Assistant coaches are unsung key to success


Prasham Jobanputra

Defensive Backs Coach David Franek talks to Evan Spann before a district playoff game. Spann had a critical pick six near the end of the game that helped the Knights move on to the next round.

Whenever a game finishes, I immediately get onto the field to get post-game interviews, and easily the most important interview a sportswriter has to get is from the head coach.  But what about the other coaches?  There are so many assistant coaches on the sports teams here at North Penn High School, yet I don’t think we quite understand how important assistant coaches are to an athletic program.

There are many types of assistant coaches.  Some are positional coaches that work with players on a certain position.  For example, Coach David Franek is the defensive back coach for the football team.  Franek played the position when he was younger; therefore, he has plenty of knowledge to help the next group of defenders at North Penn.

Franek enjoys his role on the football team and described the relationship that an assistant coach and head coach should have in order to be successful.

The role of an assistant coach, I think, is not as detailed as a head coach, but it’s a good yin and yang”

— Coach David Franek

“The role of an assistant coach, I think, is not as detailed as a head coach, but it’s a good yin and yang. . .If the head coach is coaching the kid hard, which we like to do here at North Penn, [the assistant coach] might come in with a little bit more of a soft encounter,” Franek described.

Coach Drew Schmitz is the goalkeeping coach for the girls’ soccer team.  He works with the goalies day in and day out during practice and pre-game warmups.  Because of this, Schmitz has been able to develop a good relationship, like many other assistant coaches, with his players.  One player in particular that Schmitz has a good relationship with is varsity goalkeeper Ashley Schmidt.

“My first year with the team was her sophomore year. . .so we’ve definitely become close in that aspect just because we’ve broken off, myself and the goalies, always working her. . .she’s taught me a lot, she’s been a really good guide to the other goalkeepers that we’ve had,” Schmitz said.

Even head coaches have noticed that players might prefer talking to an assistant rather than a head coach.

“Sometimes assistant coaches have more unique relationships with the players, one on one. I think a lot of times players feel more comfortable coming to assistant coaches… I found that as a player too, that I would tend to sometimes talk more in depth to an assistant coach than a head coach just because you form that rapport,” Head Baseball Coach Kevin Manero explained.

Then, there are some assistant coaches that help out their team with a certain aspect of the game.  For instance, Coach Keith Clauss is the pitching coach for the baseball team.  He looks after the pitchers in practice and in the game to make sure their mechanics, along with other key details, are as perfect as can be.  Clauss and Manero were both pitchers when they were students at North Penn, and that seems to help the baseball program.

“The nice thing about it is, I can spend my time in practice and what not, taking care of the pitchers. [Manero] has to take care of everything. I don’t have to worry about the administrative side of things,” Clauss said.

Sometimes, assistant coaches can be the difference between a win and a loss.  Manero describes a very specific example.

“We were in a crucial game late in the year.  We were winning, but it was the late innings and the game was starting to slip away a little bit and we had to make a pitching change.  We had a couple different guys warming up and Coach Clauss was with them in the bullpen, and he came over, and I said ‘Well, who do we go to, who looks better?’ and he said the guy that I wasn’t really thinking, I was thinking about the other guy.  But it was one of those times where you just ask him and he answered and you knew that he had a good feel for the game, and he had a good feel for who was gonna come in and get the job done, and he was right.  That pitcher came in, we won the game, and it was a big win for us.  Those are the kind of things I think a good assistant coach can really bring to the table, and he definitely does that,” Manero reflected.

This is a prime example of how important good assistant coaches are to a team’s success.  The athletic teams at the high school would not be anywhere close to how successful they are today without the assistant coaches.  So, the next time you are at sporting event and find yourself impressed by a gutsy call from the head coach or a nice play from a player, remember to think about how the assistant coaches had an impact on it.