Gulling getting going with Tuslaw

Chris Easterling
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017
New Tuslaw coach Mark Gulling makes a point during a summer camp day.<br /><div id="dfp-300x250" style="float:right;"><script type="text/javascript">googletag.display("dfp-300x250");</script></div>
New Tuslaw coach Mark Gulling makes a point during a summer camp day.


Mark Gulling was always going to be starting at a bit of a disadvantage going into this summer.

Hired during the winter as the new head football coach at Tuslaw after being an assistant at Marlington, Gulling was at a certain disadvantage in that much of his early time on the job was spent simply familiarizing himself on a personal level with those players and coaches with which he's working. Beyond that, he had his own offseason regimen to install in terms of what he wanted to see on the strength and conditioning side of things.

Those things occupied the weeks and months between his hiring in mid-January and mid-July, which is when the Mustangs are finally starting to really get down to brass tacks with regards to the on-the-field aspects. Tuslaw hadn't utilized its 10 summer coaching days until this week, the first of back-to-back weeks of camp days for the team.

With the start of two-a-days approaching on July 31, Gulling knows that natural disadvantage every coach at a new program is there. However, he's also doing his best to make sure it doesn't ultimately impact his team by the time it kicks off the season against Smithville on Aug. 25.

"What's hard right now is it's late," Gulling said. "We just really started our camp days, so now I'm really starting to see what kids can do and where we can actually put kids where I can see them being successful. Now that we're getting into the football aspect of it, it's a little nicer. Weight-lifting is important, but as a football coach and a player, you want to get out on the field."

Gulling believes strongly that, especially in a smaller school like Tuslaw, that June be left alone with regards to utilizing football coaching days due to the variety of other things going on that month. He cited players active in basketball, baseball and wrestling, as well as just the normal family activities as well.

That's why he positions his coaching days in a bulk group as he does, with a week's break between the final one and the start of two-a-days. While understanding that it may seem like starting behind the eight-ball, he's not about to either use it as an excuse or lower his expectations for the first season compared to subsequent seasons.

"I know what we're going to run," Gulling said. "I don't really look at it as far as a year from now or after Week 10. I just look at, 'OK, what's tomorrow and what can we get better at?' instead of looking at the big picture."

What Gulling does know is that for Tuslaw to achieve any success in his first year, it's going to rest on a group of players in particular to buy-in fully. That group is the Mustang seniors.

Nothing can sabotage a new head coach like a senior class tuning him out, thus setting a negative example for the rest of the locker room. Gulling, though, doesn't see that as a potential issue.

"It's very important to have the seniors being leaders and having them on board," Gulling said. "The one thing about us, I really like our senior class. We have a couple of just natural leaders, and that's just great. Not only are they leaders, but they're hungry to win I feel like. That's the big thing. I feel like our seniors are hungry to win. They want to go out winning. I think when you have that hunger and that little chip on your shoulder, some of those guys are willing to do anything just to win some games this year."

Something that Gulling believes trumps any natural disadvantage he may be working with coming into his first season at Tuslaw.

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On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE