Coach Tara Kallal Q&A
Why did you decide to get into coaching after your playing career was over?
Toward the end of my playing career, coaching was something I started to consider. I had played with the Divas since the beginning, and I was kind of hitting the point where my body was telling me that maybe it was time to slow down a little bit! But I didn’t necessarily want to leave the team…I still wanted to be a part of it. When Coach Fischer was hired as the head coach, the opportunity came up for me to coach the wide receivers. I jumped on it, of course, because I love the wide receivers! And football is a little bit addictive!
What has been your biggest adjustment from playing women’s football to coaching it?
My first year of coaching was hard, because most of the players I coached that year had been my teammates. It was just sort of a weird adjustment, being in a different role with them. I always felt pretty comfortable as far as teaching what I knew and teaching the offense, because as a player, I spent a lot of time trying to help my teammates, especially the younger players when they came in. It was just a little hard on the personal level that first year, only because I had been teammates with some of them and we had to adjust to my new role.
But now that I have years of experience under my belt, that’s no longer an issue. I don’t have any problems yelling at people anymore! In fact, it’s kind of fun!
How has your background as a women’s football player helped you as a coach?
It helped me tremendously. I started without knowing anything about football. I mean, I literally knew nothing. I had watched football all my life, and I loved the Chicago Bears. I have three brothers and always played football outside with them, but I was never involved in flag football or any kind of organized football league that would have really taught me the game.
It was an eye-opener when I got here. I had been a diver and track athlete in college, so most of my athletic training was based on speed and agility. When I joined the Divas in 2001, I had to learn everything. I had to learn how to catch a football…which sounds easy, but it’s really hard! I had to learn how to run precise routes, because all I was used to from track was running straight ahead.
In time, everything developed. Coach Cooper was a great coach, and he really helped all of us learn the game and understand things. And hats off to Eric Evans, too. When he came in, he changed our whole offense for the better. He helped everyone see what was happening on the field and gave us a new perspective of how a great offense works. Because of him, all of us wide receivers became a lot better.
I don’t even remember the question anymore.
What is your overall coaching philosophy? How would you like your players to play the game?
My philosophy with the players is simple: always give 100 percent. I really, really hate lazy. Even when we come out here and practice, I don’t want to see players standing around. I want to see them at full speed. At the beginning of our practices, when we go into our two-minute drill, it’s really rough. It’s hard. It’s a full two minutes with no huddle and full sprints. But even if they get tired – and they will probably get tired – I expect them to run every single route 100 percent. If they’re blocking, I expect them to come off the ball 100 percent. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing on the field…we’re always giving 100 percent and being completely aggressive with every single play.