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Multiple Teams · Coach Verstegen Interview


  • How would you assist and counsel your players that are being recruited to play in college?
    • First and foremost we would want our student-athletes to register for the NCAA Clearinghouse, which is absolutely essential in becoming eligible to play at the DI and DII level. This organization determines whether or not student-athletes are considered academically eligible to play at the DI-DII level.
  • Secondly, I would encourage our student-athletes the importance of maintaining good grades and good character, especially in their Junior and Senior years, throughout their tenure here at La Serna. Most college coaches ask questions like “what type of person is he” and “what are their grades and test scores like” first as before they get into asking about their physical stature. We would also encourage our players to make highlight reels of themselves on Hudl. Coach Ruiz, one of our Varsity coaches, puts emphasis on not only showcasing talent but also including important information such as contact info, SAT scores, GPA, and other essential information.
  • Describe the organization of a typical practice.
    • Our practices are usually organized in a way to make us as efficient as possible while being able to put emphasis on various goals we would like to accomplish in order to execute our overall game-plan for the week. We typically introduce the opposing teams Offense, Defense, and Special teams on Monday. Moreover, every practice has different sessions to allow coaches to emphasize technique and team concepts with their players, whether we do it within individual groups or in overall team settings is based on what the Head Coach, Andy George, feels is best.
  • . Describe your typical pre game, half time and post game locker room routine plus explain the thinking behind it.
    • For my pregame, meaning prior to being with the players, I like to stay loose. Being a coach on game-day is far different as opposed to when I used to actually play. As a player I did my best to stay focused throughout the day prior to kick-off. As a coach though, I think it is important to stay level headed and for me the best way to do that is to stay loose to the point where I am no longer “on-edge” which allows myself to think clearly. This is important because during games I will need to make adjustments based on what the other team is doing. If I get too emotionally involved or angry I start to overthink things. However, if I’m balanced and clear-minded I can help our young men adjust and keep playing the way they need to. I also am responsible for setting up the video equipment so we can film our games for future reference and for trading film with next week’s opponents.  
  • As far as half time is concerned, I simply focus on knowing what we need to do in order to fix mistakes or blocking assignments. As an offensive line coach, I am responsible for 5-6 guys (depending on the formation) and I need them all to be in sync in order for the play to work. If I can get them all on the same page we will have an above average change of having positive plays. Getting our guys focused and knowing what to do is my main objective. For my post-game routine it is rather simple. Whether we win or lose I simply load up the film equipment, go back to the school to unload, and take the memory cards home to load them up on Hudl. This usually has me staying up until 1 am to make sure film uploaded properly. And then it’s back to work on Saturday preparing for next week!
  • Describe a coaches role as motivator. How do you plan on motivating players and getting them to buy in to their role on the team each year?
    • A coach’s role in motivating depends on what kind of a coach they are. Some like to be enthusiastic and be positive to players, others like to be tough and test players to see how they can handle the mental aspect of football, and some coaches can be negative and hardly say anything positive – but once they do, you can tell that the players take notice of when they did something well. Every coach is different, but a coach should be themselves.
  • For me, I tend to focus on fixing mistakes. I can be critical sometimes and I honestly forget to point out the good things that players can and will do either in practice or during the game. My problem is that I can be a perfectionist. This is because I have visited and seen teams that run a similar offense to us and because those teams were so good at it, I wanted to have an offensive line that cannot only emulate that offense but also be better at it! So for me, I mostly fall into the category of when I do say something positive – you definitely know you did something well. I wish I could be more positive more often, but overall I want our young men to be better than I was or even better than players that have come before them. TLDR; I am a perfectionist and therefore the motivation happens when I give a positive comment to a player (because it doesn’t come often!)
  • How do you handle the tryout and cut process?
    • Luckily I don’t make the final decisions as that is left for the Head Coach. But typically, and as a staff, we ask ourselves if the player makes a certain criteria then they are accepted onto the team. We mainly look to see if they are a young man of good character. If they seem to be like a person that would do the right thing when no one is looking, then they pass the test. We also look to see if they are committed and whether they have shown that throughout Spring tryouts. Have they shown up everyday? Do they make themselves known? Have they worked hard throughout practice? Or do they just talk in the back while everyone else is trying to learn and play football? These are things we ask ourselves as we evaluate those who try out.
    • What is your philosophy in regards to juniors on the junior varsity and freshman players being moved up to JV or Varsity?
