When Mike Hartman moved to Santa Maria after graduating from college, his father had a question for him.
“What are you going to do now,” his father asked.
“I think I want to coach football,” Hartman recalled saying.
Hartman, now 39 years old, soon began coaching junior varsity football as a 22 year old. On Monday afternoon, 17 years later, he was informed he would be taking over as head football coach at Arroyo Grande High School, one of the best football programs on the Central Coast.
“It’s a great responsibility,” Hartman said Tuesday. “Jon Huss and then Tom (Goossen). Essentially they have had two coaches in the last 35 years. Those are big shoes to fill. If I can be half as good a coach as those guys, I will be pretty darn successful.”
Hartman, who was the head football coach at St. Joseph’s High School in Santa Maria for seven years before he was fired in 2011, has been the defensive coordinator for the Eagles the past four seasons and said he was perfectly content being the “anonymous assistant.” But when Goossen retired after 10 seasons leading the program, Hartman said the timing was right and the job too good to pass up.
“They made a great decision,” Goossen said in a release from the school. “Mike is hard working, dedicated, great with kids and positive for our school.”
Acting Arroyo Grande athletic director Stephen Field, who has been an assistant football coach alongside Hartman during his time with the school, praised his football IQ and work ethic.
Hartman is confident his transition back to head coach will be a smooth one because he already has a relationship with the players on the team. He’s already started the process of figuring out who will call plays on offense and defense next season.
Under Hartman’s guidance as a coordinator, Arroyo Grande had the top-ranked defense in the PAC 5 the past three seasons, giving up an average of just more than 13 points per game. The Eagles are coming off back-to-back PAC 5 titles and won a share of the league title in 2014.
Hartman said there will be small changes to the program, but he hopes to continue the winning tradition established by his predecessors.
“Who Arroyo Grande football is is not going to change,” Hartman said. “We are still going to be the program that does things the right way.
“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”