WIDENER LANDS ASSISTANT COACH WITH LONG HISTORY OF WINNING
There are a lot of football stories out there and while most people want to read about or see stories about championship winning coaches, star quarterbacks or first-round draft picks, it doesn’t mean the stories about people who don’t fit into one of those categories are any less interesting. Such is the case with Mike Barainyak, who is the new offensive line coach at Widener.
Barainyak is also the strength and conditioning coordinator for the Pride.
After back-to-back 6-4 seasons, the Widener football team is looking to return to the form they displayed in 2014 when they finished 12-1 and advanced to the Quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
Head coach Mike Kelly is entering his fourth season leading the Pride and has over 30 years of coaching experience. Barainyak has considerably less experience than his boss, but the teams he’s been with have been successful.
“In my journey in coaching football,” said Barainyak, who is a 2010 graduate of Delaware Valley University, “I’ve tremendously lucky to work for some of the greatest coaches in this area.
“I’ve had opportunities, as a young coach, to go elsewhere and I probably could be a little further on in my career but for me I love being part of a winner. I don’t want to be around guys that accept anything less than that.”
Being around winners is something Barainyak has grown accustom to, in his senior season in high school at Archbishop Wood, the Vikings went 11-0 and won the Catholic League Blue Division unseating the three-time champion Archbishop Carroll.
From there it was off to Del Val, where the Aggies won the 2008 Middle Atlantic Conference championship and the 2008 ECAC South Atlantic Bowl. After his playing career, he stuck around Doylestown as the tight end coach at his alma mater and the Aggies won the MAC in 2010 and 2011.
In 2012, he was on Andy Talley’s staff at Villanova, as video coordinator for a CAA title winning team. He was back at Del Val for two more seasons before he took a leap and got a graduate assistant position at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX. The Crusaders are a perennial Division III playoff team, having made the postseason in 15 of the last 16 years. Finally in 2016, UMHB was able to win it all with a 10-7 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Barainyak explained what led him to Texas.
“You have to put fear aside and take a chance,” he told FootballStories. “Pete Fredenburg (the UMHB head coach) asked me why I wanted to come to Texas and I told him, ‘I ask my players to do different things and try things to better themselves and I really can’t ask that of them if I’m not [trying to better myself].’
“I knew I was going to have a chance to work for another hall of famer, compete for a championship and learn a ton of football from a great coaching staff. I wanted to see what Texas football was all about.”
Barainyak landed at Widener – the Aggies rival – on the recommendation of Del Val head coach Duke Greco, whom he had played for and coached with.
While at a coaches convention Kelly told Greco he needed an offensive line coach, Greco pointed out Barainyak and told Kelly, “You better go talk to him because he’s the guy I would hire.”
Kelly and Barainyak hit it off and Barainyak is now back home and was part of a group of area college coaches that were at the Eagles OTAs. Barainyak was a sponge absorbing as much as he could from the NFL coaches.
“We were at both Eagles and Steelers OTAs,” Barainyak said. “Coach Mike Tomlin and coach Doug Pederson were wonderful. They let us into their meeting rooms and it was a great opportunity. This is the top level of football, this is the level we all dream of growing up. So if I can get just one thing out this, one idea from a drill, a video, a chalk board, or a message from a pro coach to his players that I can take back and use to make my guys better, It’s worth the trip and taking advantage of.”
Barainyak was asked…was the fact that he could be the offensive line coach at Widener and strength and conditioning coach appealing to him because he got to work with the whole team in a motivational way and use this experience to learn the ways of a head coach?
“You are reading that right” Barainyak said. “I coach the offensive line at Widener and as you know in football it all starts up front and that’s important to me. And when you can get the chance to be around all the players: defensive backs, offensive linemen, wide receivers, linebackers, defensive linemen, special teams, running back and quarterbacks and interact with all the players every day and be part of motivating players to be successful, it was a no-brainer to take the Widener job. It’s on the job training for me to learn how to push all the buttons as a head coach that I hope to be some day.”
Email Rock Hoffman at Rock@footballstories.com