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A day in the life of... head coaches

November 17, 2012
By Scott Viau ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

Editor's note: This article is part of a series looking at the day-to-day lives of local people in various professions.

HOUGHTON - During football season, Michigan Technological University head coach Tom Kearly's average day is a busy one, which starts out arriving in the office by 6 a.m.

"That's when I watch a little bit of film, early in the morning, by myself, so I can get a feel of what we're playing against that week," Kearly said.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Scott Viau
Michigan Technological University head football coach Tom Kearly sits at his desk in his office and prepares for the week. Kearly’s day is one filled with meetings, reviewing game films and practice. Kearly has been in this position, or something like it, for many years but said it has never felt like work.

He does that until 7:30 a.m. and then he meets with his staff, which consists of Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Tim Driscoll, Offensive Coordinator Erik Ieuter and others. There they talk about what's on the schedule for the day. The meeting usually lasts for half an hour.

At 8 a.m. until about 9:30 or 10 a.m., Kearly is usually in meetings with different groups, which can range from special teams, to defense or to offense. Once this is done, Kearly will usually watch more film or check up on an issue that may have come up in the meeting. This can usually last until lunch time, but after that, it's back to work.

"At 1 I prepare for the afternoon's practice," Kearly said. "We go over all the scripts and the practice plans."

During his day, Kearly will also meet with individual players to go over film, the practice plan or the game plan.

A practice is also scheduled in there, making Kearly's already long day even longer. The practice begins at about 3:30 p.m. and goes until just before 6 p.m. The rest of the night includes dinner, meeting with more groups and maybe watching some more film. He usually leaves the building around 10 p.m.

"That's pretty much the season," Kearly said. "That's what I've been doing for 30 years, essentially."

Kearly worked his way up from being a graduate assistant at Central Michigan University to a position coach to a coordinator to assistant head coach.

"As you work your way up, you get more titles and more duties if you do a good job," Kearly said. "... When Coach Anderson left, I was given the title as head coach."

For working days that can go past 12 hours, Kearly feels nothing but fortunate about his position and that it's never felt like a job he dreads going to.

"I've gotten paid for 33 years and never had to go to work," Kearly said.

However, Kearly admits there are still some days that are better than others.

"Losses hurt," he said. "Because of the complexity of the game and the physicality of the game, you get one a week, so when you get beat that one lasts a while. That's tough."

Despite his success as a head coach, Kearly didn't always have the position in mind, as he went to school for journalism to be a sports information director, but changed his mind halfway through college.

"I realized I wanted to coach kids instead of doing the PR stuff," Kearly said. "I was fortunate enough to get on as a graduate assistant at CMU."

The most rewarding part of the job for Kearly is the relationship he develops with the players, but not necessarily while he's coaching them.

"The kids want discipline but they may not enjoy it at that moment," Kearly said.

The rewarding part comes when he hears from the players after they've graduated and moved on.

"Some of the best rewards for me have been emails from students that played for me who will send something back, like they've remembered something you said," Kearly said.

Associate Head Coach Tim Driscoll works with Kearly throughout the season and hears feedback from him about what issues need improvement and what things have been going well.

"It's a nice thing to have a boss who's very knowledgeable and (can) put himself in the opponent's shoes and say, 'I think that's what they'll do because of this or that,'" Driscoll said.

Driscoll said he has been working Coach Kearly for nine seasons, which equals about eight-and-a-half years and said it's been very good.

"I have a respect for Tom as a good football coach," Driscoll said. "It's nice to have that as a boss because you know that he knows what he's talking about."



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