From the Bench: Indians Football Coach John Cole Gives Some Insight on His Future with BHS Program

By Jeff Toquinto on December 03, 2017 from Sports Blog via

Bridgeport High School football Coach John Cole has been around the program for decades now, dating back to his playing days in the 1980s. He is fully aware football team is followed closely by thousands in Bridgeport and beyond.
Because of that, Cole is also aware people are curious as to whether he’ll look to come back next year as the Indians head coach or return to his role as assistant he held for roughly two decades. When I told him earlier this week that his status was something I was asked about several times a week, Cole took it in stride and laughed.
That doesn’t mean John Cole doesn’t take football seriously. He does. He just doesn’t take the hyperbole surrounding it nearly as serious.
Still, he knows he’ll have to make up his mind soon. For those who are wondering why he would have to make up his mind, understand John Cole took the position as an interim coach under difficult circumstances anyone even remotely close to the program, who follow sports or even the news are aware about.
What that means is that sometime in the next several months, the job will be posted for a permanent hire. Cole is aware of that and he hopes to have a decision soon as to whether he’ll apply for the head coaching job on a permanent basis or whether he’ll step down from that position.
“I’m going to take my time and I know I’ll talk with my coaching staff and see what we want to do and what’s in the best interest of the kids,” said Cole. “I’ll get input from people I need to get input from and I’ll think about it myself, but it won’t be a decision made solely by myself.”
If that sounds odd, it doesn’t for those who know Johnny Cole. Don’t for a second thing Cole doesn’t have ego because in the competitive world of coaching you have to have it. He wants to win. He wants his players to succeed. And he wants the school and community to look good because of it.
The difference with Cole is his ego is pretty much in check. If he needed pats on the back this year, I didn’t see it. If he wanted the glory for what turned into another banner year, he had a funny way of not letting anyone know about it.
Heck, he made it a point early on to ask the media to please talk to his coordinators – Adam King and Jason Nicewarner – if they wanted to because they were as responsible as any for what turned into an 11-2 season that ended a little more than a week ago in the Class AA semifinals with a loss at Bluefield.
While I’ve had coaches point out others to talk to in my 20-plus years, I’ve never seen a coach as adamant to actually have the media talk to them as Cole. And if not for deadlines most media members are on during those late Friday nights, I’m certain most would have taken him up on the offer because it came off as sincere and a legitimate request as opposed to a deflection of not wanting to talk to the media.
From my standpoint, Cole was a pleasure to work with. He answered questions, he returned phone calls, he was candid and my amateur observations of him at the helm showed his decision to step into the interim spot at the eleventh hour was like a hand in a glove. It just fit.
That would lead one to believe Cole would automatically head into the office of BHS Principal Mark DeFazio and tell him that he plans on applying for the job once it’s posted. Of course, if you know how Cole has handled himself since joining the staff in 1997 you know it’s not that simple.
“The wait is for me to think a lot of things through because I’m not accustomed to all of this. My expertise was limited to certain roles, which is why I felt comfortable having my assistants really take on prominent roles,” said Cole. “It’s easier to do that when you have talented assistants, too.”
So what was the biggest difference?
“The organization, everything you can imagine, was the biggest thing you adjust to. I’ve seen it and helped in the past, but when you’re the coach that starts and stops with you,” said Cole. “What made the transition easy this year were those kids, particularly that senior class. They were a good group and, honestly, they were a good enough group it wouldn’t have mattered who was doing it this year because those were special kids that I got a chance to coach. I think all of the coaches would say the same.”
One thing Cole said he expected when he took over – and appreciated as much as anything – was support. The support from the administration, the school, the parents and the community at large was there from day one.
“The biggest compliment I can say was it never changed; it was no different from the past. If there was anything I was certain about it was having this community behind me and this team. There was never a doubt in my mind about that,” said Cole.  “To me, that’s the best thing about teaching here and it’s the best thing of being a coach, whether it’s as an assistant or as the head coach, that you know this community has your back.”
As mentioned earlier, Cole doesn’t know what he’ll decide. He has a better idea of when he’ll decide.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll have my mind made up by the first of the year,” said Cole. “I think I’ll know by then.”
That, of course, doesn’t mean Cole will be the next head coach if he walks into DeFazio’s office and says he wants to do it again. I have too much respect, as I know Cole does as well, to say DeFazio and Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Matt DeMotto, should point blank say “we’ll go ahead and post it, but the job is yours.” That’s not how it works.
DeFazio and DeMotto will make sure the process is done correctly. If Cole decides he wants his name thrown in the ring on a full-time basis, all he’s done is made it a more difficult chore for the administration to opt to go with someone else. I don’t think that’s even remotely going out on a limb.
And if he doesn’t want the head job, what’s next? Cole has an answer for that too.
“I’ll definitely be coaching next year for Bridgeport,” said Cole. “I just don’t know it what capacity.”
When you get right down to it, that’s the best news of all. Coach Cole will still be Coach Cole in 2018. At what level is yet to be determined.
Editor's Note: Pictures of Coach John Cole by Ben Queen of

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