Video: Recap: Torrey Pines vs. Cathedral Catholic 2016
See coach Ron Gladnick's team in action during the 2016 season.
Coach Ron Gladnick has been the head football coach at Torrey Pines (San Diego)
for three seasons, winning the Avocado League in 2016, which most will agree is the most competitive league in San Diego. They haven't been ranked inside the state's top 100 teams since 2010, but they returned this past year. Gladnick has done a dynamite job in three short years.
Success has followed coach Gladnick. He was an Associated Press All-American, team captain and Defensive MVP at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he came back and took part in an NCAA Division II national title team as an assistant coach.
Gladnick joined Torrey Pines' staff in 2008, coaching the defensive line, before moving on to become head coach at Clairemont (San Diego)
. In just two seasons there, he turned the program around, winning the program's first playoff game in over a decade. He returned to Torrey Pines as the head coach in 2014.
Unlike a "traditional" head coach, Gladnick is not on campus as a faculty or staff member. He is a "walk-on." With budget constraints, and more and more older coaches retiring from coaching but still holding their teaching spots, the walk-on head coach is becoming more and more prevalent.
It's a difficult job. Most walk-on coaches have a regular job that they work when not coaching, and then also manage to make it to practice every day. Oftentimes, they are interrupted at all times of the day at their "real job" as they see to matters football-related. Coach Gladnick owns his own business, and is very fortunate to play more of a mentor role in that business, as opposed to having to run the day-to-day operations. Not all walk-on head coaches are so lucky.
How has he maneuvered through the walk on head coach challenges while at the same time bringing the Falcons back to prominence?
Here are some keys to being an effective walk-on head coach.What would you say is the first step in building a successful program as a walk-on?
You must commit to understanding the culture related to athletics of the school, parents, administration and students before you begin to define your program's expectations.
Based on the culture at the school, you must commit to creating the culture for your program that is attainable and sustainable over time, understanding the culture should evolve as your vision and values are implemented and adopted in all levels of the program. You never stop selling your vision to the students, parents, teachers, community and administration. Once you get to know that culture at the school, and start to build your own within the football program, what kind of results has that produced?
A core component of our program is non-football related. We work tirelessly to build a culture of work ethic, accountability, brotherhood and a commitment to embracing the concept that to be successful as a team 'I must be selfless as a player.' Kids are beginning to play in our program because the word is out in our community that we are building valuable life skills that are important for young men as they learn and grow. How do you get to know the kids and staff on campus as a walk-on?
You must have time to be a fixture on campus. I attend other events at school, including sports, plays and events that keep the football program in the forefront of our students, teachers and administration's mind.
You must recognize, and kids must understand, that even though you are not a teacher you are an educator. You have to demonstrate your value to earn the players' trust and respect. Our kids know that I am not perfect but I always have their best interests at heart and I am completely committed to them in all aspects of their life. My greatest reward is the number of players who have stayed in touch with me after graduation whether they are playing football or not.How does the role of your staff differ working for you, a walk-on head coach?
You must recruit on-campus coaches at all three levels of your program. We currently have six full-time coaches on staff and two who are student teaching and will hopefully be hired at our school. I believe when you have on-campus coaches that share your vision and passion that your chances of success rise exponentially. My goal is to have half of the coaching staff, currently 22 coaches, to be full-time teachers on staff.
What is the No. 1 thing a walk-on head coach must have in order to be successful?
You must have great administrative support so you can educate yourself on procedures and policies related to education that may be counterintuitive in a traditional work environment. I am in my third season and I struggle with this concept more than any other. I am very fortunate to have great administrative support.Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting