Despite low numbers and a young team, the St. Martin’s Episcopal School football team is responding to adversity with its head held high, alongside new Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Frank Gendusa.
Gendusa knew he’d face challenges when taking on the role of head football coach at St. Martin’s, particularly regarding the initial lack of players.
“For a while, we were really worried we would have only 15 or 16 players,” Gendusa said. “We’re fortunate. We have 25 kids who are playing football right now. We have a few injuries, but for the most part, we have 25 kids as a part of the football team.”
In addition to learning how to work with small numbers, Gendusa has adapted his coaching philosophy.
“One of the things about being successful as a coach is that you have to change (with the) times,” Gendusa said. “You have to adapt and adjust to kids now. My coaching style now is not what my coaching style was 20 years ago. It’s mainly because kids change. The only way to be successful is to change with them.”
Although Gendusa has modified his coaching style, he still believes there are aspects of the sport that transcend generations.
“I still have an old-school base because I still think football is a blocking and tackling game, but I’m also a stickler on what’s important and what you learn being part of a football team,” Gendusa said. “What I’m talking about is your character, what it’s like being a teammate, and what kind of leadership qualities you have to show to be a successful teammate.”
Sophomore Jonathan Castaneda is appreciative of Gendusa’s leadership style and notes that his changes have made football a lot more organized than last year.
“This season has obviously not gone as well as we’d want it to (…but) it’s better than expected,” Castaneda said.
Wins and losses are fleeting, but the lessons you learn from competing on a team are far more important, according to Gendusa.
“You’re going to win some games, and you’re going to lose some, but what you could learn from a football program and being part of a team is so much more valuable than just the wins and losses,” Gendusa said.
Like Castaneda, Senior Captain Ethan Everitt commends Gendusa’s improvements and coaching strategy.
“(Gendusa) makes it more than just a football team,” Everitt said. “He actually cares about you and shows that there’s more to it than just playing football.”
Gendusa stresses the importance of overcoming adversity, according to Everitt. With his leadership, the football team has great potential to grow.
“Next year is going to be another year with Gendusa, so it’s going to be better, another learning process,” Castaneda said.
Gendusa doesn’t anticipate a drastic transformation in the football program in a single season, but in a couple of years, he’s hoping to have made some critical changes.
“This means numbers up, being competitive, and representing St. Martin’s the way we should,” Gendusa said.
As a leader on the football team, Everitt looks to the possibility of an even more successful football program in the near future for St. Martin’s.
“It’s great to lead and try to get more kids to play,” Everitt said. “Hopefully, our program can grow and get bigger one day.”