Even though he played for a rival school in high school, new Geneseo High School sophomore football head coach Mike Harrington now bleeds green and yellow.
Harrington, who played football at Sterling High School graduating in 1995, has spent the last seven years teaching U.S. History, AP Government and Humanities at GHS and as a sophomore/varsity running backs coach.
Harrington replaces Phil Paulson, who retired after the 2011 season.
“I am excited,” he said. “When Phil retired, I really wanted to be the sophomore coach, but realized there were other coaches with more experience. If I would have been the assistant coach this year I would still be happy.”
Harrington’s opportunity came when head coach Larry Johnsen Jr. approached him about being the new sophomore coach.
“I said ‘yes’ and it was very kind of him to come and ask me,” said Harrington, who expected this chance to come a little later down the line.
Harrington said he decided he wanted to get into coaching because of the coaches he had while playing at Sterling.
Coach Harrington’s expectations for his team is to have ‘consistency over greatness.’
“I?want to make sure they are consistent with what they do and when they get to varsity that will be their chance to be great,” he said.
The aspect of the job that Harrington enjoys the most is developing relationships with players.
“I remember the relationships,” he said. “ The kids at Geneseo are great, and they put in a lot of time to play football. The amount of time they put in is phenomenal.”
After coaching with Paulson for the last few years, Harrington says he has learned a lot from the former coach.
“Phil and I are really good friends and work really well together,” he said. “He was good about being prepared and the biggest thing I will take away is his attention to detail. He also has a tremendous way with kids from all different backgrounds.”
For Harrington, the transition to head coach has not been a big jump and he credits that to coach Johnsen for allowing him and the other sophomore coaches to run the team the way they saw fit.
“We have a really special place here,” he said. “We are fortunate to have the stands packed every Friday night and everyone is always very respectful.
“Our program also would not be as strong as it is without the help of Jim VanOpdorp and Glen?Anderson, who give so much. I believe it is run so smoothly because of the efforts of these guys. They helped make it a smooth transition.”
The biggest thing Harrington says he has learned over the last few years has been, unlike in the movies, screaming at players is not the answer.
Page 2 of 2 - “Yes, you can be strict and hard, but you also have to put your arm around players and let them know you care,” he said.
Harrington’s goals for his team this season is for them to come together, practice at all times and to be the best people they can be on and off the field.
“I want to make sure these young men are ready to play varsity football and to be prepared in all facets of the game,” said Harrington. “I also would like to try to step out of my comfort zone and throw more.”
Harrington also says his time in the military has helped him to be ready for this opportunity.
“When you are young you think you are the only person on earth, but the Army gave me a humbling experience and the things I needed to be successful,” he said.
The sophomores kick off their season at 5 p.m. Aug. 24 at home against Dunlap.
“I will be really nervous about the first game,” said Harrington. “But there will be a moment when the game is over that I will take a step back and remember. This is something I always wanted to do. I am excited and I?have wonderful people to lean on.”