Prince William News
Fri., Jan. 18 - *Updated* Brentsville District varsity football head coach Tommy O'Neill is stepping away from the Tigers' winless program while the boys soccer, baseball and girl tennis teams have new leaders.
Coaching changes announced at Brentsville
© Gainesville Times*Updated on Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.*
Brentsville District varsity football head coach Tommy O'Neill is stepping away from the Tigers' winless program while the boys soccer, baseball and girl tennis teams have new leaders.
Jane Earman, the activities director at Brentsville District High School, announced in an e-mail on Jan. 17 that Prince William County elementary school teachers Chris Greene and Jason Bryce are set to take over the boys soccer and baseball teams respectively.
She also confirmed that Brentsville District teacher Carlie Hahne is taking over the girls tennis team.
O'Neill is stepping down from the varsity program after two seasons, neither of which produced a victory for the team in 20 regular season games.
The Tigers have only won three games during the last five years.
Earman wrote to reporters that the Nokesville high school is "interviewing now for a football coach."
O'Neill confirmed his departure during a phone interview on Friday, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family though he would not rule out a return to coaching in the future.
"Yeah," he said when asked whether he's leaving. "I mean, I've got one chance to raise my kids and that's what I'm going to do."
As for whether the team's struggles during his two years as head coach contributed to his decision to leave, the outgoing coach responded with a blanket "no."
"Right now, I'm just going to teach and spend time with my kids," replied O'Neill, who teaches health and physical education at Brentsville.
His departure from coaching is particularly noteworthy at Brentsville because of his ties to the high school.
O'Neill graduated from Brentsville in 1998 as a two-time Group A state champion wrestler in the 189-pound weight class with a career record of 119-18, putting together a perfect 36-0 season during his senior year, according to a Washington Post archive.
Brentsville won the state team title during his sophomore season in 1996 and came in second place during his freshman and senior years.
As a staffer at Brentsville, O'Neill worked as assistant coach twice before taking the reins of the football program.
He served under former varsity head coach Dean Reedy, who led the Tigers for nine seasons and guided the Tigers to their last Region II playoff berth in 2006. Reedy left the program after the 2010 season.
O'Neill also worked along side wrestling head coach Jess Moore, a 1994 graduate of Brentsville who won three Group A state titles as a wrestler during the early-to-mid 1990s.
Moore also led the Tigers to back-to-back state team titles in 1993 and 1994 after Brentsville finished second in the state in 1992.
Away from Brentsville, O'Neill served three seasons as the Battlefield wrestling head coach last decade and five years on the gridiron working as defensive coordinator for football head coach Mark Cox.
To O'Neill, his two winless seasons at Brentsville were not all for naught.
"I'm just proud of my kids," he said, referring to his players. "They put in everything that they had."
Regarding his best moment as a coach, O'Neill said that the hands down answer came when senior Shaquille Bright caught fourth-quarter pass for a first down during the final game of the 2011 season against Kettle Run.
Bright played with a brain condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MICI or MCI).
According to the Mayo Clinic website, "Individuals with MCI are able to function reasonably well in everyday activities" but have "difficulty remembering details of conversations, events and upcoming appointments."
"There's nothing you can really say about it other than, 'That was amazing,'" said O'Neill after that game. "I mean, that right there was probably the highlight of my year. That may be the highlight of my coaching career."