Calumet lands Salary: Former La Porte star and Michigan City assistant named head coach of Warriors
The question about Charles Salary becoming a head coach wasn’t one of if, it was one of when.
In less than five years, La Porte’s all-time rushing leader and the 2019 NAIA All-American and Player of the Year at Marian University proved his abilities on the sideline were on par with his talents on the field.
“Charles is just an awesome kid,” former Michigan City coach Phil Mason said. “He is smart, hard-working and loyal.”
Those qualities helped Salary to great heights as a player and have served him well through the first handful of years in coaching, which has landed the 26-year old the head position at Calumet.
“I’m very excited. I can’t wait to get started,” Salary said. “It’s been quite a journey. Being so young, I didn’t know if I’d get to be a head coach this early. Age is a frightening thing to lot of administrators and I’m fortunate that Calumet took a chance on me.”
Calumet formally hired the 2015 La Porte graduate and former Michigan City assistant on Monday, naming him to replace Cody French, who replaced Mason at Michigan City.
“Mason said I would be up as a head coach very soon and told me he’d love to have me take over if he left,” Salary said. “That put the bug in my ear. I’ve been preparing for this moment. I felt really good about the process. Calumet’s administration is great, the kids are great. I love what’s going on there. I have the support I need to do the job. I talked to Cody about Calumet and he said how great it was. That was a good selling point. The school, the program are up and rising. It will give me a great experience as a starting coach. It’s like it’s a match that was meant to be.”
While his age and experience probably factored against him in his applications at Michigan City and Griffith, as well as at La Porte last year, Salary believes it will also be an asset to him and his player.
“I have the ability to relate to kids, to lead by example,” he said. “They take to my coaching. They can relate to me. They can look up my highlights. I know how they think. I played the game. It wasn’t that long ago. It’s still fresh for me. I can help build up kids who haven’t been as fortunate in life and let them see that anything is possible. You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it. We’re going to do things right in school, in the community and on the field. I love the kids at Michigan City. It was hard to leave. I built a lot of great relationships there and I’m hoping to do the same at Calumet.”
Salary credited his parents, his coaches (Bob Schellinger at La Porte and Mark Henninger at Marian), Mason and his wife, McKenzie, a South Central Elementary School teacher, for helping him reach this point.
“No. 1, my parents raised me to be a great person,” he said. “Coach Schellinger and Henninger molded and shaped me. Mason was a great mentor for me. If I didn’t get the Calumet job, I was probably going to go to Griffith with him. I learned from him. He cared about me and my wife, helping us through a difficult time. We formed a great relationship. My wife is a dynamic woman. I give a lot of credit to her, steering me in the right direction. She’s the best.”
While coaching circles see Salary being on the fast track to success in the profession, he said he’s not looking at Calumet as a springboard to La Porte or anywhere else.
“Calumet’s the first to give me an opportunity, and it’s my job to make sure I keep it in a very good spot,” he said. “I hope to build it up to be something big. All my focus is on Calumet. I have blinders on to everything else.”
The Warriors, who went 9-2 last season, play Griffith on Oct. 6, as Salary embarks on a new rivalry.
“(Charles is) a great family man who will bring passion and knowledge to Calumet,” Mason said. “(I’m) so happy and proud of him.”
Calumet is 35-13 over the last five seasons under French and Rick Good (Lake Central).
“We couldn’t be more excited to land Charles Salary as our new Warriors football coach,” Athletics Director Sara Kuntarich said. “he was an elite plater at La Porte and continued that excellence at Marian University. Being the NAIA Player of the Year, winning the NAIA character award and coming from a strong coaching tree under Phil Mason were all qualities that made him rise above the rest of the candidates. We are thankful to have him leading our program.”
Former Michigan City assistant coach Charles Salary (left) has been named the head coach at Calumet. (Photo by Mike Kellems)