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Passion Project: Coaches' Calendar ~ Caliente

Many times when one of my favorite Catholic writers, Matthew Kelly, asks a question—I don't have an answer. However, when I read this treatise on joy, that inner dialogue between us was different. In his newsletter, he wrote

"What do you do just for the joy of it? When was the last time you did something just for the joy of it? It is one of the things I admire in people. Many of the people I admire do much of what they do just for the joy of it. There are things they do because they are obligated to, and things they do because they promised they would, and there are things they do simply because they are the right things to do. But they have more of these other things in their lives, more of the things they do just for the joy of it.”

Do you have an answer? Here's mine.

thanks Owen!
This summer I embarked on an interesting, fun and nonsensical journey. I did it for the joy of it. I was not seeking profit or fame. Honestly, my goal was to make an idea a reality and see where it would go. I started referring to it as my "passion project." That title allowed me to put my free time and probably too much of my attention to what you see before you: The 2023 season ¡Caliente! Coaches Calendar. Here is the story behind it, lessons I learned and why you should pursue your own passion project.

Graduation Day. Inside the sleeve of my black robe was the June 2023 issue of Sports Illustrated. Known as the "Special Sauce" edition, the Jets' star cornerback Sauce Gardner graces the cover. Unfamiliar with this athlete, and that nickname I asked my friend—a trusted colleague and coach, Owen—if he had heard of the Defensive Player of the Year. We looked inside. Apparently, I had a reaction to the photo of Sauce with the Jets' head coach, Robert Saleh. I smiled when I saw his photo as I know and respect Saleh as the former defensive coordinator for my San Francisco 49ers. Owen read my reaction much differently.

"Anne!" he said. "I saw you do a double take when you saw Saleh. What is he in your hot coaches calendar?"

"Hot coaches calendar?!" I replied. "Do they have those?" I did what any Gen X woman would do, puling out my phone, opening the Amazon app and typing in NFL Coaches' Calendar. Nothing. Knowing that calendars are a near relic for anyone after Gen X, I intensified my search. Nada.

"Owen. This is amazing. I love this idea." The spitballing began.

One of the MANY reasons that Hard Knocks was so much more enjoyable this year...
He suggested seasonal themes, for example Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs) dressed as Santa for December. Another coach recommended including an online version that links the image of the coach to their schedule. I settled in on a QR code for each feature; it takes you to that team's schedule. I thought it could be educational as well, offering a fun fact for each coach. Graduation day is also known as commencement. In that spirit, I put forth my own personal challenge to see if I could get this done.

The Process:
I began by getting the 16 AFC and 16 NFC Team names and the head coach of each squad. In that same excel file, I listed each of their birthdays (which is included on that day of the year: fun fact: Doug Pederson: Jacksonville Jaguars and Robert Saleh: New York Jets, share a birthday!—January 31. Zodiac signs have been excluded.

Following the information gathering, I did an image search for 32 of the more powerful men in this country. With five teams led by new coaches, it wasn't as easy as I anticipated to find the "right" photo of each team leader. I wanted them donning their teams colors, logo and gear. Most wear headphones (I sometimes wish I did as a teacher), many sport sunglasses (eye wear says so much about a person) and others had on baseball hats. Knowing that the photo was essential in driving votes, I wanted a picture that connects to my criteria. (see below).

Fraternity of Coaches
The Polling:
I found a program that supported the ability to vote for twelve choices—a number that has no Biblical reference. I needed one coach for each month of the year. The website Opinionstage.com proved to be a user friendly resource as both a digital creator and user. You can see the poll I created here.  

My goal was to get 100 women to weigh in on this crew. I did what I could to draw a national audience, knowing that we all have a regional bias (not entirely sure if I lived outside of the Bay Area if Kyle Shanahan would get so many votes...but, Go Niners! and surely that explains how Bill Belichick got one vote). 

While I was not surprised that Matt LaFleur:Green Bay Packers, got the most votes, I WAS that certain people didn't make the cut such as Kevin Stefanski: Cleveland Browns. Even men have told me he is handsome.

Coach Stefanski, sorry you didn't make the cut. 

If you haven't already heard of or used Canva, you will soon. This design program does so much, including make a calendar. I was able go from production to print in a timely fashion.

Not For Sale:
I did a fair amount of research to ascertain HOW I could make these available for sale. Eager to just get the project done, my goal was to create a work-around so that sales would cover the cost and all proceeds would go to a nonprofit that supports the development of female coaches. The road blocks were too many. For example, I consulted an Intellectual Property (IP) right lawyer. I found out that after Disney, no one is more protective of their name and image that the NFL. I would need to get licensing permission (which is QUITE costly) for the use of any logos and pictures of coaches. In an effort to avoid a "cease and desist" letter, I made my own and have simply given them to friends and one is on its way to each of the twelve profiles ;-) (Thank you, Donna for your support!)

My friend Anne Marie has a contact with the NFL so we will work among the proper channels and to determine what those 55 Park Avenue in New York think about all of this. Stay tuned. In short, doors will close but that doesn't mean the overall production can't happen in an appropriate way.

I tried explaining the calendar to Coach Vrabel...story that follows will not be put in writing

In Pursuit of Your Passion:
I would encourage anyone who wants to do something for the joy of it to make it happen. This idea, born at an unsuspecting time and place was fun to develop and create. I now can name all 32 head coaches in the league. Because of the fun facts included with each profile, I also know a little more about each person. On Thursday night, when the Lions took down the Chiefs, I couldn't help but say "I can't believe Dan Campbell didn't make the calendar."

With a passion project, some people will get it. Others won't. Regardless, it's been a fun process. One friend said "finally, a calendar that objectifies men." While was tongue and cheek, my goal was to share and show something different. In fact, the back of the calendar includes my manifesto. I believe it. I brought this to life. No one was cured along the way. No one was harmed either. Just a lot of joy and that is already spilling over to today: the advent of the 2023-2024 NFL season. Let's enjoy some football!
Thank you, Canva!

America is fascinated by coaches. We love them and we bemoan them. They are household names. One could argue Americans can know more NFL head coaches than United States’ Senators, let alone Congressmen and Congresswomen. 

What it takes to become a head coach speaks to our intrigue. Coaching is an art and a science. How one leads and why they do are worth discussion and easy to debate.

Many coaches are role models of professional and personal discipline. Yes, a good percentage of  NFL head coaches were former great athletes, while others came to the game because of their passion for it. Others have a strong desire to lead and a bottom line dictates they must do so. .They are talented, charismatic, dynamic and more. These are but a few reasons why we find NFL coaches so attractive. 

The purpose of this calendar is to showcase twelve NFL coaches who stand out. Yes, you will learn a little bit about their story as well as their birthdays and you will gain easy access to their team’s schedule. But, by hanging their photo on your wall, you will learn more about them on your own. Other people will react and respond. I can’t wait to hear about the conversations that follow. 

Who  you see in the printed project is the result of who over 100 female football fans find attractive.* The following criteria was used to guide their votes. 

Criteria in no particular order of importance:

  • Raw material (physical appearance)
  • Likability
  • Charisma
  • Talent (real or perceived)
  • Personal bias (it’s okay to support your own coach!)

Women were not required to know much about some of those metrics. The goal was to vote with what you can see and the results were determined from there.

I hope this calendar will only get you more excited for the 2023/2024 season and ready to support and cheer for the coaches you see here—including your own city’s! If legally copyrighted, all proceeds will go to an organization that supports the development of women in sports. 

Photo Credits
Sauce Gardner

source https://sportsandspirituality.blogspot.com/2023/09/passion-project-coaches-calendar.html


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