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Leesburg Head Coach Mark Oates
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Leesburg Yellow Jackets vs. Deltona Pine Ridge Panthers, High School Football

Leesburg works toward season that includes trip to D.C.

By Frank Jolley
Daily Commercial
Monday, June 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, December 13, 2019, 2:38 p.m.

LEESBURG — On the surface, this summer appears like any other for the Leesburg High School football

Players begin most mornings in the weight room, hanging and banging weights, before closing out their
daily conditioning work on the track, grinding their way through a variety of running drills.

This summer, however, the Yellow Jackets have a few extra activities to accomplish as they get ready for
the upcoming season: namely, raising money for the team’s trip in October to Washington, D.C., to play
one of the best high school teams in the country.

“We’ve had a good summer so far,” Leesburg coach Mark Oates said. “Our guys are showing a lot of
maturity, doing what they’re supposed to be doing with our morning workouts and helping the program
raise money for our trip. We’ve asked each player to be responsible for raising at least $100. They worked
the parking garage during Bikefest to raise money and we’ve been speaking to various organizations in
the community, asking for donations.

“We’re really amped up this summer, getting after it in the weight room, getting our conditioning done, as
well as keeping up with our fundraising efforts.”

Leesburg will become the first Lake County high school to play a regular season football game out of state
on Oct. 4, when the Yellow Jackets play Gonzaga College High School. School officials realized the
educational opportunities the trip would afford and jumped at the offer to play when former Leesburg coach
Randy Trivers, now head coach at Gonzaga, extended an invitation to play the tradition-rich program.

Trivers, who coached Leesburg from 2010 through 2013 and compiled a 28-16 record during that span, is
entering his sixth season at Gonzaga. With the Eagles, Trivers has won two District of Columbia State
Athletic Association Class AA championships and compiled a 46-15 record.

Leesburg administrators — Principal Michael Randolph, Athletic Directors Sean Campbell and Spencer
Hey, along with Oates — determined it would cost at least $25,000 to make the four-day trip and began
working on ways to raise money. One idea was to ask businesses and individuals to “sponsor” a student-
athlete for $400.

“It’s gone pretty well,” Hey said. “We’ve already reserved our charter buses for the trip. The Rotary Club has
stepped up to help and the Leesburg Police Department has indicated it is interested in sponsoring a few
players. We also did a fundraiser with Domino’s pizza during the spring.

“The trip is official. It’s going to happen. We’ve received confirmation the Lake County School Board will
sign off on the trip, but we still have a ways to go to come up with all the money we’re going to need.”

Hey indicated the school intends to relaunch its GoFundMe page, which was originally launched in April.

As of Monday, $400 had been raised through the page.

Hey said anyone interested in helping the football program can contact Randolph, Campbell, Hey or Oates
at the school at 352-787-5047.

Groundbreaking trip or not, Oates understands the importance of summer conditioning and how it can go
a long way toward establishing a mindset for the upcoming season, especially after last season’s
disappointing 1-9 campaign.

To that end, he said players have responded favorably to offseason changes in the coaching staff and the
challenges they’ve presented.

“Our new strength coach, D.J. Fernandez, is a high-intensity guy and our guys have been forced to step up
their work,” Oates said. “We have the same core group of players in here every morning and they hold each
other accountable. If you’re not working as hard as you should be, they’ll challenge you to step it up.”

Veteran lineman Dylan Black, a rising senior who has been with Oates since his sophomore season,
agrees with his head coach.

“I really like the improvement I’ve seen with our guys so far this summer,” Black said. “We’re ready to get
going. And not just because we’re going to be the first Lake County football team to play out of state. We’re
getting ready for every team on our schedule.”

Black’s words are music to Oates’ ears.

“Our motto this year is ‘Get tough or get out,’” Oates said. “When we get in this weight room and get to
work, we don’t talk about going to Washington, D.C. It’s all about getting physically stronger and bigger.

“These players want to be the group that returns Leesburg High School to prominence on the football field.”

This article was provided by Gerald Lacey
Gerald Lacey is the senior sports writer covering Leesburg High School Sports for the Carver Heights
Quarterback Club. You can reach him at: