Kurt Hines became the head coach of the Coronado High School football team in 2017, and ever since, he has set a standard that has brought stability and consistency to the program.
In Hines’s first year, the team struggled, going 3-8, but with that challenge came the groundwork of building a culture of what the program has become: a playoff contender.
The team, which earned a No. 3 seed in the CIF San Diego Section Division IV Playoffs last year and advanced to the semifinals, opens the 2023 season at home on Aug. 18 against Montgomery, another playoff team from last year.
Some of the coaches from the previous regime saw Hines as a fresh face and new blood that the program desperately needed to stay as successful as possible. And Hines said he had no problem integrating that staff with others he brought on board.
Weekly grade checks
Part of setting the new culture for the program was ensuring the players succeeded on and off the field.
When Hines arrived, he got weekly grade checks, which made it challenging to have a full team.
In his first season, over 40 players at times were academically ineligible to play, he said.
Yet, with more buy-in from the team, he saw a massive difference by the following season, where only a handful of students were academically ineligible to play, and it has gone down ever since, he said.
No swearing policy
Another strategy he implemented was a no-cursing policy for the coaches or players.
This has been something Hines has done at multiple other coaching jobs he has had in his almost 30 years on the sidelines.
“I teach fourth grade by profession… I don’t want a fourth grader coming by a practice or a game and hearing something out of my mouth that they would never hear in the classroom,” he said. “And I don’t want to be in a game, whether it’s preseason or postseason, or anything in between, where a player or coach thinks we have a bad call and shows a lack of character and gets mouthy with an official.”
Hines, who has a massive social media presences with more than 68,500 followers on X (Twitter), believes this policy holds the team to a higher standard and brings greater respect to one another and to the officials.
If Hines catches a player or coach cursing, they must do 30 pushups.
Female players on the roster
The Islanders this year also will have a few female players on the varsity team.
However, this is nothing new for Hines.
Since he was coaching in New Hampshire, Hines said he’s had female players on his teams.
The only difference for the players, he said, is that the females change in a different locker room from the boys.
Otherwise, he said, they feel just as much a part of the team as any male player does.
Hines added that he does not want female players to be a novelty and sees them as a blessing because they push themselves even harder than the male players at times, which helps everyone get better.
Another playoff run?
Coronado has become one of the top football schools in the area, hoping for another playoff run this year.
But to reach that next level and win a state title, Hines believes the team needs to get more size and explosiveness, which comes from putting in the work in the offseason.
“The past few seasons, we’ve made it to the semifinals, and then that’s when the lack of size, we don’t have a lot of big dudes here, really starts to show up,” Hines said. “So, just continuing to build the program, getting people to buy in during the offseason, and getting them to really push themselves. In that time, it will really show come season.”