As a first-year (and first time) head coach, Rutgers' Chris Ash has been tasked with changing the culture and outlook of the Scarlet Knight program and molding it into something that fits his vision that allows them to be successful.
Working under guys like Urban Meyer at Ohio State, and Bret Bielema at Arkansas provided Ash with some great guidance and ideas, and this off season he went out west and visited Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll to learn more about his unique approach. One thing that Carroll and Meyer have in common in the cornerstones of their program is that competition is a daily focus, and that is something that Ash believes in, and has since adopted.
But competing and having fun are two things that don't always go hand in hand, so finding a way to combine them for the players was a main focus.
While out visiting Carroll, Ash observed that every single meeting is started with a competition that infuses the meeting room with energy. The Seahawks even moved a basketball hoop into the team meeting room to accommodate this, and every one of their meetings now is started with a shoot off between two players. Ash took that idea and has also created another pre-meeting competition with his own stamp.
"For us, competition is the core of who we are and what we want to be, so we are installing competitive events throughout the course of a week. For example, this summer, we started an arm wrestling competition before team meetings. Players love it. They don't know who is going to get called out, but we call them out and a player has to come down in front of the group and they have to get ready to perform."
"Players love it. It has created a really energetic environment to start meetings."
Ash then goes on to talk about his trip out west to visit Carroll.
"We're trying to find opportunities that we can create competitive environments, but also have fun at what we're doing, and it shows us who has that competitive spirit, and who can get ready for that moment to go out and perform."