With the success of the newly revamped Vipers continuing to shock the Minor League Football community, many people have asked the one simple question of “how?”. How is it that a team that could be known more for it’s issues than it’s ability on the field, can go 8-0 to start the season off? How can an organization that couldn’t play together one year, turn around and come together to win even when the stakes were down? I decided the best people to answer those questions and more were the the members of the Viper’s organization itself. After a hard fought and down to the last second win over the Shockers, there was no better time than the present to let the players, coaches and the front office of the Viper’s speak for themselves.
Director of Football Operations Tom King:
Q: A lot of people hear in the media about the coaches and players when it comes to football, but hardly any one knows what the front office does. This having been said, what is your position with the Vipers and what does that usually entail?
Tom: I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Washington Athletics Association, which in turn elected me to the position of Director of Football Operations for the Clark County Vipers which it owns. My first task was to represent the Vipers in negotiations for final acceptance into the Oregon Football League, the Vancouver Vipers were on the last year of their probational period. We were accepted but with the Vipers history it was not unanimous. Next task was to enter into negotiations in the forming of the Pacific Football League. The PFL’s first meeting was November 7, 2010. At that meeting I was elected Chair of the Competition Committee. I wrote the letter of intent to the PFL to show our support in joining the new league.While all of this is going on I was still the Head Football Coach.
My next step was to find someone to take my place as coach. It would not be fair to the players for me to try and be both DFO and HC. I wanted to change the the Vipers into an organization that the community would eventually support. I had the New Head Coach right under my nose as Defensive Coordinator. Reggie White, I asked if he would take the position and he agreed. Next was line coach Wayne Rickert, then came Offensive Coordinator George Obryan. On average I spend 20 to 30 hours per week with some aspect of football.Away games are the easiest for me, some prep during the week with meetings on Thursdays.Home games are different. Starting with non-conference games (3) all being played for individual charities. Each game took approximately 40-50 hours of my time in setting up. Meetings with the charities, showing the stadiums to them, printing tickets for each, Helping Kevin Hill with getting the concessions inventory ready. Which might entail driving to a suppliers warehouse to pick up donated items.
Q: Coming into the season the goal was to do a complete revamp of the Viper’s organization, how do you feel this season has gone so far and what has changed.
Tom: As an organization when you make changes you start from the top. The ideals of the organization have to come from the top down and that is what we are trying to show the players. We have set standards the players, coaches and front office personnel must adhere to, if their actions take them out of the boundaries that have been set they will be removed from the team. No exceptions. Some former players did not want to meet the standards we set and are now playing on other teams.
Q: Who are some of the behind the scenes people who have helped make this organization what it is?
Tom: The Board of Directors of the Washington Athletics Association are key to what is happening, Kevin Hill is Treasurer and also does the concessions on game day. He also makes players responsible for the agreements they have made with both the new and old Viper organizations. Deb Martin is the person that does all the paperwork for the team, in regards to the players. She chose to resign last year, her values were higher than some members of the coaching staff. We asked her to come back this year and she did. Her standards are high and we as an organization are fortunate to have her. Tommy King is working hard to get suppliers to donate items for the concessions. Don Thomas is VP of Player Recruitment, find the player that is hidden in the masses.
Q: What the greatest moment so far this season for you?
Tom: When the team comes back from being behind in the score. No one is trying to make a scapegoat out of anyone, no finger pointing, they are positive and encourage each other
Q: What are some of the important activities and dates still to come for the Vipers?
Tom: Making the playoffs is something that we will try to do. With our 5-0 league record and 8-0 overall a player asked “this means we are in the playoffs?” My reply was if we loose the next 5 games we won’t be in the playoffs. Any team in the North Division is capable of beating us, that’s just a fact of life.
Q: What drives you to do all of this?
Tom: I have something in mind. You see, I’m starting to get old and when I die I want some big strong fellas to haul me around in my coffin. (so it doesn’t look funny). Did I mention that I am also an Hot Rod nut and I want to be buried with my Blown Big Block.
Head Coach Reggie White:
Q: So of course the first question I would have to start with is how do you feel this season is going?
Coach: the season is going better than i thought. I knew we had the talent in key positions, just coming together so fast is what surprised me.
Q: You were the defensive coach for the Vipers last year, what made you decide to make the move to the head coaching position? How have the Vipers changed since then?
Coach: The Clark County Vipers board members having trust in the way i coach the team when we had tryouts and just trusting in my ability to coach. The vipers have changed by being more positive toward each other and putting the team first.
Q: What was going through your head during the Shockers vs Vipers game when the Shockers began to battle back in the 4th quarter? What do you think contributed to being able to hold out the last few seconds for the win?
Coach: This was not the first time we had to stop a team in the 4th quarter to win. The preseason helped out a lot, all i could think was here we go again, hold on for the ride. Just knowing our defense has been there before in the 4th gave me confidence.
Q: What is the game still to come that you are looking forward to the most? Which do you think will be the most challenging for you as a coach?
Coach: Each game we play I look forward to just trying to play hard and win, but the game I look forward to is the Vipers playing for the PFL title. Most challenging is keeping everyone focused, on task, not looking ahead, and just taking it one game at a time.
Q: The Viper’s defense has been recognized several times as a really tough defense to play against, what do you think contributes to that?
Coach: Having all the guys on the same page when a play happens, having trust in the guy beside you, think positive, and if a mistake is made then not to get down each other.
Due to the length of the article, I have included the interviews with the players in part two. You can access it by clicking here. as always please feel free to email me questions of comments at [email protected] To check out more on the Vipers you can visit their Facebook page here.