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Otis, Astare Named WVHS Grid Coach, AD
On Thursday, July 29, the Wyalusing Area administration announced the hiring of Ed Astare as athletic director and Gary Otis as head varsity football coach.
Wyalusing Valley High School principal Marty Weisgold informed the Rocket-Courier at 2 p.m. that the two positions had been filled.
Astare will replace Raul Azpiazu in the athletic director's chair. Azpiazu, who had been on leave since October 2003, formally resigned the position in April 2004.
Otis, the high school's assistant principal, had been acting athletic director since Azpiazu began his leave of absence.
This will be Astare's second stint in the office. He was athletic director in 1995 and 1996.
Otis, free of the athletic director's duties, returns to coaching for the first time since he became assistant principal in 2001.
He replaces Linc Welles, Jr., who submitted his resignation after three seasons in March.
Otis is only the fifth head coach in Wyalusing's football history.
"It feels good," Otis said of his return to coaching.
"It was a tough decision a couple of years ago when I got out of it.
"Coaching is one of those things that has never left my heart. I've wanted to get back and be more involved."
A 1988 Wyalusing Valley graduate where he was all-NTL in football and wrestling, Otis attended college at Bucknell and Mansfield.
Upon graduation from Mansfield with a teaching degree in biology and a master's degree in education, he accepted a teaching position at Troy where he served on the football, wrestling and track and field coaching staffs.
He returned to Wyalusing as a teacher in 1994. At various times, he coached football, wrestling and track at his alma mater.
In 2001, he became an administrator and quit coaching.
Despite the long period of time in which the football position remained unfilled, Otis is confident that the transition will be seamless.
"Even though Linc retired in the spring, the assistants have helped out a lot," he observed.
Weight training and summer camps have been held as usual despite the absence of a head coach.
He credits many of the players with fulfilling their obligations this summer.
"We've had a lot of kids in the weight room and they've been positive and working hard."
The coaching staff has been shuffled. Long-time assistant Dave Behrend returns and Jim Huffman will move up from junior varsity to become a varsity assistant, replacing Mike Phillips who stepped down last winter.
Frank Kinney will remain on the junior varsity staff, but another coach needs to be hired to replace Huffman.
Otis expects 60 to 65 players to show up on the first day of practice —a typical number based on recent seasons.
He will be trying to turn around a program that has suffered losing seasons the past two years, including a 2-8 record in 2003.
He doesn't expect to make many changes in the offensive or defensive schemes.
His biggest emphasis will be trying to develop a positive attitude while exerting discipline on a team which lacked both attributes last season.
"They have to believe in themselves," he said.
He believes there is a fair amount of talent with which to work, especially on offense in the skill positions.
The season opens on Sept. 3 at home against Canton.
Astare has been involved in Wyalusing Valley sports for most of his 31-year teaching career.
A former basketball coach, he is currently an assistant baseball coach.
He will assess later this winter whether he will remain on the baseball staff.
Like Otis, Astare would have liked to have more time before practice for fall sports started, but he planned to sit down this week with Otis to find out what has been done and still needs to be done before the athletes show up on Aug. 16.
"With Gary's help, I'm hoping it will be a smooth transition," Astare said.
He was quick to salute the work that Otis and Ann Overman did last year to keep the athletic department running smoothly under unusual circumstances.
"They did an excellent job. It's going to make my transition easier."
He hopes to "continue the high standards of the program. We've been very successful—not just in wins and losses—but in developing good student athletes."
Although it has only been eight years since he last held the position, there are some new twists awaiting him.
The increased use of technology such as the Internet and email is something unheard of in 1996.
"You use to do 95 percent of your work on the phone," he observed. "Today you use computers and email to keep it all organized."
During his last stint, the golf program was just beginning. Since then, a girls' soccer program was started and a number of interscholastic junior high sports has been created.
He will also be expected to work with the administration and the school board to help bring the boys' soccer program into existence in 2005.
The board approved the program in March with the goal of implementing it this fall, but it was put on hold for a number of reasons.
"I'm anxious to get started," Astare said.