Football season for the Dixie State University Trailblazers is not around the corner but expect to see three new faces within the coaching staff in the coming year.
Head coach Shay McClure said while searching for these new coaches, he wanted individuals who interacted with their players in a certain way and had skills in recruitment.
“[Recruitment] is a big part of what their jobs are,” McClure said. “They should be able to go out and find student athletes that fit both the athletic, academic and social profiles we’re looking for.”
The three assistant coaches are as follows: Carl Franke for the running backs, Famika Anae for the tight ends and Junior Tanuvasa for the linebacker.
Franke identifies the moment he realized his love for football when he was in the eighth grade, and the coach for the local high school asked if he had plans to play for the high school team.
Before entering at DSU, Franke was the head football coach at local Desert Hills High School, where he led the Thunderbirds, ranked 10th in the state at the time, to the state championships in 2016.
McClure said part of his reasoning for hiring Franke was because he is a local coach with connections within and outside the coaching world.
“Watching him go to the [state] championship and seeing him interact with the players… I knew when they came out they would be able to demand from their players and [coach] in the right away,” McClure said when discussing state picks Franke and Anae.
Franke plans to grow the relationships with the running-back group and wants them to learn to trust his coaching.
“[I want] my group to trust what I’m telling them and go out and play hard for themselves, me and the team,” Franke said.
Although Franke has attended previous DSU football games, he was eager to say entering the collegiate level has always been a goal of his, whether it was at DSU or another institution.
“My wife played soccer here [at DSU] when it was just a club team,” Franke said. “ I’ve always said how cool it would be to be on staff [here].”
Franke said he is happy to be a part of an identity that has shifted from a junior college to a Division II university.
For Franke a high school football team compared to a collegiate one is not that different in terms of coaching, but when it comes to playing, he believes student athletes have take on a whole new responsibility.
“[For coaching] it’s really all the same; football doesn’t really change,” Franke said. “But for student athlete itself this is now a job [instead] of a extra curricular.”
Head coach McClure did not know Anae personally but knew of his father Robert Anae who attended and played for the Brigham Young University Cougars as the center and offensive guard from 1981-84.
Anae identifies his dad as a leading figure directed him to learn to love football.
“I was born and raised in football,” Anae said. “My dad is the offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia and has coached Division I college football all my life. I was born into it; I didn’t really have a choice.”
Anae said his dad and all of his brothers played for BYU in the early 80’s, thus influencing Anae and his cousins to play for BYU as well.
Anae said he’s had a short career in being a coach, but along with his student athlete background there are certain things he has learned that he wants to share with our Trailblazers.
“My biggest thing that I have learned so far is to be a complete student athlete,” Anae said. “That goes for academics and being an athlete [as well as] being a contributor to the community.”
Anae said those are the three main aspects of every student athlete’s job he hopes the football coaching staff can work on every day.
After knowing and associating with Tanuvasa for 10 years McClure was excited to have him on the DSU coaching staff.
Although Tanuvasa recognized football as a career path for him at 7 years old, it wasn’t until his senior year in high he realized he wanted to coach football as well.
Tanuvasa said it was his coach Bill Smith who inspired him to pursue coaching.
As far as what brought Tanuvasa to DSU, he accredits it to the university’s reputation.
“Dixie State is up and coming,” Tanuvasa said. “There’s a lot of good things as far as that can happen for me; I just don’t think it’s been really tapped into yet.”
When Tanuvasa was graduating high school, DSU was still a junior college, so seeing it come this far has been inspiring for Tanuvasa.
He said there is only one way to go from here, up.
Tanuvasa said that mentoring is a key part that a coach can teach his players.
“The biggest thing for the [linebackers] is to get them showing up with a passion and purpose,” Tanuvasa said. “If you take this game lightly this game will chew you up and spit you out, so you have to show up ready to take [football] head on.”
Head coach McClure recognizes the tasks football demands and commends his staff for being diligent in their work.
“These guys don’t get paid a lot of money, and they spend about 100 hours a week working,” McClure said.
Trailblazer football will start its season in fall of 2018, with their first game against Colorado State University-Pueblo.