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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

WA football coach Elias Gioumbakis wins MA Assistant Coach of the Year

Provided by Bruce Rich
Gioumbakis coaches on the sideline.

At a football pre-season practice head football coach Bruce Rich asked if assistant coach Elias Gioumbakis had gotten anything in the mail. Gioumbakis hesitantly responded “no”, with thoughts of getting fired racing through his head. But in reality, Rich wanted to congratulate him for being selected as the Massachusetts Assistant Coach of the Year.

Gioumbakis won the award after a momentous season for the Ghosts, finishing with a final record of 7-4. Rich nominated him at the end of the season to put him in a pool of other assistant coaches across the state, and Gioumbakis won the ultimate award.

Gioumbakis was delighted with the news, as it made him reflect on his past years coaching and all he had to be thankful for throughout his career.

According to Giumbakis, his coaching career began during college, while he was unable to play football due to a ruptured spleen. Although he could not play the sport, he still wanted to be a part of the community. At 22 years old, coach Bruce Rich Sr. gave him his first coaching job at Chelmsford High School. As he grew throughout his career, there have been multiple football coaches who mentored him on the road to becoming a strong coach. A few notable coaches, all from Chelmsford, include coach Jason Fletcher, coach Tom Caito, and especially coach Thomas Sousa.

“He [Sousa] taught me that I need to be prepared for every situation, that way when something happens, you’re not thinking about what to do,” Gioumbakis said. “You’ve already kind of gone through it all in your mind, when you’re coaching kids and when a situation comes up you want to have been prepared for it.”

Using Souzas’ tactics and Gioumbakis’s own, he has created a unique coaching philosophy of being mentally tough while encouraging kids to get better.

“I tell them when they’re [the players] doing it wrong, but the most important thing is that you can break them down when they’re doing something wrong, but in the same moment before you finish your conversation with them, you need to build them back up to be more confident than before” Gioumbakis said.

The mental toughness and drive to win comes from the love he has for the competitive nature of coaching. He has explained that it is like getting to play Madden [football video game] but with real kids. He also emphasizes to the players the importance of trusting each other through a quote from the Patriots.

“Something we say a lot is: ‘do your individual job and trust the fact that the guy next to you is going to do their individual job, and if we all do [our] jobs, collectively as a group, we will do our job’,” Gioumbakis said.

With Gioumbakis’ and Rich’s personal coaching beliefs, they have created a strong bond leading WA football to many victories together. Rich giving him the opportunity to run the defensive end has brought the team close together, especially during the current season.

“I couldn’t give you a certain play that brings us together, I think we get along by working hard at practice and listening,” Gioumbakis said. “Football is also supposed to be fun, so if you make it fun for the kids they are naturally going to become close with each other and their coaches.”

Even after a tough loss for the Ghosts this year against Lincoln-Sudbury, Gioumbakis and all the coaches made the effort to analyze the film with the team to specifically focus on areas of growth.

When trying to motivate the players again, Gioumbakis tailors what he says to players to gain self-confidence because he has realized certain people take feedback different ways. Gioumbakis assesses each player by adjusting his coaching style to bring their self-esteem back.

“If I were to openly tell a kid where he messed up in front of everybody and then read their body language and see how they react throughout the practice and realize [that they did not respond well], I always try to adjust how I talk to the player,” Gioumbakis said.

Everything that Gioumbakis coaches his players on to improve their game has showed them tough love and constructive criticism. This has led to the important lesson of hard work for many of the players, especially senior captain Shane Clark.

“He says ‘Shane come over’. I was on their scout team and I’m looking at the big kids who play on Varsity and he goes ‘okay, do what you do’,” Clark said. “That’s how you help the Varsity team get better, by playing defense, and I remember him shoving me in there. I thought to myself, if I’m here that means he asked to see something of me.”

With the hard work Giombakis puts his players through, he also uses his intensity to encourage his players. Rich stated how his pre-game speeches are where he most shows that. Along with the coaches and players that Gioumbakis has surrounded himself with over the years, he realized some defining moments that have made coaching so rewarding, such as the relationships he has made.

Along with rewarding moments, he has recalled turning points in his career that made him realize coaching is what he was meant to do. Specifically in Westford, Gioumbakis was able to share an outstanding moment with the team when they won the game against Chelmsford during the season.

“When we had opportunities to win and we put it together, to see the joy in our kids faces, that right there is something that will stand out in my mind probably for the rest of my life,” Gioumbakis said. “You see all your hard work pay off.”

Overall, Gioumbakis is a mentally tough yet loving coach who wants nothing more than a good team environment. As he progresses through his coaching career, he is very appreciative of everyone who has gotten him to this point of receiving the statewide award.

“I’m excited for it but more importantly for Westford Academy because, yes I got the award, but I work with a bunch of guys who deserve this award just as much as I do,” Gioumbakis said. “We put a lot of time, effort, and work into it and our kids put a lot of time, effort, and work into it. I think of it more as an award for WA than I do for me personally.”

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Sophia Williams
Sophia Williams, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Sophia Williams and I’m a sophomore at WA. This is my first year on the Ghostwriter as a staff writer and couldn't be more excited! I love to play lacrosse, field hockey and sail in my free time. I've loved skiing as a little kid and I'm co-president of ski club in WA. I can't wait to learn all about journalism and look forward to a great year!

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