Jay Michael encourages teamwork on and off of the football field
It is a late Friday night. Varsity offensive linemen receive a notification with detailed scores on how they played and what plays they need to improve on. In the message, there are words of encouragement and notes showing exactly what went wrong in each play. The message comes from the school’s director of facilities.
Jay Michael is the school’s Director of Facilities and is in charge of the custodial team, the maintenance team and the engineering team that all help with the daily operations of the school. However, Michael’s only job isn’t just head of facilities, but also as the coach of the offensive line for the varsity football team. Michael has coached football for 22 years and has been involved in the sport for most of his life. His passion for the game started at a very young age when his mother took him to his father’s high school football practice, where his father was a coach. Since then, his love for the sport only grew over time.
“I love competition and football is the greatest of America’s sports when it comes to competition,” Michael said. “If you are someone that has never competed in something you care deeply about, you will never know what you are fully capable of.”
Even though Michael is an offensive line coach, he played as a receiver in college. After graduating from Baker University, Michael immediately began his coaching career starting with a seventh-grade football team in Missouri. Since then, Michael has coached football at the middle school, junior varsity and varsity levels.
Before Michael joined ESD, he lived in Florida where he was the Director of Operations at Bishop Verot High School. Michael decided to move to Texas for his daughter, wanting her to have more opportunities in the big city and have her grow up in a similar environment to the one he grew up in. He applied for the Facilities Director position on the final day the position was open and got the job.
“I found the job online on the last day that it was open, and I was the last candidate,” Michael said. “So it was kind of like I was meant to be here.”
Michael’s first days at ESD were characterized by a freeze shutting the school down in the winter of 2015. Michael was unable to talk to or interact with any of the students for three days.
“I was coming from Florida and I hadn’t seen snow or ice since I was a kid,” Michael said. “It was a shock. I was like, wait a minute, what did I get? What did I sign myself up for?”
After that rocky start, Michael was able to excel and improve the facilities department. Michael said that many employees had a “that’s not my job” attitude when he started at the school. After implementing his philosophy of “three teams, one department,” he has seen the facilities teams work together more fluidly.
“I can honestly say that the last two years have been the most enjoyable because I’ve got a staff that works really well,” Michael said. “Everybody in the maintenance department, in the facilities department and everybody in the engineering department, all three work really well together. They help each other out. Nobody says ‘it’s not my job.’”
As soon as Michael came to ESD, he knew he wanted to connect with the school’s football program. Michael started as the middle school football coach and after four years, he began to help with upper school football as well. This is Michaels’ second year as the upper school-only football coach. Since he took on this role, Michael has seen a positive change in the facilities team especially in cases where Michael needs to be away for games, the department as a whole steps in and works together as a team.”
Varsity center of the offensive line Drew Chairuangdej described Michael as “the number one analytical coach.” Chairuangdej and the rest of the offensive line receive “grades” after games from Michael.
“Those stats help us so much with the team,” Chairuangdej said. “To see where we are and where we can be at, because sometimes you know you let up a sack, or if you let up a quarterback hurry.”
The statistics have had an impact on the offensive line and the offense as a whole. The statistics can show quarterbacks or running backs what they can improve on and how they can work in unison with the offensive line. But Michael has not only made an impact on players, but he has also impacted coaches as well.
“I would currently describe him as the coach on staff I trust the most to help me do what I need to do. He definitely makes me a better coach every day, teaches me new things that I need to learn every day,” Jordan Swinford, the varsity offensive coordinator, and junior varsity head coach said. “We would not be in the position that we’re in without Jay Michael, the way he interacts with our players, specifically our offensive lineman, along with his knowledge of the game X’s and O’s wise, is unmatched.”
According to Charuangdej, Michael’s impact on the team is palpable.
“He doesn’t only teach offensive lineman,” Charuangdej said. “He coaches because he used to play receiver in college, so he would help the receivers a little bit out as well, and then he even has a special teams spot. So in a sense, as a team, he has helped us a lot.”