Meet the coach

Kirschner has a lot more than wins and losses on his mind


You see him standing tall on the sidelines of the football games, and you hear his speeches through the booming speakers during pep rallies.

But what exactly do we know about Coach Mike Kirschner?

Kirschner has coached football for 31 years with 15 of those have been at Ben Davis. He has coached youth football for 6 years and then at the high school level for 25 years.

The start to his coaching career was rather unexpected. After getting his accounting degree from Ball State and becoming an accountant, he saw a local eastside paper looking for youth football coaches in Warren Township. In the fall of 1984, he started coaching youth football because it felt like something he wanted to do.

Within a couple years, he decided he wanted to coach at a higher level rather than just 5th and 6th graders. He went back to school and received a teaching license at the University of Indianapolis. The fall of 1990 was his first year coaching high school football.

“Nobody ever really told me when I was growing up that coaching was a profession; it just happened by accident that I decided to try it,” Kirschner said.

Kirschner has admired numerous coaches throughout his career with one of them being Dick Dullaghan, the previous football coach here at Ben Davis. He also looks up to Coach Tom Allen at the University of Mississippi and “just people who do it the right way.”

“There’s a whole lot of people that have influenced how I look at things and the way I do things, but it’s more of a combination of a whole lot of people that are involved in helping me succeed.” Kirschner said.

Kirschner has one simple philosophy in coaching: work hard and do your job.

“We’re in a society that gets caught up in who gets the press, who gets the ball, and it’s an ‘about me’ society,” Kirschner said, “The reality is that it’s never about any one person when you’re talking about a football team that has 240 kids in it and 27 coaches. It’s about all of us, and I don’t think there’s anything in any profession or any goal in life that replaces hard work. Just show up every day and bust your butt is how I look at it.”

Throughout his years of coaching, there are several moments that stand out to him. One was the 2002 regional championship game where Ben Davis beat Warren Central, who was number one in the state, 35-28 in overtime. He believes the games this season will stick out too, especially the final second win over Warren Central and the final two minute win over Center Grove.

“The number one moment that probably stands out for me is the 2001 state championship game,” Kirschner said, “Just from the standpoint that my son was playing; he was a sophomore. After we’d beaten Valparaiso, he comes running off the field since he was on for the last play of the game, and he just jumps on top of me. To be able to experience something like that with your own son as a dad and a coach is kind of like the epitome of coaching from my standpoint.”

As students play throughout their high school years, coaches always hope that their players take something away from their experience.

“I hope and I pray that in the end they don’t take away that they won or lost,” Kirschner said, “I hope they say that I cared about them as a person, not just the football player.”

Two very important things to Kirschner are faith and family, and he believes that without these two, coaching would be impossible for him.

“Without your faith, in my vision of God, you don’t have a basis with which to develop a system or beliefs and values that you live by,” Kirschner said, “My family is truly the backbone. I’ve got a wife that has supported me for 31 years coaching with being gone countless hours, not being around for our kids’ games and different things our kids did because I was in coaching. I’ve had three wonderful kids that all graduated from Ben Davis, and they still support me and come to my games when they can. Without those two, it’s the old cliché: it really wouldn’t be possible.”

In the end, Kirschner feels very blessed that he has coached at a school that allows him to have the freedom to coach his way and give him what is needed in order to be successful.

“Ben Davis has been successful in football for a long, long time,” Kirschner said, “It’s because of our people like Dr. Butts, John Clark and Sandi Squire that have made it so I can succeed.”

At Ben Davis

Record: 65-27 (second most wins in school history)

MIC titles: 2012, 2013

Sectionals: 2008, 2011, 2014

Regionals: 2008, 2014

Semistate: 2014