By Dan Hardenbrook
After two seasons as head football coach for his alma mater in Engadine, Vince Leveille is stepping down.
Once a star player for the Engadine Eagles, Leveille brought three decades of experience at every level–from youth football to semi pro and an arena league championship–to his former high school team.
“After 30-plus years in the coaching business, I decided it was time to retire and spend more time with the family,” Leveille said. His son is on the coaching staff at West Virginia University, and Leveille says he is looking forward to watching him carry on the family coaching tradition. “I haven’t been able to attend many of his games due to coaching on Friday nights. I’m looking forward to traveling and relaxing!”
Leveille had a tough task when he was hired, immediately starting a rebuilding project after a decade of sustained success for Engadine football. The Eagles were a consistent playoff program prior to his arrival, but the Engadine grad found drastically reduced player numbers and tougher competition after larger schools around the area made the move to 8 Man Football.
The Eagles went 0-8 last season, including a pair of forfeits when they didn’t have enough players. The previous year they were 0-7 in the COVID-shortened 2020 fall season. They haven’t won since October of 2019, when they went 8-2 and lost in the opening round of the playoffs.
That loss was the start of a streak that now sits at two full seasons and 16 straight games, by a margin of 677-188. Engadine was also unable to field a JV team at that time and was forced to bring up all of their underclassmen to play varsity games.
Had he returned, Leveille was going to again be faced with another year with a small roster that has already put this fall’s season in jeopardy. Despite the struggles, he was adamant that this was solely his choice and there was no pressure to resign.
It wasn’t all bad during the tenure. Leveille created a new strength and conditioning program from scratch, completely overhauling and rebuilding the school’s weight room. Those impacts also went beyond the football field, as every athlete in the school system, regardless of sport, was invited to use the facility and participate.
He also set up and ran summer and off-season training camps for anyone who was interested, even if they weren’t athletes. He opened up his programs and events for younger kids in the community, allowing junior and future Eagles to join in. He also led the charge to make many facility and equipment upgrades for the program, and volunteered at sports booster fundraisers to assist the athletic department as a whole.
Whoever takes over as his replacement will have an even tougher challenge, but it’s one that Leveille feels is a great opportunity. His sales pitch to those who may be interested in the challenge is: “Work hard and carry on the Eagle football tradition! Small town football offers a great opportunity to mold young men.”
Engadine Consolidated Schools has posted the coaching vacancy and it will remain open until a new coach is in place. It will be the first hire for new Engadine Athletic Director Edwina Garries. Candidates can submit a letter of interest, list of coaching experience, and proof of background check to Edwina Garries, Athletic Director, Engadine Consolidated Schools W13920 Mellville St. Engadine, MI 49827.
“I think what I’ll miss most is being out under those Friday night lights,” Leveille said. “I want to wish the new coach and players nothing but the best of luck moving forward. Go Eagles!”