James Broyles was sitting at his daughter's volleyball tournament in Orlando, Florida, when suddenly his phone wouldn't stop ringing.
He ignored the initial call, but they didn't stop. That was the start of a process that led to Broyles becoming the football coach at Kankakee Valley on Monday.
After talking it over with his wife, Shelly, for about a week, the 1996 Kankakee Valley graduate decided to he would take on the job. First-year coach Derek Thompson resigned on June 22 to create the opening.
"I knew they needed someone right away and it was only fair to the community, kids and the program to make a quick, but informed decision, especially with how late the departure was," Broyles said. "I talked to my wife about it and the thing is, football has been our life, from my playing days to me coaching for a while. I live here. We're not moving and I love the school, what it stands for and love the kids around here.
As a player, Broyles was named an Indiana North All-Star as an offensive lineman and went on to play at Indiana University and Southwest Missouri State. He had training camp stints with the Chiefs, Rams, Buccaneers and Packers.
His coaching experience entails time at Zanesville High School in Ohio, a couple years at K.V. before heading to Hobart when former coach Ryan Turley took over the Brickies. When good friend Zach Prairie took over the Kougars in 2016, Broyles returned to K.V. to help him out.
Kankakee Valley will be Broyles' first head coaching job.
"One thing I want to take from every coach I've had is just the desire to compete and work hard," Broyles said. "That's what I hope to instill in these kids, that whenever you put the pads on — whether it's game night, or practices — put them on to better because if you make yourself better then that collectively will make the team better. That's the one consistent message I've pulled from all my time and it's not always a simple thing for kids to do."
Being hired on such short notice with the first game just over a month away, the plan is to keep it simple.
"At the end of the day, these kids have been through enough and it's time for them to play some football, I don't want them thinking a ton," Broyles said. "I want them to play fast, hard and enjoy what we're doing. I want to give them things they recognize and not throw a bunch of different stuff at them. People are always gonna make mistakes but if they do them while going 100 MPH, then we can correct that from there."
As the program's ninth head coach since 2000, Broyles hopes to bring some rare continuity to the position. For seniors like quarterback/defensive end Wade Williams and running back/linebacker Donald Nannenga, this will be their fourth coach in as many years.
"As a player, you really gotta figure out if you wanna keep playing football or not with things like that," Nannenga said. "At the end of the day though, you're not doing it for your coaches, but more so for your buddies and the school and to represent your family in a positive way. Wade and I have been playing 13 years and sure, it took a toll on us as a team, but we're going to keep moving forward now with Broyles. We're ready to get out there Week 1 against Rennselaer."
Both players talked about how they sensed confidence from Broyles during their team meeting Monday. Williams added that Broyles got on his good side by asking him if he wanted to play both sides of the ball, something he didn't get to do last year.
"He really just brought that energy to the meeting and had everyone fired up and ready to go," Williams said. "I feel like throughout my sports career, he's one of the guys I've looked up to the most because he's been there and done it all. It's hard to keep adapting and moving with coaches but with Broyles coming and pretty much the same staff, it'll be a little easier."
The Kougars will take on E.C. Central on Thursday in a scrimmage.
"I'm really looking forward to see how the kids adapt to the intensity we want and how they apply it to the field," Broyles said. "I wanna see a consistent intensity and them always on their toes and always goes. I'm really excited to see this senior class and what they can do too because they've been through a lot and they deserve to play well. They've been working hard and I can't wait to watch them play."