For years, Max Cohen has been a problem solver. He has worked for a variety of different companies, often with a technological slant to them, and for the last four years, he’s been working with people across the OSU campus as an information technology consultant.
“I really like dissecting things and putting them back together,” Cohen said. “I enjoy the nature of the work I do. I’m interacting with hundreds of different people.”
A Philadelphia native, Cohen spent most of his growing up years in Eugene, and his mother, Nora Cohen, is a professor in the OSU College of Education. He said he’s always been drawn to teaching, due to his mother’s influence.
“Teaching is in my blood,” he said.
Last fall, Cohen found a unique way to support his love of teaching. Blake Vawter, associate director of admissions, knew Cohen had played football in high school, and a little in college, and he was looking for a line coach for the Corvallis Pride Women’s Tackle Football team, where Vawter is defensive coordinator. He asked Cohen if he’d be interested in coaching for the team, and Cohen thought it sounded like a great way to get back into the sport he’s loved since childhood.
“I love the game,” he said. “I love the contact, the aggression, the emotion.”
For Cohen, who has never coached before, the most exciting part of coaching has been the enthusiasm of the players. Because football is not a sport traditionally associated with women, for many participants it’s their first chance to play competitively.
“I get so fired up getting out there on the field. These women have wanted to play all of their lives, and they’ve never had the opportunity (until now),” he said. “I teach them to do it well.”
One challenge Cohen and the other coaches face is the difference in skill level between the players. Some have been playing for years, others have never even worn a helmet before. He has to strike a balance where advanced players feel challenged but new players don’t feel intimidated. Their enthusiasm for the game is what helps strike that balance.
“I don’t have to worry about motivation,” he said.
Although this is his first time coaching, Cohen believes there’s little difference in how to approach a women’s team versus a men’s team, except that he thinks coaches get better results when dealing with female players in a positive manner, rather than an in-your-face approach.
“That’s not my style anyway,” he said. “I’m not a negative-style coach.”
Instead, Cohen is as enthusiastic on the sidelines as the players are on the field.
“I’m the biggest cheerleader on the team, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Friends and family have been very supportive of Cohen’s newest adventure.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Most of my friends have bought tickets or are helping out with the team.”
Corvallis Pride was formed in 2002, and had a fairly consistent lineup, Cohen said, but this year it has seen a downturn in numbers as players retired or stopped due to time conflicts or family commitments. They are down to 15 players, which would have meant they weren’t qualified to compete in their league this year, but the team made an agreement to join up with a Redding, Calif., team in a similar situation.
Now the biggest challenge is practicing together. The teams have taken turns going up and down the I-5 corridor to practice with each other.
“It’s been amazing,” Cohen said. “The camaraderie is great. There are no ego clashes. Everybody gets a chance to play.”
Cohen believes the two teams have been merging well, and compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They played their first game in Seattle on April 11, and will have their first home game on April 25, 1 p.m. at Corvallis High School.
The team includes a number of OSU students and faculty and staff members, and they are hoping to expand their numbers. Anyone interested in participating can go to www.corvallispride.com for more information.
~ Theresa Hogue