HEAD COACH & RECRUITING COORDINATOR - Heron O'Neal
Heron O'Neal will be entering his 5th season as the Head Coach of the Liberty. In turn, the Liberty have thrived under O'Neal, who took over as coach after the team went a combined 3-21 in its first two seasons. He led them to a 10-4 record and the division championship game in 2018, followed by a 9-5 mark and a trip to the Champions Bowl the following year.
"I'm recruiting, always on my phone, on the internet trying to find every player I can find; watch all the film I can watch. Helping with corporate sponsorships, getting food vouchers, food sponsors; so, it's a full-time job."
It's also a job O'Neal continues to enjoy.
"I kind of look at myself as the ambassador of football," he said. "My dad helped me out and taught me the game. I had some great coaches in high school as well and now I try to mentor young players."
O'Neal said his playing experience at all levels of professional football has been an advantage throughout his coaching career.
"I think that's an advantage we have because I've been coached by guys who never played beyond college, but, I got more from those other guys who actually played in the NFL," he said. "True, Bill Belichick never played in the NFL and he's the greatest of all-time, but for me personally, there's a different-type of feel when you have a guy who's played it before. There's a different type of respect you have for that person."
O'Neal estimates he's helped over 50 players move up to the National Football League, Canadian Football League and Arena 1 in his 14 years of coaching.
"That's what I get a high off of," he said.
O'Neal spends the off-season at his home in Billings, Mont. - yes, Montana, "like two different worlds," he said, laughing, when asked about the difference between growing up in Chicago and now living in Big Sky Country - but is never too far from his first love, football.
O’Neal was also recently inducted into the 2021 IFL Hall of Fame.