Coach Garrett inspires Kean University football team to strive



By Wayne Dawes | Posted on November 3, 2022

For 17 years, Kean’s head football coach, Dan Garrett, worked to teach his football players “both” how to dominate on the pitch and become better men off the pitch.

During the offseason, Garrett and his players discussed how to become a champion in all aspects of their lives, such as “in their ‘work ethic, eating habits,’ and ‘sleep habits.’

The Kean University football team earned their first win of the season by beating host Catholic University 33-14 on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action. | Credit: Kean

Developing these habits is good physically and mentally. “Physically, eating a good meal before the game can give you the energy to go out and perform well. Mentally, you have to maintain a strong work ethic. “It takes a lot of hard work, practice and dedication” .

“A champion isn’t something you get, it’s something you become, if you can develop those championship habits and traits then you have a great chance of winning games”

As Kean’s college football season kicked off Sept. 3, Garret said the team was filled with fifth-year players and a few who returned to Kean to complete graduate school.

Having fifth-year players and seniors as players is a big advantage because they are experienced and can lead the subclasses. Experienced players coach freshmen or sophomores on team culture, which is built on trust, discipline, and family.

This year, Garrett and Kean’s football team all have the same goal.

“On and off the field, the Kean University football team prides itself on setting big goals, and its primary goal for this season is to win the New Jersey Athletic Conference,” Garrett said.

The word culture has been overused in recent years, especially in sports.

Building a culture takes years to develop, but Garrett knows that sometimes the right culture can take your team to the top.

“I think culture is about relationships, trust, and culture builds relationships; I think culture beats projects any day of the week,” Garrett said.

Kean University’s football team was ranked third and the Dark Horse selection in the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s preseason coaching survey. | Credit: Kean

Building a culture and an identity in sport is not easy, you have to have the right staff, the right coaching staff and players who have the determination and the mindset to follow this culture that is being built .

“I don’t care what the stat sheet says, the only stat at the end of the game that matters is win or lose,” Garrett said. “So even though we played better this week, we got better from week one to week two, from week two to week three and I can see this team improving steadily week by week. The level of consistency for us is really two things, it’s the level of focus and our level of execution because our efforts will never be in question,” Garret said when asked about the big win over the Catholic university and how they can keep up to that level of consistency.

Kean’s college football team this year has a lot of potential to win a lot of games and win the New Jersey Athletic Conference. As of October 13, the football team is 2-4, with four games left in the season, the cougars have the potential to have more games won than the previous year which was 4 wins.

Graduate student and defensive back Anthony Bassani was asked what he likes most about playing for Kean’s football team, it’s the chemistry between the players and the feeling of brotherhood.

Under Garrett’s tutelage, he learned to watch football movies and do homework for the game. He prepares for a game by eating a good breakfast and hydrating with water and Pedialyte. He also listens to his music, which he says “pumps me up and keeps me locked in until the game.”

“The most important thing that coach Garret taught us was our culture, everything he taught us in our player handbooks is not just about football or how to become a champion, it’s about how to become better men in life,” Bassani said.

Your Kean Football Team | Credit: Kean

When it comes to a team sport there is no “I” in the team, but everyone has their own personal goals which they pursue each season and for Anthony he has a goal that he wants to achieve.

On Oct. 8, the Cougars were victorious over Montclair State University 23-22 and for Bassani, he knows what the team needs to do to keep the level consistent.

“To keep winning games, our team has to keep improving day by day and keep believing in us,” Bassani said.

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