The day before Battlefield High School officially began football practice Monday, Scott Girolmo described his mindset this way
“I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cargo bay of an airplane looking down 30,000 feet ready to jump,” Girolmo said.
It was an understandable sentiment given Girolmo’s hectic schedule in preparation for this moment.
Taking over a program is always a challenge for anyone, but Girolmo faced some additional ones.
The biggest was dealing with the drive.
With he and his family unable to get into their new home until Aug. 1, the Bobcats’ first-year head coach commuted three to four days a week over the summer from his soon-to-be former home in Staunton for offseason workouts, 7 on 7 tournaments and team camp. Sometimes he’d stay the night up here. Most of the time, though, he did the five-hour round trip in one day.
“It was a bit of an odyssey,” said Girolmo, who was hired by Battlefield in December after four seasons at Robert E. Lee High School. Girolmo replaced Mark Cox, who announced his retirement In November after the regular season ended.
In 13 years at Battlefield, Cox went 97-45 and won the Group AAA Division 6 state title in 2010. Battlefield went 5-5 in 2018 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Girolmo’s long drive finally ended last Thursday when he, his wife and their two young children moved into their rental home in Haymarket. With the help of players and family members, Girolmo got everything unloaded. But that was just a start. There was still plenty of unpacking to do at home and at the office.
As he settles in to his new position, Girolmo and his almost entirely new coaching staff are still familiarizing themselves with each other, while putting plans and schemes into effect for the 100-plus turnout of players.
Girolmo said he plans on serving as offensive coordinator, a position he held at R.E.-Lee. Girolmo likes to run an up-tempo offense and believes he has the personnel this year to do it.
He will also be involved in running the defense to help the coaches get acclimated to his system so they eventually feel comfortable on their own. Girolmo hired Tre Cage from Centreville High School to be the defensive coordinator. John Knouff, Marcel Smith and Darryl Mason are the other defensive coaches.
“It will be a transition period for the time being,” Girolmo said.
To keep things running smoothly while he travelled back and forth from Staunton, Girolmo primarily credited Knouff. Knouff is one of two holdovers from last year’s varsity coaching staff under Cox and the only coach in Battlefield’s building.
Girolmo also credited the Battlefield booster club with outsourcing strength and conditioning work through a company called True AP that provided trainers and supervisors for the players.
Although he’s living less than five miles away now from Battlefield, Girolmo’s day remains busy.
After spending time with his daughter and son in the morning, Girolmo arrives at Battlefield around 10 a.m. to have some quiet time before coaches and players come in. By 2 p.m. things start picking up. He and his coaches meet followed by meetings with the players. With most of his assistants working day jobs and unable to get to Battlefield earlier, the first of the two practices begins at 4 p.m. The last ends at 9 p.m. He’s in bed between 12:30 and 1 a.m. before doing it all over again.
Girolmo is nowhere close to being where he wants to be yet. A detail-oriented person, he’s doing his best to stay one step ahead of a frantic pace that includes unexpected questions and interruptions requiring his attention that are part of the job.
He’s also at a much bigger school and dealing with heavier traffic at times. It’s life in Northern Virginia, but he’s figuring it out as he goes and remaining patient, knowing things are falling into place.
“I’m juiced to get going,” Girolmo said.