After being 10 years removed from the Titans football program, Josh Ousley was approved by the Taylor school board last Monday to take over as head coach for the second time.
Serving as head coach for six seasons from 2005 to 2010, Ousley said he had been asked many times about returning to the program. For several years, he wasn’t interested in getting back into coaching. However, after being approached by Athletic Director Jake Leicht to fill the position after the resignation of former coach George Gilbert, Ousley had other thoughts in mind.
“This time [Leicht] asked me, and I told him I would think about it. It just felt right this time. There were some things that I liked as far as not being in the MIC (Mid-Indiana Conference) anymore, totally different sectional, being Class A now, just a lot of things that intrigued me about it. I thought about it, and I just decided I would pursue it,” said Ousley, who currently works as one of Taylor’s special education teachers.
Before he was head coach at Taylor in 2005, Ousley started with the Titans as an assistant coach for three years. His first coaching job was an assistant coach for Triton High School for four years after playing at Anderson University for two seasons.
Ousley said when he first started coaching as an assistant, he wasn’t sure if he would enjoy it even though he loved football. But he quickly discovered his passion for mentoring athletes in the sport.
“I started as an assistant. I didn’t know if I would like it or not. Then, I just loved it. I loved being around the kids. I love having the influence over the kids. I love watching kids grow over four years. I think it’s a way to have a meaningful impact on kids outside of the classroom,” Ousley said.
When describing his coaching style, Ousley called himself a “player’s coach.” He likes to develop relationships with the athletes, allowing them to build trust, he said. He also described himself as a “little fiery” but said that it’s part of the game.
A former player of Ousley’s himself, Leicht agreed that Ousley does care about his players while still having an orderly system.
“Our kids want to be in structure, but they want to know that you care about them. I think Coach Ousley is definitely going to bring that to the table. Once you have that relationship with them and they trust you, you can coach them hard, and you can yell at them. I think he has a proven track record of doing that in the classroom and on the football field. So, I think that’ll be huge for our kids,” Leicht said.
Ousley’s priority is to work on getting more players to come out for the team, he said. Being in the building as a teacher already, Ousley has the advantage of having contact with the student-athletes during the day, further allowing relationship-development, he said.
According to Leicht, several boys who did not play last season have approached him saying they are interested in playing in the fall after hearing of Ousley’s new position as head coach.
“They want to play because of their relationship with Coach Ousley. They don’t know about the offense or the defense yet. We’ve already made some big strides in numbers. When three or four kids already are willing to come out and play and the only thing they know is that he’s the coach, that kind of speaks volumes to his character. That just reaffirms the fact that we made the right hire, so I’m very comfortable with it,” Leicht said.
Additionally, Ousley said he also wants to work on getting the team to be competitive and teaching the players the right mindset and dedication it takes to become a winning team.
“There’s a mentality here. And if you’re not around here, you don’t know it. There’s not been a lot of success around here in football. Kids have to learn how to compete … different situations that we can create at practice and teach kids how to compete so that when the first thing goes wrong, the game’s not over. You have to bounce back, and you have to keep playing. Those are the things that are going to be the most important from just day one is teaching kids to compete,” Ousley said.
Currently in the off-season, Ousley said the biggest focus now is getting the players to spend time in the weight room. Once summer break comes around, the team will participate in camps and seven-on-seven practices.
When asked what he was most looking forward to, Ousley said practices. Having spent several years away from football practice, he was excited to spend time on the field in his “sanctuary” where nothing else matters except developing and growing the Titans team into better football players and young men, he said.