In late January, Rickey Foggie was named head coach of Red Wing football. In the three months since his introduction, Foggie has been focusing on his other responsibility, that is, running the school’s winter and spring strength and conditioning programs.
The former University of Minnesota quarterback, who spent 16 years as a professional between the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League, is settling into his new gig after three years roaming the sideline as head coach of Park Center.
“It’s been good,” Foggie said of his first three months. “When I first took over early in the winter time, we probably were averaging 30-35 kids. Now, with the spring sports, we got a lot of kids playing baseball, running track, a couple kids playing golf and tennis. And that’s good to see, for these kids to be playing multiple sports. So we’re down in numbers now, probably around 8-10 kids. But our other kids are active in other sports.
“I’m having a really good time,” Foggie continued. “I like the kids that come in and work hard. We’ve got some kids that come in the morning and work out. Everything’s been positive so far.”
With so many football players taking part in other sports – something Foggie eagerly supports – the time in the weight room has dropped. But that’s fine by the new coach.
“They try to get one or two lifts in a week because we want them to concentrate on that sport that they’re in right now. So, I’m not making anything mandatory for those kids to lift,” Foggie said. “But they’re coming in on their own time and getting some lifting in. Once school is out, I’ll start my summer strength and conditioning program along with speed and agility. I’m getting ready for that, I’m really excited for that, to get those kids out there over the summertime, if (summer) ever happens.”
Balancing his duties with trying to reshape a program that has won once over the past two seasons, and has a 10-46 record since 2008, has been tough. But Foggie had a similar experience at Park Center, and it’s something he’s comfortable with.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s something I’m accustomed to. You just have to have a plan,” Foggie said. “What we’ll do, right before school is out, I’ll have a meeting with the parents and the players and let them know what kind of program I have set up over the summer, and make sure the parents know to keep the kids involved because it’s going to be one of the things that I noticed when I first got here, I’ve got to get these kids stronger and in better shape. I want to play at a fast pace. And that will all come over the summer. And if a kid’s not dedicated to do that, then they’ll have a tough time in the fall. I’m looking to get these kids out and get them going.”
And once the time comes that Foggie can get his team on grass, the hard work will continue. Even the uniforms will be familiar. Everything else? That will change.
“It’ll be easy for me. I’m the new guy,” Foggie said. “It’s just come in and change the attitude. I’m a hard-working guy, and I expect the kids to do the same thing, to work hard. But it’s just getting them in shape. When I was up at Park Center in Brooklyn Park, that was the least of my worries because I had a lot of athletes, but I didn’t have a lot of big guys. Down here, I have bigger guys, so I have to get them in better shape so we can play fast. That’s the main thing, changing the program a little bit, changing the attitude.
“The offensive scheme will be different, for sure, and also defensively,” Foggie added. “But first it starts in the weight room, getting the kids stronger. Then getting on the football field and getting quicker and faster.”
What the offense will look like could be different each year, depending on what the Wingers have in the pipeline.
“The main thing is to see what you’ve got,” Foggie said. “When I was at Park Center, I was fortunate in my three years up there to have pretty good quarterbacks at that time. But I also had some studs at running back. So we ran the ball 60 to 70 percent of the time. I just have to see what we’ve got. If I can train a guy to get the ball downfield, I know I have a couple receivers coming back who are pretty good size and that can play. We just have to assess the talent over the summer, and I’ll adjust my offense from there.”
What talent will Foggie have? He’s not entirely certain. With a change in the coaching staff, there could be some attrition. But Foggie hasn’t heard anything of the sort.
“The only things I’ve heard have been positive,” Foggie said. “It’s hard to say right not with the multiple sports going on. That’s why the summer will be critical. I want to get all the kids together as quick as possible and let them know what our mission is, let them know what our plan is. We’re coming down here to win football games. That’s going to be our main goal. It’s work, and that’s what I’m cutout for. And, hopefully, that’s what the kids are cut out for.”
With a coaching staff in place, and at least one year of scheduling figured out thanks to a move to the Big Nine Conference, Foggie can look ahead, if only for a moment.
“The thing you have to do is set a plan in place for your program. We’ll let the scheduling take care of itself. We feel that, right now, this year, with the kids we have returning this year, is that we can really compete in the Big Nine Conference,” Foggie said. “We’ve got a long-term goal, and we’ve got a short-term goal. In the short term, we want to start winning.”