Twitter makes mark on coaching

Vardaman coach Larry Gann has embraced Twitter as a way to motivate his players. (File photo)

Vardaman coach Larry Gann has embraced Twitter as a way to motivate his players. (File photo)

By Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

Vardaman football coach Larry Gann wasn’t pleased with the Rams’ Sept. 4 practice.

“Really disappointed in the effort today; hard to get better without the effort to go full speed. Somebody needs to step up & lead!”

That via Gann’s Twitter account, @RLGann.

Gann is a coaching veteran. His first stint at Vardaman went from 1979-84. Phones weren’t smart, then. They simply hung on kitchen walls with dials and cords, only as mobile as their cord length.

Three decades later, though admittedly sometimes still wishing for projectors and VHS tape, the 61-year-old coach has embraced new ways. Gann is one of Mississippi’s best – and most open – coaches on Twitter.

“I primarily use it for motivational purposes,” Gann said. “I obviously am aware that a lot of people are seeing it, not just my players. I don’t do anything spur of the moment. I stop and make sure what I’m putting out there is going to have the impact I want.”

Some coaches have embraced Twitter as a means to communicate and motivate. Some have accounts to monitor what’s going on – trolling - but never tweet. Some have screen names that make it impossible to find them.

Former Itawamba CC softball coach Chad Case was asked one time about social media, only to reply, “No, I don’t have a SpaceBook.”

MySpace and Facebook are options as well, but Twitter has taken over in popularity. Even old-school Ripley coach Chad Cook may soon have to surrender.

“I’ll probably be on it before long. Look, I just got an iPhone three or four months ago. I still had the old flip,” Cook said. “I’m kind of old school. Like Facebook, I have no desire to be on that. Probably in a couple years, then everybody else won’t be on it. That’s kind of how I go.”

Gann estimates that half of his players are on Twitter and is tossing the idea of making it mandatory next season. There was no time for that this season. Gann arrived to a rebuilding job with little more than a month before season’s kick.

The Rams are 0-5, but Gann says they’re getting there. Until then, he’ll keep motivating on the field and via Twitter, consistently posting encouraging messages and quotes, but never shying away from speaking his feelings about how his team is doing or is not doing.

“I don’t put anything on there that I don’t tell them,” Gann said. “We had a poor practice that day. It’s sort of teaching them how to be accountable, but mainly to get their attention, try to keep them motivated to come back and rebound the next practice.”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com