Portland football coach and math teacher works the angles

There are a lot of similarities between teaching in a classroom and coaching on a field, says Portland High School head football coach John Novara — and he’s in a position to know.

In addition to his duties with the football team, Novara coaches Portland’s freshman boys’ basketball team, the girls’ track and field team, as well his own children’s sports teams.

Then there’s his day job as a math teacher at Portland High School, where he teaches pre-algebra, algebra I and geometry, and serves as the junior class adviser.

In order to be a successful coach, “you have to be a successful teacher,” Novara said.

“I think coaching and teaching are the same things,” Novara said. “You have to want to work with students. You have to put a lot of extra time in.”

Novara recently received the “Building Leaders” award from WVFN-AM’s “The Drive with Jack Ebling,” which recognizes Mid-Michigan school employees who have gone above and beyond to help student athletes. MEA and Home Management Company co-sponsor the award.

Novara said his 18 years of experience as a math teacher helps inform his coaching. For example, Novara teaches his football players a lot about geometry by showing them how to analyze blocking patterns.

Clearly, Novara’s players have been paying attention to his gridiron geometry lessons — Portland’s football team consistently ranks among the state’s best, having won last year’s Division 5 state title.

Click here to listen to the WVFN segment featuring Novara.

To nominate a school employee for the “Building Leaders” award, email David Crim at dcrim@mea.org. Make sure to include in your email a description of the nominee’s efforts on behalf of student athletes.