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Adam Blasetti Discusses The Importance of Developing Football And Coaching in Canada

Adam Blasetti | Offensive Line Coach | Calgary Colts

There are many things that we could be doing better as a country in terms of football, but I believe the most important item we can approve on is creating learning environments and ways for coaches to learn both technically and schematically.

Adam Blasetti

Offensive Line Coach

Calgary Colts

× The interview with Adam Blasetti was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

What made you fall in love with coaching the Canadian game of football?

I never thought that I would love anything as much as I loved playing the game.

But when my playing career came to an end I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I knew that I wanted football in my life. I knew that I would like coaching, but I fell in love with helping others to achieve their dreams and the ability to be able to continue to be competitive in football but in a different aspect.

Being able to determine the players’ gifts on and off the field that help them achieve success, whether academic, personally or on the field, is the most gratifying part of being a coach.

Who were the three most influential coaches during your playing career that have had an impact on who you are as a coach, and what specifically have they done to have a positive impact?

The three most influential coaches in my life came at different points of time in my career.

The first was my high school head coach Carl Gratton. He helped instill a love of the game inside of me and taught me to believe in myself and to see the talent that I had in the game. Without him I never would’ve played football at the next level.

The next was my university offensive line coach Rohn Meyer. He taught me the game at a high level. He gave me my first insights and direction on being a coach. He taught me everything from a basic thought process from a technical standpoint, to how to study film and how to set up a practice plan.

The 3rd is the man that is responsible for my NCAA and CFL coaching career. Kris Sweet was the offensive line coach for the Calgary Stampeders when I was coaching with the Calgary Colts. He allowed me to attend training camp and to learn from him starting in 2009.

We became friends, I earned his trust, and he took me as a Guest Coach to every CFL team he was ever on. I had the ability to sit in on every meeting, game planning session, and study time that I could ever attend. He taught me how to be a pro.

He also taught me how to respect the game as a coach. And that if you’re going to do it right, you need to be studious and learn year in and year out about how other people are doing it and maybe, how they are doing it better than you. He’s been instrumental in my growth as a coach in every aspect. 

What are the three most important areas that need improvement in the development of football in Canada as a whole?

There are many things that we could be doing better as a country in terms of football, but I believe the most important item we can approve on is creating learning environments and ways for coaches to learn both technically and schematically. Football is not engrained into our society like hockey is.

So there’s not a structure within where we can train coaches. Most coaches at the high school or lower levels across the country are parent volunteers who are the backbone of our sport. But the vast majority of them did not play football at a high-level and have not been exposed to a high level of basic technique and schematic thought processes.

The unfortunate part is, bad technique affects all of our players as they move forward. Bad technique can lead to injuries, as well as not being able to progress in the game at a higher level. There’s a reason why USport eligibility rules give players seven years to play five years of eligibility.

That’s because for the vast majority of players coming out of high school they are not physically, technically or schematically ready to compete at the next level for a couple of years. If we could give coaches access to learning materials, as well as a “mentorship” program (Like a Graduate Assistant program in the US), our sport and our athletes would be so much further ahead.

The second most important area needing improvement is having a standardized strength and conditioning program available to High School programs that teaches the players how to train and why it’s so important that they do.

Lastly, this sport should be treated more like hockey.  Have high expectations and demands on commitment. Find ways of raising more money to pay coaches for their time.  This allows you to have accountability for their production on the field.

You have been known to have a close player-coach relationship with Toronto Argos OL Shane Richards. What is so special about the connection you have developed with him as a coach and what does it mean to have worked closely with a player who has made amazing strides as a Canadian?

I do have a great relationship with Shane. We have become very good friends over the years and he has always respected the things that I’ve done for him and helped him with.

When he asked me to be on the field with his parents for his senior Day introduction at Oklahoma State it was an honour to know that he thought that highly of me. That’s not an experience that many people will get, especially for Canadians.

I’d like to throw a little caveat in here as Shane is not an anomaly in my world. I have many relationships with many players that have had long CFL careers that are the same as the relationship I have with Shane. I’ve been told that I have a way of reaching people. I earn their trust and work hard for them. Players see that and they respect you a lot when you see the potential within them and are able to bring it out.

Shane is a unique individual. From the first time I met him he had lofty goals and was not afraid to work hard to get there. He bought into everything that I was doing as a coach whether that was technique or strength and conditioning because he knew that it would help him to reach his goals.

Players like him also recognize whether you’re any good as a coach as well. They understand the difference between a good coach and an average coach. They also know the difference between the guys that know what they’re talking about and the ones that don’t.

Outside of football, our personalities are similar. We have high expectations of ourselves and the people around us as well as having high work ethic. The biggest thing that I have with all of my players and not just with Shane is that I care for them. I want what’s best for them, and they are like family members to me. When you genuinely care about your players, it’s easy for them to trust and play hard for you. 

What are the three best teams you have worked with in your coaching career and what did they teach you as a coach?

The 2010 Calgary Stampeders- This was my first official guest coaching experience in professional football. This was a big learning curve for me. Surrounded by coaches like Kris Sweet, John Hufnagel, Dave Dickenson, I got to learn the game from true pros.

I saw the way they saw things, game planned and the culture that coach Hufnagel developed there. I also learned from these coaches, how important it is to pass on knowledge of the game to those that are developing.

I was extremely lucky as there was always an open door policy that I had there. I had the ability to be able to sit in on everything. All of the coaches would always be around to answer questions or give advice. 

2012 Calgary Colts- It was my first year as an offensive coordinator. I was blessed to have a team full of guys that had been there for a few years and had bought into the culture that we were trying to breed. My OL was a veteran group that had trained and played for me for between three and five years.

We went undefeated in the regular season that year. And were picked to win the national championship, but fell short. I learned a lot from that team including that sometimes in football it’s not the most talented team that wins. Sometimes it’s the ones that come together as a team, that are dedicated, care for each other, and believe in themselves that win.

2016 BC Lions- This was the first time that I had ever coached another position besides OL. I have been in other professional locker rooms before both as a player and as a coach, but this one was different. We found ways to win and had confidence all year long.

We led the league in rushing and were 2nd in total offence. Above any other team that I have coached in the pros, this was as close to a family as I had ever been a part of. The coaches and players were tight with each other and in their individual groups. There was a respect across-the-board and everybody knew it and went to battle together every week.

This reinforced my belief that even though this was professional football, it was okay to care for each other and to want the best for each other.

What are your three favourite features of the Canadian game of football and why?

  1. Motion- Motion in our game is unique and tough to handle for defensive players that come up here for the first time. The ability to be able to shift formations creates unique game play and creativity. From an offensive standpoint, motion allows us to be able to create mismatches and gives us more answers from a place standpoint.
  2. Larger field- The larger field in Canadian football directly correlates to the higher scores that we see in the Canadian game versus the American game. There’s more space to find holes in coverage, more things you can do to the short side of the field and makes it harder for the defence to stop.
  3. Posts at the front of the end zone- With the post being at the front of the end zone this creates more opportunity for missed field goal returns and an exciting dynamic that you don’t see a whole lot of in the American game.

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

It was a pleasure to speak with Coach Adam Blasetti. He has an immense amount of experience coaching Canadian football at all levels of the sport and brings a genuine passion for the game to his work. His level of care and relentless work ethic to always be a student of the game even as a coach is admirable. Coach Blasetti has been known for creating a lasting positive impact on his players’ lives, and his vision for developing football in our country to be even greater is truly remarkable. 

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