Strong preparation and a mix of the old and new school. That’s what Jake Goossen-Brown aims to bring every day to the Hart Indians football program.
Goossen-Brown, or “Goose,” was announced as the 17th head coach of the Hart Indians football program on Dec. 20.
The new coach was one of 13 candidates in the mix for the position of leading one of the most historic football programs in Southern California.
Goose had heard Hart legend Rick Herrington retired but got into the application process thanks to his friend and former coach, Paul Gross. Goossen-Brown played under Gross on the Notre Dame High School freshman team, before joining him on the sideline years later as an assistant. Gross is now the girls’ basketball head coach at West Ranch and put his former player in touch with the right people.
After accepting the position, Goossen-Brown was able to speak with and pick the brain of Herrington. With plenty of football to discuss, the two chatted for five hours.
“To meet coach Herrington and hear how he came up in the football world was amazing,” Goose said in a phone interview. “He started at Hart when he was 18 and he coached his brothers. I also coached my brother, so it really felt like a great opportunity and the right place to be.”
Most importantly, Herrington wanted to affirm the program was ready for the next coach to hit the ground running. The varsity squad has several impactful returners as well as the bulk of a 10-0 junior varsity team ready to come up to the next level.
On top of chatting with Herrington, Goossen-Brown has also spoken with several other Hart coaches. While he hasn’t gotten the chance to meet with all of the staff, he aims to keep the bulk of the staff in place to keep the program on track and inclining.
“I’d like to have the chance to talk to all of the coaches,” Goossen-Brown said. “They’re people that want to be around the program. Continuity is great, especially with how historic the Hart program has been. It can help keep the tradition.”
Goossen-Brown is familiar with the Foothill League and has faced off with nearly every Foothill League team as a player or coach except for Hart. The coach was on staff at his alma mater, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, when the 2006 team handed the eventual state champion Canyon Cowboys their first loss of the season. The Knights won the game on a walk-off touchdown reception by Giancarlo Stanton.
“The only team I don’t think I’ve played against is Hart and that might be why I have the fondness for them,” Goossen-Brown said. “Trent Irwin, I remember him and now to see his brother here. It’s great the families still want to stick around and be a part of the program. Brady White and Connor Wingenroth, it’s great to see them still involved in the program. I always had a lot of admiration for Hart and what they’ve done.”
To say the Goossen-Brown family is an athletic one would be an understatement. His brothers, Justin and Josh, were both baseball standouts at Notre Dame. Josh is a former MLB draft pick by the White Sox while Justin plays in the Frontier League. Their sister, Riley, is a former Notre Dame Athlete of the Year and currently plays soccer at Cal Baptist. Goossen-Brown’s uncle Greg Goossen is also a former big leaguer, who spent time with the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Goossen-Brown has dreamed of a coaching job with an established program since beginning his coaching career. Goossen-Brown said he was thrilled to be in the room interviewing for this position.
Now in the driver’s seat, the coach takes control of a historic program that might be on the come-up. The Indians have been playoff regulars nearly every season but the team is in search of its first Foothill League title since 2007. Goossen-Brown’s approach will entail discipline and relentless preparation to ensure his players are ready for anything come Friday.
“I like to think I’m a good mix between old school and new school,” Goossen-Brown said. “I love for my kids to feel like they are the most prepared on Friday nights, while they are still technical and disciplined. I’m just there looking pretty on the sideline, they’re the ones doing the work.”
For the just the second time in 50 years, a Herrington will not be on the field nor sidelines at Hart, as offensive coordinator and CIF Hall of Famer Mike Herrington will also be stepping down. Goossen-Brown hopes to continue the legacy the Herrington brothers have built at Hart High School and longs for a tenure just as long as his predecessor’s.
“This is what I’ve been wanting, a program like Hart,” Goossen-Brown said. “I’ve been on a journey and this is where I’ve wanted to get to. A program with a historic past and it’s in one of the best leagues in Southern California. Obviously, there’s pressure following a legendary coach. Anyone taking this job would feel that pressure but this is what I’ve been working for. I’m hoping this is where I can be for the next 40 years.”