Opportunity: Coach Jon Goodman On His Departure from Classical Academy


Photo courtesy Mr. Jon Goodman

Brigid Ambuul, Content Editor

It was just after spring break that the rumors started floating around. Coach Goodman was leaving the school next year — leaving to lead the football team at none other than longtime CAHS rival Escondido Charter.

Some weeks later, Mr. Jon Goodman— known by most students simply as “Coach”—stopped those rumors dead in their tracks. They were true, he said. After five years of teaching media classes and leading the football team as head coach, he was moving schools and shifting his oft-repeated “Play as One” brand from Classical’s Caimans to Charter’s White Tigers.    

In light of the news, which came as a shock to many CAHS students and families, a whole new slew of rumors began. Whispers about trouble among staff and secret deals with Charter administrators made the issue sound more like a government conspiracy than a staff change.

According to Mr. Goodman, the truth is much less dramatic. The decision, he says, “really had nothing to do with Classical,” but rather with the opportunity he felt he was being given in making the move.

“I have some long-term dreams and goals for this community of Escondido. I love Escondido,” Mr. Goodman said. “So I think I’m just going on to an opportunity to continue the impact of Escondido. You know, the whole ‘Play as One’ motto really is play as one for Escondido. It’s not just Classical, it’s not just Valley Center, it’s not just Orange Glen or San Marcos or Charter. We want to really unify this community, and this was an opportunity that I wanted to seize to do it.”

Mr. Goodman’s role at Escondido Charter will be similar to his current position at Classical. In addition to coaching the White Tigers in their football season, he will teach technology classes and take on speaking engagements through a program at the school. Though Mr. Goodman isn’t yet clear as to the exact structure of this lecturing program, he understands it to be an opportunity “to speak this ‘Play as One’ motto and genre to different people — not only at Charter, but in Escondido too…”

Mr. Goodman says it will allow him to “share this message of hope” with groups both on and off the athletic field. In his own words, Mr. Goodman’s “long-term hope” is to “be able to really teach and coach hearts of every kid in this community.” Whether it’s in the classroom or through his non-school-affiliated organization “Field of Faith” (a program in which volunteers “disciple, using sports, hearts of athletes and families”), Mr. Goodman works tirelessly and passionately to satisfy what he feels is his life’s purpose.

“[M]y job is to see— and again, maybe I shouldn’t use the word ‘job’— I think my calling is to bring a brighter day to those who need it in their darkest hour,” he said. “And you can do that anywhere … We have such great families here [at Classical], we have such great students here, you know, now it’s the opportunity to go impact some other great families and students.”

In the long run, Mr. Goodman appears to be optimistic about the shift. “I think change is hard for everybody, me included, but ‘starting over’ — it’s the opportunity more than it is the starting over,” Mr. Goodman said. He plans to take this “opportunity” to extend a simple, yet weighty message to the younger generations— “your performance doesn’t define your identity.”

Though Mr. Goodman says that he is “most excited about … helping people identify their purpose in life,” he also seems to feel that this will be his greatest challenge as he takes his ‘Play as One’ brand to a new group of students.

“I think it’s the same challenges everywhere, every place I’ve coached…” he said. “[T]he co-curricular culture at times can be ‘it’s all about a scholarship’ or ‘it’s all about getting into the best college.’ And those are great goals, but goals have very clear beginnings and ends.”

“I think for a lot of families and a lot of coaches including myself, I put sports … in an improper place where it needed to be early in my career. Now … as I’ve gotten older, I start realizing the win isn’t on a Friday night. The win is watching my athletes,” he said.

Mr. Goodman recounted that some of his former athletes have called him at milestone moments in their lives to thank him for “instilling those values” which he repeats so faithfully: namely the big three, “work hard, live pure, lead with courage, honor the team.”

Moments like these, in which he knows he’s impacted the lives of those around him, are the moments that he calls “really exciting, but really challenging” to accomplish. According to Mr. Goodman, the modern culture which “screams ‘your’ way, right away … it’s all about you,’” proves to be an issue “for every educator in a school.” Still, it’s a challenge that he’s ready and willing to tackle.

Moving into the end of his last year at Classical Academy, Mr. Goodman says “the thing what [he] hope[s] students and families understand is that there’s a leading with courage and sometimes that courage is hard to obey.”

“I think everyone wants to think [the move has] got something to do with here [CAHS]. It’s not. It really isn’t. There’s components to everywhere you go— the grass isn’t greener on one side than it is here … It would be easier just to stay here, easier on everyone around my family, my athletes and my program here at Classical. It would be easier, but it takes courage sometimes to step out on faith and obey what you think God’s calling you to do … that’s really important to me.”

Here, with tears in his eyes, Mr. Goodman pauses. “I’m gonna miss here,” he says. “I love our kids and families.” He pauses again. “So it’s hard to leave them.”

Mr. Goodman’s family will still be closely connected to CAHS, as his children will continue their schooling here and his wife and fellow staff member, Mrs. JoAnn Goodman, remains working in the athletic department.

Fittingly, Mr. Goodman’s vision for the upcoming year reflects that connection between the schools as he plans for the day when his new football team will face off against his old. “I’ve dreamt about it, actually,” he confesses. “My dream is that at one point— boy, this is gonna get emotional,” he interjects before pausing for another silent, emotionally charged moment.

“This,” he says, extending an index finger into the air above his head, demonstrating the schoolwide gesture that represents his ‘Play as One’ motto, “Have you seen us do this at games? The “play as one?” [I hope] that it isn’t just Charter against Classical, it’s a “one,” competing and playing for fun … That’s my passion for this game. Not just Classical, not just Charter, but for this town. I love this town. That’s what I hope. Unity. One.”