my life,” said Coach B., his voice even more gravely than usual as he choked back his emotions. “I will be following your success.”

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Fontana High School - 9453 Citrus Avenue - Fontana, California 92335 - (909) 357-5500