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Locke resigns as football coach, becomes East AD

Douglas Fritz • Apr 6, 2020 at 1:51 PM

Mike Locke is stepping down while stepping up.

After resigning as Sullivan East’s football coach, Locke was announced Monday as the Patriots’ new athletic director. He will assume full duties on July 1 while working with current AD John Dyer during the school’s search for new coaches in football and basketball.

“It’s always a tough decision,” Locke said. “I really enjoy being a head coach. I don’t think I took this decision lightly. I really pondered and thought about it. I felt it was the right thing at this time.

“This is a growth opportunity for me. I tell the kids if you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s an opportunity to move forward in my career.”

The 51-year-old Locke coached the Patriots for the last nine seasons. He led Sullivan East to 24 victories from 2014-16, including a nine-win campaign in 2016.

“We are thrilled and excited about Coach Locke taking over as athletic director,” said Sullivan East Principal Andy Hare. “His vast experience in education and coaching as well as his background in sales makes him the right person at the right time to write the next great chapter in the history of Sullivan East athletics.”

Locke was Virginia High’s coach from 1994-99. He led the Bearcats to three playoff appearances, including a 9-2 season in 1997.

Locke also has coaching experience in soccer. He guided the Virginia High boys to the state finals in 1997 and was chosen as the state’s soccer coach of the year. His team lost to Tabb 1-0 in the championship match. Tabb’s Chris Griffin scored the winning goal in the 80th minute.

Locke will assume the role of East’s AD in the new and difficult world of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is certainly a challenging time,” he said. “But I am confident when all this subsides, the athletic program will come back strong. It may look a little different. We may have to be much more aware of our environment. I may be standing at the gate giving out hand sanitizer as people go in. But I do believe athletics will go forward.”

Locke said he believes his role with the student-athletes will retain similarities to that of coaching.

“The name ‘coach’ means you are someone who carries a person from point A to point B, and try to help people move along,” Locke said. “Things won’t change for me in that respect. But the face-to-face will change and I will miss the locker room.”

Locke said he will be involved with the decisions on the new coaching hires, but Dyer and Hare will be leading the process.

Dyer announced his resignation as head coach during the last basketball season. Locke said he believes East will move relatively quickly to fulfill the coaching positions.

Locke played football at Virginia High and earned a scholarship to William & Mary. He was a three-year starter for the Tribe at tight end from 1988-91. He helped the team reach the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs two times and was part of the winningest four years in school history.

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