Former Carolina Panther Percell Gaskins is the new head football coach at Garinger High. It will be Gaskins first head coaching job.
"We feel real good about him," Garinger athletics director Tony Huggins. "We feel like we've got a diamond in the rough."
Gaskins replaces Ryan Alston, who was fired in November after going 0-19 in two seasons. Gaskins will be Garinger's seventh head coach in 10 seasons. Since 2004, Garinger has had five seasons without a win. Garinger's last winning season was 2010, when the Wildcats finished 7-5.
In the past 40 years, Garinger has had five winning seasons.
Gaskins said he knows there is a lot of work ahead.
"You look at that community and see the rich tradition of that school in the '70s and to now see some of the things that have happened over there, there's no excuse for it," Gaskins said. "With (principal Michael) Drye and (athletics director Tony) Huggins and adding myself with the other administrators, we have the same vision now. We want to restore greatness in each and every child, to see that come to fruition. It goes far beyond Xs and Os."
Gaskins, 41, grew up in Daytona Beach, Fla, and played college football at Kansas State. He was drafted by the Rams in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL draft and played two seasons in the pros. He played in the '96 season for St. Louis, accounting for 36 tackles in 15 games. He played for the Panthers in 1997, appearing in 12 games.
He briefly tried football in Canada before returning to Charlotte, his newfound home after joining the Panthers. Gaskins said he started working at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 1998. After stints at three CMS schools, Gaskins has returned to Reid Park Elementary, where he is a parent advocate who has organized a program to get fathers involved in their school and community. Currently, 23 dads are part of the program.
Gaskins is married and has a daughter playing varsity basketball at Lake Norman Charter, and a son playing junior varsity at Hopewell. He said he plans to use his people skills to help build Garinger back to prominence.
He's already got four assistants, including former Carolina Panther defensive tackle Don Sasa.
Huggins, the athletics director, think he's got a coach who will be around for awhile. That's something Garinger hasn't had of late.
"Around the school and off the field, we feel like his knowledge of football that he had playing will make up for the (head coaching) experience," Huggins said. "We feel he'll be a positive guy on our campus in dealing with the young men at Garinger. That led us to believe he'll be a good fit for us. He can handle the dynamics of the school. That was a big concern -- about not just getting someone who was a big football guru guy who couldn't handle those dynamics. With (Gaskins), he's someone who answered questions on both ends for us."