Indiana News

State trooper enforcing discipline, responsibility, grueling workouts as new Caston football coach

ROCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) – Caston Junior-Senior High School announced a unique pick to head their varsity football program, straying from the typical teacher-coach model and selecting a full-time law enforcement officer.

Sgt. Tony Slocum, a long-time Indiana State Trooper, was hired to fill the head football coach position ahead of the rural school corporation’s new academic year and athletic season.

He feels “humbled” to coach the tight-knit team of 17, he said Monday during a team practice.

“It’s humbling to coach football at all,” Slocum told 24-Hour News 8. “Being a head coach is something I thought would never happen.”

However, his experience with the Comets athletic program at Caston spans more than a decade.

Slocum was first hired by the Fulton County public schools in 2002 as an assistant coach and has since coached “every level of football at Caston from [elementary] to high school varsity,” he said.

At least four rising seniors currently on his team have trained with him since the fourth grade.

“I’ve watched these young men grow up and I want to continue being there to show them the right way to do things,” Slocum explained.

He said the sleep he sacrificed to work as a coach alongside his State Police duties was “worth it” and he valued the opportunity to mentor young football players.

“It’s what my mentors did for me,” said Slocum. “My dad was never around so quite often the coaches were father figures to me… [They were] always asking about my grades [and] asking if I went to school. That might not sound like a big deal, but when you grow up in an inner city community where that’s not always important, having someone look out for you to do the right thing [is important]. That’s what I try to do here [at Caston].”

He and fellow Caston coaches take time to speak with student athletes about their family dynamics, academic goals, career plans and other aspects of their lives not related to football.

“The most important thing here isn’t winning football,” said Slocum. “I want to instill a sense of responsibility in these kids. I want to teach them to always do the right thing… Football teaches them discipline, dedication and teamwork.”

He compared the sport to police work, saying he held his varsity players to the same standards as law enforcement personnel.

“When someone calls 911, they expect you to show up and do a good job,” Slocum explained. “I expect the same level of dedication when my guys show up at practice… Winning is a mentality. You don’t just show up at a game and win.”

Tayt Cowell, a rising senior and team co-captain, said the new head coach’s “tough love, no excuses” approach to coaching made a noticeable difference in their performance both on and off the field.

He admitted it was “intimidating” the first time he saw Slocum pulling up at school in his patrol vehicle, still dressed in his State Trooper uniform, but said the team now considers him a father figure.

“‘The standard is excellence’ – he always says that,” he recalled. “Coach tells us if [we] mess up on a play, it’s easier to not blame someone else. Just take responsibility and move on. And make sure you go harder on the next play and [do] the job right.”

Teammate Blake Albright, an incoming junior, said Slocum’s unswerving emphasis on discipline previously led their junior high team to an undefeated season.

“I was like, ‘Yes!’ when I found out he was coming back as head coach,” he said, punching the air. “We always hear his voice in our heads.”

Slocum paused and smiled while discussing his influence on the teenagers’ lives.

“If I think about it too much, I might shed a tear or two,” he laughed. “Unmanly tears! They’ll make fun of me.”

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