Conversation with Coach, This week’s edition: Tim Janocko, Clearfield @coachjanocko @clearfieldbison
Written by: Phil Myers on Wednesday, August 28th, 2019
Writer’s Note: Hopefully, this will be a series, interviewing many of the top coaches in the state. These articles may not be every week or even every other week, but we plan on having them throughout the year and years to come.
I sat down with Tim Janocko, head coach of the Clearfield Bison, before the season opener with DuBois. We talked about a variety of subjects and I came away very impressed with, not only his answers, but his sincerity, his passion for the game, and how he cares for the kids.
Mr. Janocko graduated from Moshannon Valley and attended Penn State University where he played football for Joe Paterno. It was while he was at Penn State that he decided he wanted to “continue on coaching football.”
Coach Janocko has been coaching at Clearfield since 1981. He was an assistant to John Wiley for 4 years, before taking over the program in 1985. The 2019 season marks his 35th year at the helm. He has compiled a 276-111-3 record which includes the victory over DuBois to begin the current 2019 campaign. He has had only four losing seasons and is currently riding a streak of 23 consecutive years with a winning record.
Janocko married his wife, Trina, in 1985 and they have two children, Andrew and Annie. Trina is starting her 40th year in the business office at Clearfield Area School District. Andrew played football for his dad and then went to Pitt where he lettered three years. He is beginning his eighth year as a coach in the NFL. The past six with the Minnesota Vikings. Annie, who played basketball and was a cheerleader in high school, is now a special needs teacher at Clearfield Elementary.
PM: “As far as your teams go, how do you measure success?”
Janocko: “Obviously we want to win more than we lose. We’re in this to win. We want to have success in everything we do, but it’s also how they (the kids) conduct themselves off the field that matters. Are they doing the right thing in school? Are they doing the right thing outside of school? How do they treat other people? We try to model that and talk about it all the time.”
PM: “What is the toughest thing about coaching in your opinion?”
Janocko: “I think one of the hardest things is that last game, when you know you’re going to say good-bye to kids that you spent 3 or 4 years with and working so hard to be successful. That last game is always so hard.”
PM: “Is it tougher to coach today than when you started?”
Janocko: “I don’t think it’s tougher, it’s different. There is a different set of circumstances you have to deal with. Kids still want somebody that cares about them. Kids want to work hard. They need to be taught and need to feel part of the team. That hasn’t changed.”
PM: “How were you able to build a winning tradition at Clearfield?”
Janocko: “Lot of hard work. Blessed with a lot of great kids and great coaches down through the years. Just been able to surround myself with a lot of good people. That’s the key, that same belief system and same set of values.”
PM: “What is the most important concept you try to teach the players?
Janocko: “Football’s not hard, life’s hard.” Coach supported that concept by saying, “When you got to worry about paying the bills, making sure your family has something to eat, somebody’s sick or somebody has cancer, that’s hard. Football is not hard.” Mr. Janocko went on to say that today’s society preaches taking the easy way out and promotes everyone getting a trophy, implying that those ideas do not prepare kids for life.
PM: “Is coaching today a 365 day a year job?”
Janocko: “It’s more year around than it’s ever been, but there is still some down time.” He added that he doesn’t believe high school kids should devote themselves to one sport all year long. “I’m a firm believer kids should play other sports.”
PM: “What motivates you to continue coaching?”
Janocko: “The kids.” There was no thinking about what he wanted to say or hesitation in his answer. “I get excited about practice, I like to plan practice, and I like to watch them (the kids) develop as football players.”
PM: “What do you want your legacy to be?”
Janocko: “The kids knew we cared about them. Everybody that came through our program mattered. The kids that weren’t as talented mattered just as much as the kids who were talented.”
PM: “If there was one coach, past or present, you could sit down with and pick his brain, who would it be?
Janocko: “I don’t know. I’ve been around so many great coaches. I’ve had talks with Joe Paterno and Norv Turner. I’ve watched the Vikings practice under Mike Zimmer. Tom Landry was an offensive guru. Bill Walsh with the west coast offense. So, I don’t know if I could single one out.”
PM: “Here’s a few fun questions. What do you like to do with your free time?”
Janocko: “Hunt and fish.”
PM: “What does your favorite meal consist of?
Janocko: “I like grilled salmon. I like venison too.”
PM: “Favorite movie?”
Janocko: “Jeremiah Johnson.”
PM: “Favorite dessert?”
Janocko: “Ice cream.”
PM: “If you could go back in time, who would you like to meet?”
PM: “What’s one thing people may not know about you?”
Janocko: “I like to read a lot.”
It was a real pleasure to have this interview with Tim Janocko. He graciously set aside some time for me before the game and made me feel like I wasn’t a bother. I thanked him and said I thought things went well being that I was a rookie doing this. He encouraged me by saying he thought I did a great job. Later, when I saw him on the field during warm-ups, I remembered I had two more questions. So, I ambled onto the field to see if he would answer them.
PM: “Is there a reason you were a shirt and tie?”
Janocko: “Joe Paterno.”
PM: “Is there a story behind why you were the sweater vest?”
Janocko: “I get cold.”
Coach Janocko may get cold as the game wears on each Friday night in the fall, but as the years have worn on, the community of Clearfield has really warmed up to him as he continues to show compassion and rack up the winning seasons. He is doing what we all would like to do, making a difference. In Coach Tim Janocko’s case it’s on and off the field.
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