Ferriday boys made into men under McFarland’s eye

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. – Most of James McFarland’s life has involved the sport of football. It is fitting, then, that the Ferriday High School head coach sees football as a metaphor for life.

&uot;It’s a struggle,&uot; he said. &uot;The strong are going to survive. The guy that hangs in and doesn’t quit is going to make it.&uot;

McFarland’s philosophy has served well so far, first as an All-State quarterback and basketball player at Waterproof High School, then as a quarterback at Alcorn State University and now as head coach of one of the best teams in Louisiana.

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But in addition to comparisons to life, McFarland sees lessons that can be learned from football.

&uot;I’m trying to make kids into men,&uot; he said. &uot;In life you have to work and work hard — nothing will come easy.&uot;

Ferriday players have indeed worked hard since McFarland was named head coach two years ago, and that work has paid off with a playoff victory and a potential shot at a state title.

But McFarland said many of today’s youth aren’t willing to commit the time that hard work demands.

&uot;Today’s kids seem to want a quick fix,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s this generation — the computer age. Things that you used to have to wait for, you don’t have to anymore.

&uot;To be good in football, you have to practice all year long,&uot; he said. &uot;That rubs some kids the wrong way. They don’t want to work all year long, just to play for one small part of the year.&uot;

McFarland doesn’t consider the field and the weight room the only places that demand year-round effort. Ferriday players are offered tutoring classes three days a week before practice.

&uot;Sometimes we don’t get out to practice until five,&uot; he said. &uot;But we’d rather have good students than good football players — that’s our philosophy.&uot;

Since implemented three years ago, the program has been a tremendous success.

&uot;We went into that spring with 19 players that had two Fs or more,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;Since we started tutoring, we haven’t had any.&uot;

McFarland said he tries to lead by example, and he has continued to work hard academically, as well. He earned his master’s degree in administration and supervision from Alcorn last year.

&uot;But I think the main reason is the kids themselves,&uot; he added. &uot;They decided to take an interest in their lessons.

&uot;I’ve been blessed with good kids.&uot;