In the midst of its stretching and warmup drills, Verrado High football coach Shawn Copeland yells, “Family time!” The players slap hands, shout encouragement and greet their teammates and coaches before the hard work of practice begins.
In his first year as the coach of the Vipers, one of Copeland’s main goals is to instill sense of connection, as a family might have.
He’s also being literal. A pair of cousins, senior linebacker Conrad Gingg and junior running back Logan Gingg, are two of the team’s top players. They exemplify exactly what he is looking for in a Verrado football player.
Through the season’s first six games, Logan Gingg has 667 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns. Conrad has a team-high 61 tackles with the team 2-4.
Their production on the field dates back to young ages. The Gingg cousins have close as brothers. Since they were young kids, they went on family trips and played sports in family backyards — even playing on the same football teams since grade school, their chemistry continually growing.
The two rely on each other.
“There’s just a lot of support within our family and then we always have each other on the field, so when there’s questions or things we need to figure out we know exactly who to go to,” Conrad Gingg said.
The two are always competing, on and off the field. In summer, they went against one another in contests such as wrestling, tug-of-war, chicken fighting and other fun challenges in preparation for competition this football season.
As leaders on both sides of the ball, Conrad and Logan now challenge each other in game preparations. There’s no chirping or smack talk, however, just knowing the other’s desire to improve looms over practices.
“We don’t always have to say it, but you just know. You know he wants to make me better, and I want to make him better, so we have to both go at it. It’s a lot of fun,” Conrad said.
“They both are giving max effort and they know that. They don’t need to say it,” Copeland added.
Besids being two of the most talented players, the coaching staff at Verrado describes the Gingg cousins as two of the best leaders and hardest working teammtes.
Both are captains. As actual family members they use the platform and their personal connection to show exactly what the team means when it talks about the close bond of family.
“We both know our places. We kind of try to be leaders in our own classes and bring the family aspect that we actually have to the rest of the team and treat them the same way,” Logan said.
The Gingg name will continue on past Logan and Conrad, too. A freshman corner, Colin (brother of Conrad), awaits his turn as a possible varsity captain after the two older cousins graduate.
The future family of Verrado football looks like what the Gingg cousins are doing right now.
“Colin will get first-hand example of what to do, and I think people will look up to him in the same way they look at Conrad and Logan” Copeland said. “I hope in two years or so that 100 percent of our kids are acting like them.”