2022 Amazing Educators - Sherwood
School: Sherwood High School
Why he is an Amazing Educator:
Part of the Sherwood High School football program for decades - first as a player, now as a coach - he has touched hundreds of students' lives, even before stepping up in an emergency to become head coach.
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
Sherwood football coach teaches more than just the game
Football season ended months ago, and these days, he’s not required to be in the building all the time. But even so, Mark Gribble likes to see and be seen.
“There’s nothing that can replace an awkward face-to-face conversation,” Gribble said.
Gribble completed his first season as head football coach at Sherwood High School this past fall. He led the Bowmen, a perennial 6A power, to an 8-3 record and a quarterfinal appearance. Sherwood was undefeated in league play, even crushing traditional rival Newberg 42-0.
Those wins and losses matter. How can they not? Everyone who plays a sport wants to win — and they really don’t want to lose.
But while Gribble’s short-term goal is to win football games and contend for titles, he never loses sight of the bigger picture.
“There’s only one team at the end of the year that goes home with the state championship. Everyone else usually goes home unhappy,” Gribble said with a chuckle.
He added: “I think coaches have the unique ability to impact and influence, regardless of where a kid is at in life.”
Football, as Gribble attests, “teaches life lessons on and off the field.”
That includes establishing and reinforcing core values. Teamwork. Leadership. Accountability, which might be the biggest one of all.
Even outside of the football season, Gribble likes to keep office hours at the high school, so his athletes see that he’s still present and he can respond to any issues that come up. For instance, he gets an attendance report for each of the players on his team every day, and if he sees they missed a class without an excused absence, he follows up with them: Why did they skip class? Is there something going on he should know about? What’s their plan to get back on track?
“I don’t really care if it’s football season or not,” Gribble said. “I really don’t. The perception is, you’re a football player, and so I expect you to be passing all your classes.”
Gribble has been a fixture at Sherwood for decades. He graduated from Sherwood High in 1991, and in his high school days, Gribble was a football star in his own right.
Playing for head coach John Hackworth in his senior season, Gribble was named to the third team all-state as both an offensive player and a defensive player. In two different games during that 1990 season, he scored three touchdowns. On the first play of the Bowmen’s playoff game against Burns, he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Gribble came back six years after graduating to join the coaching staff under Greg Lawrence, one of his old high school coaches. He coached Sherwood’s running backs for most of his 25 years and counting on the football staff, before agreeing to step in as interim head coach last year when Kevin Hastin resigned.
“I said, ‘I don’t want this to go wrong. I don’t want to bring in the wrong person. I can take this on an interim basis and keep it together and keep the continuity with the staff and the kids, and it will be almost a seamless transition,’” said Gribble, whose son Nick is a senior at Sherwood this year.
It ended up being a good fit. Gribble’s deep ties to Sherwood football — he’s served for years as a liaison between the high school team and Sherwood’s youth football program — and his decades of experience with the game lent the Bowmen a steady hand on the tiller as they turned in yet another impressive season.
Gribble now plans to stay on indefinitely, at the school administration’s request. He has officially dropped the “interim” part of his head coach title and is already planning for fall 2023.
Gribble recalls Hackworth, Lawrence and his other coaches at Sherwood fondly, and in much of what he’s doing, he seeks to emulate their approach and the effect they had on him and his teammates. And he says he’s stayed in touch with hundreds of his former players, who in turn appreciate the impact he has had on them.
“We’ve always been blessed with good coaches that care about the kids,” Gribble said.