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  • Peter Miller

SGG episode #28: Hamilton High School (AZ) football coach Mike Zdebski leads a national powerhouse


Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.

Mike Zdebski is the head football coach at Hamilton High School, the biggest school in Arizona and a traditional football force. Before beginning at Hamilton, Coach Zdebski spent 29 years on the sideline in Michigan, where he achieved at the highest levels and was elected to the Michigan High School Football Association’s Hall of Fame. In this episode of the SGG podcast, we discussed:

1. The scale of high school football in Arizona, including high-level media attention.

2. The friendships he developed through football.

3. Learning the game while coaching with Pat Fox.

4. Giving assistant coaches opportunities to continue learning while he was at Walled Lake in Michigan.

5. Why he took over as head track coach… and encouraged his football players to run track.

6. Identifying college coaches to learn from – including Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen – and the importance of developing trusting relationships with them.

7. Using Zoom to promote learning for his football staff.

8. Weekly leadership meetings for his players.

9. Once a month team-building activities – centered on community service and fun.

10. Reading together as a team. (you win the locker room first)

11. Weekly team meetings.

12. Why he took on a new challenge…and some of the specific elements of turning around a team that had experienced difficult times.

13. Building a youth program.

14. The impact of personal training on young football players.

15. Providing support to his players in contacting colleges and supporting them through the recruiting process.

16. Why there’s no need for “rah rah” speeches before games – but how important routine and focus are in developing mature teams.

17. “Learning to be yourself” as a coach.