'Competition Breeds Success,' Berkley High School's New Varsity Football Coach Says
BHS special education teacher Chris Sikora – who said he will stress academic achievement, as well as a competitive spirit, among his players – has set his sights on the state playoffs.
Berkley High School's new varsity football head coach Chris Sikora has big plans for the team, both on and off the field.
The BHS special education teacher – who recently took over after former head coach Jeff Burnside left to take the head coaching position at Novi High School – said he will stress academic achievement, as well as a competitive spirit.
"Competition breeds success," Sikora said. "I don't just want competitors on the field; I want them in the classroom and in life."
The mantra is one Sikora, of Rochester Hills, has applied in his own life.
- The avid deer hunter, who grew up in rural Imlay city, was an All-Area and All-League football player in high school, which he graduated in 2001.
- He earned a bachelor's degree with teaching certifications in social studies and history from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2006 and landed a teaching position at Belleville High School, where he coached at all levels of the school's football program.
- After being let go in during a massive round of layoffs at Belleville High School, Sikora returned to UM-Flint in 2009, where he earned a master's degree in special education in just one year, while also coaching at Flint Northwestern High School.
- Sikora has coached at the freshman and junior varsity levels at BHS since he began teaching at the school during the 2010-2011 year.
"This school is incredible," Sikora said. "I'm really blessed everything has really worked out for me."
The coach said he would like to improve the varsity squad's 5-4 record from last year and make it to the state playoffs, which the school has not done for the past two years. He'd also like for his players to get to the academic All-State level, Sikora said.
"In the past, there are too may kids who've been handicapped by what they didnt' achieve in the classroom," he said.
That attitude was a key selling point for the selection committee that picked Sikora for the job, Berkley School District athletic director Lori Stone said.
"We thought he was an excellent fit for the program," she said. "We were excited to have a teacher who could step up as a varsity head coach in-house and look after their grades and the player as a whole, as opposed to them just as a football player and not knowing what's going on with them academically, behaviorally and socially."
Stone said the search for a new varsity head coach began internally and Sikora's interview persuaded the committee it did not need to be expanded.
"He's pretty gung ho," she said.
That attitude was apparent before dawn Tuesday in the BHS west gym as Sikora, coffee cup in hand, worked with his team during the first day of speed and agility training for the upcoming season.
"I think if you set the bar high for kids, they'll eventually reach it," he said.