STRYKER — The Stryker football program has announced the hiring of Kent Holsopple as its next head coach, according to an email from the school on Wednesday.
Holsopple, who has assisted with the team during its recent three-year resurgence, replaces Justin Sonnenberg, who previously coached the team but resigned to take a job as a teacher and head coach of the varsity girls basketball team at his alma mater Patrick Henry.
“Kent has been a part of our coaching staff for the last three years ... and with his boys being in high school, he knows all these kids and he already has a really good connection with them,” Stryker athletic director Kim Miller said. “All the boys are really excited and I think he’s going to fit in just right with our kids.”
Holsopple is a 1990 graduate of Hilltop High School, where he played football for four years. In addition to his years assisting with the Stryker program, Holsopple has experience coaching at the youth football levels, as well as Stryker’s ACME baseball team.
He said he didn’t immediately throw his hat in the ring to take over the program, but when he thought back on his own high school football experience at Hilltop — a time when he had three varsity coaches in four years — he knew the importance of having a basis of familiarity.
Familiarity is something Holsopple certainly brings to the table, both through his years coaching the program, as well as his sons Luke, a 2019 Stryker graduate, and Kaleb, a rising junior, having friendships with many of Stryker’s players.
“All these boys, I was around them last year and a majority, if not all of them, have been to my house with my boys or for other team events,” Holsopple said. “So I had a connection with them. ... And speaking with some of my family, it just felt right.”
As a military veteran, Holsopple said service has become an important part of his life. He feels coaching the Panthers is a tremendous way to serve his community.
“I was in the military for over 23 years and moving back home to a small community, you’ve got to know when those opportunities are there and present themselves and be prepared and willing to step forward,” he said “That’s what I felt this opportunity was — a chance to help these boys and keep the program going forward.”
The Stryker football program is coming off a tough 0-10 season in 2018, which also served as the school’s first varsity football season since 1931.
The program re-emerged in the fall of 2016 after an 85-year hiatus. The Panthers played two seasons at the junior varsity level before stepping up to varsity in 2018.