Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
Known to many as Coach Kaz, Robert Kazmier kicks off his second season as head football coach for Hernando Leopards.
His coaching experience began at nineteen, volunteering on the sidelines at Nature Coast Tech.
“I was around those really good teams, and I’ve seen the possibilities of the talent in this area,” Kazmier said. “But I always had my eye on Hernando because it’s that real community school.”
There are times when coaches know where they need to be, where they fit. They get this gut feeling, when they are standing on the fifty-yard line, surveying the field, they know this is it, this is home.
“The big concrete stadium, the field, the community, the tradition, and the history is what intrigued me about this place,” he said.
The feeling of “this is where I need to be” goes along with building not only a football program but bringing in the community to be a part of the team.
“We are really trying to bring the community together; we do a lot of events,” Kazmier said. “We always try to be visible at everything that is going on in Brooksville, and we want to teach these kids there’s more than football. That’s really what my goal is.”
“Working under so many people as a young coach, I kind of picked up pieces here and there, I see what everybody’s doing. But you know, I think you really got to be a representative of what kids you have in your area,” explained Kazmier.
Coach Kaz is also focused on communication both on and off the field.
“We really have good communication. I am never going to push aside an idea or something they (players and coaches) want to talk about. I think communication is huge and to make sure the players know we care.”
The 2019 Leopard roster may be a challenge for Coach Kaz as he has players coming out of JV to fill in open varsity positions. Their first game against Dunnellon, in the Kickoff Classic, will be the first test of how Kazmier utilizes this rotation and how well he can develop the skills of the less experienced players.
“We are very junior heavy. We have some guys coming up from JV from last year that will have to step up. We knew it would be difficult replacing that backfield.”
The Leopards face two strong and athletically packed teams back to back with Dunnellon on Aug. 16 and Lake Gibson, the following Friday.
“We start off with two juggernauts,” Coach Kaz said. “Playing some stronger teams early on is going to force us to elevate our intensity and attention to detail at practice.”
Kick-off Classic begins on the Leopards home turf against Dunnellon at 7:30 pm on August 16.