The Chautauqua Lake football program has had its share of up’s and down’s the last few years.

Mergers, splits, coaching changes, and other various road blocks all teams face took its toll. The Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Brocton football program is ready to put those challenges behind it.

Recently, the Chautauqua Lake School Board Of Education took a major step forward in paving the way for a more enjoyable football experience for all involved when they officially named Ryan Gibbs the next head coach of the Thunderbirds.

Gibbs is a nine-year active duty military veteran. Upon honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force Gibbs was ‘that parent’ when his two young boys decided to take a crack at flag football. When recounting his journey the new coach said, “I was that dad, got my kids signed up for flag. You know sitting in the stands, and watching the game like any ordinary parent.” The following season, Gibbs would find himself on the sideline as the boss of the flag football program. Gibbs was calling the offense for the midget squad while coaching the flag squad. The following season, Gibbs took the reins of the midget team. Last season he called the varsity defense and still maintained his duties as the boss in the youth ranks.

Gibbs is thrilled to finally get a crack at the high school level. “Any time you’re named the head coach of a high school football program it is exciting; that is something that has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I’m pretty proud to say it’s finally true.”

That pride extends beyond the Friday nights to a more personal level for the Gibbs family. After retiring from his stint of service and relocating back to Western New York, Ryan and his wife enrolled their children into the school district. He is also the modified baseball coach as well as an assistant coach for Thunderbirds varsity wrestling. It is a combination of all of these things that leads Gibbs to install the theme of ‘culture change’ within the locker room and on the field.

Culture change is a complex issue when changing coaching staffs within an interscholastic program. However, Gibbs has this part of locker room management down to a science. He said, “I just want to bring stability and discipline to our kids and the locker room.”

With these two things at the forefront of his mind, the Thunderbirds have great potential to be one of the storied programs in Western New York within a couple of years.

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