Interview with Freddie Harrison
by Reid Althage
LAFM: How many years have you been coaching at Washington Marion High School? Where was your first ever coaching job?
I am entering my 5th year as head coach of Washington-Marion. I started out my first year as an assistant at Westlake High School under my high school coach, Max Caldarera.
LAFM: Where did you go to school and did you play football?
I went to Westlake High School where I played QB and WR. I went on to play at Northwestern State.
LAFM: What made you get into coaching?
I saw the difference I could make in a kids life by being a coach and a teacher. I realized my comments, my smile, my experience, and just who I am as a person can help influence a young student athlete. I thought why not be a coach? They are some of the most respected people I know. Teaching was actually what I wanted to do when I started looking for a career. Teachers help raise doctors, lawyers, astronauts, senators, and everyone. Not many jobs give you the opportunity to impact lives every day. Coaching and Teaching give me that opportunity.
LAFM: Who are some coaches that had a great influence on you?
Several coaches had a great influence on me. Of course my high school coach Max Caldarera had a big influence on me. He helped me learn the game and gave me my first coaching job. My assistant Coach Jamie Schrio is another one. One guy who had a big influence on my life was Joe House. He was a Pop Warner football coach. I did not play football in junior high. At the time, I thought I would be a basketball player. I realized football had 22 positions, so I figured my odds were better going in that direction. Joe was the guy who influenced me to play football, and it was a changing point in my life.
LAFM: Who are some of the great players that you have played for you?
I coached a really good LB named Melvin Jones at Washington-Marion. He is actually playing FB at LSU right now. Kendrick Harris was a great player that played QB for me when I was at Ferriday. Also, WR Devante Scott is another guy I coached at Ferriday. He plays at Southeastern right now
LAFM: Is there a common characteristic among great players?
A lot of those players have an attitude and swagger that makes them stand out. I am not saying they are cocky, but they do have a confidence in themselves. They are leaders that draw other kids to them. The other players want to be just like them and follow them as a result. I realized as a coach that if I can get to those leading players, then I can actually lead the team through those guys.
LAFM: Do you think the brand of Louisiana football is different than anywhere else in the country?
I think the brand of Louisiana Football is a whole lot different than anywhere else. We do not wear our kids out which I feel other states can sometimes do. Sometimes kids get worn and burnt out playing football. In Louisiana we have enough time for football, yet also give the kids an opportunity to have a life outside of football.
The skill set and mind set is also different in Louisiana. Not to mention, you can travel our state and see different brands of football. North Louisiana is more of a smash mouth football. When you work your way down towards the bottom of the state, you see more of a finesse, speed type of football.
LAFM: What is your advice to high school students in regards to the recruiting process?
I think it is best for kids to stay open minded. A player should not go into the recruiting process saying, “This is what I want to do. This is where I want to go.” Kids need to open themselves up to everybody. Every kid is not a Division 1 football player. The kids need to realize that they need to go to a school with a level of play where they can produce and be productive.
I think recruiting now a days is getting a little out of hand with the recruiting services and all the publicity the kids are getting so early and so fast. It kind of spoils the kids. At the same time, the kids get exposure early which enables the colleges to really get on them. Now the high school students have all the tools to broadcast their talent and brand of football. You can actually see what the players can do and what their potential is much earlier than in the past.
LAFM: What does Washington-Marion Football need to do to be successful this year?
We need to get everyone working towards the same goal. The good thing is that we are only losing 7 seniors from last year. We have 24 seniors coming into this year, and I think they will be great in the leadership position. They know what our team is about and will get the rest of the team on the same page. They are hungry to finish their high school career on a positive note. At Washington-Marion, we preach to each class to think about how they want to be remembered. This senior class has an opportunity to go to the playoffs for the 4th year in a row. They want to be remembered as the class that never missed the playoffs. When I first got here, we had to do a lot of mind set changes. Now this program is starting to become “our” program. Our kids have been under the same tutelage, mentorship, and coaching for the duration of their time at Washington-Marion. We have pride in what we have done and built.
LAFM: What makes Washington Marion a special football program?
We stand out from other football teams, because we try to run our program similarly to a college program. We want to make sure that we track the eye of the incoming freshman. We want to show that we care for the interest of our upper class men. We have upgraded our facilities, spent 25,000 dollars in the weight room, and made strides in the locker room. Our program has done little things that our kids really appreciate. We even have a players lounge with a pool table and couches. We want to draw the kids in to our program.