When Nick Deane stepped into the head coaching shoes for s football program last week, he didn’t simply knot the laces and start running.
He focused on the very first step.
The first-year head football coach broke down and analyzed Maples football from the inside out — dissecting the program in every way he could.
“We matched Seaholm up against three of the most elite programs in the state (East Grand Rapids, Harrison and Lake Orion) and made determinations of where we are,” said Deane, former offensive coordinator for the Maples during the past two seasons.
“If we’re going to be that kind of football program, with that success, we have to begin working, living and breathing the way successful teams breathe,” Deane said.
Senior quarterback John Glazier said Deane’s immediate dedication to improving the program as a whole illustrates the kind of coach he is.
“He’s one of those football coaches who cares for all of his players,” said Glazier, who will start at quarterback for the second consecutive season. “Only a few coaches I’ve been with care about every kid in the program. He’s a guy that you want to have head a program. It’s a pleasure to play with a guy with so much football and life knowledge.”
‘One Maple,’ one goal
The result of all this research and planning is “One Maple” — an infused program stressing player and coach development. Deane said a conference championship is Seaholm's ultimate goal — an achivement the Maples haven't attained since the 2005 season.
“One Maple” is Deane and his staff’s key to getting there.
The program is divided into three parts: An offseason phase (strength-building and speed work), a preseason period (cardiovascular-focused) and an in-season phase of full-on strength and speed development.
“We’ve set program pillars and have a good understanding of what our values, niches and goals are moving forward,” Deane said. “Player and coach development is a 12-month process.”
According to Seaholm Athletic Director Aaron Frank, Deane is a visionary leader and the CEO of the entire football program.
“In the short time he’s been here, he’s really worked hard to bring the football community together, and we’re all very excited about the future of the program,” Frank said.
The Maples finished 4-5 last season — missing the playoffs and falling to division opponents Avondale, Berkley and Hazel Park.
A good team drops games to conference rivals at times — elite program don’t, Deane said, noting that Seaholm let a few games get away that they shouldn't have.
“We were a very young team, but this year, we have a great group of seniors coming back,” he said. Seven of the Maples’ incoming seniors will be three-year starters.
“The leadership is very solid, and we expect them to make some noise this year,” Deane said. “Being in the OAA (Oakland Athletic Association) makes you better, makes you work harder and stay focused. It’s easier to communicate to kids when they know what’s at stake from week to week.”
Along with Deane comes a group of talented assistant coaches, including Jim Porubsky — a former 30-year Hazel Park head coach — and Mike Marshall, former Detroit Henry Ford head coach, one of the winningest of all time.
“This season should be big for us,” Glazier said. “We have tons of speed with depth at receiver and in the secondary. We’re a lot more agile than in the past.”
Deane himself played and graduated from Grosse Ile High School before moving his career to Central Michigan University.
The newly-hired head coach is also a 22-year employee of Ford Motor Co. — accustomed to management, leadership and project-planning roles that he says translate well to head coaching.
Before coming to Birmingham, Deane coached for 14 years at Troy High School as the team’s offensive lineman coach and special teams coordinator.
Chris Fahr — who stepped down from the Maples head coaching position to pursue collegiate coaching opportunities — brought Deane onto his staff following the 2008 season.
“I told him I’d come over and give him a hand,” Deane said. “I have no idea it would lead to becoming the head coach. But I’m thrilled it did.”
Since starting his coaching at Seaholm — the third-winningest program in the OAA with 416 wins, according to Deane — Deane said he’s grown to fall in love with the Birmingham community.
“People want to come back here, and I understand the 100-year tradition and legacy that exists here,” he said. “I can truly appreciate the head coaching position. This is one of the premier jobs in the state. The facility, school, faculty, our kids, our parents, our community … they all come together and make it a special place.”
Frank said along with his passion, Deane’s great strength is his overall leadership.
“He brought people together and defined a clear vision for future of the program; that’s the first important step in building a program, and he’s taken that step,” Frank said. “He understands the dynamic of leading an organization and developing systems.”
Coaching for life
The coaching style of high school coaches varies, but for Deane, it’s about more than football.
“I am a program manager; very organized and very detailed by nature,” he said. “I have very high expectations for player commitment and development. Some react to that as disciplinary, while other guys fit right in and say I’m a players’ coach.”
Glazier said although “football coach” is his title, there’s so much more beneath the surface with Deane.
“He plays like a secondary father figure to a lot of my teammates,” he said. “Everything we do, he wants you to be successful with great expectations. He sets the bar very high.”
Deane credits Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL defensive lineman, and his organization, “Building Men and Women for Others,” for the way he approaches coaching — and life.
“The kids I coach will be members of the community, fathers and husbands,” Deane said. “The life lessons in football and athletics are for forming men, and that embodies where I’m at with the whole coaching process. That comes through my care for them: Tough love, discipline and in the form of a mentoring role … whatever is required to move them along, that’s what wakes me up in the morning.”
Senior defensive end Neal Page said Deane is a soft-spoken man yet someone who you want to listen to.
“I hold on to every word that he says,” he said. “He has a lot of experience around the game and understands it very well. He’s a tremendous leader and coach for us.”
The Maples kick off their season with an away game against North Farmington.
“Every game is a rivalry game, we’d put an asterisk next to each one,” Page said. “We want to win them all. That starts now.”