FFE SPOTLIGHT: Mark Dixon leans on senior leadership in unorthodox first year as Pulaski County head coach
Dixon, who spent 10 years at Galax, made his way to Pulaski County in May.
DUBLIN, Va. (WDBJ) - Before high school football players were allowed back in their weight rooms, finding ways to stay in shape was one of the biggest challenges.
“I didn’t have any weights to work out, so it was like you had to start fresh again,” said senior linebacker Ethan Gallimore. “When we finally got to start back to lifting, we had to catch back up and we were all sore again and everything.”
“Normally we have a pretty big weight-lifting program during the summer and we didn’t really get to do that that much, and it was harder on the younger guys coming in who hadn’t ever lifted before," added senior linebacker and running back William Bishop.
But that’s not the only major adjustment the Cougars of Pulaski County have had to make in 2020.
“It was already enough change when you consider we were just getting to work out again, and we have all these mitigation strategies and oh, by the way, here’s a new coach. There was a lot going on," said head coach Mark Dixon.
Dixon, who spent 10 years at Galax, made his way to Pulaski County in May when Stephen James announced his resignation after six years leading the Cougars.
“It was a learning curve," said Bishop. "We’ve had the same coach since we’ve been in middle school, and going from our old lifting program to a new lifting program, I guess the transition is kind of hard. It’s new stuff, and it’s different.”
Because of ongoing restrictions, Dixon has yet to coach a normal football practice with his new team, but he says he’s leaned on his new coaching staff, which all returned from last season, as well as senior leaders like Bishop and Gallimore.
“They’ve been phenomenal," said Dixon. "As good as two leaders as I’ve ever been around in my 10 years of coaching and even when I played. Their consistent level of work is phenomenal. They never miss. They’re intense in their training but they’re great with the younger kids.”
“I feel like everybody’s working harder since Coach Dixon’s got here," added Gallimore. "He’s pushing everybody. There’s not just one person that he’s pushing, he’s pushing the whole team.”
Coming up from Class 1, Dixon says one of the biggest adjustments will be game-planning against his new rivals in the River Ridge District.
But whether it’s Blacksburg, Salem or any other opponent, Dixon is confident his Cougars are laying the groundwork now to be winners for years to come.
“I think you worry sometimes about the future, but when you have kids like that, I wish people could come watch these kids at 6 in the morning to see how hard they work," said Dixon. "I know that it’s blown me away and I feel good about the future of Pulaski County because of the kids we have in this building.”
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