A family affair: Football coach hires father for staff

Category:  News
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 10:52 AM
A family affair: Football coach hires father for staff by Michael McLaughlin
Pictured above is Edinboro University’s head football coach Justin Lustig as he stands with his father, Keith Lustig, who he recently hired as part of his staff.

A father is someone a son looks to for guidance and often as a role model as he goes through his childhood and life.

Edinboro University’s recently hired head football coach Justin Lustig looks up to his dad so much so he found a place for him on his new staff.

Keith Lustig will coach the outside linebackers this coming fall campaign.

“We have a long relationship, obviously, but a professional relationship too. I’ve worked with him and know how good of a coach he is and how good of an influence he would have on our team,” Justin Lustig said.

Lustig is excited to have his father on the staff because he knows there’s at least one guy who is not afraid to tell him anything. And he can trust him because of their relationship.

Lustig also noted that their relationship could have a positive impact on the players. The players will be able to see that this is a “family thing,” which will play a huge part into building a bond between the players and the coaches.

Specifically in a sport like football, a coach is seen as a father figure to his athletes. That’s what Lustig wants. He says that having his father around will play a huge role in making this happen.

“That’s kind of a neat way to look at it. There’s a father-son within the coaching staff and also the coaching of the players aspect of it,” Justin Lustig said, smiling.

Keith Lustig has an extensive background as an orthopedic surgeon, which helps him in a coaching aspect. He said it is helpful because he has had to teach residents in his practice and watch them grow and develop. He finds it enjoyable to work with young players and see their progress as well.

He also has enjoyed seeing his son grow and develop as a coach and is excited to see him further advance, along with the other members of the Edinboro football staff.

Both of the Lustigs have tried to bring some new energy into the football environment in their first few months of being here.

One morning, Keith Lustig had the team sing a Frank Sinatra song called “High Hopes,” to resemble the team aiming high and having high expectations for themselves. Lustig said the team has some work to do on their singing skills, but they’re pushing the highenergy culture, by telling the students to “have fun with what you do.”

Both coaches have learned from each other in the past and continue to learn from each other.

“It’s easy to learn from somebody you respect,” Keith Lustig said. “My respect for Justin and his respect for me really allows you to express your feelings.”

“When you can be open with someone[when] working with them it can really add a lot to a program,” he continued.

Justin Lustig said with his father it’s easy to avoid having an ego, which he knows is important, saying that it can be a cause for bad decisions.

He continued to say that he has learned almost everything from his father.

“For him to say he learned something from me, that’s pretty neat to hear,” Keith Lustig expressed.

Justin Lustig spoke further about his decision to add his father to the staff.

“It’s the familiarity with the culture that we want to develop. That’s a big thing for me. There’s a certain type of culture we want in our office and on the field. And that’s the culture I learned growing up.”

In terms of the big picture of Edinboro football, Lustig wants to change that culture going into the future.

He wants the players to compete in everything they do on and off the field.

“Becoming a better person in every aspect of our life,” is something he wants to influence his players to do as well.

Keith Lustig brought up another song reference that his son showed him a few years ago. He said it was “ Father and Friend.”

“We’re trying to be to the players’ coaches and friends, and that’s hard to do with some guys, but if you work hard at it you can be a friend to players, but you can also be a coach,” Keith Lustig said.

He continued to explain how players don’t just learn from their coaches, but that he has learned from his players during his coaching career as well.

With the new culture these coaches are working towards building, it is something the recruits will get to experience for the first time. They won’t have any former college football experience to compare it to, and that’s something the Lustigs are excited for.

It will be easier for them to mold the new recruits in comparison to some of the players that were already here.

They did say the players they inherited have been bought into the new culture and have been working really hard.

Justin Lustig said he is excited for their first win, but he’s enjoying the process right now and knows these moments are something him and his father will remember forever.

Keith Lustig is excited for the first win, too.

“I’m probably taking these words out of Justin’s mouth, but seeing these kids and working with them now and knowing they didn’t win a game last year, I think the whole staff is really looking forward to that first win and to see the looks on these kids faces,” Keith Lustig said.

Lustig and his father were both coaches on the Christopher Newport University staff, a division III school in New Jersey from 2001-2002.

After his first stint at Christopher Newport, Justin Lustig went to Villanova to coach the cornerbacks. The Wildcats had the first ranked defense in pass efficiency in the conference that year.

The following season he went back to Christopher Newport as the special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach. His special teams unit broke numerous school records during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

From 2006-2008 he was the special teams coordinator and running back coach at Eastern Illinois. He coached three different 1,000-yard rushers and his team played in the FCS college playoffs in 2006 and 2007.

Most recently, Lustig was the special teams coordinator and running back coach at Ball State from 2011-2015 and was named assistant head coach before the 2015 season.

They played in two FBS bowl games while Lustig was coaching there and the former Ball State head coach, Pete Lembo, who is now a coach at the University of Maryland, said that Lustig will be a fine addition to Edinboro’s football program.

Michael McLaughlin is the Sports Editor for The Spectator and he can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

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