If you're a fan of sport and believe in winning — and in the process of building a nurturing culture around hard work, accountability, and family values — you may be a fan of Century High School's first-year football coach Sean McMenomy.
Born and raised on a farm in Rosemount, Minn., the 43-year-old former walk-on at the University of Minnesota comes to Century with a B.A. in history, a Masters of Science in recreation and sports sciences, and a virtual Ph.D. in the spread offense.
The proud Golden Gopher has either played under, coached or has ties to spread gurus such as Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone, ex-Seattle Seahawk quarterback and Washington Redskin Head Coach Jim Zorn, and seemingly the entire Oregon Duck coaching staff under Chip Kelly, including Scott Frost and Mark Helfrich. But while enthusiastic about gaining yards and scoring points — a lot of them — McMenomy is more passionate about who he is, where he's from and how he can help young men become better people.
"I'm proud of the fact that I was a 'poor farm boy,'" said McMenomy. "It developed me into the person I am today, which is someone who believes in hard work, dedication and staying committed to a task."
McMenomy always knew he wanted to coach. From his playing days at Minnesota, he wrote down, stored internally, or physically kept everything he felt would be useful to him in his life beyond playing, as a coach. In his first head coaching job, at Minneapolis Southwest High School, he led the Lakers to their first win in four seasons and their first winning season in 20 years.
An unstable teaching situation led him to accept an offer at De LaSalle High School, a private school in Minneapolis, where he spent nearly seven years accruing six conference championships, five section championships, and was selected as the Conference and/or Section Coach of the Year a combined 11 times. It was there that McMenomy first saw the fruits of the labor of building a program.
"We get them as ninth-graders and cultivate them on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom," the coach said. "It's our goal to develop kids who are not only going to be great players, but also great citizens. We take a lot of pride in that."
In the spring of 2016, after seven seasons at De LaSalle, South Caldwell High School in North Carolina approached McMenomy and offered him a "king's ransom" if he and his coaching staff would take their talents south.
"It was a great opportunity," said McMenomy.
He had a successful first season that saw the Spartans average almost 500 yards of offense, despite having graduated 27 seniors the previous year, forcing six freshman to start in a league that had 18 Division I players.
Then South Caldwell's principal moved on and the new regime failed to meet provisions previously agreed upon for McMenomy and his staff, leading the first-year coach to look elsewhere.
Enter Century High.
McMenomy and his wife, Jessica, who hails from Alaska, had lived in Hillsboro when they were first married, when his wife had a job at Intel. They enjoyed the area and had watched for opportunities to return ever since.
"We're outdoorsy people who love to hunt, hike and camp, so we loved the area," said McMenomy. "Plus, with her being from Alaska and me from Minnesota, it's kind of a halfway point between our homes and families."
And family means a lot to McMenomy.
He and Jessica have two children, son Quinlan, 11, and daughter Reece, 6. But they also have three "adopted" sons whom they took in during their early teen years.
The oldest, Keraus, was one of McMenomy's players who - due to an unsettled family situation - was left virtually homeless. Sean and Jessica became aware of the situation and took the 15-year-old in and raised him as their own. A couple years later, a pair of brothers — Reggie and Ge'Velve — whom Sean and Jessica knew through local youth programs, lost their father to cancer. As a result, the McMenomys welcomed the brothers into their home, providing a stable and loving environment.
"We love them all to death," said McMenomy. "We love kids and understand that life doesn't always give you good things, but with love and support good things can happen."
The boys, now in their early 20s, didn't come west with the McMenomys but have considered a reunion.
"They're considering coming out here but they have their own lives and it's up to them to come if they want," said McMenomy.
McMenomy hit the ground running at Century, meeting with the team shortly after arriving last spring. He's instituted his speed and weight training programs, and last month took his team to Linfield for a weeklong team camp where they competed against other local schools.
"That gave us an idea of where we need to get better as a team," said the coach.
McMenomy comes from a spread background and says his run concepts stem from Oregon and his passing concepts from Texas Tech. While he likes to throw the ball, he says he and his staff pride themselves in being adaptable to both their opponent and personnel.
"I have great coaches and would put them up against anyone regarding adaptation," said McMenomy. "We develop our offense around what we have. After we play some games we'll start developing what we do best."
According to McMenomy, turnout has been great thus far, but he admits it's sometimes difficult to get seniors to buy in. Regardless, you do what you do and let things happen.
"We're building something here and we're using the kids that buy in to build that foundation," he said.
And part of that foundation is giving back. The first-year coach believes wholeheartedly in helping others and tries to involve his players in a couple charitable projects each year.
"I think it teaches important lessons about life," said McMenomy.
And as McMenomy would tell you, there's more to life than just football.