We asked local high school head football coaches what their first coaching job was and an important lesson they learned from that experience that they still incorporate into their philosophy as a head coach today


Colgan High School

First coaching job: Wide receivers coach at Anderson University (Indiana)

Main takeaway: “What I learned was that the head coach is more of a CEO than a head coach. I watched my head coach and all the different things he had to do that had nothing to do with football.”


Colonial Forge High School

First coaching job: Coaching wide receivers at Hylton High School for his father Bill

Main takeaway: “The most important lesson I learned was how important preparation is. Being prepared and getting your team to give effort. Two things that are cornerstones of our program at Colonial Forge.”


Battlefield High School

First coaching job: 7/8th Grade head coach/varsity assistant coach for my father - Steve Girolmo at my alma mater Livonia High School in New York.

Main takeaway: “The biggest lesson I learned during that time from my father was that there is no job too small for the head coach, and that by modeling that for his staff my dad established a culture of servant leadership for all of us. That the way you do one thing - no matter how small or insignificant or tedious - can set a habit for the way you do everything. Even his lowly 7th/8th grade coach picked it up.”


Patriot High School

First coaching job: Varsity offensive line coach at Punxsutawney High School (Pa.)

Main takeaway: “It was a team that didn’t have much success. We went 0-10. What I learned was you have to go all out each week and view each team as the hardest team on your schedule no matter who you are going against. Every week you had to come with the same mindset. I thought we were going to win the game every week.”


Gar-Field High School

First coaching job: Working with defensive backs and linebackers at Hylton High School

Main takeaway: The lesson I learned from Lou [Sorrentino] was how ready he was with his practice plans and how he stuck to them. They were good plans that benefitted you. Everything had a purpose.”


Hylton High School

First coaching job: Coaching the linebackers and quarterbacks at Woodbridge High School

Main takeaway: At one of the first practices, Lilly stepped in during a team drill to coach the linebackers. [Head coach] Ron Davis looked at Lilly and wanted him to hold off saying anything out of deference to defensive coordinator Brian Beaty and himself. “For me, my first thought was, ‘Why did you hire me?’ But as I kept thinking about what [Davis] wanted me to do at that point was he wanted to make sure I was 100 percent speaking the same language as he and the defensive coordinator would be. That’s something that’s always stuck with me. To make sure we are all speaking the same language.”


Brentsville High School

First coaching job: Varsity defensive line coach at Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville outside of Richmond.

Main takeaway: “I worked with the DL and signaled in the defensive calls for the head coach, plus I worked in the equipment room. I learned the value of people in your program, and how the two things you can control - your effort and your attitude - are what matter most when it comes to getting the most out of the game and life in general.”


Freedom High School

First coaching job: Varsity defensive backs coach at Freedom

Main takeaway: “The main thing is being able to think outside the box on both sides of the ball.”


North Stafford High School

First coaching job: Junior varsity assistant offensive/defensive line coach at James Madison High School

Main takeaway: “Players respond to coaches who both demand a lot and care a lot.”


Stonewall Jackson High School

First coaching job: Varsity running backs coach at Osbourn Park High School

Main takeaway: “You have to be humble and can’t bring the old school mentality. You have to be a coach and be a listener.”


Osbourn High School

First coaching job: Head junior varsity and varsity defensive backs coach at Gar-Field High School

Main takeaway: “‘Giving up is not an option.’ Fight for everything because everything in life matters and you are supposed to fight. You were put on this earth to fight and make the best of your life.”


Woodbridge High School

First coaching job: Coaching offensive line and linebackers at T.C. Williams High School

Main takeaway: “I worked under Larry Johnson who coached at Penn State and is now the associate head coach at Ohio State. He’s still a mentor to me. The main thing I learned is you want to play with integrity. Make sure that’s at the forefront.”

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com. Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

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