Coach works to change attitudes of players as well as community


Photo by Iris Hayslett

After leading the school in a cheer, football coach Justin Peters winks at the photographer during the pep assembly Aug. 28.

Iris Hayslett, Editor

New football coach Justin Peters, isn’t just changing the football team’s record; his plan is to change West students’ attitude toward success.

School spirit is pumped up thanks to the team’s three straight wins. In just four short weeks, Peters has brought a new game plan to the halls of West High school.

“When I stepped in I gave them a direction,” he explained.  “People who wanted to change are making a change. It’s not just me, it’s administrators, coaches, students, players, parents, and community members–they all want to see this program succeed.”

Motivation has spread from the field with West being 3-2, to off the field and in the halls at school, with more students wearing red on Fridays, the student section being packed with 200 students at the Central game,  the booster club organizing a pep bus to the Burlington game, and the community congratulating the players outside of school.  

When Peters stepped in, so did the motivation, all that was needed was a spark to ignite the excitement.  

The fans are very loud as they cheer on the boys, but fans aren’t the only ones whose voice carries. Peters is very loud and entertaining with his players.. “You have to be loud,” he said. “You have 100 yards to yell;  you’re not in a gym. I’ve had plenty years practicing being an elementary school teacher.”

Peters is all about motivating people, not just the football team. The chant that he led the school at the Aug. 27 pep assembly applies to not just sports, but to life itself. “The battles we go through life, we ask for a chance that’s fair; a chance to equal our stride; a chance to do or dare…. Day by day, we get better and better, till we can’t be beat, won’t be beat.”


“The words in that saying is everything that life should be,” Peters said.

“We say it before games because it reminds us how we should live our lives… It’s not just about any sport that you go out and play because there are battles in life that you do want a fair chance at. The only way to do that is getting better and better and you won’t be beat by the downfalls in life, won’t be beat by the naysayers you don’t have to be mean to them, just won’t be beat by them; then till you can’t be beat because the mind set that is setting you on the right path.”

This is Peter’s first head coaching position, however he’s bringing new offensive and defensive schemes from other programs he has assisted with in Colorado high schools. Being a head coach for the first time doesn’t seem to scare him, although he said it takes a lot of effort, patience, and understanding to be a good coach. The head coach is where the vision stands and where it comes from, so you can help lead the way, Peters said.  He said the most enjoyable part of coaching for him is the planning and strategizing for the next game.

Peters said it is important to hold the boys accountable for the good and the bad things that they do. Laps and pushups serve as consequences.

He lets players know he cares about them. He’s the type of person that “ if you need a hug you’re going to get a hug from me, and a whole lot of love showing that you are wanted on this team,” he said.

But with love comes respect, and with coach stepping up and changing things, the boys are much more respectful–not only to themselves but to the administrators, the staff, classmates, coaches, and the community.

“Everybody wants respect, but how many are willing to give it,” he said. “That’s one thing this team is team understands that they want respect, that they also have to give it.”

The attention West is getting for its football team is starting to change the public’s perception of the school.  “If West becomes competitive in football, everyone is going to look at everybody a little differently because we have competitive sports here at West, but because football struggled, they haven’t really looked at us as a school that’s competitive in other sports, but if you look at our records, their are tons of sports and programs here in the school and activities that are competitive on a consistent basis…

“But with the spear head of football if we can make football competitive everyone will look at different programs that are consistently at the top of their programs that don’t get recognition,” he said,  “and once that starts happening with football being competitive people are going to start looking at other programs and saying West is the place to go.”

The players give Peter’s credit for the turnaround.

“Coach Peters is organized and knows what he is talking about, and is a very straight forward person,” senior Robert Olson said. “Also if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have the record that we do, or the school spirit that is in the hallways.”

Junior Andrew Studer said, “He has changed our attitude, and our program around… He believes in us, and has greatly improved our program from previous years.”

Peters said he had people who inspired him from day one. His dad was a football and basketball coach. He said his junior high baseball coach was influential, as was his high school football coach. Coach John Sirriani inspired him when he played baseball for Simpson College.

They ignited the spark in Coach Peters and he has ignited the spark in West High School.

“ If you want to do something in your life, you need to get out there and do the things you need to do to make yourself better,” Peters explained, “and that way you’re ready for that moment you step into the spotlight.”