Drastic measures had to be taken, so Witt shutdown practice and took his players into study hall. It’s a move that not only improved the Raiders’ test scores, but it also might have turned them into one of the best teams to play at the school in some time.
It was there hours working on homework together that Witt said the team started to become a family.
“They were honest with their teammates and said I am terrible at math or I am terrible at English. I need help,” Witt said. “Being vulnerable like that is very hard.”
Now each practice starts with 30 minutes of studying first. The players have been tutoring each other in study groups. Even the team’s stat girl, Witt said, comes in from time to time to work with some of the boys. And this season, the Fs have turned into C’s.
But the improvement hasn’t just been in the classroom for the Raiders. It’s shown up on the field, too. The Raiders won the Wildcat Cup in December to give Witt his first triumph in the 14 years that he has been coming to the tournament. And the Raiders have also been ranked in the top 10 in the OC Register and CIF-SS Division 2 poll. They also advanced to the semifinals of the So Cal Classic and have only given up eight goals in 14 games.
“I will do anything to help them because I believe you have to be a student first. I live it,” Witt said. “We have a really good preseason training program that we run. We abandoned it all. If they weren’t eligible they, couldn’t play anyhow, so from day one we concentrated on grades. Now we are OK.”