East County Sports

Former Griffin, Norseman Neale takes over Poets’ post

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Former Valhalla High and Grossmont College graduate Mike Neale has accepted the head coaching position at Whittier College.



By Bill Dickens

© EastCountySports.com


WHITTIER (12-25-15) — Talk about big shoes . . . MIKE NEALE, a product of Valhalla High School and Grossmont College is following in the footsteps to success of Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States and infamous NFL football coaches George Allen and Don Coryell as he takes the reins of head football coach for the Whittier College Poets.


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Neale, a hard-nosed running back in his playing days that concluded at Southwest Missouri State, comes to Whittier after successfully helping to resurrect the football program at Albright College in Reading, PA.  Since 2007, Neale has been with Albright in a number of capacities but most recently served as the Defensive Coordinator, Recruiting Coordinator, and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach since 2012.


“There was one coach who fit all the characteristics that our committee was seeking to lead our football program,” Whittier College President Robert Coleman said. “Mike Neale has a proven record of success, a sound approach to football and teaching, an understanding of the educational mission of our college and the integrity and values that we cherish at Whittier.”


“The teams Mike has coached with have consistently won at a high level and he has demonstrated the ability to create a strategic vision to build a program and then implement his plan to be successful,” stated Coleman. “We are excited to begin a new era of Whittier football and support Mike and his staff.”


As a player Neale enjoyed a record-setting high school career. As a running back and return specialist at Valhalla, he earned a number of honors including being selected to the All-CIF team. From there he earned his AA degree at Grossmont College before moving on to the four year college level.


“I’m extremely excited to lead the Whittier College football program,” explained Neale.  “We will strive to recruit, and develop the very best student-athletes possible here at Whittier College. This is truly a special place to call home and play college football. I will do everything possible to ensure our players reach their full potential as individuals, students, and athletes.”


Neale was Albright’s longest-tenured assistant coach and was with head coach John Marzka for all nine of his seasons on the Lions sideline. Albright won the Middle Atlantic Conference title this season and advanced to the NCAA playoffs. Neale had six of his defensive players earn all-conference honors this past season, and the Lions defense led the nation in defensive touchdowns with six.


“It’s exciting to be able to come back home,” Neale said. “More than that, I get a chance to help restore the Whittier College legacy.”


Recruiting at the Division III level is no small chore although Neale is very familiar with the challenge.


“People don’t realize how competitive and talented these kids are at the D-III level,” he noted. “It comes down to finding guys who want to play football for the passion of doing so. They want to get their education but they also still have the passion for playing football.”

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