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H.S. basketball: Rockbridge County hires Mike Gale as boys basketball coach

H.S. basketball: Rockbridge County hires Mike Gale as boys basketball coach

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Mike Gale began work at Rockbridge County High School in July with one job.

Now he has two.

Gale, who signed on as Rockbridge’s athletic director, has been named the school’s boys basketball coach.

Gale, 42, came to Lexington after spending 14 seasons as the boys basketball coach at Stuarts Draft High in neighboring Augusta County.

He is best known for implementing the “Grinnell System” into Stuarts Draft’s program, a strategy that produced a fast-paced style of play with frequent 3-pointers, mass substitutions every 90 seconds and high scores.

Gale’s 2019-20 team reached the state tournament for the first time in school history, ending with a 136-99 loss to eventual Class 2 champion John Marshall in a quarterfinal.

Expect to see the Wildcats running and gunning if there is a VHSL basketball season this winter.

“It will be alive,” Gale said. “Now what it will look like, especially this year, we’re not sure. A lot of factors … Not having much time to get it in, can we get the numbers of players we need? It may not be full steam, but we’ll do our best.”

Gale said he is bringing former Stuarts Draft assistant coaches Jeff Templeton and Jeff Blalock, who work outside the school system, as his assistant coaches.

“They’ve been very loyal to me,” he said. “I’m just very thankful they’ll be able to join us.”

Gale said former Roanoke College player Rob Winfield, a first-year teacher at Maury River Middle School, will be the Wildcats’ JV coach.

Gale is a 1996 graduate of Fort Defiance High School where he was a Group AA all-state pick in baseball. He played baseball at Eastern Mennonite University, graduating in 2001.

Gale was a boys basketball assistant coach at Fort Defiance for four years before taking the job at Stuarts Draft.

The Rockbridge County boys basketball head coaching position had been vacant since February following the resignation of Darrell Plogger after his 10th season on the job.

Plogger coached the Wildcats to the 2011-12 VHSL Group AA Division 3 semifinals where they fell 64-59 in overtime to Brunswick.

Gale was hired in May and did not dismiss the idea at the time that he could be interested in the basketball coaching position.

Gale is one of only a handful of Timesland athletic directors who also is the head coach of a varsity program at his school, a task made more difficult by the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It will be tough,” he said. “It will be another challenge, but I think I have enough support there at the school that they’ll be able to work with me. If I didn’t think we could do it, I wouldn’t do it.”

Rockbridge County principal Mike Craft said Gale deserves the head coaching position despite the dual role as coach and AD.

“My thing is get the best person in the position,” Craft said. “He really was one of the only internal candidates and I feel very strongly that we need to have a person the kids are [in] contact with on a regular basis.

“None of the [outside] people that applied did we have any [teaching] openings for at the high school.”

“We’ll review it every year. We’ll see how well [being] the AD and the head basketball coach, how well that works. That’s kind of uncharted territory for us right now. We’ll evaluate it after the season. If it didn’t work they way we expect that it will work then we’ll go back and take another look at it.”

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