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Accomplished athlete to coach varsity Lion football and track

Kostiha brings football state title experience to Ennis
Prior to beginning his coaching career, Joe Kostiha enjoyed great success in the athletic realm as a player.
The new varsity secondary coach for Lion football who’ll also coach track and field along with his U.S. History teaching duties, Kostiha grew up north of Stephenville where he attended six-man football powerhouse Gordon High School. An all-state football and basketball player at Gordon, Joe won a state championship and the team won state again the year after he graduated.
Kostiha also played baseball and ran track for Gordon. He went on to attend Beloit College in Wisconsin and major in educational studies, where Joe was a three-year All-Midwest Conference linebacker. He was also a national qualifier throwing the javelin.
Kostiha has previously coached at Groveton, Alvarado and just spent two years at Bridgeport before arriving in Ennis.
“Growing up, I always did well in athletics and felt like I interacted well with people,” he said.
“Coaching is a great combination of the two and I believe God steered me toward this career. I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world.”
Unlike most Lion coaches, Kostiha didn’t actually apply at Ennis prior to his arrival.
“I’d known Coach [Sam] Harrell through his son Zac when we coached together and were good friends at Alvarado,” Joe said.
“We stayed in good contact, Zac told me about a possible opportunity here and then Coach Harrell called me. We had an informal talk and he contacted me a month later with an offer to join the staff.”
After getting to know his fellow Lion coaches, Kostiha believes he understands why Ennis has won more than its fair share of ballgames.
“There are a lot of class individuals and it’s not really a secret why Ennis has had so much success – the staff is made up of good people and they positively influence the athletes.”
Football has always been Kostiha’s favorite sport, even though he was recruited more at Gordon for his baseball prowess. He loves coaching the sport and is excited every year at this time with the season looming. Joe really enjoyed track and field in college as a javelin thrower and he definitely thinks it makes people better overall athletes.
“It’s about you and the other people in your event; there’s nowhere to hide,” he said.
“It can be a big confidence builder for kids to see they can succeed on their own.”
Kostiha has coached discus and shot throwers since his return to Texas and sees a lot of similarities with the javelin throw, especially when it comes to the discus.
“Other coaches will give me a hard time saying, ‘Joe’s going to bring that javelin expertise here,’” he said.
“I wish they had that event here because it’s great.”
When it comes to his athletes, Kostiha wants them to be alert and smart more than anything.
“If you get beat because you’re not as fast as somebody else, it happens,” he said.
“If you get beat because you’re not mentally aware or prepared, that’s on me as a coach. Playing with a lot of heart is also important. I don’t think that will be a problem at Ennis.”
Kostiha approaches his coaching goals from a team standpoint, hoping to ensure the Lions deliver a successful football season and go deep into the playoffs. That’s a key reason he came to the Bluebonnet City – to be a part of the Ennis tradition.
“If you get three or four rounds deep in the playoffs, anything can happen,” Joe said.
As with most coaches, Kostiha’s family played a large role in the life path he chose.
“My dad [Jimmy Ray] was a teacher and my mom [Nila] also worked in the school; they were a big influence on me and always came to all the games me and my brothers played in.”
Joe actually played football with his older brother Jim in high school and college. When the pair won state together at Gordon, Jim threw the game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds left in a 51-50 victory and was the state MVP. He also has a younger brother named Robert.
“My brother Jim and I went to play ball in Wisconsin together and I think he always knew I had a knack for coaching, so he pushed me to excel,” Joe said.
Maybe some of Kostiha’s state championship pedigree will rub off on his Lion players in the 2008 season.

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Posted by on Jul 30 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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