The Evergreen football team will have a different look about them when they take the field in 2017. They will play their home games on a newly installed synthetic turf field, will don new uniforms, as well as have a new coach leading them.
That coach is Aaron Schmidt, a health and physical education teacher going into his third year with the school district. Schmidt, 35, is from the area, originally from Wauseon where he graduated in 2000.
His past coaching experience includes seven seasons at Hilltop High School as a assistant varsity football coach, mostly serving under head coach Mike Bumb. He was at the school for a total of 10 years where he was the head girls basketball coach for part of that time.
At Evergreen, Schmidt has served as head football coach for the eighth grade team for two seasons, and this past year was a varsity assistant and JV head coach for the girls basketball program.
School officials are happy with their choice of Schmidt.
“When we were thinking about our next football coach, we made a list of priorities for the next potential candidate,” said high school principal Josh Clark. “Number one, we wanted someone who was able to come in and build (a) culture – to get kids excited to be a part of Evergreen High School football, and to create an atmosphere that was positive and sustainable. The wins and losses will take care of themselves if the right culture is in place. Secondly, we wanted someone who is passionate about the game and has the energy and enthusiasm to carry a program, as well as someone who is accessible for our students. Aaron Schmidt was an easy choice.”
Schmidt is optimistic his past experiences have prepared him for the task of rebuilding Evergreen’s football program. As an athlete, those experiences include being named all-state in both football and basketball while attending Wauseon, in addition to being a league champion hurdler in track and field.
He played football for two seasons at the University of Findlay – one of those being his redshirt year – and then three at Defiance College where he graduated in 2005.
“Just seeing the different levels of play, and seeing the different types of kids and how they respond to different (types) of coaching as well,” said Schmidt on how his past endeavors have prepared him for the job. “I have played on good teams and I have played on bad teams when I was in high school and college. All of those things taught me, things that I liked about what I saw in coaches and in programs and kids, and things that I didn’t like. I kind of picked and choosed from a lot of those experiences, and I am trying to pick and choose the things that I like the most.”
It will also help that he is already familiar with his players, coaching many of them when they were in junior high.
“The group that I started with (at Evergreen), they’ll be sophomores this year,” said Schmidt. “I really had success and I had a lot of fun with those kids. Again, the kids (I coached) last year that are gonna be freshmen this year, I had some success with those guys too. It is nice to have a little familiarity with those guys.
“But, really in the course of being a teacher there, I am exposed to all those kids. Even those upperclassmen that I’ve never really coached, I have personal relationships with the majority of them already just because I see them every day.”
The new coach’s first objective is to create a new and positive energy for the program.
“(I am) just trying to rejuvenate a spirit, an excitement about football. To get kids back out. We were getting low on numbers,” he said.
The results can be seen already the first-year coach says.
“The kids are really excited,” explained Schmidt. “We’ve been really positive. The kids are really optimistic. We are gonna expect to play as best as we can every day. If that translates (into more wins) that’s gonna be good. And I think that it will.
“Our job as coaches is to maintain that energy that we’ve gotten in those kids right now and to keep feeding on it.”
However, ultimately how much progress the program makes is up to the kids. They must “own it” says Schmidt, which is one of the team’s mantras heading into the season.
“They have really got to take ownership of their actions. Of this program. Of how they take care of the facility,” said Schmidt. “We are getting new facilities. We are getting great new uniforms. We’ve just got to make sure that we are respectful of that. That we take pride in our own stuff and our work.”
Much of owning the program as Schmidt states involves hard work. But, the players that know him are well aware of the expectations that will be put on them.
“That’s the one thing I’ve prided myself on whether it’s (coaching) basketball, or football or track. Knowing that our kids are going to work their tails off,” said Schmidt. “One of our rallying cries is we are gonna go as hard as we can for 4-6 seconds from point A to point B. If we can do that, we’ll be successful. Whether that’s in each play or in wins and losses.”
It also helps that he will have a veteran coaching staff to help him through any growing pains.
Some coaches on his staff are former Vikings’ head coach Bob Beemer; Evergreen alum Ben Taylor, who will be Schmidt’s defensive coordinator; another alum Brent Simon; and Josh Martin.
“We have assembled a really good staff. With experience, and different coaching styles,” said Schmidt. “I think we are gonna mesh well. I’m really excited about that.”
Principal Clark looks forward to watching the Vikings under the direction of Schmidt.
“I’m excited to see what the future of Evergreen football looks like with Aaron Schmidt at the helm,” he said.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010