Lane Wasinger grew up the son of a prominent coach and has absorbed everything he can. Wasinger, in his first year as the head coach at Roosevelt, is the son of longtime football coach Manny Wasinger, who has won two state titles and more than 200 games in a 34-year coaching career that includes stops at Alamosa, Adams State University and Monte Vista. "I kind of always wanted to be like him," Lane Wasinger said. "I wanted to be a coach." This past spring, he got his first chance to be a head coach when Roosevelt picked him to lead its football program. The Roughriders, who play in Class 3A, are off to a 3-1 start this season, including close wins over ranked opponents Longmont and Silver Creek the past two weeks. In Week 4, Roosevelt actually beat Silver Creek on the final play of the game. This week, it's Roosevelt that's ranked. The Roughriders are No. 7 in 3A. And this week, Lane Wasinger is the Denver Broncos high school football coach of the week. It's another way Lane has emulated his dad: Manny Wasinger, a member of the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, was actually named the Broncos Coach of the Year in 2002 when he was at Alamosa, and was also a Broncos coach of the week in 2014 while at his current job at Monte Vista. Like his dad, Lane Wasinger hopes to be in the coaching business for a long while. "I'm at Roosevelt now until hopefully forever," he said. The Broncos coach of the week is selected in partnership with the Broncos, CHSCA and the InSideOut Coaching Initiative, which seeks to transform the current win-at-all-costs sports culture.
Years as head coach: 1 (3-1 overall)
Years at Roosevelt: 1 (3-1)
Previous stops: Western State University Assistant coach (2009-10); Arvada West assistant (2010); Fort Collins assistant (2011-15); Arvada West assistant (2016); Roosevelt head coach (2017-present).
Q: Why did you decide to become a coach?
Wasinger: It starts from the way I was raised. My dad is and was a high school head football coach, so I was raised around the game. It was in my blood. It's what I knew. I watch him impact young people from an early age and saw his success from a very close perspective. I think the competitive bloodlines that I have, I kind of always wanted to be like him. I wanted to be a coach. I loved the game of football, and it was a way for me to stay connected to a game that I am passionate about and kind of molded me to the person I am today.
Q: Is there a reason that you coach the way you do?
Wasinger: I think I'm a product of all the coaches I've been around throughout my life, including my dad. When I was at Arvada West, a guy I really look up to as a coach and as a role model is Casey Coons. He was a longtime head coach there for a while, and he's still there helping out. He's a lot of the reason I wanted to go back last year. He's just someone that I look up to a lot, just from a leadership perspective and the way he interacts with people and kids. I've seen a lot of coaching styles, so I think I'm a product of all of them put together. Everywhere I've been, I just kind of have taken things that I like and don't like and just kind of put them into my own philosophies and my own ways of coaching. That's just kind of who I am now. I think a lot of people think I'm a lot like my dad. I mean, I talk like him and I probably act like him on the sidelines. I see what has the most impact on kids. I see what works with them and what doesn't work with them. I've seen coaches do things really effectively with kids and really reach kids, and I see the light bulb turn on. And I've seen coaches try different methods where kids are channeling them out and it's not working. Being a bystander for so long has really helped me become the coach that I am and wanted to be.
Q: So what would you say it's like to be coached by you?
Wasinger: I would imagine I'm somebody who is real with kids. I can speak their language, I can connect with them on a level that might be different than someone who isn't really understanding of their culture or of the times these days. I think being a younger coach helps reach kids, and establish some relationships with them that maybe aren't all that common around the world today. I think at the end of the day, kids know that I have high expectations of them, that I'm there for a bigger purpose than rather just coaching the game of football. I enjoy interacting with them, I enjoy being a leader and kind of modeling that you can do all kinds of things in life and be successful, no matter what it is, and I chose football. I chose coaching, I chose teaching. I decided that that's what I wanted to do and I was going to be great at it. That's what I'm going for, and kids understand that you're all going to have different likes and interests, and all you need to do is go about something with passion and with a full heart and go after it and you can be successful.
Q: What was last week like for you and for your guys? Obviously, it was a huge win.
Wasinger: Yeah, it was a huge win. We've had two weeks in a row now where we've had some pretty big wins for our football program. It's been really good for our confidence and just helping us come in everyday and still working towards our ultimate goal of winning a championship. It says that we can compete with anybody, we can play with anybody, and it kind of put us on the map a little bit. It helped the kids buy into what's going on at Roosevelt now that we can find ways to win even when things aren't working. We have the resources, the coaches, the talent on our team, and the character on our team to never give up and find a way to win a football game even when things aren't looking too good, or we make a mistake. We're resilient and we're fighters. If you can do that, you're going to be successful. One of the things we talk about is that successful people never quit, and we haven't done that this year. Never have we just laid down and quit. For 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids, that speaks volumes to their character and to their maturity. Last week against Silver Creek, it was a chance for us to go out and play a team that had a lot of hype, and is a well-coached team. I think they've only lost two games since they've been down in 3A for the last couple of years. We knew that we were going to be in for a game, but we had no doubts in our mind that we were going to be able to compete. We knew that we were going to be able to compete with them. By the end, we're still waiting for our entire team to play our best football. We haven't done that yet. We have seen spurts of it, we've seen glimpses here and there of what our potential is as a football team. Towards the end of the game, we just found a way to win, and it was a fun one. It was a big win for the program and a big win for our kids.
Q: Had you been part of something like that, winning a game on the last play of the game?
Wasinger: I don't know if I have. I've seen it happen. I've seen my dad win games like that before. Thinking back to my time as a player, I don't know if we ever won a game on the last play of the game. I remember losing a game as a player on one of the last plays of the game, and that was pretty disheartening.
But winning in that fashion, as a coach and being a part of it, was extremely exciting. Someone told me I'm going to need a pacemaker if this keeps up.
Photo provided by Ian Zahn