Gregory returns to town with new book

“So You Want To Be A Football Coach”?available on Amazon

Webster City native John Gregory poses with his new book, “So You Want To Be A Football Coach” prior to a reading a Kendall Young Library Wednesday night. DFJ photo/Daniel Blankenship

WEBSTER CITY — John Gregory chuckles as he begins to tell a story that’s more than 60 years old. His adolescent self didn’t know it at the time, but it was a watershed moment in a life that has brought him great successes on the football field.

“I was a young person, probably in the fourth grade or so, and we would always go to my grandmother’s on Sunday night,” Gregory, a Webster City native, recounted recently. “She had a cardboard table with a checkers board on top and everybody in the family would play checkers. I always got stuck with my grandmother and she beat me every time, and I’d get mad and throw checkers on the floor and tip over the table, that sort of thing. I was a poor sport. Finally someone in my family took my grandmother aside and asked her if she would maybe let me win just once. She looked at them and said, ‘John will win when he deserves to win.’ That really stuck with me, and from that moment on every contest I entered from then on in my life, I made sure I was prepared to win.”

It served him well, first as a college coach at places like Iowa Central Community College, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State before he jumped to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Gregory is most famously known, around the state of Iowa anyway, as the man who built the Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football League team into a power in Des Moines in the mid-1990s. Working with quarterbacks like Kurt Warner — yes, that Kurt Warner who went on to win two NFL Most Valuable Player Awards, a Super Bowl MVP award and earn a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — and Aaron Garcia, widely considered two of the best signal callers the league has ever produced, the Barnstormers won five division titles in six seasons with Gregory twice claiming the AFL Coach of the Year award.

From the successes and failures of a career on the sideline, Gregory has built up a catalog of knowledge, something he’s now sharing with the public.

John Gregory speaks to a group about his new book, “So You Want To Be A Football Coach” at Kendall Young Library on Wednesday. DFJ photo/Daniel Blankenship

In November, Gregory released a book entitled “So You Want To Be A Football Coach” that is available for purchase in paperback form through Amazon for $24.95. It can also be purchased in Kindle form for $19.95.

Gregory says he began writing the book last September and his wife, Carolyn, helped with the editing.

What can readers expect in the book? The title is pretty self-explanatory.

“That’s basically what the book is about,” Gregory said, referring to the title. “It’s all of the parts and particles of coaching a football team. It’s got psychology, the plays, it’s got the conditioning, it’s got everything you need to know about developing a football program and being a coach.”

Gregory says he got the idea for the book after receiving an inquiry from individuals interested in creating an international arena league in Mexico.

“I know some people down there from previously dealing with football and they’re starting a new arena football league,” Gregory said. “They wanted me to come down and do a seminar for their coaches and I agreed to do it. Then I started making an outline of things I would need because they wanted everything. I had the blocking, the plays, the conditioning, the training of quarterbacks and linemen, and that’s when my wife told me I should just write a book. So that’s what we did and we had a lot of fun doing it.”

Gregory, now 80 years old, last coached in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Storm of the arena league. In 2017, he served as the commissioner of the National Arena League.

Gregory, who graduated high school in Webster City in 1957, says he’s currently contemplating a return to football. He’s been offered the role of commissioner for the new international arena league in Mexico.

“Later this month I have to decide if I want to be the commissioner,” he said.

Gregory was in Webster City this week talking with community members about his new book. He spoke to the Webster City Rotary Club on Monday, and on Wednesday he held a reading at Kendall Young Library.