When last heard from, former Menlo-Atherton head football coach Adhir Ravipati was scratching his football itch by conducting workout and training sessions for a handful of college recruits.
At the time, Ravipati — who guided the Bears to three Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division titles, two Central Coast Section and Northern California titles and the 2018 state championship — said he was simply finishing up with athletes he had started coaching as freshmen at M-A. When they graduated, he would look for another football outlet. As much as Ravipati has said he wants to return to the sidelines in a coaching capacity, his day job at a tech company was making that reality a bit difficult.
Six months later and Ravipati is diving headlong into athletic and performance coaching. Last week he announced he was partnering with Top Flight Elite Basketball, which will add a football-training component to the organization.
“[My training of football players] just kept getting bigger and bigger. I had high school coaches reaching out to me, college coaches were reaching out to me. There was a lot of interest (in what I was doing),” Ravipati said. “The kids were really enjoying it and they excelled and some of them started getting college interest.”
Prospective athletes can get a taste of what Top Flight Elite Football is all about by attending one of two free clinics Sunday morning at Willow Glen High School in San Jose for players aged 13 to 18. For more information and to register for the clinics, go to topflightelite.com.
Ravipati said his goal is to not only train for football-specific positions, but also working on developing the complete student-athlete to prepare them for the rigors of college and life. Ravipati said working with Top Flight Elite was the perfect partnership because he said the organization’s founders — Chris McSwain, who coaches the girls’ basketball team at Valley Christian-San Jose, and Stephen Giles, who works with the Oak Grove boys’ basketball program — shared the same kind of values when it came to coaching and training.
Ravipati will work with Jason Pollak, an assistant coach on the College of San Mateo football staff, and serve as co-directors of the football operations at TFE. Ravipati, who served as an advisor with the CSM staff during the 2019 season, started talking with Pollack about the possibility of turning his small-time training academy into something larger and more meaningful.
Those talks led to talks with TFE and the decision came toward the end of 2020 to move forward with the formation of a football academy.
“If it wasn’t for Top Flight, I don’t know if it was something we wanted to pursue,” Ravipati said. “[Working with TFE] was a huge part of the decision. For me, it had to be with the right people. They are the right organization.”
In addition, Ravipati has brought on a number of CSM coaches to work with athletes as well, including: Omari Green, a former CSM standout and 12-year defensive backs coach with the Bulldogs, CSM quarterbacks and special teams coaches Mike and Matt Dovenberg, respectively. Jason Hardee, who prepped at Serra before starring at West Virginia and is now an assistant line coach at CSM, was also brought on to the TFE Football staff.
Ravipati sees TFE Football as an extension of a high school program and will work with high school coaches to make sure their players are getting the right kind of workouts, training and guidance.
“A lot of high school coaches can’t work with their players from January to May,” Ravipati said. “We’re not trying to focus on anything different. We want to help continue development.”
Ravipati, however, is taking a more holistic approach to the modern high school athlete. While the ultimate goal is to produce better football players, Ravipati’s goal is to also produce better people.
Those were the things he most enjoyed — and missed — about coaching a high school football team.
“This is more than just a football developmental piece. I’m still checking in on grades, I’m still checking to see how things are at home. There is a big mentoring piece,” Ravipati said. “I get to focus on the development on them as young men. When you see kids grow and start to achieve success, learning life skills, that’s the stuff that gets me to double down on coaching.”
In addition to all that, Ravipati sees TFE Football as a conduit to the college level. The coaching staff for TFE Football has fostered college contacts around the country and Ravipati sees the program serving as the middleman between college coaching staffs and high school recruits.
The Bay Area is very under-recruited,” Ravipati said, adding some of the barriers include the sheer number of high schools spread out over a large area that can be problematic because of the region’s notorious traffic issues.
“What we really want to do is make sure [these athletes] maximize their effort on the field. … We want to help these kids get in front of those coaches. … We want to give the feedback to college coaches and get them in touch with high school coaches.
“The interesting thing right now during COVID, some (college) coaches have reached out to me and asked if I can get eyes on this kid or that kid. … We can help because we can evaluate talent.”
The program is not simply for the elite athlete either. Ravipati said any athlete who is looking to become a better football player and is willing to put in the work is welcome.
And the student-athlete with no scholarship offers will be given the same amount of attention as the Division I recruit.
“Our hope is we’re going to give any kid who is willing to commit, we want to work with him and help kids advocate for themselves,” Ravipati said. “We want to make sure we do this the right way and make it a valuable experience for kids.”