BENZONIA — Every day Jason Katt spends about four and a half hours in the car traveling from his home near Grand Rapids to Benzie Central High School and then back again.
It’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to turn around the Benzie Central football program.
Katt is making the long commute every day because he hasn’t found a place for his family of six to live yet, since being named the new varsity head coach at Benzie early last week, filling a job that has been vacant since late last year.
“The drive is allowing me to make calls and plan,” said Katt, who has been the defensive coordinator at Lowell, one of the elite programs in the state, for more than 15 years. “When I’m at home, there’s no break. I’ve got to have my ‘A’ game on when I’m at home. (My four kids) don’t care where I’ve been, what time I got up. They just see me home and go, ‘let’s go do stuff.’ And they have an agenda. When I’m on the road, as long as I’ve got my eyes open I’m working and thinking.”
Katt was picked out of more than 20 applicants for the job, including several with local ties. He is inheriting a team that went 1-8 last year — the lone win came over a 1-8 Mesick squad — and has suffered through five losing seasons in the last six years, but his hiring has brought a sense of stability and enthusiasm to a program that has fallen on hard times.
“We’re extremely excited with the enthusiasm, heart and experience he’ll bring to our program,” said Benzie athletic director John Judge.
Katt came highly recommended, according to Judge. A few weeks ago during a selection meeting for a high school all-star baseball game, Judge said, a Lowell player was brought up for discussion.