Josh Mann, head football coach and athletic coordinator at Rouse High School, grew up in Amarillo and began playing football in third grade. He received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and science with a minor in history from Angelo State University, where he continued to play football. He began his career as a football coach at Wichita Falls High School in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 2001. Mann accepted a position at Cedar Park High School, and three football seasons later he transferred to RHS in 2007. Mann coaches three freshman teams, two junior varsity teams and one varsity team. He has two children, Jace, 11, and Judson, 9, and both children attend Blockhouse Elementary School in Leander ISD. Mann’s wife, Brandi, is a football fan who “loves the game,” Mann said.
How old were you when you first started playing football?
I think it was in third grade. Back then you couldn’t play until you were a fourth-grader, but we fudged on the age a little bit so I could get in a year early because I wanted to play so bad.
Growing up … I played quarterback, running back [and] linebacker. Not until my sophomore year in high school did I change to the position I ended up playing for the rest of my career, which was defensive line.
I love the freedom that [position] created. You got to be aggressive. I think one of the most precious things in football is sacking the quarterback and … having fun doing that. Being around a bunch of guys … and bonding with that group.
My high school coach, Jim Langdon, he became a second father figure to me. … He was somebody who really got in my life and was one reason why I got into coaching. He was a huge mentor to me.
What made you want to become a coach?
I love being a part of football and being part of the game. It taught me so much about life. Of course there are some big wins and big losses. … The relationships, the brotherhood, the guidance that I got from my high school and college coaches and the opportunity to give back to other kids and other players. I’m lucky because I can still get a little piece of that thrill on Friday night even though I’m not playing in it anymore; you still kind of get that rush of emotions. That feeling, it’s an addiction—the game, the challenge of playing chess with another team.
What are some of the life lessons you have learned from playing football?
It taught me that life is not fair. Life can be really hard, and football is extremely hard. We only play one game a week, [and] a lot of other sports play multiple games. … If you take the amount of hours we practice, the hours we study as a player or a coach to that one night. … It goes back to the value of hard work and to work toward something, and the games might not always be big or great but it’s appreciation for the grind.
There will be times in life [in] your job or marriage or work [when] it’s going to be hard and it’s going to be work, but you don’t just give up because you didn’t get your way that week. You go back to work and you keep pushing for it and hopefully … things get better and you can be proud of your work or whatever it is that you’re doing.
What goes into the preparation before a football season?
For us it starts [in] late December, early January. … We have been developing through an offseason program.
We have to start training and figure out where our weaknesses are physically in the weight room, and on the track. … We go out and visit other schools, looking at other programs. … Towards spring break, going into April, you start building your program back up—what did you change; what did you keep the same. May is spring football. We [have] up to 18 practices. … We evaluate where we are and then in summer … [we have] strength camp. … There’s really not an offseason when you’re a coach.
What is your strategy for a successful season?
A lot of people talk about success, and there are a lot of ways you can define it during football season. Obviously, win-loss record is a marker for a successful program.
We are looking into teaching these young men to be competitive. Are we teaching them integrity, the things that are life lessons that they can take away from this game?