Euro-Football Veteran John Trana Headed To Coach In Australia

John Trana has been officially announced as the new head coach of the Melbourne University Gridiron Club in Australia.

The MUGC have signed the former head coach of the Virterbo Pittbulls (Italy) and Limhamn Griffins (Sweden) as their new head coach, the team announced February 26, 2017. Trana had already been contemplating taking time off from coaching in Europe after the 2016 season. He turned down several coaching offers over concerns with the instability of the IFAF in Europe. MUGC is replacing a local coach who led the team to a 5-6-1 season in 2016.

Earlier this year in an interview with Euro-american football coach Trana explained he wasn’t interested in coaching overseas next season, citing personal reasons concerning the growth of American Football in Europe. I asked him what led to his decision to go down under to coach. Coach Trana explained,

“I was convinced after I talked with the President along with a few coaches and players. I could feel their enthusiasm and passion. I love working with coaches and players that are coachable and have a desire to play championship level football. I knew if I passed on this opportunity that I would regret it.”

Trana went on to outline three specific reasons for taking the position. First was the chance to work with the current coaching staff and players on their senior, junior and women’s team who love playing American football. Second, was the opportunity to see Australia and experience the culture. Third, John smiled and said I will be able to develop at least two more quarterbacks! That is what Trana is known for in the European coaching arena. Melbourne can expect to progress quickly as John Trana has taken 3 of the 4 teams he has coached in Europe to the playoffs.

Before traveling to Europe, Trana was well respected among his peers, beginning his coaching career with Thunder Ridge HS where they won the 4A State Championship. He grew even more under lengdary HS coach Mike Mitchell who is now in the Oregon High School Hall of Fame. Coach Trana continued his career with Hudson Valley Junior College, NY. MUGC will have a coach who knows how to win, he has coached in two state championship games, and five (5) State semi final games and more than 21 playoff games. Trana has made his living as a highly regarded coordinator and QB coach where he contributed to the Zagreb Patriots in Croatia, Moscow Patriots in Russia, the Limhamn Griffins in Sweden and the Viterbo Pitbulls in Italy.

Coach Trana understands how to build championships. He will bring a new offensive and defensive philosophy when he arrives in Melbourne in May of 2017.

“When I arrive the team will travel on May 5th through May 7th to an offsite facility where we will take the weekend to install the offense and defense as well as build team chemistry.”

He told me this as he searched his computer for football information on his playbook to share with me. He went on to explain his desire to keep the playbook simple by building on the team’s existing playbooks. Currently, MUGC is using a wishbone style offense which he hopes to spread out by utilizing the athletic receivers and mobile QB from a spread formation while keeping the blocking scheme the same.

“I will put my stamp on both sides of the ball by building from the existing playbook. I will spend the next couple of months getting to know the skills of our players and build upon the playbooks according to what we do well. I would like to use a quick passing game,” explained Trana.

In addition, he will tweak the current defense by installing more structure to the defensive play calls. Trana explained:

“One of the advantages we have is many of my players have a Rugby background so they already understand how to Hawk Tackle (rugby style) and are not afraid of contact. So now the goal is to be very disciplined on defense.”

The overall challenge for coach Trana is the same with any coach taking on a new team. He will review the coaches and players to determine what they do well then COACH IT UP even more. One of most exciting things Trana discussed was the experimental work he will be doing with former NFL QBs Jake Plummer and Chad Friehauf who have developed a new software called Ready List Pro to help players learn their playbook.

“What I like about the software the most,” he said, “It will make the players accountable to their teammates and the club. The players will study the playbook then take a timed test that determines how much they have retained. This could be an incredible advantage with the limited on field practice time.”

At Melbourne University, Coach Trana will coach the Division 1 team while assisting the junior and women’s gridiron teams. According to Coach Trana he is excited to have a strong schedule in a league with competitive teams. Melbourne finished the season 5-6-1 in 2016 and the top team in the league the Monash Warriors was 11 and 1 as well as the Western Crusaders who posted a winning record of 9 and 3. When AFI asked Coach Trana what his expectation were for his first year; he replied

“I believe we have the talent to compete for a championship but it depends on player commitment. Like all good teams we will follow our practice schedule and install weekly game plans but player attendance at practice and film study is critical in football. The time that players put into football each week will directly determine the number of victories we will achieve. We need to use our limited time in the most efficient way possible. WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER is a philosophy that has worked well for me overseas.”

Coach Trana continued:

“I believe there are two ways to have a championship team. The first is to be more physically talented then all other teams, but that is very rare. The second is to work your tail off. You have to put the time in each week to prepare and play for your teammates; which fits perfect with the ONE CLUB ONE FAMILY motto of the Royals.”

When asked how his wife taking the news of him moving so far away, he explained,

“She is excited because she knows that my passion for coaching and building character of my players is what drives me. I am very lucky to be married to my best friend that supports me in everything I do just as I support her. I joke with her that she could travel around the world if she travels to South Africa for her job then over to Australia before returning to Arkansas.”

John O. Anderson
John Anderson writes about the NFL and American football for Sportnet.us in Croatia. He also is the founders of www.euroamericanfootball.us and he has been coaching American Football in Europe for five years. Currently, he is the Defensive Coordinator for the Zagreb Patriots.
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