Coach Adam Lillis has been involved in coaching British American Football for over 13 years and is currently entrusted with the coveted position of Great Britain Men’s Running Backs coach. Coach Lillis is the Head Coach for the City Wolfpack American Football team while, through some kind of time-lord wizardry, also strives to change the narrative in his position as Offensive Coordinator of the Exiles Adult team. We spend some time getting to know Coach Lillis better, although no one is sure how he has the time to spare…
How did you get into American Football?
I always had a passing interest in American Football growing up but had always played rugby and cricket. My first opportunity to play football was at the University of Kent. I attended a tryout and fell in love with the sport from day one, and the sport has been a big part of my life ever since.
Did you play American football/what position did you play?
I originally started as a wide receiver and kick returner and that has been my primary position as a player and coach throughout my career. I also played quarterback for a number of years which really helped with my development. Over the years, I have also played tight end, fullback, outside linebacker and strong safety.
What position did you dream you could play?
When I was at university, I always wanted to play defensive end. It was a position that looked fun, but I was probably too light to play. I did manage to fulfil this dream later in my playing career by playing as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defence which has some similarities.
Why the Exiles?
There were two primary reasons for joining the Exiles after 10 seasons at the East Kent Mavericks. The main reason was moving to the local area and wanting to reduce my commute time to play for a team. The other reason was wanting to play under Coach John Moore who I had previously played for at the East Kent Mavericks. A great coach, motivator and friend of mine. Whilst those were the primary motivators, in hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in football because the Exiles are a fantastically well-run club with a great family atmosphere and opportunities to play at every level. I expect to be part of this team for a long as the Adult team chase the National Championship.
What is your greatest achievement in this sport so far?
This sport has provided me with a lot of great opportunities that I am proud of. The one that immediately comes to mind is representing my country as the Wide Receivers Coach for the Great Britain U19s team. That was the culmination of many years of hard work in the game, and I am very proud to be able to say that I coached GB. I am now the Running Backs Coach for the Great Britain Men’s team and excited to continue that journey. In addition to this, I have been fortunate enough to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for two different teams; The University of Kent Falcons in 2010 and the East Kent Mavericks in 2015. Both are proud moments for me.
What motivates you to coach football?
For me, it is about being a teacher and mentor to the players within your control. I coach at university and men’s adult level, and I have the opportunity to not just teach the game, but to also support each player’s personal development and teach life lessons along the way. My biggest satisfaction from coaching is when players say thank you for teaching them how to be a good person more so than when they learned a specific skill or scheme.
What are your goals for the Adult team over the next five years?
I’ve recently been brought on as the team’s Offensive Coordinator after playing for the team for four years. The 2020 season was supposed to be my first season in charge of the offence prior to the season cancellation and I felt that we were rolling and good things were going to happen on offense. My goal for 2021 is to improve our offensive efficiency across the board and cause some upsets. During the cancelled 2020 season, Coach John Moore has done a great job in realigning our team, hiring new coaches and establishing our goal to win the 2021 National Championship. This is a huge challenge as there are many established premiership teams that we would need to overtake to achieve this. The whole program is committed to Changing The Narrative and becoming the team that is challenging for the title each season. That will take time and a lot of hard work, but I envisage the Exiles winning the National Championship within the next 5 years and my offense being a key contributor to this.
Aside from the Exiles, which team do you support and why?
In the NFL, I follow the Miami Dolphins. My nickname is Flipper so that was a natural choice. However, I tend to watch the NFL through coaches eyes rather than a fan’s eyes. So I’m looking to watch good football across all teams, taking note of particular plays or schemes that fit what I’m looking to run, and just generally being a student of the game. In college football, I have been on coaching observations at two programmes, the Kent State Golden Flashes in 2011 and the Florida Gators in 2019. So, I also keep an eye on how both these teams are progressing each week.
If you could have one NFL or college player on your team who would it be?
I think it would have to be one of the rising-stars at quarterback such as Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes. Having a quarterback who is a great passer of the ball, but can also be a big factor in the run game, allows a coordinator to be versatile in his play-calling.
What sets american football apart from other sports and why do you think it is growing so well in the UK?
I’ve been involved in the sport for over 15 years in the UK and have seen many changes during that time. The sport has already grown exponentially, and I see the sport continuing to grow over the next decade. The main thing I love about the sport is the way that a team is constructed from a wide range of skills, size and ability. It is a very diverse sport that offers an opportunity for you to play regardless of your strength and speed. In any other sport, you are expected to conform to the look and skill set for that sport. American Football, however, will offer you the opportunity to become an expert at a specific position that is different to the expertise of your teammates.
If you are interested in coaching and want to join Coach Lillis in his journey to CHANGE THE NARRATIVE of the BAFA Adults Premiership, please get in touch. We are currently recruiting a new O-Line coach for our Adults team, a new Head Coach for our U19s contact team and a Running Backs coach for our women’s contact team. Get in contact, via firstname.lastname@example.org, for further details.