    • My thought process/philosophy on this is simple: if players are going to help us on a particular level then we tend to use them on said level. For example, if we have a Sophomore that can take a starting spot or even get playing time on the Varsity level, then we typically have them play Varsity or at the least will be a “tweener” which is someone who plays both levels. On the flip-side, if someone is not going to get playing time on Varsity but can help out on the JVs then that player will also play both games but with an emphasis on JV. We want kids to do well and improve and if they can do that by getting reps on different levels than we will make the move.
  • However there are limitations. Freshman have to be a certain age before being moved from the Freshman team and “tweeners” cannot play games on the same day. There has to be a 24 hour period of “rest” before said player can play in the next game.
  • What other factors might influence a player making the team other than grade, skill set and athletic ability?
    • I think I covered this in number 5… (player of good character, dedication, commitment, etc.)
  • Describe the organization of your bench area during games.
    • Bench area? Typically people sit on it when they need to rest but we typically stand and participate on the sideline as opposed to sitting on the bench. We also have players maintain a certain distance from the sideline so we don’t get a penalty for sideline interference.
  • What coaches, teacher or other people have been great influences in your life and why or how?
    • The two biggest influential figures in regards to teaching and coaching have been my father, Hans Verstegen, and my former high school head coach and current La Serna teacher, Coach LaVigne (I’ll always call him coach). My Dad (as well as my mother but in regards to football and coaching there is more emphasis on my dad) taught me to be a young man and mainly by example. He was always friendly to everyone he met, even total strangers, and always had my back. I learned a lot about loyalty from my father and to how to have a strong work-ethic. I wasn’t the hardest worker when it came to academics (which I regret) but very few people would be able to out-work me when it came to physicality in football.
  • Where my father taught me to be a young man, Coach LaVigne coached me on how to be a complete young man. Meaning he introduced things to me like brotherhood, the importance of commitment, and what it means to the right thing even when everyone around you may not agree with you. He is responsible for me being a teacher and coach today and I will forever be trying to “pay it forward” by continuing to coach and teach the lessons that were instilled in me through him.
    • What books or movies are you favorites and why?
      • Honestly I like reading articles as opposed to books but I mainly read about current events and historically based articles. It’s part of my job now as a history teacher but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally look up Rick and Morty articles and Star Wars leaks from time to time.
  • As far as TV shows and movies I like multiple genres. It really depends on my mood but I primarily stick to comedies, action/adventure, dramas, and some indie films. Anything that either makes me laugh or has a point to make is alright in my book (no pun intended)
  • What is one key event that changed your life in a positive or negative way?
    • The one key event that comes to mind is when I was on temporary academic probation in college. It definitely changed me for the better because at that point I was too worried about the social aspect of college than I was about academics. I don’t regret being on probation though because it was a wake-up call for me to get my life back on track. I was able to finish my undergrad with respectable grades and passed my graduate school courses with flying colors. My advice to high school students and student-athletes is to enjoy your time in college but maintain a healthy balance. Otherwise it could come back to haunt you. Luckily I did something about it and went on to be more successful than I would have been if I would have kept putting myself in a hole so to speak.
  • Who is your greatest role model either personally or as a coach?
    • Answered in #9 but I would say both my parents and Coach LaVigne.
    • What one word or phrase do you want people to associate with your name?
      • Haven’t really thought about this… but I guess I would want people to think that I helped them somehow. Whether in the classroom or on the field. Not too worried about whether or not I am seen as a positive or negative type of label but more of a helper… if that makes any sense.
  • What is one word or phrase that you hope former players use to describe you?
    • Not really sure because I haven’t asked. The only way I can respond is that when I walk through the halls of La Serna (which isn’t too often, I like my cave) I usually get several hello’s from students. So I like to think that students, both current and former, describe me in a positive manner. But again I’m not sure.
  • Why are you the best person for this job?
    • I am sure there are many people out there that are better coaches and teachers than me and that’s okay. However I think I am the best person for this job because I was in these student-athletes shoes in this exact school not too long ago. I still remember how hard high school can be for some people and that allows me to teach and coach in a way that can get them on or keep them on track.
  • I also don’t like staying or sticking to one method and am willing to try new things so long as it helps my students and players. I think too often do coaches stick to a formula that simply doesn’t work for some students/student-athletes and that can be detrimental not only to the player but also to the team. At the same time I try to stay consistent in what I do the majority of the time. Overall the point I am making is that I am willing to grow and to do whatever it takes, so long as it is with good intentions, to make our youth successful.