Photo by AD Billy Hunt
Chris Nano is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Cicero Prep for AZPreps365.com.
From NFL player to Cicero Preparatory Academy football coach, one thing has stayed constant in Abdul Noah’s philosophy: hard work.
Noah played defensive tackle at San Jose State University by way of Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. In 1999, Noah led San Jose State in tackles for loss with 10. He signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent shortly after and had a short stint with the New Orleans Saints.
“It (playing career) has most certainly taught me discipline and that hard work tends to pay off,” Noah said. “When it comes to football, you get out what you put in.”
Noah has learned how to be patient as a coach and claims that patience is the biggest difference he sees between being a player and coach.
“As a coach, you learn how to relinquish control,” Noah said. “When you coach other people, that’s when you realize not everyone is at the same level. Coaching can be frustrating. You have to really slow things down to get the best out of them, show that you care. I like to always find the good in a player.”
Noah has two assistants in Jerry Porter and Bryan Hooppaw. Hooppaw worked with Noah last season when the team won a flag football championship.
“It was an amazing experience,” Hooppaw said. “We came so close in previous years, lost in heartbreaking fashion, but we stuck with it, continued to work hard, in large part due to him (Noah) and his spirit. He gives the greatest motivational speeches. He’s a very cerebral guy. Constantly thinking about making adjustments, tinkering with guys playing different positions. We always come out and play better in the second half, in large part due to how fast the game is and how he’s able to slow it down and process the information.”
Noah and Porter’s relationship dates to their playing days for the Raiders.
“We’ve been friends for 20 years,” Porter said. “I figured out that he jokes with me more than anybody, but once it’s game time, he’s as serious as a heart attack.”
Noah’s assistants are not the only people who admire the effort he puts into coaching.
“I trust him 100 percent, no doubt in my mind he was the guy I wanted to run the program,” Cicero Prep Athletic Director Billy Hunt said. “Dealing with him in the flag football program. The way he handles himself. He’s tough minded, but also a big teddy bear. He has a great heart, he cares for the kids and the program and he just does things the right way.”
This is the first year that Cicero Prep is competing in tackle football. The school is ready to take on the challenge, and after winning the flag football championship last year, the program is in good hands under Abdul Noah.