How do you build something out of nothing?
When there’s no start or end in sight, where do you begin?
Texas Wesleyan head football coach Joe Prud’homme believes you start at the source.
“Start with the culture, having all of our players in the same mindset,” said Prud’homme, a 52-year-old San Antonio native who played cornerback at both Tyler Junior College and the University of Texas. “That mindset is outworking everybody and knowing the main goal is to make a product Wesleyan is proud of.”
Prud’homme’s record at Fort Worth’s Nolan Catholic High School could be seen as a testament to his ability to helm a team to be proud of. The 24-year Prud’homme era at Nolan saw the Vikings win seven Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools titles. He was named the 2008 private school coach of the year by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.
Prud’home said leaving Nolan is hard.
“When you’re in one place for 24 years and you have the kind of success we had as a group its bittersweet,” Prud’homme said. “When you’ve known people for so long that you’re teaching their kids it can be hard.”
So why leave?
“I knew that Wesleyan was a good and friendly place from previous experience,” Prud’homme said. “I didn’t realize how great it actually was until I did my research. I just said to myself, that’s a place I want be.”
Prud’homme was introduced as Wesleyan’s head coach at a press conference at Lou’s Place on Feb. 25. The team will scrimmage this fall and begin playing in the Central States Football League in the fall of 2017.
Since becoming head coach, Prud’homme has begun recruiting and has made two coaching hires.
Paul Duckworth, who coached with Prud’homme at Nolan for 15 years, was named the team’s defensive coordinator on March 10, according to ramsports.net. Calvin Powell, who graduated from Duncanville High School and has coached at a variety of colleges, including Langston University and Philadelphia’s Temple University, was named offensive coordinator on April 6.
Prud’homme said he could feel that Wesleyan was ready for what he had in mind.
“Every program that I’ve been around that has been successful, especially at Nolan, everybody was on board,” Prud’homme said. “The coaches, players, parents and administration were all on the same page and I feel that is very much the case at Wesleyan. All signs are pointing in the right direction here.”
Wesleyan Athletic Director Steve Trachier said the bond Prud’homme described was proven on the day he was introduced as the university’s head coach.
“When he was introduced as the head coach here it was really surprising the number of parents of players from the past that came to the presentation because of their immense support for coach,” Trachier said. “You don’t get that type of loyalty unless you do your job and do it well.”
Trachier said that hiring Prud’homme was never a question.
“We were looking for a particular type of coach, one that understood what Wesleyan is all about: the student,” Trachier said. “Coach spent a lot of time talking about supporting the student first, about teaching young men how to better themselves.”
Trachier believes that Prud’homme is ready for the challenge Wesleyan is offering.
“I use the old Alexander the Great analogy,” he said. “If you know history, at one point Alexander wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. I think coach has had so much success at the high school level that he was ready for another challenge.”
Trachier said that one the things he loves about Prud’homme is his “quiet intenseness.”
“I call it gently exerting your will,” Trachier said. “He’s a professor, a cerebral type of coach, the type that’s going to try outsmart the opponent.”
All of this makes Trachier believe that Prod’homme is the right choice for Wesleyan.
“From the day I met him he’s done the little things the right way,” Trachier said. “You don’t have a successful tenure by accident. That comes from consistently doing the right things the right way. Seven state championships is not an accident.”
Prud’homme said knows that it will take time and effort to make sure the pieces fall the right way.
“If you set your standards, work and effort towards a goal and you have everybody behind that idea you’re going to have success,” Prud’homme said. “It just kind of lends itself to that.”
Prud’homme knows that not everybody at Wesleyan supports reviving football; the subject drew intense debate last year, including at several public forums.
Michael Brown, a junior criminal justice major, said he knows that Wesleyan has its best interest in mind. However, he doesn’t know if Wesleyan is ready for football.
“I’m sure that Wesleyan did their research before they hired the new coach,” Brown said. “However, I still believe that we need to focus on the sports here now but here we are forking out money to things like this.”
Prud’homme believes that reviving football is one the best things for Wesleyan.
“It’s always good for a university to have a winning football program,” Prud’homme said
He also has a message for the doubters.
“I want to prove you wrong,” Prud’homme said. “Anybody that hopes to see us or anything with the university fail I just want to prove them wrong.”.