Haughton high school’s football coaching staff has a family-like atmosphere
When Josh Burton was hired for a rare opening on the Haughton High School football coaching staff, he knew he was headed for a special situation. Nearly through his first regular season, he says the working conditions and atmosphere are unlike any other coaching positions he has held.
What separates Haughton from other schools, Burton said, is the degree to which family comes first –and that family includes football coaches, their wives and their children.
“They treat you good and the community treats you good,” Burton said.
When Coach Rodney Guin picked up his 100th career win at Haughton earlier this season, he credited a loyal and dedicated staff with the success the team has had. Of 11 positions on the staff, the average tenure at Haughton is more than a decade.
“They are the closest friends and family I have, and they feel the same way,” Guin said.
Their lives are intertwined at more than just the office. There is a postgame meal win or lose, the entire group with wives and children have gone on joint vacations, and the wives typically sit together in the same bleacher area with their children.
Guin said putting family first is important for everyone.
“They take care of family first and football second,” Guin said. “If they have something they need to take care of, other guys just take up the slack.”
In high school football, coaching staff turnover is a way of life. Unsuccessful programs often fire or don’t renew contracts of coaches. Successful programs often have their staff plucked away by other schools looking to improve their program, and often assistant coaches seek career advancement by changing jobs.
Kyle Wickerson, an assistant coach, said the continuity in the coaching staff is due in part to expectations and familiarity.
“We know our role and we’re comfortable with our role,” Wickerson said.
In contract, Burton said he has worked at some places “where everyone is trying to move up.”
Other coaches also point to Guin’s management style as a positive influence on staff longevity.
“Coach Guin lets you coach; he doesn’t micromanage,” said Glenn Maynor, special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
Hal Harlan agreed.
“If you’re not doing your job, you’ll hear about it but as long as you’re doing it nothing is ever said,” Harlan said.
Although some might think that people who work together under intense conditions might want to separate their personal and professional lives, the exact opposite is true at Haughton.
Except for some of the most intense worktime, it is not unusual for wives and kids to be together with their coaching husbands on weekends at work.
“That way work and family time get done at the same time,” Guin said.
Tracy Guin, Coach Guin’s wife and a school employee, said years ago coaches had a breakfast together Sunday mornings before going to work, but that he had eliminated that to give families more time together.
“It means the world to me to be able to go to church together with my family,” Tracy Guin said.
Following every home game, coaches, their wives and kids all have a meal at the fieldhouse, which can involve up to 50-60 people.
Between the 11 families, there are 17 kids under the age of 10.
Brandi St. Andre, yearbook advisor and wife of an assistant coach, said the stability and family-oriented working atmosphere is important.
“All of our coaches’ kids grew up in Haughton so they come here (Haughton High) at some point and we look after them,” St. Andre said.
She noted every four or five years the entire coaching staff and their families have gone on a group vacation to places such as Gulf Shores, Ala., or Panama City, Fla.
Coaching is an intense profession that involves a lot of stress and has a high divorce rate.
The vacations and other activities are a way to get to know each other better and provide a support group.
St. Andre noted the coaches and wives have attended at least one Christian-based retreat with speakers from both a coaching perspective and a coach’s wife perspective.
“It helps us know what coaches are going through, and lets them know what it’s like to be the wife of a coach,” St. Andre said.
At Haughton, that’s a family-first atmosphere.