WOODSIDE — Bob Gilmore remembers a day from one of the last time he tried not coaching football.
He and his wife, Susan, and their sons, Chris and Tom, were spending a beautiful fall weekend day at the beach.
Chris joked that if his dad were coaching, he’d probably be sitting in a meeting or breaking down film instead.
“I laughed and I said, ‘Oh OK, well this is what people do on weekends in the fall,’” said Bob. “It was definitely kind of an odd experience.”
But Gilmore has decided that there will now be a lot more football-free fall weekends in his future.
On Friday, the 57-year-old Dover resident announced that he was stepping down as a teacher at Polytech as well as the school’s head football coach.
The last remaining staff member who had been with the school every year since it opened in 1991, Gilmore is also the only head coach the Panthers have ever had in boys’ lacrosse. He hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’ll stay involved in that sport.
Gilmore had two stints as Polytech’s head football coach. He returned to lead the Panthers the last two seasons after the program went through a rough stretch in which it had to cancel two games because of a lack of players.
“Bobby has done a tremendous job of moving us back to kind of where we want to be,” said Polytech athletic director George Eilers. “We’re happy for him and sad to see him go.
“But we do want to keep that progression moving in the right direction. So there is some urgency.”
The first day of fall practice in the state is Aug. 16 with the Panthers opening the season on Sept. 9 by hosting A.I. DuPont. Polytech went 4-6 last fall after snapping a 15-game losing streak.
While the school goes through the process of hiring a new head coach, Eilers said the Panthers’ assistant coaches will keep the program organized. Bernie Nowakowski runs the team’s weightlifting program.
“I’m not concerned about off-season conditioning and things like that,” said Eilers. “I think we’ve got a good plan in place and that won’t be affected no matter who the head coach is going to be.”
Gilmore figures there’s only been about three seasons in the last 33 years that he hasn’t been involved in coaching football. The Long Island, New York native and University of Delaware grad has also made stops at Middletown and Smyrna.
He’s spent a huge part of his life at Polytech, though. Knowing that his last day as a teacher at the school was on Friday wasn’t easy.
“Both of my boys grew up on the practice fields there,” said Gilmore. “So it’s definitely a part of your makeup, a part of your family. That part was tough. Hearing from all the alumni has been very tough.”
Along the way, Gilmore would like to think he and the other coaches he’s worked with have had a positive influence on their players.
“We didn’t focus on wins and losses and conference titles,” he said. “We focused on making them better people. There’s guys who are cops, firefighters, teachers, fathers ... those were always the wins to us. Thank God I had great assistants. That’s what we focused on.
“In lacrosse, we won our share of games and found our share of success. In football, at times, we found our share of success. But to me, the most important part was helping kids become better.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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