Familiar names now coaching at First State Military Academy

CLAYTON — First State Military Academy may not have long-standing sports traditions or top-of-the-line athletic facilities just yet.

But the first-year Smyrna-area high school can offer something fairly unique to its coaches.

The Bulldogs can give them the chance to start a program from scratch.

“I think that’s kind of exciting,” said FSMA commandant Pat Gallucci. “It will be their mark on the program. You’re building your program — kind of like, ‘This is your legacy. What are you going to leave behind? You’ll be the first one.’”

Gallucci and his staff are putting together a group of familiar coaching names who are willing to take on that challenge. Many of those coaches have connections to Caesar Rodney High.FY16 sports pic

Among the head coaches who have been hired are former Rider Blair Newman (football), former CR boys’ basketball coach Mike Wagner and former Caesar Rodney wrestling assistant coach Paul Collier.

They are joined by John Green, the ex-St. Georges athletic director, who will coach the Bulldogs in cross country, girls’ basketball and baseball, Vince Davis in boys’ soccer and Middletown’s Dave Nabb, who has already coached FSMA to a 6-2 record in JV boys’ lacrosse this spring.

The school plans to compete on the junior-varsity level in traditional team sports again next school year before moving up to the varsity level the following year. Some of FSMA’s student-athletes are already competing on the varsity level in individual sports.

First State Military has a freshman class and a small sophomore class of about 50 students this school year.

“I’m very excited about our staff,” said Gallucci, the former Polytech AD. “The idea coming in here is about creating something new. It gives the coach an opportunity to create a program from the ground up.

“We see programs like Dover and CR and we talk about the guys back in the 50s or 60s and ‘Wow, they did this.’ Well, some day people will be looking back at us and saying, ‘Wow, I wonder what it was like when these guys were here?’”

Adding football next fall will be the Bulldogs’ most-ambitious athletic endeavour. The school doesn’t have its own playing field yet so it will play all its football games on the road.

Newman was a standout receiver at CR before playing at Delaware and Wesley College. He’s been an assistant coach at Woodbridge the last few seasons.

“I’m OK with youth,” said Gallucci. “Some of those guys who coached for 30 years, they had to start out brand-new sometime, too.”

“We’ve got about 35 guys excited and ready to go in August,” said athletic director Arles Wood. “We’re very excited about football.”

Newman and Collier, who will also coach golf, are both teachers at FSMA. Wagner works at Lake Forest, where he is the Spartans’ former boys’ basketball coach and athletic director.

First State Military is looking to join a conference but hasn’t finalized anything yet.

Gallucci said the new coaches are aware that building a program from the ground up also comes with growing pains. But he also hopes that will make the experience that much more rewarding.

“I said, ‘Look, we have high expectations here,’” said Gallucci. “That’s kind of the Marine Corps way. But I said, ‘You’re building for years three and four. Keep that in mind.’

“We want to do well now. We’re not going to just go out there. But the process isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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