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VIProfile: Tyson Helton


Story by Angela Reeves | Photography by Alan Hudson

On November 27, 2018, Tyson Helton was named the 21st head football coach for WKU, leaving his previous role as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Tennessee. Coach Helton is no stranger to The Hill, having previously coached under Jeff Brohm in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, leading to a Conference USA championship in 2015. Coach Helton, his wife April, and their four children- Shelby, 15, Preston, 13, and twins Cole and Clay, 9, are excited to be back in Bowling Green. “When we moved here in 2014, we immediately felt at home,” said Helton. “We have lived in a lot of places and had a lot of fun, but nothing felt quite like home as much as our time in Bowling Green.”

The Heltons met at the University of Houston where Tyson played football under his father, long time collegiate and NFL coach Kim Helton. “From the time we met, we have been attached at the hip ever since. She’s the ultimate coach’s wife, agent, and mother. She’s my whole world,” Tyson fondly says of his wife. After college, they spent time at the University of Hawaii which Tyson described as a four year honeymoon. It was the start of his coaching career and became the start of their family as well with the birth of the oldest, Shelby.

After Hawaii, they moved around for several coaching opportunities. Their daughter Presley was born during their time in Memphis, and their sons were born in their six years in Birmingham. While at UAB, Tyson coached one year with Jeff Brohm, which became his introduction to Kentucky. After a season in Cincinnati, Helton joined the coaching staff at WKU under Brohm. Helton left WKU after two seasons to join his older brother, Clay Helton, for his first head coaching position at USC and from there coached a season at Tennessee. Helton’s new role at Western is his first head coaching position. “When I got the call at the end of the season and the opportunity to come back to WKU, I knew immediately it was a great opportunity. It just felt right,” said Helton.

Tyson is excited about the challenge that comes with being a head coach. “As a head coach, you get to lead from your own vision, which is what every coach dreams of and works toward,” said Helton. Coach Helton says player development is the piece he looks forward to the most. “First and foremost, I view myself as a teacher, an educator. We’re not just trying to win championships, we are developing champions. I want our guys to be great husbands, fathers and citizens. We have the opportunity to mold them into a great place in life. Football isn’t just about wins and losses, although I promise we’re working towards the wins.”

In December, during early recruiting, Helton signed on 17 players and an additional four in February, intentionally leaving a few spots for signing in the spring for late qualifiers or transfers. Eleven of the recruits were able to enroll early and have been on campus and
practicing with the team which is a huge benefit. He is extremely excited about the team, both those newly recruited and the current players. The first meeting with the staff and team Helton got a really good feeling from the room.

“Everyone was excited and anxious for the opportunities to come.” said Helton. He could tell everyone had embraced the vision. During spring training, they’ll be growing and identifying key players, or as Coach likes to call them, difference makers - those who can take this team to the next level.

To the fans, Coach Helton wants everyone to know he loves the challenge of pulling WKU back into a championship team. His vision is to have WKU be the “national conversation.” But it takes everyone to make that happen, “Our stadium is great, the backdrop is great, but it has to be full. We must have a strong home field advantage and create a hostile environment for our opponents to play.”

Coach Helton knows how important it is for the coaching staff, team, and leadership at Western to provide an entertaining atmosphere where the whole community can be involved. “I want us to be the hot ticket in town on Saturday - for everyone to be saying, ‘Let’s go to the WKU game this weekend.’” He assures Bowling Green he is going to do his part, however, “We need every fan to show up, to get on their feet and to keep standing, with excitement for what’s next the whole time.”

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