Junior Head Coach Alex Halms is about to start his third season in the role – that makes him the longest serving HC throughout the #CheetahPride. We caught up with him for the next in our ’60 seconds with’ series…
Welcome back to another season with the #CheetahPride! You’ve obviously been with the club previously, but tell us a little about yourself?
I am beginning my third season as the Cheetahs Junior HC and am delighted to be back for another year. Must say, it feels very strange to be the club’s longest tenured HC. Before I joined, I was a TE (dabbling in the OL) turned QB for the University of Warwick Wolves!
What kind of team are you looking to run in 2018?
A complete team. Our defence and special teams performed generally well a season ago (at least after Game 1), but our offence was stuck in second gear. We want to refine what we did well and improve upon what we did poorly. We want to be streamlined and lethal, rather than homogeneous and ineffective.
What are your thoughts on the squad you have at the moment?
It has improved dramatically from a season ago. We have lost some veteran talent (though many have returned to coach), but our rookie class looks exceptional. That includes our Youth graduates and our transfers/new ballers. Like all coaches, I could do with more linemen and I’d like to find a power-runner to complement our explosive backfield. If you know of any, send them on Sunday afternoons (4-6) to St Albans Rugby Club!
What do you think you bring to the role as Junior HC?
Energy, enthusiasm, organisation and attention to detail. I cannot pretend to be the most experienced coach, nor was I the most successful player, but I don’t think that is necessarily what matters. I think the key to doing this job well is listening to those around you, relying on their skills and experiences, then trusting your instincts. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by some brilliant football minds and good friends, so we work together to build a competitive and welcoming team.
How do you manage the unique responsibilities of coaching a younger squad?
There are some trying days. Persistence is generally the key, especially when it comes to admin or seemingly inane aspects of the job (I have literally had to give players my shoes and the shirt off my back on a couple of occasions). But all that nonsense is outweighed by the satisfaction of watching players grow from armchair football fans into genuine ballers. The 16-19 age range is also rewarding as many of the players are transitioning from their teenage years into adulthood, and football provides an outlet of stability for them against a backdrop of college, exams, applications, university etc. They often astound me with their maturity and commitment, and I’ve learned considerably more from them than I’m sure they have from me!
Which NFL team do you support?
The one, the only, and (at this exact moment in time) NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles. I hail from Penn, Buckinghamshire, once home to the Penn Family whose prodigal Quaker son, William, founded the city of Philadelphia and gave the state of Pennsylvania its name. No brainer.
How do you think they’ll do this season?
Divisional Weekend and then let’s see. I’ve seen us come close and fail before. My partner (who is also the Cheetahs Treasurer) hopes they don’t make it to Minnesota, else we are going to have an expensive last-minute trip in February!