NEW BETHLEHEM — It’s never easy for a new coach to take over a team, especially when you’re filling the shoes of someone who was the face of that program for a long time.
But Redbank Valley football coach Blane Gold did just that in 2019 after being handed the reins of the Bulldogs program after long-time coach Ed Wasilowski retired for a second and final time. Wasilowski guided the Bulldogs for 18 years over two stints and collected 108 wins. He spent 31 years coaching at Redbank overall.
Gold, who was an assistant for Wasilowski, took over and hit the ground running despite having to deal with some major injury issues — particularly at the quarterback position.
All Gold did was take a team whose senior class had gone winless in their final year of junior high while scoring just two touchdowns all year to playing for a District 9 Class A championship in their final year of high school.
And, the Bulldogs were a quarter away from winning it all as they entered the fourth quarter leading Coudersport 7-6. However, a huge fourth-quarter surge by Coudersport secured the Class A title for the Falcons as they came away with a 42-13 victory.
The loss saw Redbank’s season end with a 9-3 record, with two of those three losses coming at the hands of Coudy.
While the season was Gold’s first as a head coach, it was far from his first on the sideline as the 2007 Franklin graduate is entering his 10th year of coaching overall.
Gold, who played football at Franklin and then all four years at Grove City College (2012 grad), has coached at multiple schools during that time.
He spent two years as a varsity assistant at Oil City before spending a season at Franklin, his alma mater. He then moved on to Redbank Valley as a varsity assistant, with this fall being his seventh season overall with the Bulldog program.
Gold also has coached baseball at all levels (Little League through high school) since his college days. He has helped coach varsity baseball for nine years between Rocky Grove and Redbank Valley, where he is an assistant for head coach Craig Hibell.
Gold took the time to answer a few other questions about himself for our series spotlighting area high school coaches in all sports.
The reason I enjoy coaching is ... relationships. Coaches do what they do for a multitude of reasons. I love the competition and the strategy involved in the game, but what I cherish the most are the unique relationships formed with each young man I work with on the field and in the classroom.
Each one is so different, and it is fun to put all of those different personalities together in striving to be great in football and in life. I was so profoundly impacted by my coaches that I hope to have that same impact and maintain the relationships with my players that I have personally maintained with my former coaches to this day.
I never want my role in their life as a mentor to end when they walk off our field for the final time. My hope is that they understand that whatever they need me for life, I’ll be waiting right there to love on them or chew them out if needed. But, I want them to know that I’ll always be there.
The hardest thing about coaching is ... It can consume you if you let it. I don’t have children yet but my wife is good at reminding me to keep a healthy balance. Most coaches have the ability to consume themselves in preparation and not being able to walk away. Personally, as a young coach, I’m still working on finding that healthy balance.
The biggest reason I continue to coach is ... same as to why I enjoy coaching.
My real job outside coaching is ... I’m a social studies teacher at Redbank Valley. Coaching and teaching mesh together really well, and I am blessed to be able to teach and coach at the same school. While there are certainly juggling acts at times, as a coach it’s the best fit possible.
The person(s) who influenced me to get into coaching ... My defensive line coach in college really instilled within me the confidence to pursue a career in coaching. I wasn’t a standout at the college level and had to really scratch and claw to find ways to get on to the field at the college level, but Coach Wilson spent just as much time coaching me up as he did the standouts. I’ll never forget that.
He invested the same amount of effort and time in developing all of us as players and as young men of integrity and that impacted me in such a way that I carry that same philosophy with me today. Whether you’re an all-state guy on my roster or the last guy off the bench in JV games, I want you to be able to say at the end of the year that it was worth your time being a part of your program and you became a better man because of it.
Matt LaVerde served as one of my high school coaches and later gave me my first coaching job at Oil City. As a former teacher and now administrator, he continues to mentor me to this day on all things education and football. I do my best to bring his energy to every practice and games but most importantly he taught me how to have fun with the kids while also being extremely competitive.
My favorite team/season or game that stands out me is ... I would have to say my first year as a head coach would be memorable for many reasons. I was fortunate enough to win my first game and make a district championship appearance my first season.
What was most rewarding, however, was watching last year’s seniors develop from a team that lost every single game in junior high while scoring only two touchdowns the entire season into a team that came eleven minutes short of winning the district.
For most of those guys, that growth was purely because of the amount of heart that they played with. We all would have loved to maintain that fourth quarter lead and win it all, but those boys provided some memories for my first year that I’ll never forget.
One final thing I’d like to add is ... I coach the same way that I played, with passion, intensity, and enthusiasm. If you ever attend one of our games, you won’t have to look hard to find me on the sidelines.