Dustin Kerley has been named the new strength and conditioning coach at Watauga High School by Principal Marshall Gasperson and Athletics Director, football coach Tom Wright. Kerley fills a position that remained vacant last season
after Cole Faulkner left for Richmond Senior High following the 2010-11 school year.
"There was no question in my mind, that Dustin was the man for this position," Gasperson said. "He really cares about the kids, he does a great job working with them, and getting a lot out of them. I've been in his classroom, and I've seen those kids really go all out for him. The kids just respond well to him. Tom and I couldn't be happier with this choice."
Kerley, who was a two-sport athlete at Alexander Central in baseball and football, and who went on to play baseball at Mars Hill College, is in his third year at WHS. And Kerley has been actively involved in athletics since he joined the Pioneer family. He's in his third season as an assistant coach with the football team, and he was named the JV coach this year (he makes his debut Thursday night against A.C. Reynolds at Jack Groce Stadium); he was also the JV baseball coach the last two years before he stepped down when he accepted his current position.
"First of all, I want to thank Marshall Gasperson and Tom Wright for believing in me," Kerley said. "I want this to be a huge benefit to all of our athletes in every sport. I'm going to make this my own personal goal to work with all of our coaches, and to make all of Watauga's athletes the best they can be, whether its football, baseball, basketball. track. I just want them to excell at the best of their abilities. I am a true believer that athletes and athletic programs get that much better through strength and conditioning."
And Kerley had his mentors coming up the ranks. As a student athlete, he picked up a lot from Chris Deal (now an assistant coach at the high school level in South Carolina) and Tom Harper (the head football coach at Hickory), when they were coaching at Alexander Central. He was also influenced by A.C. Reynolds coach Shane Laws, when he joined the coaching ranks right out of college.
"I learned so much from those guys," he said ."I really looked up to coach Harper and coach Deal, and Shane Laws, what more can you say about that guy. His record speaks for itself. What I really learned the most is that the strength and success of any program begins in the weight room. And it begins in the off season. That's why wer were so successful at Alexander Central, and why A.C. Reynolds puts great teams on the field every year. It takes a lot of work, but I'm willing to invest the time with all of our athletes in every sport."
"I've been down the mountain, and I've seen the successful prorgrams and what it takes to get them there," Gasperson said. "That's why I felt we needed to fill this position. I want our programs to be the best they can be. And having a person like Dustin Kerley handling this was the best choice."
And in today's world of athletics, the bar has been raised pretty high when it comes to competition. Working out, staying in shape has become a year-round chore. The days of putting on some pounds during the off-season and falling out of shape are over.
"Look at today's professional athletes," Kerley said. "Those guys are constantly working during the off-season to stay in shape, and to gain an edge on their competition. Of course, we don't have professional athletes here. These are still high school students, but I want our athletes to stay ahead of their competition. That's why I got into this. I feel I have a program in place that will benefit these kids.
"If they only play one sport, then we'll use their off-season to keep; them in shape and to keep them in top physical condition. And if they play multiple sports, we're going to give them an in-seasion program that will keep them strong during the season, so they can maintain their competitive level. I just want these kids to give 110% towards their sport. And if we all work together as coaches and athletes at this, it's a win-win situation for all of us."
And the foundation, thanks to Kerley, has all ready been laid. The WHS weight room will be open at 7 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays in the fall semester; it will be open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday mornings in the spring semester, and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons after school.