Alexandria, VA – West Potomac High School Principal Tangy Millard was singing the praises of Coach Al Song Friday afternoon when she introduced him to the families in the West Potomac football program. “He’s been here all day and we only just noticed that we skipped lunch!” All kidding aside, Millard said they were blessed to have him join the school. Song spent the day with Principal Millard and Director of Student Activities Aaron Helmick, meeting the staff as well as the players face to face for the first time, though he has already been in contact with the players through text and email.
Song grew up in Maryland, where his family owned a small business and he learned firsthand the value of hard work. “Cleaning a gas station bathroom can really humble you.” He received his bachelor’s degree from UMD, and worked as an English and reading teacher in Maryland public schools. He traveled to California and taught and coached football in a few programs along the way. Song credits his mentor, a former Hall of Fame coach, who guided him and showed him the value of learning all the different positions on a team for a well-rounded approach to coaching.
From very early in his career, Song always knew he wanted to work with teens. A self-declared troubled teen himself, he considered working in the justice system but felt the “ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure” philosophy was more effective. He decided to reach kids on the front end before they get to the back end.
Song appreciates the great opportunity he’s facing at West Potomac. In addition to the warm welcome from Millard and her staff, Song is inheriting a “sleeping giant,” according to Derek Radoski, WPHS defensive assistant coach. Citing the 30-year gap since winning a national championship, Radoski described the makeup of the 2020 WPHS football team as poised to avenge that deficit. “Next year’s team includes our defensive MVP and our offensive MVP who will be seniors, a junior class that has never lost a game through their youth, freshman, and JV seasons, and rising sophomores who were also undefeated in their freshman year.”
The WPHS football program is refocused on academics, accountability, and a commitment to represent the community. Emphasizing technique, safety, and the fundamentals of the game, Coach Song believes the lessons learned playing football can make a difference in players’ lives now and into adulthood, helping them succeed in the future. “I don’t want football players. I want men who happen to play football.” He knows he has the talent and the skill at West Potomac. “We already have great athletes – let’s do all the little things right and pay attention to details. Success is all about doing the little things really, really well.”