Father-son coaching team Phil Gage Gormley are hoping to lead Northeast to more championships.
Phil Gormley fell into coaching high school football.
Gage Gormley was born into it.
Phil Gormley is the head football coach at Northeast High School, and he certainly worked his way up to getting the head job at one of the most successful Public League programs in the city.
But when he got into it, teaching was his passion, but not so much football.
He took a job as an assistant at Olney in 1994. At the time, he was more into hockey, but the kids needed a coach, so he stepped up.
By helping out with the Trojans for a few years, he realized he loved coaching the sport, so he stuck around and ended up as the varsity coach at Jenkintown.
Taking that job was a strategic one because when he was calling the plays at the suburban school on Saturday afternoons, he was spending his Friday nights watching Abington.
“I only took that job because I wanted to see my son play,” the coach said of Gage, who was a standout receiver at Abington. “I didn’t want to miss him, so it was the perfect situation. I had everything.”
Now, he’s not rushing to watch his son play. He’s working side by side with him at Northeast.
Gage, a senior at Temple University, is a student teacher at Northeast and he’s also an assistant on the Vikings football team, working primarily with the wideouts.
He’ll graduate from Temple in December and he’s already signed a contract with the Navy, where he is a member of the NROTC. The hope is he’s able to help Northeast add some championships before he ships out.
But right now, he’s just happy to be along with dad, learning his craft.
“I always joke that I grew up outside (the locker room), playing in the dirt out there,” Gage said. “I love being here. I love football, and I love learning from him. He’s taught me a lot.”
The Gormley boys have a lot in common.
They both love to teach. They both love football. And during the summers, they love to spend time on the beach in North Wildwood, where they both also bartend.
It’s nothing new, but football has certainly given them more time to spend together.
“We talk about it constantly,” Gage said. “I think everyone at home is sick of hearing us, but my mom loves football and my sisters love sports, too.
“We watch games, we’ll talk about things. He’s taught me a lot. And it’s giving me great experience. I love being here at Northeast just like he does. It’s the perfect situation.”
The younger Gormley might be learning on the job, but he is also the perfect complement to his father. As the head coach, Phil sometimes has to be the bad guy, but the players sometimes need a coach who always has their back.
That’s where Gage comes in.
“A perfect example of the kind of coach he is, is before (a game against Frankford), I asked the players what color socks we wanted to wear,” Phil said. “They said black, so I told them that if they didn’t have black socks, they’d be going out there without socks. So today at lunch, (Gage) goes to Modell’s and buys black socks. He knew a few kids were going to forget, and they did.
“That makes me proud. He wanted to make sure that they had what they needed. He is a great teacher, and that makes me proud. But it’s also nice to see him as a good coach.”
Northeast, the two-time defending Public League champion, is 3–1 on the year after a 25–20 win over Simon Gratz and is headed into a big game against Imhotep Charter on Saturday. But this year, the Vikings look a lot different than they did a season ago, especially on offense.
Last year, there wasn’t a huge need for a receivers coach because most of what Northeast did was pound the ball left, pound the ball right and pound the ball up the middle.
This year, after former Delaware Valley Charter coach Troy Gore joined the staff as an offensive coordinator, the Vikings installed a new offense that features a lot more throwing.
That was right in Gage’s wheelhouse.
“I was a receiver, so it’s nice to coach them,” said Gage, who was a defenseman in lacrosse at both Abington and Temple University. “It’s great experience for me because I’m sure when I’m out of the Navy, I would like to coach.”
While the Gormley boys are the guys leading the Vikings, they might not even be the best athletes in their family.
Mom might hold that honor. Kimberly Gormley attended Frankford, where she left with 17 varsity letters. And Gage’s three sisters, Darby, 22, Payton, 18, and Shea, age, are all great athletes in their own right.
“My wife is the best athlete, she was great at Frankford,” said Gormley, a 1985 graduate of Cardinal Dougherty. “She loves football, too. And my daughters are great athletes. Shea is playing soccer and lacrosse at Abington. They were all involved.”
And just as he loved watching his kids succeed as players, he’s having a ball watching Gage succeed as a coach.
“I don’t even think the kids know he’s my son, they just know him as Coach G,” Phil said. “They respect him. He’s a great coach.
“I think we have a lot in common, but the biggest difference is his drive. I wasn’t as driven as he was. He works really hard.”
December is shaping up as a big month for Gage. He graduates from Temple and, in the middle of the month, he ships out. In a perfect world, that would be right after the Vikings win a state championship.
“The timing was perfect, because I was able to student teach and coach,” Gage said. “I think I’ve learned a lot, and coaching is definitely something I’d like to do when I’m done with the Navy.
“It’s fun to be around him, but I’m also learning. It’s a great experience.”