Imagine believing in something so much, that you turn down a rare, perhaps life-altering opportunity for it.
That’s what associate head coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and offensive line coach Matt Applebaum did during the offseason. Both coaches had chances to go to a Power 5 school and the NFL and both of them declined so they could stay with Jeff Hafley and the rest of the BC staff.
Odds are each of them will have plenty of opportunities on the horizon, but it speaks volumes about what Hafley has already built in just over a year. The Eagles continue to watch as people move the goal posts with expectations getting bigger and more daunting by the day. The entire coaching staff and majority of the roster wanted to come back and continue to see just how far this ride can go.
“I think people make the places,” Abdul-Rahim said earlier this week. “In this business, one of the keys to being successful is surround yourself around great people. I just feel really good about our staff, not just from a knowledge perspective, but really just as people. I’ve never been on a staff with so many great people. We all get along, we all grow on and off the field, we hang out on and off the field, so at the end of the day it was easy for me just for quality of life over opportunity.
“I think winning cures everything. If we do what we’re supposed to do here I think there will be other opportunities for me and then selfishly, to be quite honest, I thought I still had room to grow a lot more being around some great coaches.”
It is worth acknowledging that with both the secondary and arguably one of the best offensive lines in the country returning, the decisions for Abdul-Rahim and Applebaum were probably slightly easier, but it still speaks quite highly about how much this staff believes in what they’re building.
“I love everything we’re doing here,” Applebaum said. “I love our kids, our coaching staff, where I live, I love the city, I love the school. I really put a lot into quality of life and just every day life, I really value that and I have a great quality of life here that starts with the people in the building. It’s a people business. That’s the staff, everyone from the top down and our players. To me that’s what it was all about.”
As the Eagles continue to grind through their second week of spring practice, the word continuity keeps getting thrown around quite a bit. Continuity doesn’t exist without players and coaches all believing in the same thing and that type of trust usually takes a while to build. Throw in a pandemic that kept the Eagles from doing any of the usual team bonding activities Division 1 athletes are usually involved in and it makes the family atmosphere around the program even more remarkable.
Forget the other “major” college programs or the NFL, Chestnut Hill is the new version of Cosmo Kramer and Frank Costanza’s “Place to Be” these days if you’re a player or coach.