Gillenwater takes over varsity helm

Gillenwater+speaks+to+the+players+during+a+timeout+against+the+Handley+Judges.

Adrian Kavazovic

Gillenwater speaks to the players during a timeout against the Handley Judges.

Rachel Phengsitthy, Editor-in-Chief

As fall sports return to a normal season, Kyle Gillenwater was hired as the interim head football coach just in time for the Blue Streaks 2021 fall season. In replacement of Josh Carico, Gillenwater brings years of coaching experience to the team.

“I wanted to start coaching football when I was in fourth grade [and] never changed my mind, just something that stuck with me,” Gillenwater said. “[After] 31 years of experience, I have a knowledge of the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area. [I’ve] been living here for probably 30 years of my life, so I think the combination of those two will make it a good fit.”

Of Gillenwater’s 31 years of coaching, 27 of them were at the collegiate level. He last served as the defensive coordinator at East Rockingham High School. His coaching background also includes baseball, softball, tennis and track. 

The switch to working with the Blue Streaks was seen as a new opportunity for Gillenwater. Although he was not looking for a new position, he accepted when he came across the opening. 

“It’s a good situation here, so it was a good fit for what the high school was needing and what I was needing at the time. [I’m] looking forward to what happens going forward,” Gillenwater said.

One of the first things Gillenwater hopes to work on with the team is the participation of the players both on and off the field.

“We have to instill more pride in them. It has to be important to them, and to do things the right way. As long as we play as well as we can, practice as hard as we can and do things right in the classroom and community, wins and losses will take care of [themselves].”

Athletic Director Brandon Burley believes Gillenwater brings a new perspective to the team while spreading his passion for the game.

“Coach is passionate about cultivating relationships with our student athletes and encouraging them to be successful both in and out of the classroom,” Burley said. “Coach Gillenwater’s energy and enthusiasm [is] contagious. His attention to detail is unparalleled and [it’s] apparent these qualities are starting to be emulated by his team.”

Gillenwater’s expectations for his players are strictly for them to succeed in the classroom, community and on the field.

“As long as they do their best, they’ll have fun. Obviously I want them to stay healthy, so they can compete for the entire year. It’s going to be different, it’s been a long time since they played ten plus football games. If they do their best and stay healthy, we’ll have a good year, Gillenwater said.”

Gillenwater also hopes to provide future pathways for his players, especially when it comes to college recruitment.

“Players [have] to get themselves recruited. What they do on film on Friday night is what will get them recruited and we’ll provide it to anybody who’s interested. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on them because they’ll see the product on film. That’s a process we’ll have to work on learning around here as well,” Gillenwater said.

With the upcoming away game against William Fleming on Sep. 29, Gillenwater continues to work with the team as the season gets closer. 

“I like change,” Gillenwater said. “I like a challenge and all of that is here. All the kids have been really into learning the new stuff and excited about what’s going on. Each day we get a little better, so I’m excited to see how far we go with this group.”

 

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