Andrew Gascho has been named Eastern Mennonite School Athletic Director. Gascho succeeds Dave Bechler, who departs June 1 after serving as Athletic Director since 1996.
“Andrew is a deeply spiritual man, has a servant’s heart, depth of athletic experience, people skills and commitment to our school’s mission,” says Justin King, high school principal. “I have no doubt that he’ll build on Dave’s long and productive tenure. He is already well loved and respected here. We are so thankful Andrew is ready to step up to the responsibility.”
Gascho is a 2009 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, where he studied communication and photography and was a four-year member of the men’s soccer team. In addition to the AD role, he will continue to coach the girls varsity soccer team and serve in communications and IT support for the school. Kendal Bauman continues as assistant AD.
Now in his fifth year as girls varsity soccer coach, he has been named coach of the year three times in the Blue Ridge Conference and taken the team to two state championship games, winning in 2015 and runner up in 2016. As assistant coach, he accompanied the team to two state championship games, winning in 2013 and runner up in 2014.
Philosophy of Athletics
“I see athletics as a an avenue for expressing God’s love through all the positives and hard parts that being on a team offers… pressure, mistakes and success,” reflects Gascho on the appointment. “Being part of a team provides a chance to learn what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself,” he says, noting that his own experience as a student athlete shaped him profoundly.
“We have the opportunity to create an environment where players deepen their faith in Christ, learn valuable life lessons and create memories that they will carry with them long after their time at EMS. “Our athletes are working for God as a reflection of the gifts He has given each one of them,” he summarizes.
On taking the lead of a program built over many years by a colleague, Andrew says, “My relationship with Dave has been instrumental in my development not only as a coach, but also as a person. I talk to him every day, not just about soccer, but also about life. His mentorship has been one of the most special things I’ve experienced at EMS. It will take a long time for me to get used to him not being around.”
Andrew is married to Erika, a special education resource teacher at Harrisonburg City Schools and EMS. They have two boys, Forrest, age 5, and Logan, 2.
“This is a family commitment,” says Gascho. “The whole family believes in this school and the athletic program.” That means, he notes, that while family is first, they will be “all in” and you find the boys helping to set up before games, hanging out on the sidelines and getting to know all our athletes.
“We are fortunate,” says Curt Stutzman, Bible, English and social sciences teacher, who has been assistant girls varsity soccer coach with Gascho for the past five years. “People have no idea how organized this guy is. He is going to excel in this role.” And, most importantly, he noted, “His heart and priorities are in the right place.”