Building Unit Identity

by John Weaver
Building Unit Identity


Coach Weaver is the wide receiver coach for the Madison-Richland Academy in Jackson, Mississippi. Like many of you reading this, he is an assistant coach who has his group but is not the head coach who has the authority to create team core values, a mission statement, or an intentional culture.

But... John's head coach, Herbert Davis, told him to be the 'head coach' of his position group. John takes it to the 'Nth degree' and makes them feel like they are in an exclusive club! His receivers are members of the 'ARB'; 'Air Raid Brigade'!  "When John started the ARB, a few of our coaches honestly 'rolled their eyes' a little.  John didn't care one bit.  He stayed the course and has created a monster of our receiver group.  Now, every member of our staff sees the value and has gotten on board", Coach Davis.

What does being a member of the 'ARB' entail? It means being in an exclusive club with rights, privileges, and responsibilities.

We have receivers from 2018, 19, 20 and 21 teams all gather at a players' house. We had dinner and swapped 'ARB' stories for a few hours. It was like a reunion of a fraternity", Coach Weaver said. 

If you tried to gather your position group like this, would it be a reunion of players who feel like they are in an exclusive club?
Coach Weaver laid out his systematic approach to creating a 'membership mentality' all of his receivers at MRA have, and it is outstanding.  


The Coach


John Weaver

WR Coach (2021, 2020 & 2019 State Champs) & Head Boys Track (5 x State Champs 15, 17, 19, 21, 22) at Madison-Ridgeland Academy


John Weaver is in his 11th year at Madison-Ridgeland Academy as the Wide Receiver's Coach and Head Boy's Track Coach and Co Host of the Culture Classroom Podcast. 

Back-to-Back-to-Back State Champions. The Patriots claimed the 2021 State Championship finishing 11-3. In 2020, the Patriots repeated as State Champions caping off a perfect 12-0 season.  In the 2019 season not only ended with a State Championship, also breaking  the Mississippi High School Passing Record for most yards in a game with 593 in the Championship Game. Four of his receivers caught over 120 yards that night. Weaver also spearheads the Boys Track program claiming 5 of the last 7 State Championships and Back-to-Back State Titles for the first time. (2015 - First in school history, 2017, 2019, 2021, and 2022). 

Below is an excerpt from The Right Defense For Your Program Volume 2 by PJ Gibbs outlining the WR unit that Weaver runs at MRA. 

While most leaders are good at casting a vision for their teams, they rarely define how each position group fits into that vision. As Wide Receivers Coach at Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Madison, Mississippi, establishing a shared identity inside his position group gave Coach John Weaver a chance to deepen relationships with his athletes and promote unity. Coach Weaver started by naming his unit. While players suggested names such as “Money Crew” or “Flight School,” the group opted to call ourselves the “Air Raid Brigade,” or ARB for short. The ARB serves as an extension of our team offense, which is built on air raid concepts, adding the discipline of a well-coached military unit. 

When it comes to creating an identity, however, it is not the unit name that matters, but rather the principles the identity is built on. The dictionary defines identity as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” A second definition simply states: “oneness.”Since its inception in Spring 2018, the ARB continues to evolve under Coach Weaver’s leadership. While the team welcomes everyone, ARB membership is exclusive. Every ARB member undergoes a process of indoctrination into the ARB micro-culture, beginning with being given a call sign. Inspired by the pop-culture movie “Top Gun,” call signs become a distinguishing characteristic of the players under Weaver’s command. Players are not allowed to name themselves. Instead, call signs are assigned by the group to a new member based on that person’s unique qualities. Coach Weaver uses each call sign to embrace individuality within the group while building oneness. When an ARB member graduates, call signs are retired, never recycled, ensuring that every ARB member leaves their own unique legacy on the group. ARB member Landon Fulcher, call sign “Suave,” put it best, stating: “The ARB is a family and we all have different roles, each person is one piece that fits perfectly in a puzzle. We all push each other to be the greatest we can be individually for the betterment of the entire team.” 

Coach Weaver has a call sign too. To his players, he is not “Coach,” he is “Pilot,” a leader who not only knows the way, but someone who is behind his players every step of the way. Rayf “Vinsanity” Vinson said, “I just remember when Coach Weaver first started the ARB and since he was our coach and leader, he had to be called Pilot.”

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Caterory: Football/Program Development
Bookings: 16
Videos: 6