Championship-winning head football coach Biff Poggi will leave Gilman School after 19 years, Headmaster Henry Smyth announced today. Poggi, an alumnus of the class of 1979, will explore new opportunities in football at Maryland and Michigan.
In a letter to the Gilman community, Smyth praised the coach:
Capturing Coach Poggi’s influence on Gilman football is a tremendous task. Gilman fielded very strong teams before 1997, but there is no question that, under Coach Poggi, the competitive profile of the teams grew. Coach Poggi leaves as the winningest varsity football coach in Gilman history, with more than 130 wins and multiple MIAA championships, and several of his teams, including this year’s, have achieved national rankings.
It is an even greater challenge, one that no number of pages could ever accomplish, capturing Coach Poggi’s influence on the lives of the young men who have been a part of his teams. He has used football as a platform to instill lessons of life and character in hundreds of former and current players. These lessons, well chronicled in Jeffrey Marx’s book, Season of Life, go well beyond the field and stay with the players throughout their lives. Furthermore, Coach Poggi has cultivated a spirit of camaraderie that allows all of his players, from the established stars to those whose uniforms do not get very dirty, to feel a part of the team. The players know to believe in and look after each other. All of these traits—the high level of play, the sportsmanship, the teamwork, the positive spirit—were on full display with this year’s squad, the one that defeated McDonogh in the 100th game and captured the MIAA A Conference championship. Beyond the team, his weekly bible study sessions in the Upper School have been very well received, and he will continue to lead them.
Director of Athletics Tim Holley ‘77 will serve as the interim head coach through the fall of 2016. The school will form a search committee to name a new head coach.
Poggi told the Baltimore Sun that he chose to leave now, following the season in which he coached Gilman to a victory in the historic game against rival McDonogh School because he thought he had reached the pinnacle of his career at Gilman. “I thought after the 100th [Gilman-McDonogh] game, it just wasn’t going to get any better as a coach at Gilman,” he said.
Poggi played offensive lineman for the Greyhounds as a student and went on to play football in college at the University of Pittsburgh.