Becoming a high school head football coach has never been more competitive. The Greater Kansas City Football Coaches’ Association (GKCFCA) is successfully working to help bridge the gap for young assistants looking to make that next step.
The GKCFCA was founded in the spring of 1991 to promote the game of high school football throughout the region. Nationally, we are unique in that our local association covers a metropolitan area across two different states – Missouri and Kansas. With a membership that includes nearly 100 high schools, the GKCFCA hosts 4 spring clinics, a scholar-athlete banquet that awards over $22,000 in scholarships, a college recruiting fair and combine, and a senior all-star game. All these opportunities are available to our member schools for $50 in annual dues.
In the winter of 2018, we felt that we were missing the mark in engaging the hundreds of assistant football coaches who were part of our association. Likewise, there was some concern among our executive board that a number of bad behaviors – misaligned to our professional values and standards – were beginning to be institutionalized by some coaches across the region.
That spring the GKCFCA partnered with the Kansas City-based organization Community for Coaches to offer an Assistant Coaches Leadership Academy. The purpose of this academy was to help potential high school head coaches build the necessary skillset to run successful programs. Additionally, as an association, we wanted to identify individuals and, grow the capacity in them, to one day take over the leadership roles needed for the GKCFCA to continue to thrive.
We built our academy’s curriculum around three major themes:
- A program’s mission/vision/values.
- Building and leading a staff.
- Being in the public eye.
The entire curriculum was framed around work being done by Community for Coaches and its founder, Ryan Krzykowski. Kryzkowski is a former high school coach who currently helps other coaches, of any sport and level, create and articulate their personal coaching purpose statement. The process of helping our assistant coaches dig deeply into their reasons for coaching was also a benefit for the head coaches running the academy. Our meetings soon became a place where both assistant and head coaches were learning and growing from each other.
“It’s far too easy for a head coach to get caught up in an endless list of tasks, along with the need to stay current with the game’s schemes and tactics,” says GKCFCA’s Kryzkowski. “Both of these are essential, and yet they take on far greater meaning when a coach has a clearly defined purpose, both personally and professionally. CFC’s role as an organization is to help coaches define that purpose, and then walk with them as they seek to effectively and intentionally live into their stated purpose. For aspiring head coaches, walking through this process before landing their first head job is absolutely invaluable.”
In our second cohort, we included the opportunity for our academy coaches to participate in mock interviews. Head coaches from the GKCFCA Board of Directors sat in on the interviews and gave each interviewee immediate feedback on the substance and style of their responses.
“The academy offered assistant coaches a safe environment to ask questions and bounce ideas off a group of guys without the fear of not looking the part,” says Sam Knopick, head coach Pembroke Hill, KCMO and former GKCFCA President.
To date, nearly 30 coaches in two separate cohorts have gone through the academy. Two of our graduates have already gone onto head coaching positions in the KC area.
“I found the Leadership Academy to be a vital part of helping me think through and articulate to other people what I already believed about being a head coach,” says Harrison Campbell, academy member and new head football coach Lone Jack (Mo.) High School.
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