Head Coach Partridge at the middle school graduation ceremony
June 9, 2014
Imagine you worked for 20+ years building a reputation as one of the tops in your field. Just suppose your internal calendar was so driven by your career and the season that you know the time of year based on what you are doing. For example: every August you prepare for camp and welcome the young men who will represent your team and university back to campus. September the season begins, a season that you hope will take you into December and if you are really good, January. January and February is the time to solidify your newest team members and April is highlighted by spring field work. Then, there is May. Each May for some 20 odd years you bid farewell to your family and begin the hunt for the newest members of your team. That trek has taken you all over the country, but South Florida seems to be your bread and butter. You know those guys and they know you.
Last December that all changed. South Florida called you home. But the January and February schedule was much the same, just at an accelerated pace. April began the preparation and it felt normal --- then came May. Everyone loaded their cars, there were no planes. That was different. Everyone booked hotels. Not you, you would be at home. That was different. Everyone scheduled meetings with coaches and arranged their schedules around high school spring practice times. You had no practice times. The NCAA doesn't allow head coaches to recruit in the month of May. Imagine after 20+ years in the business, crafting your skills, you are a head coach and you can't do what you do best --- or can you?
Rather than spend the month of May in an office waiting for the return of his staff, Florida Atlantic University Head Football Coach Charlie Partridge began recruiting South Florida.
"I told our marketing staff that I would get cabin fever. So, they put together a plan that got me out and all over the tri-counties (Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade)," said Partridge.
In ways, his May 2014 was similar to every other May. 1. He worked with youth: Not high school students but elementary, speaking to three schools in three days to open the month's events.
2. He met with college students: Not his players but at FAU's incoming freshman orientations as well as student government.
3. He had lunch while talking to potential fans: But, he had to grill it at Whole Foods Market.
4. He timed: Not the "40" but the horses at Gulfstream Park.
5. He evaluated size and strength: struck by the size and ability of the Gulfstream jockeys.
6. He tossed a ball: Not the pigskin, but a hard ball and the first pitch at a Florida Marlins game.
7. He was a salesman: Not for high school football players, but for fans and season ticket holders at several donor events.
8. He was interviewed: Not following games, practice or about potential recruits, but about FAU's annual golf tournament at Trump International Golf Club where proceeds are directed to the Owls Scholarship Fund, benefiting all FAU student athletes.
9. He raised money: Not just for FAU, but for several worthy charities.
10.He engaged alumni: At three FAU alumni events in Boca, Jupiter and Fort Lauderdale.
When the month came to an end he had traveled 671 miles by car. He had spoken to 36 groups in just 31 days. And, there was more. He opened June as the key note speaker for a local middle school's "graduation ceremony."
"Even though I'm not allowed to go out to the high schools and recruit, I got my recruiting fix by getting out into the community and recruiting the next FAU fan. It was great," added Partridge. "I really enjoyed getting a chance to meet with our students, alum and the community. To hear their stories and tell them what we are building right here in Boca Raton, was very special. We are building something special here at FAU. We need everyone's support to make our dream a reality. What's next? It's June. The assistant coaches are back and youth camps are in full swing. The whistle is back around Coach Partridge's neck and the calendar picks up with June camps, then brief family time and --- it is August and the calendar begins again.
The Owls begin the 2014 schedule at Nebraska, Saturday, August 30. FAU will open its 2014 home season, at 7 p.m., on Saturday, September 13 versus Tulsa. For tickets call 1-866-FAU-Owls.