Zionsville Eagles Football Welcomes Coach Scott Turnquist Back to the Field
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photographer // Theresa Skutt and submitted
Last month, the Zionsville School Board of Trustees approved Zionsville resident Scott Turnquist as the new leader of the ZCHS football program. This designation comes after former ZCHS Football Coach Pat Echeverria accepted the head coach position at his alma mater, Pike High School, in January.
Turnquist has been the offensive coordinator at Carmel High School reporting under Head Coach John Hebert, but he is no stranger to the Zionsville community and school athletic programs.
Turnquist coached at ZCHS under former Head Coach Larry McWhorter, and before that, he was a permanent substitute teacher at Stonegate Elementary where his children currently attend. Turnquist and his wife, Lacy, have lived in Zionsville since 2006.
“I’m originally from Billings, Montana,” Turnquist said. “I played at Montana State University as a receiver. We relocated to Indiana with my wife’s job, and my first ‘official’ job here, I worked at a summer camp at the Benjamin Harrison YMCA over in Lawrence Township. We lived on 56th Street next to the Colts Complex.”
Turnquist began substitute teaching in area school districts and submitted emails inquiring about available coaching positions.
“I got a response back from Zionsville that led to me getting a coaching job, a substitute teaching job at Stonegate and eventually an IA [instructional assistant] position at the high school,” Turnquist said. “My kids think that it’s hysterical that I taught at Stonegate where they go to school.”
He coached at Zionsville from 2005 until 2010 and taught from 2006 until 2010.
“I went to Carmel due to the reduction of force [at Zionsville], and it was a great learning experience for me,” Turnquist stated. “My experience at Carmel has been phenomenal and a tremendous growth opportunity for me. The relationships that I’ve made with the staff, students and faculty will always be near and dear to me. It’s a special place, and I would not be where I am today had I not worked for that school district and the football and track programs as well.”
Turnquist shared that he was able to experience football in Carmel where the expectations are “extremely high” and the level of performance is equally as high.
“I will carry that experience over,” he said. “I know what it takes to play at a championship level, but I also know that it doesn’t just happen on the field. There are a lot of things that have to happen off the field – in the classroom, weight room and in the community. All those things matter to have a great and well-rounded program, which is what we all want. We can’t just focus on football. We want to develop kids outside of that as well.”
As ZCHS enrollment continues to grow and the football team grows proportionately along with it, Turnquist understands how to bring his big school mentality and modify it to help his growing team.
“There are some things that you can do at a school as big as Carmel that doesn’t work everywhere else,” he explained. “But you can take the standards and themes and apply them anywhere. Ultimately, [as coaches], it’s about building relationships with kids and working to make it as well-rounded of an experience as possible. The kids are learning lessons from being a part of a team and program that are applicable throughout life.”
While the safety of the players is usually the priority of the players’ parents and coaches, Turnquist emphasized that the safety of his players and proper instruction is always at the forefront of his coaching technique.
“While you’re never going to completely eliminate injury from a game like football, we’re going to do everything we can to coach great technique and coach kids to think the right way – from the very beginning all the way through this football program,” Turnquist said. “They [the players] are going to learn how to tackle using the safest techniques that we can possibly find. We are constantly researching what those are and looking for ways to make the game safer. We want to make sure that the kids have an opportunity to play what I consider to be the greatest game in the world.”
When asked if Zionsville’s recent enrollment into IHSAA’s Class 6A would have any drastic effect on how he and his coaches direct the program, Turnquist replied, “No, I don’t think it will to be honest with you. Certainly, there is that mystique about 6A when you go into it, but that doesn’t change anything for us until we get in the playoffs. In my opinion, it’s about holding ourselves to our own standard. That is the key [to success]. Zionsville has been playing in 5A, and the competition in that class is fantastic as well. It’s not a monstrous change in terms of the teams that you’re playing. You’re still playing in the HCC [Hoosier Crossroads Conference], which is one of the best conferences in the state – the best in the Midwest for that matter.”
As Turnquist completes his transition from Carmel back to Zionsville, he said his primary focus is going to be on establishing relationships with the students and staff.
“I want to make sure they understand where I am coming from,” he said. “I want to get a feel for who they are. We will work through the off-season weight room program and the leadership development. I will focus on rounding out the coaching staff – that is a big part of my job. I am focusing on getting my feet on the ground and making sure that I’m on top of everything that a head coach is responsible for.”
Turnquist shared a few things he would like for his fellow Eagles to know about him and how important, he feels, the community’s support is to sports programs.
“I’m all in here at Zionsville,” he proclaimed. “This is a place that I’m proud of, and you’re going to get the very best that I have. I’m not going to guarantee anything, but I know that whatever is going to be put on the field is going to be the best that we can do. I will make sure that the kids are doing things the right way – on and off the field. [My staff and I] are holding them and ourselves to a very high standard. I would like for the community to know that I believe that high school sports can be such a rallying point for the community. To have the support of the local businesses alongside the community members is such an important thing, and it brings so much value to our programs. I believe it enhances the experience for the student-athlete when they see the support from the community. It lets them know that people enjoy what they’re doing and appreciate the hard work that they put in.”
Turnquist expressed his appreciation for the Zionsville community and his excitement to return to a program that he is quite passionate about.
“Zionsville is home,” he said with conviction. “We’ve made our home here, and this is where I want to be. I love this community. The quality of the people, the students and the faculty here is fantastic.”