EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Kevin Stefanski remembers wearing jersey No. 18 in third grade and No. 55 in fourth grade.
The Vikings tight ends coach also has incorporated positive experiences he took from coaches during his youth and further into his career. Stefanski, who is at the onset of his 10th season with the Vikings, spoke on Saturday to about 40 youth football coaches at Winter Park who attended a workshop led by the Minnesota chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance (www.minnesota.positivecoach.org).
The workshop was the first of its kind and organized by Vikings Youth Football Manager E.J. Henderson, who Stefanski called "one of the best, toughest leaders" the Vikings have had during his playing career (2003-2011).
PCA Certified Trainer Troy Pearson delivered a presentation on how to be a "Double-Goal Coach," which is one who strives to win while teaching important life lessons through sports. Pearson said the group has found that coaches who emphasize effort and learning and create an environment where mistakes are OK benefits young players by decreasing anxiety and increasing self-confidence.
In addition to the session on psychological health, the workshop included a session on physiological health with a presentation by Dr. Heather Bergeson with TRIA Orthopaedic Center about concussion prevention and treatment. Sleep, proper nutrition and hydration are important components of recovery. Bergeson recommended a graduated return to activity that begins with light exercise, followed by sport-specific activity, non-contact drills, contact drills and then a return to action if no symptoms have reappeared.
The coaches received a tour of Winter Park, followed by participating in an on-field clinic.
Prior Lake High School Head Coach Matt Gegenheimer, a master trainer with USA Football, demonstrated blocking and tackling drills that focus on establishing proper techniques, and Stefanski demonstrated some of the positional drills that he Vikings coaches utilize.