John Baumstark has a pretty good idea how to relate to football players because it was not very long ago that he still was one.

John Baumstark has a pretty good idea how to relate to players because it was not very long ago that he still was one.

School of the Osage welcomed the rookie coach to the staff a season ago after his playing days on the gridiron at the University of Central Missouri were up and he is now in his second year with the Indians.

“Last year was pretty funny because I’m only 5 years older than some of the seniors so kind of taking that older brother mentality and mentoring them was a lot of fun,” said Baumstark who played quarterback and wide receiver for the Division II Mules. “Building relationships with them and their families and the coaches is something I really love about Osage. The coaching staff really took me in under their arms and I’ve learned a lot about coaching.

“Seeing it from the other side going from a player and now seeing how much work coaches put in, when you are playing you kind of take for granted what your coaches do. Seeing the other side and learning every day is great.”

Originally from Washington, Mo., Baumstark had the privilege of student-teaching in Kansas City under Ed Harwood who used to teach at Osage. Having a little bit of insight, he felt it would be a great place to launch a coaching career as the “small town family atmosphere” reminded him of home.

“Being around a close-knit family with staff and community was something that really drove me to want to be at Osage,” the young assistant said.

And he’s noticed it on the football field as well.

“Our coaching staff really cares about our players. I think that is the biggest thing, we’d do anything for those guys,” he added, also noting how great it was to work with kids who, “show up every day working hard.”

Baumstark began as a wide receiver coach last season and finds himself on the opposite side of the ball this year coaching the linebackers. It is a different kind of challenge as he spent his time on the offensive side of the ball in college, but for him it is all part of being a proverbial sponge in order to become a good coach.

“Learning from Coach (Devin) Johnson and (Shawn) Fowler for sure has really helped me,” Baumstark said of the head coach and defensive coordinator. “I’m just trying to take everything in and trying to learn as much as I can, especially going from knowing a lot about offense and now trying to learn all the lingo and talk about defense and different things like that.”

While he is soaking in that coaching knowledge, players are also coming to him and asking for advice in the recruiting process. After all, it was not that long ago when he was playing college ball on Saturdays.

“Just telling them what camps to go to, what college coaches are looking for or what to expect if they want to play college sports is something a couple of kids have come to me and asked me,” Baumstark remarked. “I think that helps out and just having another level of experience, seeing more on the field what offenses and defenses do, has helped me and the players hopefully.”

When he is not on the gridiron, Baumstark teaches health, physical education and weightlifting at Osage Middle School. One of the things he enjoys most in the classroom or on the field is seeing something click with a student or athlete.

“I think that is the biggest reward any teacher or coach will say they love. Whenever you teach a kid something and practice it during the game or on a test, you finally see it click in their eyes and see they actually got it and the joy they get out of it,” he noted. “I think that is the biggest reward is just seeing the hard work finally pay off in the game or a classroom.”

And being around the game of football, Baumstark said he always just wanted to give back as a teacher and a coach. One thing he has emphasized to players is to take everything in stride and not take it for granted.

“I know where those kids were at when I was their age because it was not that long ago,” he said. “Football is an amazing sport, but it can get taken away real quick. I think the energy football brings and how high tempo it is, I just love football and being around it so I’m excited.”

His first season on the Indian sidelines was a tough one as Osage went 2-8, but he recalled and treasured the relationships that were forged and the good lessons last fall provided.

“The first game of the season against Fulton we played really well,” the coach recalled as well as the joy players had. “Unfortunately we did not carry it on throughout the season, but seeing how our team grew and fought throughout the year I think kind of encouraged us and showed what the seniors need to do this year to better ourselves.”

Whether it is coaching wide receivers, linebackers or anything else, Baumstark said he is “very lucky” to be at Osage. He would not mind having the opportunity to coach near his hometown someday, but he certainly is not in a hurry.

“I love Osage and want to stay as long as I can, as long as they’ll keep me or as long as the fiancé lets me stay here,” Baumstark said with a smile.