Kimberly's culture breeds success

Published: Apr. 19, 2017 at 4:16 PM CDT
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KIMBERLY, Wis. (WBAY) - "You know I think it starts with people.," said Kimberly head coach Steve Jones. "Everything starts with people. Then the people drive the culture."

Jones has seen literally nothing but success the last 4 years. 56 wins. Zero losses. And 4 straight state titles to celebrate.

"We really have a really good culture right now," Jones said. "I think it is about how we do things. We talk to our kids a lot about how everyone is lifting weights in the summer, the winter, the spring. Everyone is doing speed development. But it is about how you do things on a day-to-day basis that separates you."

The Papermakers' attention to detail is a defining trait. And this time of year, Jones make sure to put in face time with his players, growing relationships, while also growing himself in the off-season too.

"You just try to grow," Jones said. "You go to coaches clinics. You meet with coaches. You read books. You watch TED talks. You try to do as many things as you can to grow as a leader yourself and as a football coach X's and O's wise. Culture far outweighs the X's and O's. Teams know what we are going to do a lot of times, offensively and defensively. There's no magic bullet, no magic play. But I think there is some magic in having a special culture. I think you have to fight for that culture every day. Once you develop a culture, it's not like it just runs smoothly."

To look smooth on the field though, Kimberly does follow a blueprint.

"We talk about our formula is the people plus the culture plus the preparation plus the execution will equal winning," Jones said.

The perfect Papermakers have won a lot of lopsided games, but at Camp Randall the last two years, they had to come from behind to win the state title. The mark of these champions is their ability to thrive in situations at state that they have not faced all season.

"We try to do a lot of mental training the first couple weeks of the season," Jones said. "When we have meetings we talk a lot about preparing mentally. We talk about when opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare. We need to prepare before those situations come, so that when you need mental resilience, and it's the second half and you're down in the state championship game, it is too late to do the teaching. We really rely on our mental training early in the season. That's one big thing that separates us, as we do a lot of the mental training."

Kimberly envisions its success every day of the year, not just in the fall. And the culture here helped the Papermakers produce those four straight perfect seasons.

"The vast majority of our team was back in the weight room the Monday after the state championship game," Jones recalls. "They weren't just in there doing arm curls. They were in there squatting, benching, and getting after it. We need to work hard for everything we get. Nothing is going to be given to us."

This past off-season Jones was named runner up for the Don Shula National Coach of the Year award. The biggest benefit was not the glory, but trips to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl to meet with other finalists.

"We did not talk about X's and O's at all," Jones said. "It was all about leadership and culture and program development and how do you reach kids? It was an amazing experience."

Jones knew his calling long before his playing days ended.

"I didn't really have a dad growing up," Jones said. "I actually had a fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Jack Stoskopf, the head hockey coach at SPHAS, and he was very successful. That was right when my parents got divorced and I moved to a new elementary school and he really took me underneath his wing. From that point on, I knew that was something I wanted to do. I wanted to have an opportunity to impact kids and young men like he did. I think early on I knew I wanted to somehow make an impact. In a year, a coach has more opportunities to make an impact than some people do in a lifetime. It is not about wins and losses. If you just focus on that, you will get burnt out real quick. It's about how can you make an impact? How can you use your platform to be a positive role model?"