Mickunas all for the kids

Marmaton Valley High head football coach Max Mickunas gives all the credit for his coaching success to his players. Mickunas believes in being the football coach he wishes he had in high school.



August 10, 2023 - 2:55 PM

Marmaton Valley’s Max Mickunas talks to his team last season. COURTESY PHOTO

Marmaton Valley head football coach Max Mickunas credits any success he’s had to his athletes.

“Good players always make good coaches,” said Mickunas, who has been at the helm for two years.

Mickunas believes his balance of tough love while also creating real bonds with his players is what has worked best.

“I think most people would say I’m enthusiastic and I’m passionate about what I’m doing,” said Mickunas. “I’m extremely competitive and that leads me to being intense sometimes. My players would tell you I hold them accountable. Sometimes they don’t like being told things but I’m always looking out for their best interest. I’m definitely a players coach.”

Marmaton Valley’s Max Mickunas celebrates after coming back to beat Hartford at home last season. COURTESY PHOTO

Mickunas recalled a highlight from last season when the Wildcats rallied from multiple touchdowns down to knock off Hartford in the final minutes of the game, 56-52. Mickunas was just as jubilant — and shocked — as his players in the post-game celebration.

Another highlight was when MVHS steamrolled Marais des Cygnes Valley in the district opener, 58-12.

Mickunas wouldn’t be in the position he’s in today if it weren’t for the talented players and coaches around him that helped him succeed as a coach. Mickunas earned the head coaching role after being an assistant coach at Lebo High.

While at Lebo, Mickunas helped the Wolves compile records of 7-3 and 10-1 and got a glimpse of what a consistent top-of-the-state program is all about. Mickunas credits most of his coaching knowledge from his time at Lebo as their assistant coach. 

“When I was at Lebo people were asking me when I would go be a head coach somewhere,” said Mickunas. “That’s when the opportunity opened up at Marmaton Valley and I just thought it was too good of an opportunity to turn down. I came in to build the program with not a lot of exceptions to start off with and now I feel like we’re past the part of ‘rebuilding.’”

Prior to Lebo, Mickunas also served as an assistant coach at Cheylin High where they played eight-man football after starting out at Horton High in 11-man football. He attended the University of Kansas and studied physical education. 

Marmaton Valley’s Max Mickunas paces the sideline. COURTESY PHOTO

“At first, my motivation as a coach was that I wanted to be different from my high school coach,” Mikunas said. “I didn’t really like the way I was coached so it was a priority for me that when I became a coach to do better and to have that relationship with my players.”

Marmaton Valley returns five starters from last fall. Mickunas’s goal this season is to get over the hump of a sub-.500 record and earn a winning record this season. 

The head coach also enjoys getting his players out in the community and interacting with younger kids to serve as role models. What’s most important to Mickunas is playing hard and to the whistle as well as the relationships he’s able to have with his players. 

“I just want the kids to represent their school well. It’s a privilege to wear that Marmaton Valley jersey and they should be proud of their school,” said Mickunas. “I want to teach them to control the things they can control, that life is a lot easier with a positive attitude and to continue to trust the process., Nothing happens overnight.”

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