Anyone who has ever taught or coached anything knows there is more to it than just teaching a skill. In regards to football, a coach usually helps shape a player’s character as a player. In previous articles I have explained how Rojo effected players through coaching for development. Janne Lehtinen explained to me how Rojo effected his life in more than just development. “Rojo was one of the biggest reasons I went through with leaving to junior college.”
MENTOR & PROTÈGÈ
Janne Lehtinen has been playing football for 19 years, and is a regular on the Finnish National team since 2001 (Juniors and Men). So when Lehtinen was Rojo’s backup in 2008 with the Helsinki Roosters, he was eager and ready to learn. But Lehtinen was no average Finnish quarterback, he wanted to compete. So after a year in Rojo’s shadow, he took his talents to the cross town rival, the Helsinki Wolverines to become Rojo’s competition. “As rival quarterbacks, Rojo still helped me out as a friend and mentor. He helped during the offseason to prepare for my first Maple year as a starter, which built up to preparing myself for college.” In my opinion this is whenn Janne Lehtinen became the protégé.
LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCES
When you’re a Rojo protégé, there are certain perks involved. Lehtinen was fortunate to spend time with his mentor outside of team events and normal situations, so they could actually develop a real personal relationship. And if you have ever met the guy, when he becomes your friend he will do everything in his power to help you be successful in life. This attitude by Rojo is what led Janne Lehtinen to college football in the states. I won’t even paraphrase it, I’ll let Janne tell you,
“Rojo was one of the biggest reasons I went through with leaving to junior college. Without Rojo I’m pretty sure I would’ve either just stayed in Finland/Europe or then go to something like a NAIA or D3 school. Rojo went to Reedley college before Texas Tech and he talked me into trying Juco(Junior College) so I can see if I can go to the highest level in the NCAA. Highest I got any interest from was a D1AA. But ended up to a D2 school which was the only NCAA school outside of the USA. “
ROJO’S COACHING IMPACT
Despite almost 20 years of experience, Lehtinen claims that the only skills he actually had were good throwing mechanics and athleticism before learning under Rojo. Janne gives Rojo credit for developing his “understanding of offensive schemes and reading defenses. Also “More touch, less hot sauce” meaning you don’t have to throw every ball as hard as you can.” Apparently, Rojo was full of sayings that still linger in the mind of Janne Lehtinen.
Rojo is a player’s coach. He uses a hands on approach and talks to his players not at them. A southern gentleman from Georgia his personality is always on display when he is coaching. I asked Lehtinen what he thought of Rojo’s coaching style. “I like Rojo’s coaching style because he will try to push his players further. He will raise the bar and make you compete with a good balance of fun. Rojo’s style reminds me a lot of the collegiate way of coaching in North America, which helps us be up tempo, and I believe we get more done in one practice compared to a lot of other Finnish teams. Before my college career he was a friend helping out, giving advice from his own experiences at Reedley College and Texas Tech University, so it was pretty laid back but goal driven. Now that I’m back from college and he’s my head coach at the Wolverines and OC (offensive coordinator) in the mens National Team, he’s still my friend but on the football field or in the classroom he’s more of a coach. Meaning the environment really affects the way we work together. “
THE FUTURE FOR THE PROTÈGÈ
At 27 years young Janne Lehtinen still has a lot of football left in him. This is why he has aspirations to take the Finnish National team to a top 3 spot in the European Championships in 2018, with the possibility to compete in the World Cup in 2019. Locally he has expressed interest in playing in the GFL one day. And for the 2017 season Lehtinen plans to “Shit on everyone and everything in the 1st division and take the Wolverines organization back to the Maple League. “