Whenever coaching his lifelong sport, Mike Leibin is committed, competitive, passionate.
He’s also evolving.
The former Westlake High defensive star who later coached at his alma mater and subsequently devoted 11 years as Thousand Oaks High’s head coach, says he’s come to value the safety of players — both his own and the opponents’ — as his top priority.
“I no longer stand and applaud the big hit,” he says. “That’s not how I’m going to teach the game. I’m not interested in the knockout blow. I want the simple but effective tackle. I want my guy to get up after the play, and I want the other guy to get up.”
Leibin, at age 40, has been involved in the game, well, forever. But he’s also Generation Next.
As much as he loves the game and appreciates winning, he’s also a thinking man’s coach. When he opted to step down in January after 11 seasons as Thousand Oaks’ head coach, it was a decision based on more angles than a polygon.
He looked within himself, met with friends, talked to family.