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Episode 052 – Daniel’s High School Football Coach Blair Philbrick

Posted on Jun 1, 2017 by in Podcast Episode | 2 comments


Coach Philbrick talks 1995 Edmond Santa Fe football, how to overcome adversity, and making where you’re at the “big-time.”


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Hey everyone and welcome to the All-Star Leader Podcast, where together we learn about leadership from the best and brightest, and keep it fun by connecting it to our passion for sports!

I’m your host Daniel Hare, and today is an extra special episode. We’re joined today by my high school football coach Blair Philbrick. Coach Philbrick led the Santa Fe High School Wolves to an 11-2 record and the state semi-finals in 1995, before moving on to coach at several other high schools. He then jumped back to the college level at the University of Tulsa and University of Pittsburgh.

In 2012 he left athletics for private business where he has served as a corporate executive coach and a sales director.

This is Coach Blair Philbrick. Hey Coach thank you so much for joining us!

Interview Questions:

  1. Let’s start off by talking about the really important stuff: 1995 Santa Fe High School football.
    1. What jumps into your mind when you reflect on that season?
      1. Was kind of a Remember the Titans type season
      2. Still just a brand new school and this was his first head job, so not being sure if he was ready to be a head coach
      3. We had a little chip on our shoulder after dividing Edmond into three high schools and wanting to establish who we were
    2. When did you know we had something special, and what was it that made that team special?
      1. University of Tulsa team camp; really bonded
      2. After week one when we lost our starting tailback Ben Satterfield for the season, and how the team responded to that adversity; lost two other key players soon after
    3. Even as we were winning, it seemed like we faced significant adversity nearly every week particularly with devastating injuries. What do you remember about that and how did you approach getting us through it?
      1. Great coaching staff that was always positive
      2. Rory Laisle’s injury (severed pancreas) was life/death; lost John Hoeh to a knee injury as well
      3. Important to prepare for the adversity, so when it comes it isn’t surprising
      4. There was a level of naivety he had that we were going to keep going and nothing could happen to us that would cap our potential
      5. Awesome to have Rory come back to kick extra points in the playoffs
      6. (Daniel: that youth/inexperience/naivety from coach was never felt by the players – we were bought in and assumed he knew what he was doing because it sure looked like he believed it!)
      7. He credits the coaching staff which he really relied on; great collaboration and ownership for each coach to coach their own position
      8. (Daniel: also faced adversity late in the year when taking our first loss after nine straight wins to open the season)
        1. Treated that final regular season game week as a special one; charter bus, etc.; and got it handed to us!
        2. Maybe the best lesson prior to the playoffs
        3. First playoff game was crazy; significant weather change from 2:30pm (65 F) and then at kickoff it was a blizzard. Got down 10-0 at half before rallying in the second half to win 20-10.
    4. We blocked what seemed like a ridiculous number of extra points and field goals; one in particular which essentially led to a come-from-behind first round playoff game. How did we do that?!
      1. We blocked eleven kicks that year
      2. Had made special teams a priority; given equal time in practice
      3. Bryan Houck had a knack for it
    5. Season ended with semi-final loss to Lawton McArthur
      1. Coach learned a lesson about not overcoaching and changing up what was working
      2. Feels responsible
      3. (Daniel: If you’re a coach, hopefully this conversation reminds you of the impact you have on young people and the great work you’re doing.)
  2. Okay let’s back up a bit and give our audience some context. Tell us a bit about how/where you grew up, and how you got into football and coaching?
    1. Fortunate to grow up in a great home; father retired Air Force pilot who taught him well
    2. Knew early on that he wanted to be a coach
    3. Played five sports in Altus, OK before football/track at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
    4. Taught high school science
    5. Raised a family (kids are 27 and 24)
    6. Had a Forest Gump life; lots of amazing experiences with amazing people
    7. Faith/family has been key
  3. You went from coaching in college to coaching in high school, then back to college. Talk to us about the major differences and what you enjoyed most about each.
    1. The difference between college and high school is the skill level
    2. The transitions back and forth weren’t too difficult
    3. Players at each level wanted the same things, and the coaches were faced with many of the same things
    4. The “big-time” is where you’re at (i.e. don’t worry about what level you’re at).
      1. (Daniel: how to do this) – Be the hardest worker and trust that the future/career will take care of itself
    5. Enjoyed building relationships with players at all levels; guys who have gone on to the NFL will tell him their favorite time in football was high school.
  4. You had the opportunity to work closely with Millennials and Gen-Zers. We know what’s written and said about them, but I’m wondering what your first-hand experience has been.
    1. Didn’t see a change in players from one generation to the next
    2. Always great energy
    3. Most of what has happened is parenting has changed – kids have been great
    4. Be positive/relatable, and learn about your people on a personal level
  5. Special questions from former Santa Fe players!
    1. Bobby Soltani – The ability to adapt to change is something great leaders tend to have in common. How did your approach to coaching or your coaching style change over the years?
      1. Adapt and understand what is important to your organization/players
      2. Know your team and have the willingness to want to get to know them
      3. Watch other leaders and observe how they adapt to change.
      4. (Daniel: did you ever have to change up your coaching style as the game changed) – Defining moment when he recognized the power running game was no longer the most effective strategy and had to adapt.
    2. Bryan Dearing – What advice or stories do you tell athletes who are not starters yet but could be? How do you help them reach that goal?
      1. One day Bryan asked coach to take him home from practice one day, and he used the opportunity to ask coach what he needs to do in order to play
      2. Coach said you have to prepare for a moment that may never come; and then one week later an injury created an opportunity for Bryan to start, which he did the rest of the year (at 5’7”, 140 lbs.)
    3. Jake Turner – What would you tell parents who are concerned about their children’s safety playing football?
      1. Wish we could evolve football to a place with equipment/tech that would make the game safer
      2. But players are faster, bigger and stronger, and the physics of the collisions are tough to overcome
      3. He advocates middle school as the earliest to start playing, and to learn the fundamentals; until then play flag football
      4. Still one of the greatest games and greatest teachers of life / teamwork / family / brotherhood
  6. Five rapid fire questions:
    1. Name one trait or characteristic you want to see in a colleague.
      1. Enthusiasm/passion
    2. What habit has been key to your success?
      1. Persistence; empathy/emotional intelligence
    3. Most important app or productivity tool?
      1. Powerpoint/Outlook calendar
    4. A resource recommendation (book/podcast/etc.)
      1. Bob Beaudine books: The Power of Who (guest on Episode 014)
      2. Drive by Daniel Pink
      3. The Bible
    5. One sentence of advice for our audience of leaders?
      1. Never give up. Stay hungry and humble. With God all things are possible

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Group – music
    1. More here.
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite – voice over








  1. One of the biggest motivators of the game. Blair Philbrick portrays these characteristics in the game of football/life.

    • Couldn’t agree more Kent! Thanks for listening and commenting; I appreciate it!

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