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Coaches Confessions with Ronald Gates

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 11:32 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - From junior tackle to the high school level, Ronald Gates has seen it all. Now as he leads Lutheran on the field each and every Friday, he sees his life’s work paying off.

“I’ve been coaching ever since it’ll be 31 years this year at various schools and youth programs,” Gates said.

Since his pee-wee days, Gates has had a passion for the pigskin. He played linebacker and guard when Rockford West was a high school.

“They got rid of that school in 89 but that was a great school with really good football tradition there,” Gates said. “A lot of good players out there and a real winning program.”

During Gates’ playing days the NIC-10 was as tough as ever, he says making the playoffs was no easy task.

“A lot of times we were 5-4, 4-5, right there in the mix,” Gates said. “My senior year that’s when East won the state championship in 85.”

Gates went on to play college football at Rock Valley for one season, after graduation, the game was on the back burner. He had two sons and found his way back to the gridiron

“I basically just got picked off the sidelines by one of the coaches,” Gates said. “They asked me, hey any of you guys out here have football experience, so I rose my hand, and it just kind of progressed from there.”

The coach floated around the Stateline, taking jobs at Auburn, Jefferson, Christian Life, and eventually Lutheran all while running a youth football club.

“I’m the president of the Renegades Football Club we’ve been around 21 years we’re in Chicagoland Pop Warner League,” Gates said. “We have a pretty successful program, we have 175 kids.”

Two decades of players have gone through the Renegades program, which means the Crusaders coach knows a thing or two about a lot of Stateline players.

“I have quite a few players here at Lutheran that played for me in the past,” Gates said.

“Fifth grade was my first year of tackle football with coach Gates, coach T, and coach Walls and they’re all out here now,” Sophomore A.J. Moore said.

Gates says eight of his players on the Crusaders were a Renegade at one point. He believes consistency, and relationships help his teams succeed.

“I know the parents really well too so that helps out especially here at Lutheran,” Gates said. “The game of football is a vehicle for me to teach the guys not just football but how to be a better man.”

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