The Difficult of Coaching Football at a Small Enrollment School

by Marc Narducci | Mar 5, 2021
The Difficult of Coaching Football at a Small Enrollment School
James McGuirl loved coaching football at Lindenwold and he had to have plenty of enthusiasm to coach at a school where depth was always a concern.
Through most of his tenure, Lindenwold was a Group 1 school but this year the Lions competed in Group 2 in football. 
For McGuirl the biggest challenge was fielding a team. 
He said this past season the Lions had 19 players in the entire program. With that as a backdrop, it wasn’t surprising that Lindenwold went 0-8. 
Lack of depth isn’t just a problem at the smaller enrollment schools, but it was more pronounced at a place such as Lindenwold. 
Recently McGuirl and Lindenwold had a “mutual parting.”
McGuirl, who was an assistant for eight seasons before taking over as the head coach for seven years, has nothing but good thoughts toward the school and the program. 
He will continue coaching track and teaching health and physical education at Lindenwold. 
“We had a talk and had different views going forward, so it was decided that we go a different route,” McGuirl said. “We still have a good relationship.”
Coaching any sport at a small enrollment school is difficult, especially football, which relies on depth more than likely any other sport. 
Not only weren’t there enough players to have a JV program, but the team couldn’t even scrimmage 11 on 11. 
Despite the losing, he says those who participated experienced great benefits of being part of the team.
“We try to be as positive as we can and teach life lessons of playing with a team, being part of something together,” he said. “This year was tough, not just with the numbers but dealing with COVID.”
Even in a small school with limited numbers, prospects can surface and that is the case with Lindenwold senor Josh Salter. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Salter wants to play college where his best position appears to be wide receiver. 
He was a receiver at Lindenwold but injuries to quarterback forced him to play that position. 
“He had to play quarterback most of the year due to injuries which took him away from what he did best, but we tailored the offense to him to take advantage of his athletic ability,” McGuirl said. 
According to McGuirl, a number of Division III schools have inquired about Salter. 
That is what coaching is all about, to be able to help a young person try to get to the next level if he so desires. 
McGuirl has enjoyed a long association with the sport. A 2001 graduate of Overbrook, he was a starting guard his junior and senor seasons for the Rams. 
He said he hopes to continue coaching in football. 
McGuirl says he has great admiration for the youngsters who stuck it out and competed.
“They were a great group of kids,” he said. “They worked so hard and they had a lot stacked against them.”

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Working with dedicated youngsters like that is why even though there was an absent of wins, he derived great satisfaction from coaching and why he is looking to stay in the game. 
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Author: Marc Narducci


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