Coach Spotlight: Youth Football Coach, John Lilla

John Lilla knew as early as 5th grade that he wanted to coach football…and he’s been doing it for the past 26 years. Read more from our interview with Coach Lilla, including what it means to him to be a coach and why he loves the game of football.

Q: Coach Lilla, how long have you been coaching and what team do you currently coach?

A: 26 years. I coach the Shawnee Mission West 5th grade football team.

Shawnee Mission West 5th Grade Football Coach, John Lilla

Q: How did you first get interested in coaching football?

A: From about 5th grade on I knew I wanted to be a football coach… There is a level of physical struggle combined with a level of mental strategy. Football requires you to work as hard as you can while maintaining discipline and strategic awareness at all times. That is what attracted me to coaching football.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a coach?

A: …There are a couple of phases to coaching football. Coaching the athletically gifted players to use their talents effectively. And coaching the lesser athletic players to contribute and do things through hard work and sheer will that they did not believe they could do. There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing both kinds of players be successful and improve.

Q: What do you love about coaching? Why do you do it?

A: I like to see the kids faces light up when they’re having a good time… That’s what it’s all about – it’s not winning all the time, it’s about doing your best as much as you can.

Shawnee Mission West 5th Grade Football Team

Q: How has GTM Sportswear impacted your role as a coach?

A:  …When you look your best, it’s easy to do your best…we’ve worked with GTM for 3 years now, and even the coaches shirts are GTM. …GTM has been very helpful to work with… they keep in communication to meet deadlines and they have gone the extra mile to get us speedy corrections or last minute additions to our orders. Satisfaction is their business.

Q: What makes you come back to GTM year after year?

A: The service has been good, the product has been good. The logo on our uniforms comes from our baseball team – we also have baseball uniforms from GTM. We’ve had a good experience, with a good product, for a good price.






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