Hudl Champions: Jason Negro on Assembling the Perfect Staff

See how one of the nation’s most successful coaches empowered his staff en route to the California CIF state title.

Hudl Champions: Jason Negro on Assembling the Perfect Staff

See how one of the nation’s most successful coaches empowered his staff en route to the California CIF state title.

We like to highlight the best of the best, and that’s our goal with the Hudl Champions series. We tap state champion coaches and gain insights that can help others get an edge on Friday nights.

Coach: Jason Negro, St. John Bosco High School

State: California

Record: 13-2 (CIF State Open Division)

Championship score: St. John Bosco 56, De La Salle 33

Jason Negro is no stranger to the victors’ podium. Since arriving in 2010, Negro has brought St. John Bosco, which hadn’t had a winning season in the Trinity League since 2004, four Trinity League Championships and a national title in 2013. He added to the school’s trophy case in December by capturing the CIF State Championship, leading the Braves to a 56-33 rout of De La Salle.

The national coach of the year in 2013, Negro gets most of the praise for St. John Bosco’s success. But Negro is quick to deflect the spotlight to the rest of his staff, who he says deserves as much credit as he does.

“That’s the important thing,” Negro said. “Everybody has to understand that they have a particular role, and in that role they have to operate at the highest level in order for us all to be successful. It’s no different than on the field - you have 11 guys and they all have a role, and on any particular play they need to execute to the best of their ability for us to be successful.”

It starts with the coordinators, Chad Johnson (offense) and Chris King (defense). Both have been at St. John Bosco for seven years and have earned Negro’s trust to the point where he’s given them complete control over their respective units. Johnson and King are in charge of game planning and play calling, giving the Braves, as Negro says, “three head coaches.”

St. John Bosco has a massive staff of 32, including trainers, student managers and team doctors. Having such a large number allows the Braves to get more detailed in their game plans, breaking down every piece of stats and video of not only themselves, but also their opponents.

But with so many bodies present, it would be easy for an assistant coach to feel he doesn’t have a voice. Negro works hard to ensure that isn’t the case. He gives both freedom and responsibility to everyone on the staff, allowing them to own their portion of the team.

“Everyone is in charge of their own area and they have complete autonomy to do what they need to do in that area to contribute to the game plan,” Negro said. “That includes personnel decisions, practice techniques and their own individual styles of coaching. We let them do that, then it all comes together and culminates on Friday or Saturday night.”

Quotes like that show why St. John Bosco sees so little turnover. Negro carefully selects coaches that he thinks will fit well within the culture and work hard enough to pull their weight. And these people will see each other every day from July 27 through Dec. 17 - he needs to find the right combination of personalities and ideas that will get along and mesh.

“Whenever someone asks me why we’re successful, the first thing I like to say is 1) We have really talented players that buy into the system, and 2) We have a staff that’s as good as anybody in the country,” Negro said. “I think it’s important that everyone gets along and really is able to operate with the same goal in hand. We spend so much time together, so many hours.

“So you need to have people that care about each other and work with each other and not have egos when you’re trying to accomplish a goal.”

Negro’s ability to build and empower a quality staff has paid off as St. John Bosco has risen to elite status. Have any other tips for building staff continuity? Leave your tips in the comments below.

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