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Start of a New Era

After+coaching+in+four+different+cities%2C+Athletic+Coordinator+and+Head+Football+Coach+Greg+Pels+found+a+home+at+RHS+this+year.+Photo+by+Chad+Byrd
After coaching in four different cities, Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach Greg Pels found a home at RHS this year. Photo by Chad Byrd

After coaching in four different cities, Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach Greg Pels found a home at RHS this year. Photo by Chad Byrd

After coaching in four different cities, Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach Greg Pels found a home at RHS this year. Photo by Chad Byrd

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By Kazi Nassif

When Greg Pels, the new head football coach, landed in Richardson, it finally felt like home. He’d moved three times in the previous 21 months, but this move was different; it was permanent.

He was hired to be the school’s athletic coordinator the same day he interviewed, making for a very eventful 24 hours.

“It was a roller coaster of emotions for me,” Pels said. “I had attended my grandmother’s funeral a little earlier, so the emotions were definitely overwhelming.”

Pels said he chose to interview for the opening at RHS because he liked the mix of academics and athletics.

“I’ve got student athletes that are playing in the band, one-act plays and robotics,” Pels said. “Our school environment is one that supports kids being involved in a bunch of different activities.”

Before assuming the positions of Head Football Coach and Athletic Coordinator at RHS, Pels worked in Frisco, Irving, Leander, and Arlington, but he said he always had his eye on Richardson.

“We’re excited to be settled here,” Pels said. “I’ve got a seven-year-old and a five-year-old, and they’ve been nearly everywhere. And I’ve got a great wife who understands that in the coaching profession, moving is inevitable. My wife went to Berkner, so this has been kind of a full circle deal.”

Pels said that working at Irving MacArthur was a special experience because he worked under current University of Kansas Head Coach David Beaty.

“It was fun working for Beaty because I knew he was destined for greater things,” he said. “My past experiences were great because I was able to see how successful people could be if they put in the work. I was very fortunate to be a part of many great memories and great people.”

Though his work has taken him to many schools, he had a unique experience coaching in Leander, a small city outside of Austin.

“The two years at Leander provided an interesting opportunity for our family to get out of our comfort zone,” Pels said. “It’s out in the hill country, so that was a cool thing. And I got to work for a good guy, Lee Bridges, and so it was also a great experience for me as a coach.”

Even though Pels’ dream was to coach football, he was raised playing baseball.

“My first love was baseball, and it still remains my favorite sport to this day,” Pels said. “I chose to coach football because one it was what I played in college, and two I believe football is the greatest team sport. If one guy doesn’t do their job, the team can’t be successful. It embodies everything you want out of your students.”

Pels said that the difficulties this season were a byproduct of the mid-year coaching change, and not for a lack of trying. He said the team started to play their best football at the end of the season, a level of competition he always knew the team was capable of.

“My hat is off to the seniors because they had to learn their coaches in the midst of the football season,” Pels said. “Normally you have those guys for an entire offseason, and unfortunately this group didn’t have that time. In fact, this year’s highlight was probably the seniors.”

The transition to athletic coordinator has been exciting for Pels because of many new experiences, including meeting students and coaches outside of football.

“It’s been fun getting to know our kids in the other sports,” Pels said. ”I’ve also enjoyed working with our other coaches because we’ve got really great coaches across multiple sports here.”

As the coordinator of all athletics at the school, Pels will focus on the big picture, a job he will have to grow into.

“Obviously our volleyball team had a ton of success,” Pels said. “Henos had a great run in cross country, basketball is off to a great start, and our freshman football class had two teams throughout the whole season.”

Senior offensive lineman Fadi El-Haj said he felt a new sense of excitement surrounding the team this year.

“Pels has brought a great deal of enthusiasm that wasn’t there last year,” El-Haj said. “He kept making us want to play, and he changed the culture around the team. I think you’ll see that take effect in the next couple of years.”

El-Haj also appreciates the staff Pels assembled for his first year on the job.

“The coaches he has brought along and the previous coaches he retained have been amazing,” El-Haj said. “A lot of attention has been brought to coaching.”

Senior defensive end Emmanuel Khansah said that Pels’ determination on and off the field is unparalleled.

“In every situation, Coach Pels wants to win,” Khansah said.

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Start of a New Era