Longtime El Camino football coach retires after 35 years
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Coaching football can be a tough business. Wins, losses and dealing with different personalities every year can take a toll on coaches.
For El Camino coach Gene Engle, coaching is a way to teach and build players’ character on and off the field. After a 35-year career, Engle coached in his final game last Saturday with family, friends and former players in attendance.
“It’s time for me to spend more time with my grandkids,” Engle said. “I’ll continue to teach at El Camino but I’m done as a full time coach.”
While Engle began his career as a player at EC, coaching was something he never thought about doing after his playing days.
“I never wanted to get into coaching,” Engle said. “I prayed on it. I said ‘God, I don’t want to do this but I’m open to doing it if this is what you want me to do.'”
Through his faith and commitment, Engle has been more than a coach to his players. During his career at EC, Engle has helped over 500 players earn college scholarships.
In addition, Engle has helped countless other players become better men, fathers and members of the community.
“He’s more than a coach,” former Pro Bowl San Fransisco 49ers offensive lineman Derrick Deese said. “He’s like a second father. The things he has taught me, I try to carry in everyday life.”
Deese said it hurts to see him go but understands Engle wants to spend more time with his family and enjoy life.
“He knew how to get the best out of players,” Deese said. “I credit my successful career to him.”
Engle played offensive tackle at EC and earned All-Conference honors in 1975 and 1976. He went on to play at Stanford under legendary Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh in 1977 and 1978. At Stanford, Engle was a member of the 1977 Sun Bowl and 1978 Bluebonnett Bowl teams.
At halftime of Engle’s final game, EC honored the coach with the inaugural Character and Commitment award for his character as a coach and his commitment to EC.
To thank Engle for his legendary career, EC established the award from here on out as the Gene Engle award. Renaming the award in his honor and it will be given annually to a football player who demonstrates both character and commitment.
For EC running backs coach Ryan Winkler, it has come full circle as he played for Engle in 1994 and 1995.
Winkler said he learned a lot from Engle, including how character defines a man and there’s only one way to do things, with integrity.
“Engle and Featherstone created a family atmosphere at a two-year program which is not easy to do and will be difficult to duplicate,” Winkler said. “They built a foundation that has made “Once a Warrior, Always a Warriors,” not just a slogan but a reality.”
Meanwhile, Engle continued to be the competitive coach as his final game ended. His first thought after the game, “It sucked that we lost, I thought we had a chance.”
Engle said he wants to win like any coach but ultimately it was about the relationships with the players.
“The day-to-day building a relationship with the kids is what I’ll miss,” Engle said. “That means the world to me.”