Joe Flister learned from the best.
As a 1997 graduate and longtime assistant football coach at Janesville Parker, Flister was part of four Big Eight Conference championships the Vikings won under Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Joe Dye.
Flister now gets the chance to forge his own legacy as he takes over a downtrodden Orfordville Parkview/Albany program. He was named head coach earlier this month.
“I’m planning on bringing my enthusiasm each and every day, and hope the kids can feed off that,” Flister said. “I’m not worried so much about wins and losses, as I am about changing the culture and getting this program headed in the right direction. If we do things the right way, work hard and bring the same energy and effort every day, the wins will take care of themselves.
“Coach Dye let me be a part of a great coaching staff we had at Parker, and I learned so much from him as far as how to develop not only players, but coaches, too.
“This is going to be a big challenge, but it’s one I’ve been working toward, and one that I’m really excited about.”
Flister takes over a program that has struggled to say the least. Parkview/Albany has won only six games the last five seasons, and two of those wins came in the 2021 fall alternate season against Deerfield and Wayland Academy.
Parkview/Albany also joins the SWAL Conference this season. That means state powerhouses Darlington and Lancaster are now on the schedule, along with Mineral Point and Cuba City.
“I think it’s really important that the kids realize that this is a fresh start for everybody involved,” Flister said. The past is the past, and we can’t change that, but we can show up every day with the right attitude and the willingness to get better each and every day.
“And it starts with fundamentals such as blocking and tackling, and trusting in your teammates.”
Flister spent the last several years as Parker’s junior varsity coach, as well as the varsity special teams coach. He credits current Parker head coach Clayton Kreger with helping him get to this point and promised Kreger that he would not raid his coaching staff and bring any of his assistants to Parkview.
“I’ve worked with so many great coaches the last 23 years at Parker that have taught me so much and have been so supportive, even now with me taking the job at Parkview,” Flister said. “Just as I did with coach Dye, I’ve learned so much from Clayton, too. He really relates well to players.”
Flister knows he can’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make Parkview/Albany competitive. The numbers—or lack thereof—continue to plague the program. Parkview was basically forced to add Albany to make a co-op team to keep the program from having to switch from an 11-man to an 8-man format. Flister expects between eight and 10 Albany players on this year’s roster.
With Flister already circling the August 20 season-opener against Johnson Creek on the calendar, he knows the team won’t have much time to learn a new offensive and defensive system.
“I like winning just as much as anyone else does,” Flister said. “That’s why you keep score.
“But changing the culture here and moving the program in the right direction with keeping kids interested at the top of the list is just as important.”
Joe Flister will always be a Viking. He’s just traveling 12 miles west on Highway 11 to do so.