The Independent Interview: Coronado Athletic Director Brandon Larson

Change is happening at Coronado High School and one of those changes includes a new athletic director fresh off of a football field in Texas.

Coronado High School Athletic Director Brandon Larson. (Submitted Photo)

Brandon Larson comes to Coronado via Floresville High School in Floresville, Texas, where he was the offensive coordinator for the Tigers. While Mr. Larson has been coaching football for 15 years, the last five in Texas, this will be his first as an athletic director.

In an emailed response to questions, Mr. Larson said he has had many opportunities to learn the different responsibilities of an athletic director because of the plethora of responsibilities expected of football coaches in Texas.

With all this behind him, Mr. Larson said once he saw the opportunity open at Coronado, he was excited because he has always wanted to be an athletic director.

“With the Coronado Success Initiative, the school and (Scottsdale Unified School District) are starting to think outside the box and come up with new and creative ways to approach education and I wanted to be a part of that,” he said. “I truly believe that athletics enhances the educational process and creates men and women of high character.”

Mr. Larson replaces David Huffine, who took a job as an athletic director at Mesa High School. Under his leadership, Coronado won a state championship in boy’s soccer.

It is that success Mr. Larson wants to build on moving forward. However, his definition of success is not only winning on the field or court, but off it as well.

“I have taken the definition of success directly from John Wooden, one of the greatest leaders of all time,” Mr. Larson said. “‘Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.’

“That is how I define success for our athletic program. If our players have become the best they are capable of being, they leave our program with high character, then that is successful in my eyes.”

The Scottsdale Independent reached out to Mr. Larson to get a sense of what his goals are for his upcoming tenure and how he hopes to build on past successes at Coronado. Here is what he had to say:

Overall, what has been your impression of the school and its athletics?

Coronado has a long standing tradition of success in athletics. Coach Huffine did a great job here in the past and I want to build on that success. Having worked as a coach in SUSD before moving to Texas, I’ve seen the success first hand and want to help Coronado be known for producing great athletes both on and off the field.

How excited are you to be getting a new football field/track?

I think that it is an awesome experience for the kids moving forward. The district, the new district athletic director and the new principal did a great job designing a top-notch field and track that will help the kids have some of the best facilities in the area.

I was part of a new turf and track install at a previous district and there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the kids faces the first time they get to practice and play on that surface.

How do you anticipate it affecting the school’s athletic program?

I think the new facilities will help the kids and community be proud of hosting events and overall it will give the players that are able to use it a sense of pride when playing there.

It also helps with practice areas and coordinating teams to have the most efficient use of fields to maximize their practice times. The stadium field can now be used as a practice field as well as a competition field without creating the wear and tear of a traditional grass field.

Where do you hope to take Coronado athletics moving forward?

My vision for the Dons is to create an athletic department that is known for creating men and women of high character both on and off the field of play.

As a coach I have always felt that if you build the culture, the wins will be a natural by-product of that culture. I have been fortunate enough to be apart of a couple programs that have had dramatic turnarounds so I have both participated and seen this first hand.

How do you hope to accomplish those goals listed in the prior question?

Hiring good coaches that care about kids. They can be the smartest person in the room when it comes to their sport, but if they can’t relate with the kids and get them to buy in, it will always be a struggle. I also am looking to involve the community more moving forward. I believe that the community is the center pillar in any athletic program.

Why have you chosen to work in athletics?

I was raised by a single mother and playing sports kept me from getting into a lot of trouble. My coaches were my father figures growing up and I loved to play sports. Over the years I knew that I always wanted to become a coach.

Sports are the largest at-risk youth program in the country. I know that I go home everyday having more impact on the world than most people will in a lifetime.

What is the most rewarding part of working in your line of work?

Seeing the kids grow and building those relationships with them. This is one of the most critical points in their lifetimes and you are a major influence on that.

I had a player that once came to me and told that if it weren’t for a spring ball practice he attended, he would have been in jail for life with his brother who ended up committing a horrible crime that afternoon. Knowing that I helped save that kid’s life makes it all worth it.

I know that every coach out there has a similar story. I don’t think people realize the time and effort that coaches and their families put in behind closed doors to give players the best chance at succeeding. It’s a thankless job, but most would say it’s worth it!

Why are athletics important at a high school and to its students, athletes or otherwise?

Every school has different needs and athletics helps with all of them. Athletics is a source of pride for the students and community. For some students its a way for them to go to college and have someone pay for their education.

For most athletes, they will build experiences and relationships that will last for a lifetime. There is an indescribable feeling and camaraderie that comes with being a part of a team, especially when you are representing your school, family and community.

With all that being said, an athletic program can bring together a school and community unlike nothing else.

Describe the moment you fell in love with athletics:

The day I was born! I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing a sport and loving life. I would say though the first time I really understood what athletics did for me was after my freshman year.

I was struggling at home with family and was going to quit football. My best friend talked me out of it and told me about how I had helped him the year before going through a knee injury to keep from getting down.

It was right then I realized that my teammates cared just as much about me as a person as they did about me as a player. I realized that this team was family and always would be. I knew at that moment how much athletics meant to me.

Which one sport, if any, is near and dear to your heart over the rest? Why?

I would have to say football because it has been the sport I have coached for the past 15 years but I am finding a new passion as well of soccer as my oldest boy is quite good and has made me a pretty big soccer fan. That helps at Coronado as we are the defending 4A State Champions!

Which figure in sports, professional or personal, do you look up to the most? Why?

I have always been a fan of coaches more than players. If I had to pick just one I would have to say Chip Kelly.

He was the up and coming coach when I started coaching football and I always admired that he was willing to try something new and was not afraid to fail.

I love innovation and finding a better way to do things. I think one of the worst things for a leader to say is ‘that is the way we have always done things.’ Growth can’t occur unless people are willing to take risks and try things that have not been tried before.

When you’re not working in athletics, what do you do in your free time?

Working as a coach in Texas the last five years there was no such thing as free time so I’ll let you know when I get some!

 

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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