Brandon once told me that his fight and competitive drive finally brought the arrival of what he’d wanted for most of his life: success in the form of a 6A State Championship. But as he stood on the field under Friday night lights, Coach Clark redefined “success” because the moment he’d worked toward for so long…felt empty. Coincidently Brandon’s shift of loving the journey instead of just the outcome created more success for himself, his team, his staff, and his family.

RT: Who is Brandon Clark?

BC: I’m a husband and father to three children. I grew up in Valley Center and went to Kansas State University and played football underneath the legendary Bill Snyder. I bounced around a few NFL mini camps until I took my first teaching job at Derby High School. I was an assistant coach for three years have been the head football coach for 11 years.

We’ve made it to the State 6A semi finals 7 out of the 11 years.  We’ve won three 6A state championships in the last four years.  But I’m not coaching for state championships.

RT: What brought you to coaching football?

BC: My sophomore year in high school I realized sports were more than just something I love doing because that year I gained a 2nd family in my life – our football team.  Once I let that that sink in, I knew I wanted to create what my high school coach, Coach Smith, created for me: a family.

After getting hurt, I decided to hang up my cleats and start teaching and coach.

RT: How did you get to be a 3x State Championship coach?

BC: Honestly, I think anybody could have done what I have done here.  It’s way bigger than the head coach.  We have had the same coaching staff here the past four years. This staff has been a constant of our three state championships.  Stability is huge.

Another thing is that 11 years ago, we weren’t looking for immediate gratification.  We went to the lower levels and started teaching our elementary kids what it takes to be a Derby Panther Football player.  We knew we wouldn’t see the fruits of our labor for years to come, and it’s working now.  Our kids know our system, which allows us to spend more time on character building and family building.  This foundation brings our team closer and our community closer.

When you have all of this invested into the program, great things start to happen.

RT: Who has influenced or inspired you most during your rise in a successful football program?

BC: My parents and high school football coach had the biggest impact when I was younger. Now, I have many influences and inspirations, including my wife, Courtney, and our three kids.  My wife reminds me that a lot of our players need more than just a football coach telling them what to do. They need a coach that opens the door and listens to them.  My kids are also my inspiration.  I understand why parents get upset sometimes, because I’m that parent that wants to see my kids succeed in everything they do. With that in mind, I try to coach all of our players with the same passion that I have for my own children.

(Servant Leadership, The Energy Bus, and The Carpenter by Jon Gordon have also shaped Brandon’s philosophy.)

RT: What 3 tips would you give to other coaches?


1. Don’t let being a coach control your life. 

Like anything work smarter not harder.  I probably spent my first half of my career working harder and not smarter.

2. Invest in your younger athletes.

It will pay off down the road.

3. Don’t always think there is something better; make where you are at better.

I had a goal when I took over.  I wanted to make Derby High School a place where people wanted to come and coach.  I didn’t go in and say I’m going to use this as a step to climb the ladder.  I have a ladder at Derby that stays in Derby, and I’m still climbing with no end in sight.

RT: What are some challenges you have faced?

BC: When I was a first year head coach, I let the stress of football parents and some community members get to me.  I found myself in the hospital one night with heart issues.  It took medication to get my irregular heartbeat back into control.  Stress isn’t always a bad thing, but I’ve learned not to let things out of my control stress me out.

RT: What advice would you give to players to want to taste victory?

BC: The taste of victory is kind like Candy Corn.  It taste pretty good when you put it in your mouth, but after you finished it, the taste in your mouth isn’t as good as it was when you first started eating it. Don’t let the taste of victory drive you, because if that is all you are thinking about, you won’t realize that the journey getting there is way sweeter.

Want to contact Brandon about loving the journey? Email him:

Interested to read more about Brandon’s story and others? Check out our book, An Inspired Evolution: Nine Ways to Grow into your Greatest Self.


Rachel is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through International Coaching Federation (ICF) for INspired Leadership at ESSDACK. She helps professionals get where they want to be, faster. Want to develop curiosity to reach your goals? Contact her.


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