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Pushing the Eagle envelope of success

He is a man on a mission to build a stronger foundation for the sports programs at Washington & Lee High School. Cole Vanover is confident that his recent promotion to assistant athletic director will be another step towards making the Eagles more competitive. The 2005 graduate replaced Michael Clark as the new assistant athletic director in July.

Thinking outside the box, Vanover’s approach to providing better facilities is simple, and in some respects, cutting edge. “Our county is at a disadvantage because of having two school systems, so funding isn’t exactly up to par,” Vanover said.

  “We split a lot with Colonial Beach. It’s been a shaky word, but its time to consolidate. Could you imagine our athletic teams? Could you imagine how much money our county could save, especially the taxpayers in the beach?”

Vanover’s vision for his high school alma mater is genuine, and realistic. Throughout the area, his integrity within the sports community as a cross-country, and track & field coach is well respected. Last fall, Vanover let his money do the talking, as he volunteered his cross-country stipend to help fund an outdated weight room. The deed was the first step into initiating community support. “The kids are proud of it—once they go through the door, they take their cleats off, because they don’t want to mess it up” Vanover said.

Spreading Eagle pride throughout the nearly 500-student body population is just as important to Vanover as defeating a Northern Neck or cross-county rival. Cynthia Flickinger, Eagle girls’ head cross-country coach, has observed Vanover’s commitment to his athletes, from his Eagle freshman years to his current coaching status. “He is a great coach, and it’s awesome that he graduated, and came back—he truly loves this place.”

Although his usual duties involve administrative tasks, Vanover is eager and willing to take on the challenge. Some of his duties during the fall will include: preparation of eligibility lists; managing a full staff of chain-gang workers during football games; clock maintenance; and providing chairs and tables where they are needed most. “As a spectator, as you pull up and prepare to enter a football game, you are under the impression that everything is normal,” Vanover said. “There are things happening that need to be done leading up to the game.”

From the moment the sun rises, to the instant the final car leaves the parking lot, Vanover’s relationship with Eagle athletic director and varsity head football Malcolm Lewis is in sync. “In many respects, Malcolm is a great guy,” Vanover said. “He’s a father, teacher and a coach—and he happens to be one of my best friends. Sometimes I find myself listening to him, twice as fast as I am talking.”

Whether its cutting the grass or performing some form of field maintenance, both men have committed themselves to the preservation of Eagle sports by putting in over 70 hours a week. “I love W&L, Malcolm loves W&L, the kids love W&L, and God loves W&L—that is why he painted the sky blue, and the sun yellow,” Vanover said while reflecting on the value system that he and the Eagles coaches continue to instill in their athletes.

Leonard M. Banks
Sports editor

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