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First Down

By Mark Wilson | Photos by Stevo Torres

Despite being a rookie in that position, GISD Athletic Director Dwight Butler said Zschiesche has the “it factor” he was looking for to lead the Pirates.

Zschiesche was named on June 24 from among 89 applicants to replace Scotty Pugh. After back-to-back 1-9 seasons, Pugh ended his eight-year stint at the helm of the Pirates’ ship to become head coach at Orange Grove.

At Wichita Falls High and Mansfield Summit, Zschiesche spent 10 valuable seasons as an assistant to his mentor, former Southlake Carroll assistant coach, Travis Pride. Carroll won three state championships with Pride as offensive coordinator under Todd Dodge, and Pride trusted Zschiesche enough to make him his offensive coordinator at Summit. With his young protege guiding the offense, Pride’s Summit teams qualified for the playoffs five times in his seven years there.

“He (Zschiesche) had that ‘it’ factor,” said Butler, who recommended him to the Granbury ISD board of trustees after 10 of the applicants were interviewed. Butler said he learned Zschiesche had a reputation of being a “kid magnet.” “Everywhere he’s been, kids have been drawn to him,” Butler said. “You’ve got to have their trust.”

As Zschiesche put it, “We’re in the kid profession, and I spend a lot of time with these kids off the field and I think that’s big for any coach or teacher to do … to spend time with them outside the classroom and outside the field to get to know them.”

Naturally, putting in hard work is also essential to football success. “There’s no shortcut to success,” the new coach said. “You’ve got to put in the time, you’ve got to put in the work to get there. Chemistry is a big deal. Trust, dedication, perseverance, commitment, integrity, character. Those are all big to our program.”

Butler said he was drawn to Zschiesche as well – by his work ethic and enthusiasm. “And working for coach Pride was definitely a plus,” Butler added. “(Coach Pride) is very well-respected in our profession, and he basically turned over the offense to Chad Zschiesche.”

Asked to describe himself, Zschiesche says besides being competitive, he is a disciplinarian and a Christian believer. When not enjoying the simple things in life with his family, he said, they are often involved in church activities. He enjoys golf and hunting when football season is over, but indicated that his top priority off the field is his family. He and his wife, Deidra, have two young daughters at home, 10-year-old Keily and 7-year-old Kambry. Daughter Morgan, 19, is enrolled in cosmetology school. His wife Deidra, a native of Holliday who was a standout track and field athlete at Tarleton when she met Zschiesche, is also a teacher and coach. “First and foremost is spending time with my family,” Zschiesche said. “(Things as) simple as playing board games or jumping on a trampoline.”

“When opportunity knocks, you have to be willing to walk through the door.” – Coach Zschiesche

Spread the Field: The one-back spread offense that made Southlake Carroll so tough to stop – and which Zschiesche learned under Pride – will continue to be used by Zschiesche at GHS.

Photo by Stevo Torres

Zschiesche said that his focus on winning games only has changed over the years, and now he realizes there are more important priorities in life – such as how you treat people.

“I still want to win,” he said. “Let’s make sure we clarify that. But there’s more to it than just wins and losses and X’s and O’s. In any walk of life, if you’re not growing and striving to be better, then you’re dying. Take coaching out of it, just as a person, I’ve been through some stuff in my life that humbled me… And having gone through that, your outlook on life changes and your priorities in life change.”

This isn’t Zschiesche’s first experience with Granbury. In 2001, while completing his degree at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, he was a student teacher at GHS and served as a volunteer coach with the Pirates. He took his first official coaching job in 2002 at Hico, where he was offensive coordinator in football, as well as head baseball coach.

When Zschiesche heard about the GHS job opening, he had completed his seven-year stint as offensive coordinator at Summitt. Pride was hired by Trophy Club Byron Nelson High School in January, and Zschiesche was going to come along as part of his staff, maintaining his offensive coordinator title. But having a chance to be a head football coach for the first time proved to be an irresistible opportunity. “When opportunity knocks, you have to be willing to walk through the door,” Zschiesche said. “I wasn’t even looking (for a different job). We knew the day was coming that I was going to be looking hard. It was sooner than we expected. It was late for (Pride) to lose an offensive coordinator, and he handled it better than anyone could expect.” Zschiesche maintains that Pride not only groomed him to be the right kind of leader, he also learned crucial lessons from his own mistakes along the way. “Dealing with budgets, learning how to coordinate kids. He (Pride) is a very humble man, very soft-spoken. But at the same time, he demands excellence.”

The one-back spread offense that made Southlake Carroll so tough to stop – and which Zschiesche learned under Pride – will continue to be used by Zschiesche at GHS. There will be a few new wrinkles in the scheme, he noted. “From a fan’s standpoint, it’s going to look very similar,” Zschiesche said. “There are a few tweaks we’re going to make. From a formation standpoint, we will be very simple. From a scheme standpoint, I’ll let the opposing coaches describe whether that’s simple or not.”

 

Back To His Roots: This isn’t Zschiesche’s first experience with Granbury. In 2001, while completing his degree at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, he was a student teacher at GHS and served as a volunteer coach with the Pirates.

Photo by Stevo Torres

Because he was brought in relatively late, as head football coaching hires go, Zschiesche had to hit the ground running. He faced a few challenges that turned his world into a whirlwind. This included having to catch up in the basic process of assessing his players’ abilities. “The biggest hurdle is not being able to implement your off-season program,” he said. “You can tell a lot from a kid’s dedication level when we’re not in season.”

Other important tasks, such as hiring a few new assistant coaches, had to be completed at an accelerated rate. But, Zschiesche said, he embraced the challenge. “I’m truly blessed to be here, and I look forward to impacting young men [moving] in a positive direction,” he said.

Zschiesche said he learned from raising his daughters that there is no cookie-cutter method that works in motivating or disciplining youngsters. “And so, multiply that by 50 or 60 kids on a team,” he said. “These coaches have to develop strong relationships off the field with their players so they know what these kids are going through. Ultimately if those kids know that you have their best interest at heart, they’re going to do whatever they can for you.”

It’s evident that Pirate fans are eager to see how the young coach relates to the players on and off the field — and to see that translate into more victories in 2016.