Eastern Mennonite School has named Robert Stuart as its next girls varsity basketball coach. The soon-to-be retired Coach Stuart is excited to focus his full attention on the team and share his passion for creating a team culture that keeps the sport in a healthy perspective.
That perspective includes an understanding that winning is great, but school work and having fun is a priority. “It’s time to leave the game if you’re not having fun,” is Stuart’s philosophy. “When we build a close knit team that is having fun and is like a family, we will win.”
Stuart’s 40-year coaching career started at the Staunton YMCA and the Staunton Quarterback Club as the instructional basketball coach. He went on to coach everything from middle school — most recently at Kate Collins in Waynesboro — to college (Mary Baldwin in the late 2000s), and at R.E. Lee High School in Staunton.
He has coached men and women, boys and girls. “I prefer working with the girls,” he admits. “There’s a bit less ego… maybe some drama at times, but I just like working with girls who are eager to learn and open to coaching. They bond well and are good teammates to each other.”
Coach Stuart works best with his wife Tampa, a credentialed Baptist minister, who has been the girls basketball coach at Kate Collins Middle School in Waynesboro for the past two years, with Stuart as her assistant. Prior to that, she she coached girls basketball at R.E. Lee for five years.
“We work together so well,” Stuart says. Tampa will assist Stuart at EMS. “She is a nurturer,” he says. “She is firm and can give love and discipline at the same time. Her gifts complement my coaching well.”
“Everything is about confidence,” he concludes. “When we all put in the effort and work together, we’ll gain confidence, and that will reap rewards.”
Stuart picks up the reins from Coach Andy Routzen, who led the team in winter 2021, and moved to the Richmond area to support new job opportunities for his wife.
Andrew Gascho, athletic director, says the program is on a strong trajectory. “Coach Routzahn did an amazing job building a positive and supportive culture, despite COVID challenges,” he says. “Coach Stuart will build on that. He brings just the right experience and passion for coaching that we were looking for, and we are excited to welcome him and his wife into the EMS community.”