SALEM, Va. – The excitement regarding Roanoke College football has been growing since the announcement that it would be returning. Monday morning, the college and athletics program took another step forward by naming a head coach.
“Everywhere I go everyone has been asking me, ‘Who’s the coach?’ Now I can finally let the cat out of the bag,” said Roanoke College Athletic Director Curtis Campbell. Shortly after that, the rather new AD himself introduced Bryan Stinespring as the head coach for the new Roanoke College football program.
Campbell said there were more than 100 applicants – all well-experienced and even some with NFL experience. But Stinespring’s local ties, his wealth of knowledge, experience, and recruiting footprint were just a few of the reasons he stood out to the RC community.
“It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you as the head football coach of Roanoke College,” he said. “Roanoke has been a second home for me for a long time. So, when I look out and see the familiarity of faces here, it means a lot to me. I want to thank President Shushok, Curtis, this administration, and this college for giving me this opportunity.”
Roanoke College hasn’t had a football team since 1942 when it was forced to disband the program because of the constraints of World War II. This summer, Roanoke College announced it had raised $1.3 million to support the return of football and add co-curricular varsity cheerleading and marching band programs.
“Bringing back Maroon football, along with marching band and competitive cheer, will open new doors at Roanoke College, attracting a wider range of students and fostering community spirit and fun in the Roanoke Valley, a region with a deep passion for football,” said Roanoke College President Frank Shushok Jr. “Coach Stinespring’s proven track record as a recruiter and coach, combined with his deep relationships in the region and across the commonwealth, make him an ideal leader to build a successful football program at Roanoke College. During the interview process, it became clear that in addition to his athletics credentials, Coach Stinespring has the heart of an educator, viewing football as a leadership laboratory – a perfect fit for our Division III ethos.”
A native of Clifton Forge, Stinespring earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at James Madison University and a master’s in education administration from Virginia Tech. Beginning as a graduate assistant at Tech, he was hired into his first full-time coaching role under Frank Beamer in 1992, when he became director of sports programs. He went on to spend 26 years on Beamer’s coaching staff. He also has coached at the University of Delaware, Old Dominion University, and University of Maryland, and he just wrapped up a stint at Virginia Military Institute.
In Stinespring’s time at Virginia Tech, the program won seven conference championships and advanced to 23 consecutive bowl games. The Hokies earned invitations to eight BCS bowl games, including the national championship game in the 1999 season. Stinespring was primarily the team’s tight ends coach for his final 10 seasons (2006-15) in Blacksburg. Stinespring spent three years as the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach after an 11-year role as offensive coordinator from 2002-12.
Prior to his elevation to offensive coordinator, Stinespring was assistant head coach for one season (2001). He managed the offensive line for eight years (1998-2005) and coached tight ends for five seasons (1993-97).
After leaving Tech, Stinespring returned to his alma mater, JMU. He worked his first season at JMU as the tight ends coach and then transitioned to offensive line coach in 2017. He additionally served as the team’s run game coordinator. In year two with the Dukes, Stinespring helped lead the team to another strong offensive campaign, resulting in a second consecutive national championship appearance and back-to-back records of 14-1.
Stinespring’s first coaching experience was at the high school level. He coached for three years at Lexington High School (1986-88) followed by one year at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke before heading to Tech as a graduate assistant. Stinespring was a walk-on player for the JMU Dukes in the early 1980s.
At VMI, Stinespring served under head coach Danny Rocco.
“Bryan is an outstanding football coach and an even better person,” Rocco said. “He has great history and an outstanding reputation in the state of Virginia. Coach Stinespring has a great respect for the high school coaches and programs, with a special appreciation for those coaches and programs in Southwest Virginia. He brings energy and enthusiasm to his work, as well as providing a wide range of position versatility as a football coach.”
Stinespring coached a pair of JMU players to All-America status in left tackle Aaron Stinnie and right tackle Jahee Jackson. Stinnie, who was voted Touchdown Club of Richmond Division I Offensive Lineman of the Year, was named to five different All-America.
teams, earning First Team status on four of them. Jackson, who was a Second Team All-CAA pick, earned a spot on the HERO Sports Sophomore All-America Team.
Stinespring and his wife, Shelley, have a son, Daniel, a daughter, Ella, and twin daughters, Carolina and Olivia.
The search for a football coach was one of the first projects tackled by Campbell when he joined Roanoke as athletics director this summer. The nationwide search resulted in more than 100 candidates for the position.
Vice President of Enrollment Management James Pennix ‘88, Associate Athletics Director John Farmer, Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Senior Women’s Administrator Carla Flaherty, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Clay Nunley, Vice President and Dean of the College Kathy Wolfe, John S. Shannon Professor of Economics Alice Kassens and Assistant to the President Ryan Otto served on the search committee.
“In this moment I’m reminded of Robert Kennedy who said, ‘There are those that look at things in life and wonder why. I dream of things that never were and wonder why not,’” said Stinespring.
“Winning is just one part of what we do,” said Roanoke College President Frank Shushok Jr. “Athletics at Roanoke College is a leadership and character laboratory.”
Legendary, Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer was in attendance Monday morning as the Clifton Forge native had a warm reception.
Curtis Campbell also announced that a band director and competitive cheer coaches have also been hired in addition to two more new programs that were announced.