By Dan Hardenbrook

The new school year and fresh sports seasons will also bring new faces into the spotlight at Engadine Consolidated Schools. After a summer of major change, the Eagles have a new Athletic Director (AD) overseeing the programs and activities. Edwina Garries, who previously spent time with the district as a teacher’s aide, has replaced longtime AD and Student Services Coordinator Deb Dwyse, who retired at the end of last school year.

Garries was brand new to the job, with no previous athletic experience when she was tasked with making her first major hire: Finding a football coach. Former coach Vince Leveille left the coaching world late this summer, and the district has turned to another former alum to take over the struggling football program. Charlie Fosdick is the new head man for Engadine football.

For Garries, who goes by Wina, or Ms. Wina to the kids, these are exciting times. Even though she does extreme sports like skydiving or mountain climbing, her desire and passion to work with kids made her a fit for the position.

“I started with the district last year as a teacher’s aide for the 5th grade. I love the kids. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back this year in that role because of budgets. When I heard Mrs. Dewyse was stepping down, I thought you know, I’ll give it a shot, and they picked me!”

Garries’ own child is a participating athlete at Engadine, and that added to it. The 2022-2023 school year will be the best of both worlds. In addition to her role as the new Athletic Director, Garries was retained as a teacher’s aide and will work with the kindergarten and 1st Grade.

Garries says the transition has been a smooth one.

“So far so good I would say,” Garries said.

Engadine’s school system and sports programs have always been close knit and she says many have stepped up to help her in the new position. “As soon as I was hired, the people that have been in place here came running. They stepped right up and said don’t worry. We will have your back.”

She says her toughest challenge early is figuring out all of the moving pieces in athletics. “Trying to keep track of the schedules, who is going where, I think those are the biggest things right now,” she said.

Garries is focused on creating a positive environment within the sports programs. “I’ve heard that there were some bad experiences with coaches and for parents,” she said. “I just want to instill good sportsmanship while we are out there competing. Yeah, you can be serious and want to win that game or that trophy, but have fun while you’re doing it, and do it the right way.”

Garries is looking forward to working with kids across all grades and age levels in Engadine. “If they want something or need something, I want them to come to me and feel comfortable talking to me about it.” She says she is prepared to learn a lot about the different sports and is excited to continue bringing the community and school together through athletics.

One thing people will notice right away is the recently redone gymnasium floor. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “It took quite a few weeks. They stripped it completely down. We have a new logo. Everything has been repainted. It looks really nice and I think the kids and the community will love it.”

The students may also enjoy getting to know Charlie Fosdick, new varsity football head coach, and a former Eagles football player.

“I’m pretty excited,” Fosdick said. “We are getting kids together and letting them know what’s going on and that good changes are happening here.”

After two seasons without winning a game, numbers in the football program dropped to the point that the school hasn’t been able to field youth level or JV teams, forcing would-be players to join the varsity team before they were ready.

Fosdick was selected in the hope he could unite the players and encourage more participation. Fosdick, who is known as “Young Charlie” by those who watched him grow up, said he’ll focus on bringing the team together.

“First off, we want to make sure that everyone knows that this is a team and everyone needs to work together and get along,” he said. “Together we all need to work on making this program better and stronger.”

Players have responded well so far, Fosdick said, showing up for meetings and workouts “fired up and ready to go.”

He hopes to attract more students to the team to fill out the roster, and is encouraged by returning players who have already committed to play.

While Fosdick is balancing a new beginning with long term goals, he is taking things one day at a time.

“I think we have to take it week by week and game by game,” he said. “We have to make sure we are sticking to our plan, and hopefully the outcomes start going in our favor.”

His first chance to show that progress will be in less than three weeks, when Engadine opens up another new season with another new coach in Rapid River.