Making a Difference
Vero Beach Coach Has Kids
Winning On and Off the Field
WHEN LENNY JANKOWSKI AR- rived at Vero Beach as the Indi- ans’ new head coach in 2011, he realized that several of the
school’s top athletes were not coming out for
football. Jankowski changed that – fast – and
with spectacular results.
Former basketball players Charlie Miller and
Jamario Lambert and ex-track standout Dravious Wright are examples of athletes who had
never played football before Jankowski convinced them to try. Now, all three have football
scholarships as wide receivers – Miller to rising
national power Northern Illinois, Lambert to
Louisiana Tech and Wright to the ACC’s North
“[Jankowski] changed the whole program
around,” said Miller, who caught 37 passes for
966 yards and 10 touchdowns in his one year
of high school football. “We were a Wing T, and
he brought in the spread offense. He told me
to try football, and that if I didn’t like it, I didn’t
have to stay.
“He made the transition very comfortable for
me. I thank him a lot. At [ 5-10], I don’t think I
would have gotten a scholarship for basketball.
I think he knows how much he means to me and
how much I appreciate it.”
Miller is far from the only person Jankowski
has helped, and it’s the aspect of the job that
the coach most enjoys.
“The relationships you get to develop with
players and coaches – the friendships you have
over the years – that goes way beyond wins and
losses,” said Jankowski, 41. “All coaches have
a desire to compete. But to make a difference
in someone’s life is special.”
Jankowski has long had leadership qualities,
according to Rick Dixon, who has served as one
of his mentors.
Dixon was Jankowski’s high school baseball
coach at John Carroll in Fort Pierce. And while
Dixon often felt that most of his players did not
care about winning as much as the coaches
did, that was not the case with Jankowski.
Before Jankowski’s senior season, Dixon
gave a speech, telling the players that if they
didn’t plan on winning a state title, they should
just go home right now.
Jankowski took that message to heart.
“He put a sign over the door to his room that
said: ‘We’re going to win state,’” Dixon said. “All
the kids saw it when they went to his house
and that should have been a tip-off to me that
Lenny was going to be a coach one day.”
Jankowski played football and baseball in
high school but stuck to the latter sport in col-
lege, ending his playing career as an infielder at
Kennesaw State in Marietta, Ga.
When he graduated, Dixon invited Jankowski
to come back to Carroll as an assistant coach in
baseball and football.
Dixon quickly found out that he had a “
workhorse” in Jankowski.
COACH PROFILE Lenny Jankowski
BIRTHPLACE: Pittsburgh, Pa.
HIGH SCHOOL: Quarterback and defensive back
at John Carroll (Fort Pierce)
COLLEGE: Palm Beach Junior College and
Kennesaw State in Marietta, Ga., where he
played baseball as an infielder
ASSIS TANT COACHING JOBS: John Carroll for
four years and West Palm Beach Dwyer for
HEAD COACHING JOBS: 42-23 in six seasons at
John Carroll; 30-22 in five seasons at Walton
(DeFuniak Springs); 18-4 in two seasons at
Vero Beach, reaching the Class 8A regional
quarterfinals and regional semifinals,
“He coached the JV, he coached third base
and he was our varsity pitching coach,” Dixon
said. “In football, it was the same way. You
couldn’t give him too much to do. The more you
gave him, the more he enjoyed it, and it was a
big advantage for us.”
After four years as an assistant at Carroll,
Jankowski did similar work at Dwyer in West
And when the head football coaching job
opened at Carroll, Dixon – who was the athletic
director at the time – helped to bring Jankowski
back, even though he was only 26 years old.
The hire paid dividends as Jankowski led Carroll to a 10-0 regular season in 2002, reaching
the state playoffs for the first time in school
history. The next year, he led Carroll to the state
By this point, Jankowski’s career was off and
running. After six years at Carroll, he coached
Walton for five and then took Vero Beach to
the regional playoffs in each of his first two
Jankowski, who is married and has two
daughters and a son, said he is thrilled to be at
“This is one of the top five schools in the
state,” he said. “We sell out our games with
5,000 to 6,000 fans. We have close to 200 kids
in our football program. People are excited.
“And the best thing is that I’m involved in
these kids’ lives. You’ll get some kids who maybe were failing their classes, but you encourage
them and then you get a text that they got five
B’s on their report card.
“That may not mean a lot to some people. But
it puts a big smile on my face.” – Walter Villa
PROGRAM OFFERS STUDENTS
ONE COMMON MISCONCEPTION IS THAT UNIT-
ed States Army recruiters try to steer high school gradu-
ates away from college so they can enlist in the military.
James Rhoads, deputy to the colonel in charge of
ROTC recruiting, scholarships and operations, has
a different role. He encourages prospective high
school graduates to pursue both paths.
“Different things motivate people to enroll and
seek a commission through Army ROTC,” Rhoads
said. “I wanted to go into active duty in the armed
services, so it was nice to get school paid for and get
financial assistance. Other people want to be police
officers or teachers.”
Rhoads, a graduate of Michigan State University,
is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former Pro-
fessor of Military Science. He is in charge of Army
ROTC recruiting for the 273 host schools, and more
than 1,000 others whose students can take Army
ROTC training through nearby hosts.
“There’s really two different kind of cadets,”
Rhoads noted. “There are those who are fully com-
mitted to doing everything on the commissioning
path. Upon earning a degree, they will have met all
of the pre-commissioning requirements, and they’ll
become a contracted fully commissioned cadet. The
other type of cadet might just want to take a military
science class out of curiosity.”
Most of the cadets who do not wish to become fully
commissioned go the route of the non-scholarship
program. Non-scholarship graduates may serve
three years of active duty and five years in the Inac-
tive Ready Reserve, such as the U.S. Army Reserve
or Army National Guard. Those who are considering
enlisting in the Army directly out of high school, but
would prefer to receive a college education, might
consider applying for an Army RO TC scholarship.
“One of the biggest advantages to the ROTC
program is the pay scale,” Rhoads said. “If you’re
comparing to someone who is being commissioned
as a private, someone who goes through the ROTC
program will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant
and make twice as much from the very beginning.
That separation grows as you advance your rank.
The difference in pay is what you would expect between an executive and someone at a worker level.”
Army ROTC cadets have three options for getting fully commissioned. The Army ROTC Basic
Course is offered during a cadet’s first two years in
college. It is geared toward teaching basic military
skills and fundamentals of leadership. The Army
ROTC Advanced Course takes place during the last
two years of college. It is geared to teach advanced
The alternative to that track is the Leader’s Training Course, which is a four-week classroom and
field training in Fort Knox, Ky. It is an accelerated
version of the two years of leadership development
training in the Basic Course.
The Army ROTC’s scholarship budget for 2013
is $268 million with more than 12,300 cadets on
“Both of my sons went through the Army ROTC
program,” Rhoads said. “They participated in the
non-scholarship option, and they opted to compete
for active duty. One was active for three years, and he
fulfilled his requirement. The other is in Afghanistan
as a captain. Once you get past your requirement,
you can stay in as long as you choose or the Army tells
you you’re done.” – DAN GUTTENPLAN