HUNTERSVILLE – Trust the process.
It’s a simple message in white letters on the side of a navy-blue painted bucket, but it’s a mantra the Hopewell Titans are living by this fall as they try to change the program’s trajectory.
First-year Titans head coach Jamelle Byrd wants his team to focus on more than the short-term results scoreboards display after four quarters on any given Friday. He wants his players to commit to the long-term plan and keep moving forward, step by step, day by day.
“I want them to understand the great things in life take time,” Byrd said. “We live in a big-time instant-gratification society now. We want everything now, now, now, but the reality is that success takes time. Everybody wants to win, but not everybody wants to do what it takes.”
Byrd took reins of the Hopewell program in February, and he’s the Titans’ sixth head coach in the last seven seasons. The team he inherited had lost 21 straight games dating to the 2016 season-opening win at Garinger, so he thought it was important to set the tone – and build the foundation – from the beginning.
“‘Trust the process’ was already a big thing for us,” Byrd said. “We needed something to symbolize it.”
A fan of high school and college football tradition, Byrd began looking around for inspiration, and he liked what he saw from the Clemson Tigers, who have an “All in” bucket. Each player tosses a poker chip into the bucket before the game, signifying that he’s fully committed to the Tigers team success.
Byrd tailored it to “Trust the process” for Hopewell, and the Titans now toss a navy and white chip into the bucket just before kickoff – “It’s literally the last thing we do,” Byrd said – showing they will stick to the plan of getting better every day. The most encouraging part for Byrd is that he’s seeing his players using the slogan on social media and hearing them talk about it.
“Once they’re taking ownership of it, I know it’s becoming a part of the culture,” he said.
The Titans dropped their first three games of 2018 but showed progress by scoring three touchdowns in a lopsided loss to Independence Aug. 24. Hopewell scored four touchdowns (and 26 points) all of last season, and the 19 points were the most Hopewell has scored in a game since the 38-7 win at Garinger in 2016 ... until the Titans scored 28 in a 14-point loss to Monroe Aug. 31.
“I think we’re getting there,” Byrd said. “Even after that loss, the energy was different.”