From the Bench: Cole Goes from Perfectly Content Football Assistant into the Spotlight of Head Coaching

By Jeff Toquinto on August 06, 2017 from Sports Blog via

For 20 years, Bridgeport High School Coach John Cole was as familiar a sight on the football field as watching the Indians run the football. From 1997 up until about a week ago, Cole spent every single second of that as an assistant.
No one was happier being an assistant first to Bruce Carey and then to Josh Nicewarner then John Cole. When anyone asked him at first about applying for the job when Bruce replaced the legendary Wayne Jamison or when Nicewarner replaced Carey, Cole had no interest.
He was fine being the number two man. And by all accounts, he was the perfect wing man for any head coach.
Why do I say that? From the non-breaking news department, John Cole’s sole responsibility was to the kids, the head coach and the rest of the assistants.
If you wanted to undermine the head coach while Cole has been around, then you needed to find another outlet. John Cole was and is fiercely loyal to the Bridgeport program that he was once a member of and that’s not going to change now that he’s the official head coach in lieu of the departure of Josh Nicewarner.
Here’s the thing, Cole didn’t exactly run to administrators at Bridgeport High School asking to take over when the most recent situation took place. All things being equal and if this situation would have played out months earlier, there’s a chance he would have never applied for the job if it was posted.
That’s not definitive, but Cole said this move came about due to the timing. With the incident taking place in late July, the proper posting and vetting of a coach by the Harrison County Board of Education wasn’t feasible.
“I pretty much knew the interim recommendation coming because of the timing of everything. It had to be done and that’s why I’m here,” said Cole.
So did you agree to do it to keep a normalcy around the program during a problematic time I asked Cole Monday during the opening day of practice?
“Absolutely,” said Cole. “The kids come first that’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re all here.”
That, of course, led me to the next question. Cole smiled, likely knowing my question was going to be would he consider applying for the position permanently after the 2017 campaign is in the books.
“I don’t really know. We’ll see. I imagine there will likely be some changes in the staff after this year. It just depends on a lot of things and I’ll reevaluate that at the end of the year,” said Cole. “I don’t know and, honestly, if I had to give an answer right now I don’t look to.
“I guess the best way to answer it is that if things go well, not just from a wins and losses standpoint, and I decide I want to invest the time in it and do that I may,” said Cole. “At this point I’ll never say never.”
One thing that won’t be a deterrent is the BHS administration. Cole has been around long enough to know that the group of Mark DeFazio, Matt DeMotto and Mary Francis Smith are much more help than hindrance to any process – teaching or coaching.
“(Mark, Matt and Mary Francis) give us, and I feel really comfortable saying this being a teacher at the high school, everything we need to be successful. I would imagine every teacher in that building and every coach will tell you that. That’s definitely the case with this program,” said Cole. “Generally, anything that we need they provide for us.”
Cole said he’s also been provided a great coaching staff. And he said he’s learned from others, going back to when he was a freshman coach under legendary Wayne Jamison that you rely on those working with you.
“The luxury I have is that I’m not here alone. The coaches we have on this staff and the way that it’s going to be structured is that they’re going to be allowed to coach and they’re going to coach. I’m going to still do what I’ve usually done, but I’ll probably have a little more role in the offense than what I did before, but not much more. I don’t need to because we have guys here that know exactly what to do,” said Cole. “I absolutely won’t be micromanaging. There won’t be any of that. I’m here to handle the discipline and the things typically done by a head coach from keeping the kids on track and focused.”
There’s one other thing he won’t be doing. And that’s worrying about whether or not he’ll be back in 2018 as a head coach or an assistant coach.
“I’m not going to be thinking about that at all and hadn’t thought about it until you asked,” said Cole. “I have one thing to worry about and that’s the players on this team and they deserve 100 percent of my attention. That’s what they’re going to get.”
And Bridgeport is getting a good and loyal coach. One that if he opts to stay, could be a great one.

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