In a football coaching career that had taken him to five different college programs, it’s a wonder that Bryan Stinespring had never served on the football staff at VMI.
That’s not to say he didn’t know his way around the institute.
He grew up in Clifton Forge, close to 30 miles west of the VMI barracks in Lexington, where he has joined the staff of new Keydets football coach Danny Rocco.
“In the area that I’m from, VMI is well respected,” Stinespring said. “I went to games there when I was in high school. People from my area played there at VMI and W&L.”
When he was a kid, he would go to basketball games at VMI’s “pit,” which doubled as an indoor track and he distinctly recalls the 1976 and ’77 teams that made NCAA Tournament appearances.
“I can remember Ron Carter and Will Bynum on the VMI team that was so good,” Stinespring said. “My first job out of college was at Lexington High School. We were afforded the opportunity to go to VMI and watch them practice.”
Lexington’s football coach at the time was Jim Pry, the father of current Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry.
Stinespring played football at James Madison and subsequently served as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, James Madison, Maryland, Old Dominion and Delaware, where he worked under Rocco.
He never got too far from Clifton Forge, where his mother passed away last year and where he currently resides.
“Most of my family, especially on my mother’s side, is still in that area,” he said. “Driveway to parking lot [at VMI] is 25 minutes.
“One of the unique things, too, is that I actually stayed in the barracks as a youthful 11- and 12-year-old.”
Jerry West, one of basketball’s all-time legends, had an annual summer camp in Lexington that Stinespring attended for a week at a time.
“As a side note, one of my camp counselors was ‘Wonderful Wally’ Walker,” said Stinespring, referring to the star of Virginia’s first ACC championship team in 1976.
He remembers that Roanoke College star Jay Piccola was another counselor.
“I was a great basketball player till I went to Fort Defiance and Dell Curry scored 40 points and dunked on me twice,” Stinespring said. “I was on the wrestling team the next year, in case you’re wondering.”
Danny Rocco was an assistant coach at Virginia when Stinespring was at Virginia Tech, and they developed a mutual respect.
At the present time, Stinespring will serve as associate head coach but position assignments are likely to follow an NCAA convention from Jan. 7-12.
Stinespring has been serving as athletic director/activities director for Alleghany High School. However, there were times during the spring when he attended several college practices “and used it as professional development time,” he said.
“I carried that over to the fall. There wasn’t a Saturday when I wasn’t at a ball game somewhere.”
As a coach at VMI, he won’t have to worry about NIL, the name, image and likeness arrangement that allows players to make profits off their on-field performance.
“VMI preps you for the WIL, which is winning in life,” Stinespring said.