CRESTVIEW — Crestview High School athletic director and head football coach Tim Hatten, a month in his job, is still in the initiation phase.
Though he hasn’t been here long enough to develop a clear vision for the Crestview football team and athletic program, he has broad ideas for the program.
"When I came in here and I interviewed, I talked about a program having an identity," he said. "We haven't established an identity yet, but we want to be able to do something that we are known for.
"We have one of the best bands in the state here. When you talk about bands, you talk about Crestview High School and you have to talk about the Big Red Machine. We need to have something that mirrors that in football."
Crestview High’s football program should be renowned for its discipline and polish, Hatten said.
"They need to understand what I expect — and what I want as a head football coach — out of them as football players," he said. "It is going to take some time for us to figure that out between each other.”
In the meantime, “we will sure go out there and do things the right way, whether it's winning or losing,” he said.
Continuity vs. complacency
Fostering continuity is another factor in Hatten’s formula for success — with some considerations.
"I think you have to establish continuity without developing complacency," he said. "Complacency (in coaching) is what you've got to fight on the back end. You've got to be just as energetic in year 14 as you were in year one.That's part of staying with the program, keeping your nose to the ground, and letting the kids know what you expect. And doing that year in and year out.”
While some of the Bulldog programs, such as track and baseball, have remained stable through the years, the softball program has its fourth coach in as many years.
The team would never be successful until a coach stays for the long haul, Hatten said.
"I think we have a strong nucleus of coaches, but obviously, you don't want to have that kind of turnover in one position," he said. "Continuity is always good because it helps the kids know what to expect.
"Having had a chance to watch our softball team play several games over the past two weeks, they are a very competitive group with some very, very good talent — both seniors and underclassmen as well. That's a very promising group, athletic-wise, and we need to make sure we give them a good atmosphere for being successful.”
That strategy should work across the board, Hatten said.
“(If) you develop some tradition and some good habits, you end up molding these kids ... into great young men and women and great players. And when they graduate, they go off to college somewhere and — whether they participate (in athletics) or not — they go on and carry the values that you teach them."
Hatten, as athletic director, oversees more than 20 sports, which he said dwarfs the six or seven sports his high school offered just more than 30 years ago.
"I think it makes it a little more difficult," he said. "You want to make sure you give attention to all of your sports. And the role I play, or I want to play, is to be an AD that helps programs.
"I don't want to be a regulator so much as I want to be someone that says, 'Hey, what do you need? What I can I do for you?' And provide that ... the time, need, work or whatever. That's the main thing you want to do when you try to manage all of these sports."
Time budgeting is the key to handling a large program, Hatten said.
"I think it's as much of a struggle for an administrator as it is for the AD because you have to cover all these sports, and there is something going on basically every night — certainly every other night at the local high school — and those are the events that we cover administratively," he said. "Certainly, when you try to manage 22 sports, as opposed to six, there are different challenges you have to overcome. You have to manage your time.”
Supporting coaches’ value
Having skilled assistant football coaches, and head coaches in other sports, makes Hatten’s job easier, he said.
"You have to surround yourself with 10 or 11 guys helping you out as assistant coaches on the football side of it, and we have some great coaches in our other sports ... that do a great job in running their program," he said. "They are very, very low maintenance and they take care of their own fundraising and they run their complete program ...
"That helps when you've got guys like (track coach) Ernie (Martin) that has been here a long time, (baseball) coach (Tim) Gillis has been here a long time, and coach Combest has been through so many things. Those kind of folks can help you out a great deal so you can provide attention to some (other) areas you need to so you can try to get a couple of wins out there to keep us around a couple of years."
With spring football starting May 1, Hatten said the team is trying to catch up with other Bulldog sports.
"I think the other sports are handling their images and their identities," he said, adding, "I want to make sure we are all on the same page.
"From what I've seen, we need to get our program up to snuff with some of the other programs, in terms of baseball, volleyball the band, softball, and that kind of thing."
Though the football program needs work, the players are doing their part, Hatten said.
"We are impressed with the way the kids are working, and the effort they are giving us,” he said.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.