EMissourian.com Describes Alumnus as a “Transformational Coach”

Justin Grahl ’13 ΚΑ made headlines this summer in the eMissourian.com for being named head football coach at Union High School in Union, MO.

Described in the publication as a “transformational coach” with “a proven record of putting student-athletes first,” Grahl has served as an assistant football coach at Union since 2016. He also is defensive coordinator.

Grahl currently resides in Washington, MO, where he grew up. Read further to learn more about Grahl’s coaching career and what he does when he isn’t on the football field.

What do you do at Union besides coach football? I was coaching track but will be taking a leave from that to give myself time to settle into my new position. I will be taking over more of our strength and conditioning courses and continue to teach health three hours a day.  

What do you like most about your profession? I truly look forward to working with our student athletes every day. Being in a position to make a difference in the lives of my students and players on a daily basis is not something you get to enjoy with every profession.

If you could choose any career or job circumstance, what would it be? Right now I really enjoy where I am. I have been put into a position where I have the opportunity to grow as a coach and educator, and becoming a head football coach has been my goal for a long time.

What made you choose Westminster College? I was initially drawn to Westminster because it gave me the opportunity to play football at the next level. I soon found that Westminster was the right choice for me for many reasons. The small class sizes and personal connections I made with my professors, coaches, and peers was something you don’t get at every college or university.  

What was your major at Westminster? Secondary education with a minor in coaching.

Did you play football at all four years at Westminster? What position? I did play for all four years at Westminster. I played receiver and running back during my time with the Blue Jays.

What other degrees have you earned? I have a master’s in secondary education from William Woods University.  

How did your Westminster education help you find your purpose? The Westminster teacher education program provided me with first-class experiences when preparing me for my life in education. The professors were well prepared, patient and, most of all, caring for all students in their program. They were, above all, examples of what a privilege fantastic educators can be in the lives of their students. Their lessons and example are the foundation of my approach to education.

Which of your achievements are you most proud of? Becoming a head coach at a relatively young age has taken a lot of hard work and dedication to my craft. Through that hard work, I have built very strong relationships with players, coaches and school personnel that will last a lifetime.

Would you recommend Westminster to prospective college students? Absolutely. If you are looking for an educational experience that will challenge you on an educational and personal level, then Westminster is the place for you.  

Favorite Westminster faculty member? Dr. Robert Cowles: the best example of what and educator should be.

Spouse? Kyla Grahl, speech-language pathologist for Mercy Washington.

Children? Mary Grahl, born June 6, 2019.

Last book you read? To be honest, the last book I read was EEK! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton. My two-month-old daughter loved it, so I would definitely recommend.

Favorite quote? “The fact of the matter is, if you want to be good, you really don’t have a lot of choices, because it takes what it takes.” – Nick Saban

Favorite TV show? The Office.

What do you do in your free time? I try and golf as much as possible. I also enjoy being around friends and family.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.