Plant City Courier
Durant's head football coach is big on the details
Every morning, Mike Gottman wakes up at 4 a.m. and makes a cup of coffee. Then he sits at his kitchen table, takes a moment to think about the day ahead and writes down seven things he wants to accomplish in the next 12 hours or so. "One thing might be something like, 'Get all the players' insurance forms completed,'" Gottman said. You know, seven fancy things like that. He uses seven because he said he read it one of those "effective ways to organize" books.Gottman got in the "seven things" habit 10 years ago, when he became Durant's head football coach. "It's worked great for me," he said. Gottman's wife, Lisa, teaches reading at Durant High; his daughter Olivia, goes to school there, and so will his other daughter, Hanna. Durant "couldn't feel more like home," Mike Gottman said. He likes that Durant is down Turkey Creek Road, in the middle of relatively nowhere. The area is similar to where he played defensive end in high school (in Middleport, N.Y., which is, "total country,'' outside Niagara Falls) and played college football (at Division III William Penn University in Iowa) and later coached (Division II Emporia State in Kansas). He ended up in Central Florida in 1996, when his friend from William Penn, former East Bay head coach Brian Thornton, brought him down as assistant with the Indians. Along the way, Gottman did everything from teach Indian linemen a proper three-point stance to babysitting Thornton's kids, including Mike Thornton, who became the head coach at Riverview High School this year. On Nov. 2, Gottman will actually coach against the kid he used to babysit. "(That) might make me feel a little old" because Thornton is 32, the 49-year-old Gottman said. Ultimately, Gottman, who has gone 56-40 in his previous nine years and had only two losing seasons, wants to compete again for a state title. He got a taste of it in 2003, his first year as Durant's head coach, when the Cougars reached the Class 5A state semifinals before losing 23-14 to Daytona Beach Mainland. "Who wouldn't want to do that again?" Gottman said. "That was so much fun." But then he doesn't spend too much time thinking about the past or the future. It's about "right now" — "this moment." "I've learned that if you take care of the simple things, the details, then the bigger things will take care of themselves," Gottman said. When asked to write down seven things he'd like to accomplish in the next 10 years, Gottman said he never thinks that far ahead. Instead, he said he would focus on seven words that have served him well: "Do the best you can every day."
Do you have an idea for a team, coach or player Scott should write about? Email him at scottpurks@ gmail.com.