HAVRE — On Friday, Jan. 14, former Big Sky football coaching legend Jerome Souers became the new head football coach of the MSU-Northern Lights.
The move was shocking to many as Souers will inherit a program that went 3-34 in the last four seasons.
If there’s anyone to help turn the program around, it is Souers who comes to Havre with quite the pedigree. He was the defensive coordinator at Montana when the Grizzlies won a national title in 1995, and became the winningest head coach in Big Sky Conference history with over 20 seasons at Northern Arizona University. Most people would see the move to MSU-Northern as a step down, Souers doesn’t.
“When you’re helping young people, it’s not a step down it’s a step up. It’s an opportunity to step up and help young people…That’s kind of an old school thought but it’s the way I was raised and this is always what’s been rewarding to me…No one is getting rich here but we’re all getting rich in the relationships with others,” he said.
However, moving to Havre was never part of his plan. Souers most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Southern Oregon University, where he and his wife Tracy had plans to spend their days helping young athletes through coaching. But those plans changed after Tracy’s sudden death in September of 2020.
“I could not stay in Ashland (Oregon) any longer, the memories were too difficult for me to deal with so I ended up moving to Portland and on the way there, I got a call from Chancellor Greg Kegel about an opportunity that existed at Montana State University-Northern and so I flew out last week to interview for the position.”
For Souers, coaching will be a way to rejuvenate the love of helping young student-athletes improve themselves through sports; something that both he and his late wife shared together.
Despite the winding road that led Souers to take over a struggling program, the motivation to get back to doing what he does best has allowed for Souers to get back to the grindstone. However, he’s not naive about the work it’s going to take to make the program competitive.
“We’re going to be teaching ABC’s early before we create a word and when we create a word we’ll start building a sentence. Before we write this story, we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Much of the leg work for Souers will come from him and his staff’s recruiting efforts where he plans to bring in as many local kids from the Hi-Line as possible.
“The bottom line is this: we’re going to be a program that starts recruiting in the Hi-Line first. We want the west and the east borders covered and we’re going to be there. I’m going to be there in the presence for recruiting and then building south further as we need too.”
Souers is still in the process of moving to Havre but he is already excited for the future of the program, school and community.