The Gonzaga Eagles start their week with film and team meetings to review the previous weekend’s game. Before they break into smaller groups, running backs coach Conrad Singh, a 2000 Gonzaga graduate, walks to the podium at the front of the room. Singh calls out the score of last week’s game and awards the offense three stickers. A sticker for the win, a sticker for more than 35 points and one for more than 150 rushing yards.
The defensive awards follow. For each collective goal, every player on the field receives a sticker. For every win, every player dressed on the sideline receives a sticker.
Each week there is a lone individual award — the “Big Hit of the Week” sticker. The rest are earned as part of the team. “We’re on the field together and everybody’s got to do their job for us to have success,” Singh said.
Many football teams across the region use helmet stickers as a way to recognize the achievements of its players, passing them out for a variety of reasons, both on and off the field. Gonzaga had not had a sticker program until this year. “It was plain purple helmets and that was it,” said Singh, who himself was once a captain on the team. After he graduated, Singh played for Hampden-Sydney College, a team that used stickers and saw it as a great motivator.
This year he wanted to bring the tradition to his alma mater. He found a company online and had the school’s signature “G” printed on 1,500 circular stickers. Each player from last year’s team would start with eight stickers on their helmets, representing last season’s wins, the most since 2002. “That way, a senior wouldn’t have a clean helmet just like a freshman would,” Singh said.
Before the start of the season the captains were approached with the idea. “I thought it was a great idea,” said senior captain Paris Person, 17. “It would motivate the kids on the team to try to do their best to earn the stickers. Especially after last year and the run we had.”
During the meeting last week, the defense tried to claim a sticker for not allowing any points. “There were seven points on the board,” said a coach from off to the side, laughter rising from the seats “The offense needs to apologize to the defense,” shouts someone over the din. “No sticker,” adds Singh. “We’re a team.”
On the way to their next meeting, players stopped by the podium. Singh told the defense to grab only one, and the rest he would get to them by the end of the week. He had already gone through the initial order of 1,500. “We’ve ran out already because we’ve reached so many goals this far into the season,” said Singh. “We’re going to get 750 more and hopefully we use those up by the time we’re finished in November.”
“Let’s keep focused on earning the next one,” Singh said before passing out the stickers. “We’ve got five more to go. That one for the win is really what it’s all about.”