View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 2/12

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: February 12, 2014 - 5:03 PM

This past week I was able to have a conversation with Olathe South coach Jeff Gourley for a coach profile. As always Gourley was honest and to the point and gave me something to think about.
If you don’t know the Falcons’ coach he is one of the best “talkers” as we journalists like to say in the Metro. He always says something and you generally learn something every time you talk to him.
During the conversation we talked about recruiting players. No, we didn’t discuss high school’s recruiting players going between schools; we discussed recruiting players out of the halls to play football.
While I am sure there are a few schools out there where the numbers are high every year, most coaches have to be a salesman and try to get all of the best athletes to play football. Small schools this is vital but even at big schools getting that extra 5, 10, 15 athletes out can make the difference between a three-win season and deep run in the playoffs.
Football isn’t for everyone. There are plenty who come out in the summer or offseason that never make it to the first week of practice. That’s fine. If football isn’t your game then continuing to play is the wrong answer.
At the same time some have never had the chance to experience the joy of football. Not just playing on the field but the positives that come with working together with a large group of young men for a common goal.
It’s not basketball or baseball where four, five or six players can really make all of the impact. Football requires everyone to contribute something at some point in the season. Even someone who only sees time on the scout team is helping the team win.
Coaches today have to sell the game and its positives more and more. There are many issues that football coaches at all levels are working to improve and the game will continue to get better. With those issues the sales job can become even harder. That’s just the way it is.
Even with some challenges coaches can find good players even if their experience level is low or non-existent. I had a veteran coach tell me this past season that he firmly believes that football is a sport that can be learned when a player starts in high school. If the player puts in the hard work and has some ability they can play right next to the athlete who has been playing since they were in elementary school.
Times change. There are a lot of options for young people today. Football is one of those options and coaches find themselves needing to be good recruiters as well as coaches. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just the way it is.
Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send email to