By Dave Pearce
A large crowd gathered at the North Posey High School Auditorium on Saturday evening to pay tribute to a 43-year fixture of football at North Posey High School, Carl ‘Joe’ Gengelbach.
Master of Ceremonies and Gengelbach’s replacement Paul Rynkiewich put a perspective on the coach’s longevity early on.
“When Coach started at North Posey High School in 1969, Armstrong and Aldrich had not yet walked on the moon, the Vietnam war was raging at its peak, Ronald Reagan had just ended his one career in show business and was starting another that would eventually lead to him becoming president of the United States, Woodstock had not yet occurred, and gasoline was 29 cents a gallon,” Rynkiewich told an appreciative but thought-provoked audience. “Coach Gengelbach was the head football coach at North Posey through eight presidential administrations over five decades. During that time, the school district had five superintendents, the high school had nine different principals and nine different head basketball coaches.”
But Rynkiewich, and those who spoke after him, talked as much about the man off the field as they did the man on the field, reminding those in attendance of how many had confidently sent their sons (and daughters) through the high school classroom and the Viking football program to be mentored by Gengelbach.
But aside from being perhaps the best mentor those who spoke could only dream, there were also the successes on the field.
There was the career record of 256 – 193 – 1, six Pocket Athletic Conference championships in 1981, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2011, and 2012; four sectional championships in 1981, 1995, 1996, and 2005, four regional championships in 1981, 1995, 1996, and 2005, and one semi-state championship and state finalist in 2005.
Gengelbach’s teams enjoyed two regular season undefeated seasons in 1995 and again in 2012. He coached the North-South All Stars in 1982 and again in 1997. Twice he was the Region Nine Coach of the Year, in 1981 and again in 1996. He was president of the Indiana Football Coach’s Association in 1986-1987 and an Indiana Football Hall of Fame inductee on March 4, 2000.
He is married to Shannon Gengelbach and has two sons, Mike and Mark.
Former players, one representing each of the five decades of his coaching at North Posey, spoke with one common theme but in various diversified styles and messages. The coach they know exhumed class, integrity, an uncanny ability to get the best out of his players and most of all, he cared unconditionally about each player he coached.
Dave Voegel, who spoke on behalf of players in the 1970s, emphasized the availability of the coach when he was needed and the fact that there have been members of the Voegel family who have played under the coach in each of the five decades.
Jack Hadden, who spoke on behalf of the teams of the 1980s, recanted stories of how many memories and bonds, regardless of the years that have passed and the level of athleticism, can be rekindled with only a visit to the North Posey high School football field.
Sean Fisher, an atypical running back for north Posey during the 1990s, spoke of Gengelbach’s generosity and caringness and of how anyone could last that long with their success being measured on his ability to get 15- to 18-year-old boys to listen to him.
Frank Rynkiewich spoke on behalf of the teams in the 2000s and again, the theme was familiar…how much the coach cared about his teams and players, even beyond the wins and losses and about the class of the coach following the games, whether they won or lost.
And Colton Motz spoke representing the teams of 2009 and after, spoke about the love of the community for the team and the coach and the coach’s warning about how after high school, football players would never have that level of enjoyment and support system again. He has lived to find that to be true.
Also speaking were long-time friend and compatriots Bob Gentil and Ernie Rapp as well as opposing coaches Kelly Murphy (Southridge) and Coach Bob Greene (South Spencer) gave their perspectives as opposing coaches.
A reception followed the formal ceremony. It was held at the Red Wagon in Poseyville.
Gengelbach, who had been at the school for 44 years and has been the school’s head football coach for 43 of those years, said recently that he and his wife Shannon has talked about retirement at various times but nothing serious until recently.
“As the years went on, I kept thinking that I was not getting any younger but the kids and the staff were so great to work with,” Gengelbach said. “If there was a time that I felt was right, I felt this was it. I can’t even imagine being in a better place or working in a better place than what we have had since we came here.”
In true Gengelbach style, he used every attempt to divert the attention away from himself, saying the honor should be held for the community for giving him the privilege to coach at North Posey for all those years.
Gengelbach said he has told his wife, who retired a couple of years ago from her teaching position in the North Posey School system, that the 44 years that they have been in the community seem like just yesterday.
“I never disliked getting up and going to work and there is sometimes talk about our kids slipping away but I think our kids, both the student body and those involved in athletics, and their parents have just been a privilege to have,” Gengelbach said. “And at my age, I am going to be 66, I would like to have a little time to do some things while I can still get out of bed, before I get to the point to where I can’t get out of bed.”
Gengelbach said that the strength of the current staff and the younger kids coming up in the football program also played a part in his decision to retire now.
“This is probably the hardest decision I have had to make in years. It is a career decision,” Gengelbach said.
Gengelbach said that neither he nor his wife are big travelers like some people but he is looking forward to being able to do some “day trips” and become more involved in the activities of his grandchildren. He is also very close to his brother (who lives in Tell City) and is looking forward to being able to spend time with him more frequently.
“I have some things I would like to do around the house here and do some more of the family things,” Gengelbach said. Mike and Mark, the Gengelbachs’ sons, both live in the Poseyville area.
“The kids are involved in a lot of things and grandpa is going to try to spend a little more time with athletic things with the boys and girls,” Gengelbach said.
By Dave Pearce
- Debbie Koester Reed on Sixth River Days hits a home run
- dee on Hunter Education class announced
- jewels on A visit to the other New Harmony, Utah
- Alicer and Charles Christmas on J. Sue Wassmer
- Mark Lacey on Chief Deputy Buchanan retires from Posey Sheriff’s Department
- December 2013 (10)
- November 2013 (21)
- October 2013 (23)
- September 2013 (11)
- August 2013 (10)
- July 2013 (29)
- June 2013 (59)
- May 2013 (60)
- April 2013 (229)
- March 2013 (158)
- February 2013 (193)
- January 2013 (192)
- December 2012 (69)
- November 2012 (143)
- October 2012 (158)
- September 2012 (152)
- August 2012 (151)
- July 2012 (191)
- June 2012 (129)
- May 2012 (71)
Popular TopicsAlexandrian Public Library American Legion APL BBQ CDC Community Center Crafts Club Deaconess Hospital Evansville Gibson Southern Harmonie State Park Historic New Harmony Indiana INDOT Kiwanis Lady Vikings Lady Wildcats Main Street Maple Hill Cemetery Mater Dei Matthew Catholic Church Mount Vernon MSD MVHS New Harmony New York North Elementary North Posey Posey Posey County Posey County News Poseyville Purdue Extension Red Cross Reunion Southern Indiana Tell City United Methodist Church United Way University USI Viking Vikings Wadesville WMI