Michigan State assistant football coach talks about being raised in Dowagiac

DOWAGIAC — There was plenty of green and white on display at the Dowagiac Rotary Club as long-time Michigan State Spartan fan Dick Judd presented MSU assistant football coach Mark Staten as the guest speaker Thursday.

Staten, a former Dowagiac and Miami of Ohio standout, currently serves as the Michigan State assistant head coach, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

It does not take long for those around Staten to understand where he comes from. He is proud to be a graduate of Dowagiac Union High School and is a Chieftain through and through.

One of the things Staten said he has been asked about  during his days on the recruiting trail is if kids have changed. He said he does not know if there is a correct answer for that.

Staten does not feel that the kids have changed, but rather the communities they grow up in and the support system they have around them.

“I grew up with wonderful friends, a wonderful family and I learned so much by just paying attention,” he said. “We did not always do things right, but there was always the ability to take a lesson. To learn from it. To go back to examine what you did or how you do it and process forward. We have a really cool old town here.”

Staten said that through a series of jobs that he worked, including bailing hay, he took the lessons he learned and developed a sense of community.

“To tie that together the community here, the people sitting here, a lot of you had a lot of you had a lot to do with me standing here,” he said.

Staten said that you have to take what you have in Dowagiac and work with it.

“The great thing about Dowagiac is there are not a lot of communities like this left,” he said. “There are not a lot of communities left where I can go across and play hoops at the green court. I can go shake hands with all these different people. Go into these houses, feel welcome and it did not matter my socioeconomical upbringing. It did not matter what I said or what I did, because if it was wrong, it would be corrected. No one frowned about it being corrected.”

Staten said that today, people do not take the time to correct those mistakes so that their children can learn from them.

“The thing that has changed with kids in my personal opinion is what they are allowed to do,” he said. “Or what they are allowed to get into. We still as adults have to walk through this life and we have all done things where you go ‘OK, don’t do that again’ or try to do this a different way or do this better. That is what life is. Learning through each other.”

Staten said that in Dowagiac there were hundreds of people there to help answer those questions. They may not have always answered them the way he would have liked, but it gave him a direction.

“That is what we try to do at Michigan State,” Staten said. “We try to give these young people an idea. The overwhelming thing I want to do to tie this all together is community, work, a God-fearing community can do wonders. Have kids changed? I do not know. I think overall, communities have changed.”

Following his talk, Staten answered questions from the audience, which included fans of the University of Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame.

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