Clear eyes, full heart

Football coach Bryan Webb may not be the most tech savvy coach, but he makes up for it with thoughtful leadership and a love of the game

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Dave Winter

Starting out strong, Coach Webb begins his work at McCallum by helping lead the strength and conditioning training for this year’s football players.

The first game of the season — third quarter, McCallum is down by 14.

Suddenly, there it is. The football, soaring across the field, the Austin skyline peeking out from behind it on the House Park Stadium.

‘Nobody is going to catch that.’ thinks Bryan Webb, the newest addition to the McCallum football coaches.

Sophomore J.D. Jordan catches his first varsity touchdown and Mac’s only trip to the end zone against the Anderson Trojans in the third quarter of the 19th annual Taco Shack Bowl. (Risa Darlington-Horta)

But it doesn’t hit the ground. Instead, JD Jordan clutches it in his hand racing toward the end zone to score his first touchdown of the season — McCallum’s first touchdown of the season.

It’s what Coach Webb loves most about football.

“[He had] this look on his face, he was so excited, so elated.” Webb said. “Being part of something bigger than myself, it’s so much fun, it’s like a family feeling. [When] I go to school, I’m around the coaches and kids and it’s like, it’s a different kind of family.”

After seven years of teaching, Bryan Webb has seen a lot of places. Two weeks in and he already feels like McCallum is different — with a community of teachers willing to advocate for their students and work to ensure they make the best possible learning experience available.

“I think it’s got a really strong culture,” Coach Webb said. “Here, it feels like the teachers are trying to build something that’s more than just school. Even with the zooms, I think people really care about this place and that’s what matters.”

The community he has found at McCallum has allowed Coach Webb to constantly give 100 percent even through the challenges he faces.

“Here, it feels like the teachers are trying to build something that’s more than just school.”

— Bryan Webb

With drills and practices in the unrelenting Texas heat before the cooler temperatures of fall roll in to signal the start of the season, Coach Webb has shown that he’s ready and willing to put in the time and effort needed to build the relationships for a successful season.

“A good coach is one that pushes you to be better and also forms a bond with you,” sophomore defensive tackle and running back Miles McCollum said.

“He’s not a big yeller.” head football coach Thomas Gammerdinger said. “He is more of a teacher on the field. If someone makes a mistake, he usually pulls him off to the side and makes the correction.”

Webb worked as the football coach at Silsbee High School before joining the McCallum staff. He had been talking to Coach Joshua Amy about possibly coming to McCallum, and when Coach Ray Amaro retired, he began to take the offer more seriously.

He was visiting his girlfriend in Round Rock over spring break when school got canceled due to COVID-19. This prompted an interview with Coach Gammerdinger on Zoom. Shortly after, he was hired.

“That’s kind of how I ended up getting here,” Webb said. “I came up in March for spring break and haven’t [gone] back.”

But coaching and teaching this year has been surprisingly unfamiliar. With online school and masked football practices, Coach Webb has had to make adjustments to his usual teaching style.

Prepping his players, Coach Webb runs conditioning drills with members of the football team during their first practice of the season after a six month hiatus from training. Photo by Lindsey Plotkin.

“I’m more of a kinesthetic learner and I like it in person,” Coach Webb said. “I’m not the most technologically savvy guy in the world, so it’s just more prep. I [have] to make sure everything’s ready for y’all, and there’s still kinks and little things that get kind of messed up.”

Coach Webb has learned many new skills to adjust to online learning — spending evenings and weekends learning the platforms of BLEND and Zoom along with hours of time preparing lessons ahead of his PE classes and other school responsibilities.

I trust him and he always has something supportive to say that makes me better as a player and man.”

— senior running back Andres Rodrigues-Antadillas on Coach Bryan Webb

It has been challenging, but he has also learned new concepts he hopes to continue to include in his teaching as we transition back into in-person learning.

“The SEL stuff is new to me, so I’m trying to incorporate more of that,” Webb says. “I think mental health is a big deal. And I’ve never even thought about it before in a classroom. Even though it’s PE, I try to make kids more comfortable because you don’t know what they’re dealing with at home, so I think that could be something really good moving forward that I could incorporate in my classes.”

The transition into a new school is difficult, but Coach Webb has enjoyed it. He appreciates the help he has received from faculty and staff, and he especially appreciates the positive attitudes he has experienced with students.

“I really like it so far,” Coach Webb said. “They’re the best kids I’ve ever been around when it comes to doing what they’re supposed to and being respectful.”

“He is such a good coach,” Andres Rodrigues-Antadillas, senior running back said. “Although he is new, my relationship with him is really good. I trust him and he always has something supportive to say that makes me better as a player and man.”

Coach Webb knows the unusual circumstances of this year won’t last forever. Even though he’s facing a situation that is different from anything he’s done before, one thing is still the same — Bryan Webb loves football.

“It’s kind of like waking up on Christmas,” Coach Webb said. “There’s so much anticipation for the games, and the games are so much fun. And when you win those big games, you see all the preparation and all the work show itself on a field on Friday night. It’s like opening Christmas presents and getting the best present in the world.”