It came down to pictures. Yes, first-year West Lincoln head football coach Randall Gusler just didnâ€™t want to see his three children grow up in pictures; instead, he wanted to be an active part of their lives, unlikely many coaches.
Statesville Principal Larry Rogers offered Gusler the position of Freshman Academy Coordinator in early April. With a chance to return to Statesville, spend more time with his children, and a bigger paycheck, one would think he immediately said yes.
But that was not the case.
After much prayer and long, heartfelt conversations with his wife Karen, Gusler decided to follow his heart and resigned April 23 as head football coach for the Rebels.
â€œI felt like, for my familyâ€™s sake, it was the best move I could make to spend more time with my family. Having three small children Brock (8), Jake (6) and Kirsten (2) at home, I wanted to spend more time with them and be able to watch them grow up,â€ he said. â€œLeaving West Lincoln was very difficult. The kids, the community, the administration, the coaching staff. Just everybody was wonderful,â€ he added.
Gusler, who was warmly-received and well-liked in the Rebel community, led the Rebels to its first playoff appearance in school history, with a 3-8 record and 3-3 mark in the Southern Piedmont. While he may have served as the coach for just one year, itâ€™s a year that heâ€™ll always remember.
â€œI think with the playoff experience, it created a good atmosphere for the program. The kids have been very dedicated in the weight room and the conditioning program,â€ he said. â€œI was super-excited as the kids were growing in strength and speed. I feel the program is moving in the right direction.â€
There will be nothing but good memories Gusler will take with him as he becomes part of the Greyhound family again.
â€œI had a very fun time and it was a very good experience. I canâ€™t say enough good things about West Lincoln. Everything and everybody was wonderful,â€ he said.
Two people that helped make the experience such a good one were Principal Mitch Sherrill and Athletic Director Wayne Navey
â€œMitch was a very good, supportive principal and Wayne was a great athletic director to work for. The coaching staff was very supportive in everything we tried to accomplish this year and Iâ€™m very appreciative,â€ Gusler said.
Navey was saddened to see Gusler leave, believing he has the personality and demeanor the kids responded to.
â€œRandall has been a pos. influence on our kids. He relates well to them and I regret seeing him go. I think the timing is unfortunate this late in the year, but weâ€™ll get through that and move on,â€
Sherrill echoed Naveyâ€™s sentiments and also wishes Gusler well.
â€œIâ€™d like to wish Randall the best in his administration career and his family obligations. We support his effort and commitment to his family and career,â€ he said. â€œThose are the characteristics we really liked when we hired him in the first place,â€ Sherrill added.
Gusler addressed the football team, informing them of his decision Monday. Later in the day, Navey posted the coaching vacancy on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association website.
And what is West Lincoln looking for in their new coach?
â€œWe want somebody with high moral and ethical standards. We want an enthusiastic coach that will help take our kids in the right direction,â€ Navey said.
While Gusler was part of the Rebels family for just one year, it was a year that meant and will continue to mean a lot to him.
â€œI will take this great experience with me for the rest of my life and it will hold a special spot in my heart forever.â€
by John Mark Brooks