Dominion Coach Mike Dougherty was attending a baseball clinic late last spring when his mind drifted to his football team. He was half-listening to the speaker -- who was talking about building teams with character -- but was mostly focused on his own program.
Dougherty promptly started jotting down words he thought were important for his players to understand: loyalty, respect, integrity, adversity, discipline, effort, execution, trust, intensity, consequences, leadership and desire.
"I probably came up with 30 words right on the spot," Dougherty said. "Then a few weeks later I picked it back up and added more."
The end result was a one-page worksheet for his football players that showed the 50 words superimposed over the Titans football logo Dougherty found most essential to his program. Each player was given one word to define and was asked to do so in his own words.
"These are the things we want our program to be about," Dougherty said. "Of course we want to win. But we're also trying to teach these kids to be servants of the community and men with character."
So now, whether the players are at practice, weightlifting sessions or even at lunch, they are accountable for their word.
They must know it and be able to define it at the behest of Dougherty or any of the assistant coaches.
"Son," Dougherty yelled at one afternoon practice, grabbing the attention of senior nose guard Minh Nguyen as players jogged toward the sideline for a water break. "What's your word?"
His answer was "leadership," which Nguyen then defined as: "The ability to inspire and lead others by your example, especially through times of adversity."
Another time, when senior lineman James Dorn was interrupted during a pre-practice weightlifting workout, he quickly answered with his word: "self-advocacy."
"What's it mean?" Dougherty said.
"Having the will to stand up for yourself, for your rights," Dorn replied.
The next player Dougherty asked responded that his word was "fun."
"Ah," Dougherty said, laughing. "You got the easy one. Tell me: Are you having fun?"
It seems the answer for all of the players is yes.
"I thought it was a great idea," said senior running back Tony Armenteros, whose word is "job," because "it not only elaborates on how deep football is, but it also carries over off the field as well. . . . These words actually detail characteristics of life and how we should carry ourselves.
"And one thing's for sure, we won't forget them."
Loudoun County at Dominion
Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m.
The Titans' first home AA Dulles District contest starts their third season of district play and renews its quest to win their first district game.
This Year's Schedule
DateOpponentTimeSept. 2at George Mason7:30Sept. 9Louisa County7:30Sept. 16Millbrook7:30Sept. 30at Wakefield7:30Oct. 7King George7:30Oct. 14Loudoun County7:30Oct. 21at Park View7:30Oct. 28Heritage*7:30Nov. 4at Broad Run7:30Nov. 11at Potomac Falls7:30*homecoming
Last Year's Results
DateOpponentResultSept. 3BattlefieldW, 34-0Sept. 10Hyde LeadershipW, 36-0Sept. 20RappahannockW, 24-16Oct. 1at Loudoun CountyL, 33-7Oct. 8Park ViewL, 48-12Oct. 15Potomac FallsL, 31-6Oct. 23at Loudoun ValleyL, 43-6Oct. 29Broad RunL, 42-8Nov. 5 at Stone BridgeL, 25-0Nov. 15HeritageL, 28-19