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VHSL School of the Week: East Rockingham

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:49 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - At 11 years old, East Rockingham High School is still relatively new but the Eagles have already built a successful and consistent athletic department.

“The No. 1 thing I am proud of is the kids that we have made better men and women in society," said East Rockingham athletic director Eric Phillips. "We have sent some kids off to colleges and I am also really proud of how long we have kept a lot of our coaches here and we’ve got a continuity.”

One of East Rock’s long-tenured coaches is Donnie Coleman, who leads the school’s football program. He has coached the Eagles since the school was founded and has led the program to nine straight playoff appearances. East Rockingham has played in three region championships over the last four years.

“Hats off to Coach Coleman," said Phillips. "I think he’s done a tremendous job. He’s also been here the entire time we have been open and he’s kept his assistant coaches here for a long time. I feel like our staff is extremely knowledgeable and the kids have bought in.”

When football season ends and winter arrives, East Rockingham’s success continues on the basketball court. The girls program has won at least 18 games in all but two seasons since the school opened including a pair of state championships in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Meanwhile, led by head coach Carey Keyes and NCAA Division I recruit Tyler Nickel, the boys program has become one of the best in the state of Virginia over the last few years. East Rockingham finished as VHSL Class 2 state runner-up in 2018-2019 and advanced to the state semifinals in 2019-2020.

“It’s a lot of fun for everybody," said Phillips. “Both programs have been really successful. A lot of people come to the games and they enjoy watching both our boys and our girls.”

As East Rockingham moves forward, the Eagles are growing. Due to a recent redistricting plan by Rockingham County Public Schools, East Rockingham High School is seeing a rise in enrollment which could potentially lead to a jump in classification in the near future.

“Our enrollment will grow about 50 (students) per year and if we do that and we stay in our current system that would move us to a 3A school probably about 2-4 years down the road," said Phillips.

As for classification, Phillips went on to say East Rock’s future is still yet to be determined. A move from a six classes to four classes is a topic that could soon be discussed by the Virginia High School League.

While East Rockingham has experienced success in team sports, the Eagles also have multiple individual state champions including returners Margo Fox, who won a diving state title, George Austin, a cross country state champion, and in track & field East Rock’s girls 4x100m relay team has won three straight state titles.

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