Since he was a child, Mat Pistole has dreamed of becoming the head football coach at Bureau Valley High School.
That dream became a reality Wednesday as his hiring was approved at the BV school board meeting.
“It’s something not only me but my family has been working toward since I was a kid,” said Pistole, who graduated from BV in 2003. “Not being a teacher, I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen. It’s a little surreal it actually happened.
“I’m unbelievably honored to be the head coach at my alma mater. It’s a place that means the world to me. The amount of people who have reached out and how much people believe in me is very humbling. I’m going to do everything in my power to make them all proud.”
Pistole comes in with plenty of coaching experience under very successful coaches.
Pistole played quarterback for the Storm under Jason Kirby and later was an assistant coach for Kirby at Bureau Valley on the 2004 runner-up team. He also worked for Kirby at Herrin and Sherrard.
“He’s exceptional with Xs and Os,” Pistole said about Kirby. “I know football as well as I know it because of Jason Kirby. He knows how to organize staffs and organize practices. He’s a master motivator. He understands how to get kids fired up to play and how to run a program from top to bottom. He’s a tremendous mentor and has given me opportunities and believed in me. We had a great staff (at BV under Kirby) with Dave Moore, Jeff Ohlson and Nick Schneiderman (who is the coach at Oregon). I had a lot of great mentors early on.”
Pistole, who played one year at Monmouth College, was an assistant on BV’s 2006 semifinal team and served as an assistant for the Storm from 2008-11 as head sophomore coach and varsity defensive coordinator before taking a hiatus from coaching due to his full-time job.
He spent the last couple seasons at Newman under legendary coach Mike Papoccia.
“The type of men and leaders they have around their kids is what makes that place special,” Pistole said. “It’s a first-class place. They’re successful because of their process and the way they go about things. For a guy like me who’s more Xs and Os, it was tremendous to be part of a program that’s about the kids working hard and building that team aspect. You could feel it building as the season went on. It’s why they’re so successful in the players. They become closer as a team as the season goes on. Mike Papoccia had that mastered. I learned a lot of little things from being around him. I’m so fortunate to have been around him and spend the last 2 1/2 years with him and all the coaches.”
Pistole takes over for Joe Schmitt, who went 7-11 in two years. He takes over a Storm program that has made the playoffs once since 2010.
“The playoffs is the standard,” Pistole said. “I want to be in the playoffs every single year. That’s the only goal. What I want is the program to get back to where it was in the mid-2000s where it was expected BV would be around the second round or quarterfinals much like Newman. That’s the expectation and that’s the type of effort we’re going to put in.
“We want to stand out from the crowd. We’re not going to be like everybody else. We’re not going to settle for mediocrity. We’re going to be on the cutting edge of things, but it all starts with fundamentals. We’re going to do the little things exceptionally well. We want to be good at a few things instead of running a lot of different concepts. We want to look complex but be simple. It’s going to be fun. I’m excited to get things going as far as schemes go.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.