Page named BW coach
— CUMBERLAND - Former Fort Hill High School standout Mike Page has always worked hard and he says he learned to take that work ethic to another level after earning a spot on the West Virginia University football team as a walk-on.
The former All-State football player and track star will be challenging the members of the Bishop Walsh football team to work hard and reach beyond what they think their capabilities may be.
Page was announced as the Spartans' new head coach on Monday, succeeding Paul Miller. There were 14 candidates for the post.
"Michael Page will bring excitement and excellence to our football program," said Bishop Walsh principal Samuel Torres. "His personal story is one of self-motivation, a winning attitude, and a terrific work ethic. I look forward to him being a role model for our student-athletes to emulate."
Page graduated from Fort Hill in 1998 and received his bachelor of science degree in physical education with specialization in athletic coaching from West Virginia in 2002. He received a master's degree in education from WVU in 2004.
Page, 27, is currently employed as the activities coordinator at Potomac State College. He was the head track and field coach at Fort Hill this past spring and had served one year as an assistant football coach at Frostburg State. While working on his master's degree as WVU he was a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach.
At Fort Hill, Page played wide receiver and defensive back for coach Mike Calhoun and played a key role in the Sentinels winning the 1997 Maryland Class 2A state championship and finishing with a 13-0 record. He received first-team All-State and All-Area honors.
While he received football offers from some smaller schools, Page elected to go to West Virginia on a track scholarship after winning Maryland state titles in the sprints. But people were telling him he would go back to football.
After having his track career and scholarship curtailed by three surgeries, Page decided to try out for the West Virginia football team and see if he had the skills to play at the Division I level. His work ethic and the 4.18 speed he still had for 40 yards impressed head coach Don Nehlen and the WVU assistants. He made the varsity and traveling teams as a wide receiver and special teams player.
That was Nehlen's last season, and Page saw some limited action on special teams. The next season he kept a spot on the team under new head coach Rich Rodriguez and started several games, which resulted in him earning a scholarship. In the season opener of that 2001 campaign he got to start against Boston College and was honored as the West Virginia Chevrolet Player of the Game.
After posting a 3-8 record, the Mountaineers started to turn things around in Page's senior year and finished the 2002 campaign with an overall 9-4 record after falling to Virginia (48-22) in the Continental Tire Bowl.
"The biggest thing I learned from coach Rodriguez is work ethic," said Page. "I always worked hard, but West Virginia, they took it to another level."
The new Bishop Walsh coach credits part of the Mountaineers' success to veteran strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis, who has followed Rodriguez to Michigan.
"Coach Barwis really helped me a lot," said Page. "Most athletes work to a point where they think it is as far as they can go. He taught how to go past that point."
Page plans to uses that philosophy with the BW players.
"The No. 1 thing is the strength and conditioning aspect and we are going to get these guys in shape," said Page. "Coach Rodriguez always said we were going to be the best conditioned team in the nation and that is my goal.
"The main reason teams lose is that the players aren't giving 100 percent," added the Spartans coach. "We are going to work to be mentally and physically prepared for every game. I want to kept it as fun as possible, but we are going to go after it."
Page said he will probably use some aspects of Rodriguez's ballyhooed spread offense, but will have to see if he has the personnel to run it.
"You have to use an offense where you have the players to fit," said the former wide receiver. "You can't run an offense if you don't have the right players to run it."
Low numbers of players on the teams have made it difficult for Bishop Walsh to have winning seasons in recent years. The Spartans had a 4-6 record last season.
"You can have a lot of numbers and not win if the players don't want to work," said Page. "I'm not concerned with the numbers. I want people on the field who want to be there."
Page said he is looking forward to helping Bishop Walsh athletes move on to college.
"I have also always appreciated the fact that Bishop Walsh sends so many kids on to college to further their education," said Page. "I want to be part of that."
Page plans to start summer workouts with his players on Wednesday and will start putting together his coaching staff.
Bishop Walsh will open its 10-game season at Fairfield (Pa.) on Aug. 29 and the first home game will be against Clear Spring on Sept. 13.
Steve Luse, Cumberland Times-News
Mike Page is a 1998 graduate of Fort Hill High School. In June 2008 he was named head football coach for Cumberland's Bishop Walsh High School. Mike is the first African-American to serve as a head football coach in an Allegany County School since the closing of Carver High School and the integration of the county's schools in the late 1950s.
The photograph depicts Mike Page, right, who was named Bishop Walsh
head football coach. The announcement was made by Principal Sam Torres,
who is shown on the left.
Mike Page resigned from the Bishop Walsh coaching position in spring 2011.
Allegany County, Maryland
Photographer - Wesley Haines
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008