No playing career, no worries as House forges a new path
Sandringham assistant coach Jimmy House is steering his own ship through the treacherous waters of the coaching community, proving the job isn’t all about footy IQ and experience at the top level.
Photos by Tony Vella
In fact, he's a testament to staying humble and working hard, proving the lengths you can go by giving people the time of day.
House is surrounded by incredible footballers in his position at Sandringham both on and off the field, including his good friend, Jake Batchelor, however House's path to Sandringham is vastly different to that of his head coach.
“My pathway to Sandringham is a little bit different (to the other coaches),” House admitted.
A former AFL Victoria coach of the year recipient (Northern Region) after leading North Heidelberg to a preliminary final in 2018 in the strong Northern Football Netball League, House's coaching style is centred around his passion for the game.
House is blazing the trail and admitting his weaknesses in order to grow as he learns on the go at the Zebras.
“I come from a really good standard of local footy (in the Northern League)… I’ve been involved in the private school boy fraternity and TAC cup in the past as well,” he said.
“My football IQ might not be some of that of the others coaches in terms of game plans and structures, but I’m really privileged that Jake (Batchelor) and the other coaches invest in me with some one-on-one time that I need to get up to scratch.”
The current AFL trends have seen popularity decrease with what are interpreted as strong willed and loud coaches, with many of the best coaches now seen as caring and compassionate men.
It’s something House has tried to emulate, but perhaps not in the traditional manner.
“My methodology is I expose myself to as much as I can and take notes on everything… and then that leads to the more I can pass on,” he said.
“One of the things I like to show is that you don’t have to play the game at the highest level to pursue a career in coaching."
“For whatever reason I see the game differently and I’ve learnt to adapt and learn as quick as possible, and I put that down to some really good mentors.
“It’s a bit of a point to prove, but I’ve got a job to do and ultimately I do what’s best for the club and players.”
Being open and honest isn’t just one of House’s strengths, but a club wide initiative under Batchelor in 2021 to improve the culture of the team and the value players find in football.
It’s part of the reason House was rewarded with a VFL contract in the first place, and why he’s been so effective in his short time at the club.
“Culture is very big to me, making sure it’s a fun vibrant place. You don’t want football to be a chore,” he said.
“Ultimately the players have individual strengths and it’s about getting the best out of everyone to contribute to the clubs focus — Jake’s got a vision of that, and I try to amplify it.”
With his career on an upward trajectory, House has found the perfect home at the Zebras alongside Batchelor, who he says has gone above and beyond for his players and staff.
“He continues to amaze me, even the last 48 hours; his care for the playing group, his coaches and the people around him, wanting people to do better,” House said.
“He’s continued his attitude towards wanting to better himself and its infectious, it makes for a really good culture, and we see football really similar in terms of the environment we create to manifest success.
“I’ve got the upmost respect for the way he builds that.”
He’s also got a message for Sandringham fans, putting in the yards to secure future success for the club:
“The development has been immense, from when I first walked in to where we are,” he said.
“The attitude of players continues to amaze me, how they’re all progressing into really good VFL players."
“I think Sandringham can be really buoyant about what the future holds with the pathways that have been put in place."
“I’ve been doing a bit of work with South Metro Junior Football League and Saints next generation academy, so if they don’t make AFL then at least they’ve got an avenue to playing really good footy at Sandringham.”
House is responsible for the forwards in 2021 and will be seen amongst it when the VFL season restarts in the coming weeks.
Written by Seb Mottram - Sandringham Football Club Media