By Cody Liverance
Local Sports Journal

Mike Belmonte has been waiting a long time to get his shot at being a head football coach.

NM head football coach Mike Belmonte

After 22 years as an assistant at various schools throughout the area, he’ll finally get that chance this year at North Muskegon High School.

Belmonte is the new varsity football coach for the Norsemen, taking over the title previously held by John Slocum, who was at the helm for 5 years, including the Norse’s disappointing 0-9 season last year.

“I’m excited.  We’re just all enjoying it.  This is what we love to do and we’re at a great place to do it,” Belmonte said.  “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but there’s no doubt we’re going to get it going again.”

He plans to implement a multi-formation, series based offense, which is what he and Al Karaba know best.  On the defensive side of the ball, the Norse plan to line up mostly in the 50 with a little bit of 40 variation.

Belmonte and his staff, which includes Karaba, the former Norse head coach, Phil Friesner and Scott Wynsma, will certainly have their work cut out for them.  NM has just four returning starters on offense and five on defense.

“There are no guarantees.  You have to play the games.  We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” Belmonte said.  “I don’t even know who we play the second game. We’re all about Grandville Calvin Christian right now.”

Belmonte has held assistant positions at Muskegon Catholic and Mona Shores to go along with his defensive coordinator responsibilities at Sparta, Fremont, Orchard View and North Muskegon.

Belmonte will wear both the head coach and defensive coordinator hats on the sidelines this year while Friesner and Karaba will be his “offensive geniuses.”

Belmonte, who has a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University, is the Director of Student Affairs at North Muskegon.  His wife of 10 years, Michele, is a secretary at the school and it is also where his three children Denny (age 8), Ruby (6), and Claire (3) will attend.

“My professional goal as an educator has always been to teach, coach and work at the same place,” Belmonte said. “Things just work out eventually.  If you stick to it and keep doing things the right way, eventually you’re going to get to your goal.”

For Belmonte, his main personal goal was to join the head coaching ranks.  He said that since that goal has been achieved, it’s time to start setting new goals for himself and the team.

The main goal that he and his staff have been harping to his players about is to simply get better each and every week.

“The things we’re going to emphasize are senior leadership, honest effort and Norse pride,” said Belmonte.  “If we are a better football team in the ninth week of the season, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve had a successful season.”