When Mike Gale earned a masters degree in sports management from Liberty University in 2015, he did not take a course called “How to run an athletic department in the COVID-19 era.”
It might have come in handy.
Gale, who has been the boys basketball coach at Stuarts Draft High School in Augusta County, was hired Tuesday as the athletic director at Rockbridge County High.
Gale, 42, will enter the administrative level at a challenging time when his duties commence July 1.
The VHSL spring sports season was canceled, and there is no certainty that fall sports — including revenue-producing football — will be played in 2020.
“The uncertainty ... it’s kind of scary to figure out what’s going to happen,” Gale said. “Being new, but everybody else is in the same boat. We’re going to have to work together to try to get through it.”
Gale is best known throughout Virginia for implementing the “Grinnell System” into Stuarts Draft’s basketball program.
The strategy produced a racehorse style of play, with frequent 3-pointers, mass substitutions every 90 seconds and high scores.
Stuarts Draft won 182 games in Gale’s 14 seasons. His 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.
The Rockbridge County boys basketball head coaching position is vacant, following the resignation of Darrell Plogger.
Gale did not say whether there is a chance he could be the Wildcats’ basketball coach as well as AD.
“There’s still a lot to be discussed,” he said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that.”
Gale played baseball, basketball and golf at Fort Defiance High School, graduating in 1996.
He was a Group AA all-state pick in baseball, which he played at Eastern Mennonite University before graduating in 2001.
Gale was a boys basketball assistant coach at Fort Defiance for four years before taking the job at Stuarts Draft.
He served an administrative internship at Stuarts Draft under athletic director Steve Hartley.
“I knew I was going to eventually transition into that role,”Gale said. “That’s what I hoped to do. Rockbridge gave me the opportunity. I’m thankful for that. It just happened to be the right time.”