The first thing you notice about new Islander football coach Kurt Hines is his physical presence. As I watched punting and PAT drills during Wednesday’s practice, Coach Hines’ voice boomed instructions to his players. Right away you could sense the passion and commitment Kurt has for football. The boys’ black practice jerseys are emblazoned with the single word “Relentless” which is Hines’ mantra he wishes to instill on the team: Relentless in their approach to training, practicing, and playing each down through the “echo of the whistle.” His goal is not only to coach a successful football team, but to groom young players to have relentless personal commitment that empowers them to be future leaders.
Coach Hines built a powerhouse football program at Bedford High School in New Hampshire from 2008 to 2014. But as his daughters relocated to Southern California and grandchildren soon arrived, Kurt, and his wife Jillian, made the trek west. Hines takes over Coronado’s head football position after two years as Christian High’s running backs coach. He inherits a team that returns only 2 starters. When asked what he thinks the team’s chances of winning this year, Coach Hines is more concerned that all the players buy into the system. He wants to lead a culture change throughout the program. Hines is “all in” for his players and demands the same commitment from them. For example: each player must provide an academic progress report every two weeks. If anyone’s grades slip below the 75% mark, they must go to study hall to ensure improvement. The Islanders cannot afford any players on academic probations in 2017.
Kurt Hines’ background in elementary education should serve him well in teaching this year’s young team. He is grateful for his strong coaching staff. Five of seven coaches return from last year when the Islanders posted a 9-3 record and won the Central League. These coaches provide continuity for the players, as well as 25+ years of Islander experience.
In their first game of the season, the Islanders struggled with a strong San Ysidro team losing 41–14. The team bounced back last week in their home opener, racing out to a 35-7 lead which allowed for some valuable playing experience for the 2nd and 3rd string. It is hard not to notice teaching being the cornerstone of coach Hines’ process. He shared with me his favorite book on coaching which is “Inside Out Coaching” by Joe Ehrmann. In the book, Ehrmann explains there are two types of coaches: Transactional and Transformational. Hines strives for excellence in the latter. He is empowering his players to be excellent in the classroom, excellent in their personal relationships and excellent on the gridiron. It is clear to me he is making a change.
The Islanders host the Mar Vista Mariners on Friday night with kick-off at 7:00pm. Coach Hines says the Mar Vista players are big, fast and well coached. It should be a great test for our Islanders. Come out and cheer on the home team and see the transformation for yourself. I’m “all in,” are you?