Frequent shifts in leadership have challenged the Athletic Department in recent years. However, with the arrival of a new coach on campus, Athletic Director Frank Gendusa, the whirlwind of change might just start to die down. Gendusa hopes to build a solid foundation for the athletic program at St. Martin’s Episcopal School.
“He’s brought a lot of stability to the athletic department, and I think he will do a great job of bringing in more kids to help football and other sports grow in the future,” said Senior Jack Fleishmann.
Gendusa’s strategy for his first year at St. Martin’s is to observe the program already in place, rather than trying to make radical changes without having a feel for the school’s athletics, according to Gendusa. While there are many similarities between the schools he worked at in the past and St. Martin’s, he has to adjust to a smaller student body, which presents a challenge when trying to create sturdy, powerful athletic teams.
“Coming in as the football coach, I’m trying to rebuild the football program and get numbers up, but also get numbers up for all of the sports,” Gendusa said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I like challenges. I’m looking forward to building in those sports that need it and continued strength in those sports that are doing well.”
As head football coach, Gendusa has already made a positive impact on his players.
“Coach Gendusa has brought a lot more than just football to the school,” Fleishmann said. “As a coach, he’s teaching us how to be men, how to properly treat everybody, how to be leaders, and how to be team players. He’s a great guy, and he definitely knows what he’s talking about with all the experience he has.”
Senior Kyle Winkler believes that in addition to bringing stability to the athletic program as a whole, Gendusa has established a steady framework to allow the football team to grow in the future.
“Coach Gendusa is pretty organized,” Winkler said. “He has the same plays that he’s been running for years, and his practice is pretty structured. He has a good goal plan for multiple years to come, and he has really set up the middle school team. He’s a really organized guy.”
This year, Gendusa has implemented a new policy prohibiting athletes’ use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. If a player violates the policy once, they are suspended from the team for two weeks and lose any leadership positions they may have. In the case of a second offense, the player faces expulsion from the team. Gendusa believes that the policy helped maintain the integrity of his players at both of his previous schools.
“The alcohol and drug policy has been part of my persona as an athletic director,” Gendusa said. “I feel like it’s an important part of what we’re trying to teach as coaches. We want our kids to know that it takes a discipline and a sacrifice to be part of an athletic team.”
Fleishmann believes Gendusa cares more about creating a healthy atmosphere for his athletes than winning every game. Senior Benjamin Bone agrees.
“I think it’s important to have such a policy in place just to remind people in the community that alcohol and drugs and tobacco are illegal for minors,” Bone said. “It also encourages people to be healthy and that training for your sport is important.”
Gendusa has a long history with athletics at independent schools. Born and raised in Louisiana, he spent 23 years at Isidore Newman School, serving as Athletic Director for six years and coaching football, baseball, and girls’ basketball. Following his time at Newman, he headed the athletic department and the football program at Fort Worth Country Day School in Texas for 10 years.
His extensive experience is invaluable in balancing his dual roles as athletic director and head football coach. Although many of his afterschool hours are devoted to coaching the football team in the fall, he attends as many games and meets for other sports as he can and lets the other coaches know he’s there to help them.
“Being athletic director is a little bit different than just being a coach,” Gendusa said. “Where you used to just focus on one particular sport that you were coaching, now you have to widen that focus because you have this umbrella of all the sports, both boys and girls. You look at things a lot differently.”
Looking ahead to the future of sports at St. Martin’s, many athletes are hopeful that Gendusa can be the positive change the school needs.
“I think he’s going to bring lots of new strategy and pride to the school,” said Senior Aidan Bonano.