By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
Joe Tanis knows the importance of high school football to sports fans in Muskegon County.
He wants to put Orchard View High School back into the mix when it comes to talking about teams with a shot at winning a state title.
Tanis is the new head coach for the Cardinals, assuming the duties from Neil Sladick, who resigned after posting a 1-8 record a year ago.
“It’s an honor and humbling to get a job at OV with such a tradition,” said Tanis, a 2001 graduate of Grandville High School. “The heart of football is Muskegon County. I have always believed the west side is Michigan football.
“State championship-wise, it’s been incredible,” Tanis said. “You can see how much the people of Muskegon care about football.”
Prior to his hiring at OV, Tanis has coached at the junior high level, high school and college. But this is his first head coaching job.
“I have the benefit coming in knowing what didn’t work for the previous coach,” Tanis said. “The kids weren’t having any fun. It’s my job to make football fun. It’s the greatest game in the world.”
Among Tanis’ previous stints were Napoleon High School, where he was co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, defensive coordinator at Galesburg-Augusta, a coaching stint with Kalamazoo in arena football and running backs coach, tight ends coach and video coordinator at Northern Michigan University.
He played went to Grand Rapids Community College his first two years before playing two seasons at Olivet College.
Now he’s ready to face the challenge of his first head coaching job. And that takes hard work, lots of it.
“I’ve been coming in during the summer, trying to create culture, competition and making it exciting,” Tanis said. “And get them to tell their friends they had fun at football.”
For Tanis, it’s more than just football at the varsity level.
“We want to create an environment from the ground up,” Tanis said. “Have flag football for the youth. And attend youth games and get our players to attend youth games and have our guys coach the younger kids. It gives our guys a sense of giving back.”
But Tanis knows his top priority is rejuvenating the Cardinal football program.
“We want to create an atmosphere on Friday night,” said Tanis, who believes his outlook on the game will produce success.
“I have a ability to relate with the kids and I have a passion for the game,” Tanis said. “I honestly do not think there is anyone who loves football more than I do. That does not mean I’m better at coaching than everyone, but I love the game. It’s my passion.”
Between that and the hard-working athletes at OV, Tanis is ready to get rolling.
“It’s a blue collar community and that creates hungrier kids and I think that’s great,” Tanis said. “I don’t think a state championship is out of the picture. Our goal is a state championship every year.”
And there is one other goal.
“We have a five-game losing streak to that team to the east of us (Oakridge) and we have to stop that first,” Tanis said.