How does a high school find a coach to replace someone who spent more than two decades leading its football team?
For Bermudian Springs High School, the choice was to go with someone who has been involved with the program for the past 16 years.
After 11 seasons on the staff of former Bermudian Springs coach Jon DeFoe, John Livelsberger was recently named as the next head coach of the Eagles.
DeFoe recently resigned after 21 highly successful seasons as the Bermudian head coach. After the 2019 season, DeFoe announced he was putting his coaching career on pause for family reasons. During his stint with the Eagles, Bermudian reached the District 3 title game twice, won five York-Adams division titles and compiled a 152-78 overall record.
He knows the culture: Livelsberger, who’s also a teacher at the school, said his knowledge of the program’s culture and its importance to the area were big factors in why he ended up being the right person for the job.
“Bermudian football means a lot to the community,” said Livelsberger, who was a two-way lineman at Delone Catholic High School. “I think having someone that’s been around and understands what it means and also understands what the priorities should be was definitely helpful in order to give myself the opportunity to get the position.”
A renewed passion: Livelsberger admitted he had interest in leading a team of his own, but didn’t think being a head coach at Bermudian would ever be a possibility because of the time DeFoe spent there and the success the team had under him.
It wasn’t until he started to prepare for the questions he would be asked during the interview that he found the answers ignited the love for the sport and how it can help athletes and made it the perfect time to take over the team.
“It reminded me of my passion for the game,” Livelsberger said. “It reminded me that the student-athletes are the most important thing and it kind renewed the passion for the game for me.”
Livelsberger said DeFoe was a huge help in preparing for the interview and he learned a lot from him over the decade they shared a sideline. He added that he’s happy to continue working with DeFoe, who’s also the school’s principal, so the team is ready for the start of the season.
A familiar face: In addition to his knowledge of the community, Livelsberger’s relationships with the players and coaches will help make the transition easier. He said that the coaching staff will remain largely the same, with junior high coach Ryan Murphy moving up to run the special teams unit.
While familiarity with the players is a benefit for any coach taking over a program, Livelsberger said it will be even more helpful because the Eagles are unsure about what kind of offseason program they will have as the sports world continues to adjust the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it helps that the kids already know who I am as a coach and a teacher,” Livelsberger said. “It’s a huge benefit because they know what to expect. They’re not wondering, ‘What is this guy like?’ So, I think it puts them at ease knowing what I bring to the table.”
Livelsberger isn’t sure at this time how Bermudian Springs will be able to train for the upcoming season or if they will be able to use the school’s facilities.
Ready to start: While it’s not the beginning to his head coaching career that he imagined, Livelsberger is ready for the challenge. It might take some time until everyone can get on the field, but he has no doubts the Eagles’ players will be ready to go when they do.
“It’s definitely not the ideal way to start your first season as a head coach, but I’m excited,” Livelsberger said. “When we get the opportunity to get back to playing football, I think everything will kind of fall back into place.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.