BUILDING A PROGRAM

Florida state champion coach Roger Harriott of St. Thomas Aquinas shares secrets to building culture

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor

Roger Harriott has set the standard for winning in Florida. Since his arrival at his alma mater, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) in 2015, Harriott has led STA to four 7A state championships.

More important than wins and losses for Harriott, who recently joined the FNF Coaches Podcast, is the way in which his program helps players become productive citizens and champion husbands, fathers and family men.

“We have a standard of Faith-Family-Tradition-Excellence that we represent here,” Harriott said on the FNF Coaches Podcast. “Our guys do a great job. We provide different opportunities to create an environment of love, respect and admiration. As a result, they move on and do some pretty extraordinary things in life.

“They realize that the adversity they face is healthy,” Harriott said. “It’s an opportunity to get motivated, improve and continue to give their best effort. As a result, they realize that if they want something in life, they have to take it. It won’t be given.”

Harriott played at St. Thomas Aquinas from 1991 to 1994 under legendary coach George Smith. He credits his mentor for inspiring a holistic developmental process within the program.

“You revert back to your upbringing and the things that worked in terms of the personal development process,” Harriott said. “I was fortunate to have individuals in my life that led me to God and made sure I was doing things in an appropriate way. I paid attention to what transpired in my adolescent years, high school years, college years and professional years to shape my philosophy now.”

Harriott said culture-building is a year-round pursuit at St. Thomas Aquinas — from the standard he sets for fellow coaches, to the speeches he makes on the field, to the leadership training he does in the classroom.

“They pick on me about talking too much,” Harriott said. “They say I give sermons after practice. I have their attention and want to drive the Lord’s message. It’s more of a ministry. It’s important for us to establish a sense of servant leadership. It will make the world a better place. Ultimately, that’s what we’re hoping for — to help create productive members of society in a very practical sense. Our offseason is where we develop our character, identity and personality of the team.”

Listen to the entire FNF Coaches Podcast with Coach Harriott.