Mead football coach Jason Klatt isn't really concerned with winning games. He's more focused on creating relationships with students, and holding his players to high expectations of how to treat females, teachers and adults. Klatt will never give up moral ground just to win a football game, and turning out great, young men is way more important than any victory could ever be — even the biggest win in program history.
Athletic director Chad Eisentrager said Mead is a much better place because Coach Klatt is around, and taking down the third-ranked team in the state on Friday night is just gravy. "I've been around 15 years and I've never seen anyone lead young men like him," Eisentrager said. "He's learned how to do it from one of the best coaches in Colorado history, and doing things the right way comes from his dad. He's created this system where kids don't want to disappoint, and if the football team buys in, then everyone else buys in too."
Hailing from a football family, Klatt, brother of FOX Sports college football analyst/former University of Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt and son of longtime successful Pomona coach Gary Klatt, puts a large family emphasis in his coaching philosophy. Week 4's Denver Broncos high school coach of the week is Jason Klatt: a coach who puts life lessons and love before wins, and so just happened to develop a dang-good football program because of it.
Years coaching: Five (Record 25-19; current: 3-1)
Years at Mead: Five
Previous stops: Mountain View defensive coordinator (2001-11); Pomona assistant (1999-2000)
Q: Why do you coach?
This is my 17th year coaching football at the high school level, and during that time, I've really honed in and focused on that question. I coach to help young men grow up and teach them lessons that will help with their lives. Bottom line, I want the kids to be successful 10 years from now, and I want them to become great husbands, fathers, businessmen and leaders in their communities. It's the only reason I coach and continue to do so. Sports serve as a great avenue to teach those life lessons to kids. When your philosophy is based upon winning or championships, you're just facing dead end roads.
Q: Why do you coach the way you do?
I think we have a problem in our society that not enough young men are being brought up properly, and I want to help create solutions. I'm raising a 9-year-old daughter, and I know it's so critical and important that we — as teachers, educators and coaches — are helping our young boys grow up to be great young men who accept responsibility for their actions, make good decisions and choices and know how to be a leader among their peers. When young men learn those things, their communities will be much better.
Q: How do you define success in coaching?
There's only one way, and that's when a kid comes back five, 10 years from now and says, "Coach, I am this now — insurance salesman, lawyer, doctor — I have a wife, two kids, I'm a family man, I'm a leader in my community." That's success. You can't experience that until you've been coaching for a long time, and then years later, former players call you or come back and thank you for what you've done for them.
Q: What's it like to be coached by you?
Now this is a difficult question, because I haven't always been the way I'm about to describe: Our team got off the field the other night after a great game, and I gave my dad a hug and I'll never forget it. And he said he was proud of me. I feel some young men haven't experienced love the way I have. The first thing I'd say is I care about them immensely, and I tell them I love them and try as best as I can to not just tell them that, but to also show them with actions. When kids know you care about them and their best interests are at heart, they're going to run through brick walls for you.
Q: What's your most meaningful experience with a team or player?
I have a lot of meaningful experiences. Like starting the program at Mead. I came in 2012 — two years after it started. One of my coaches was my dad, and being able to bring him aboard after all his own coaching success (30 years at Pomona), build this program with him and bring the Mead football family together is something I'll never forget, not one time. It's something that's culminated in the last five years, and we made playoffs for the first time last year and were able to compete with a team that was ranked third in the state and win on Friday night.
Q: How has your dad helped you develop Mead's football program?
He was our defensive coordinator for three years, and last year I hired another guy and dad took a step back — he lives in Highlands Ranch and commutes. I like to call him a "quality control coach," meaning he could do anything in any capacity. He's worked with the defensive line, linebackers and been the defensive coordinator. He's a fill-in guy who can step in whenever someone is gone. I talked to him this morning and he was telling me, "We have to do this, and this," and even after a big win, like against Longmont, he's right back at it to work the next day. We live in the moment for a brief period of time, but know how quickly we have to move on, because there's another team ahead of us (3A's No. 1-ranked Fort Morgan).
Q: What have you learned from him about coaching?
My dad taught me everything, and my fondest memories are being around him and the Pomona football program. But getting older and actually being involved — running things, teaching kids — he is just the gold standard and the example I look to as a coach. He was so good with relationships with kids and building football culture in the family. He was so gifted as a coach, and I lean on him every time I need something.
Q: You've built Mead's team to compete with powerhouse programs, and you took down No. 3 Longmont on Friday. Describe how that win feels?
We preach and teach not to get too high on the highs and low on the lows, and it was just another game on the schedule. The kids played great, but we don't want to get any more amped than that. As a coach, to step back and look at it and think about how far the program and mindset of our kids have come, and to actually walk out on the field with a team that is a big perennial power and compete with them, it's feels more satisfactory that the kids stood up and competed; they didn't back down and let someone shove them around. This has been a collective effort, and many people at Mead have made this program a success. It's not just me — it's a great community.