First-year Genoa-Kingston High School principal Brett McPherson describes Phil Jerbi as someone who bleeds blue and orange.
Jerbi spent 20 years in the classroom as an industrial technology teacher at the school. He was the Cogs’ track coach for 17 years, was G-K’s boys basketball coach from 1995-96 to 2001-02 and coached boys and girls cross country for two years as well.
Jerbi always thought that eventually, he would be an administrator, and he got his administrative degree nine years ago. He’s taken the next step in his career, as he was recently named G-K’s new athletic director. He’ll also be the athletic director for G-K Middle School.
He takes over for Dirk Campbell, whom McPherson said resigned.
McPherson said being an athletic director is about knowing the coaches, traditions and community.
That’s something Jerbi already has down.
“He’s got a big part of it already done, having all that knowledge and information,” McPherson said. “He’s a community-oriented guy who’s been at G-K for 20 years.”
When Jerbi was the school’s basketball coach, the Cogs used a slogan on the back of T-shirts that said, “Small-town school, big-time pride.” The slogan is still used today, and Jerbi feels it fits G-K perfectly.
“That’s not just a slogan,” he said. “That is actually a way of life here.”
This year, Jerbi said the school’s mantra is going to be “We are one.” Meaning, one school, one town, one community.
One part of “We are one” is putting as much of an emphasis on the middle-tier or lower-tier sports and the popular ones like football and basketball, and getting as many kids as possible playing two and three sports.
“We want to make sure that we are one program and that everyone is getting the same amount of support across the board,” Jerbi said. “We want to make sure that the coaches from each one of those sports work jointly, and on a common goal. That’s kind of our short-term vision.”
Jerbi resigned from his boys track duties in 2011 after suffering a heart attack in May of that year. However, in a way it was a blessing in disguise. Doctors ended up finding cysts and tumors growing on his kidneys – something that probably wouldn’t have been found if not for his heart attack.
Everything is in remission now, and Jerbi says he’s never felt better.
“I’m in better shape now at 42 than I was at 22,” he said.
When G-K begins school in late August and Jerbi isn’t in the classroom, it may feel a little weird. However, Jerbi feels like he’s accomplished plenty there.
Now, it’s time for his next chapter.
“I’m sure that when school starts that will be a unique feeling, not being in the classroom,” he said. “Like I said, I don’t feel as if I have any unfinished business back in the classroom.”