For most people, Thanksgiving is a day for rest and reflection. A time away from the normal grind.
That’s not how Coach Joseph Gillespie wants to spend his Thanksgiving.
“This might be one of the only professions where you’re looking to work more on Thanksgiving,” he said of coaching high school football. “You don’t want to stop yet.”
It’s good the coach feels that way, because under his guidance, the Yellow Jackets have developed a routine of practicing the week of Thanksgiving. In fact, six of the last seven years have been spent that way.
“I’ve been very fortunate, not just over the last seven years to be a part of six of them, but in my time here, in 20 years, I can count on very few fingers the times we have not been in this situation,” Gillespie said.
He added that when he is able to participate in a non-football centric holiday, it’s hard for him to enjoy.
“The times I’ve been able to travel on Thanksgiving have been quiet rides in the car,” he smiled. "I’m certainly thankful for my family. I get to reflect on all the things I’m thankful for during those times.”
Practicing on Thanksgiving means his team is still competing in the UIL postseason.
“It’s certainly an expectation we have of ourselves,” Gillespie said. “As coaches, as kids, as a community.”
He added that holiday workouts are a special part of a successful football season.
“Thanksgiving practice, a walk-through on Thanksgiving Day, is always something as a coach,” he said.
The Yellow Jackets practice starts Wednesday at 7:30 with film study and follows with on-field drills at 8:15. At about 11:30 a group of varsity moms will serve the team a holiday feast in the indoor workout facility.
“When we come off the field got a bunch of moms that are going to feed us,” the coach reported. “We’ll sit out in the green room and tell stories and have a good time.”
Sounds like fun, coach.
Still, isn’t Thanksgiving all about family?
“My wife is the ultimate coach’s wife,” he said, “and my family is the ultimate coach’s family, a football family. This is what every one of us wants to be doing.”