Sports can be much more than just fun and games to some people, such as Massanutten Military Academy’s athletic director and librarian Mike Costello.
Like any great athlete, Costello’s numbers are impressive: this school year marks his 31st year in education, his 29th as an athletic administrator and will be his 11 year at MMA.
“I got bit by the coaching bug back in high school,” said Costello, who attended Strasburg High School. “I’ve always been involved in athletics. I spent six years with the Virginia Tech football program as a trainer and graduate assistant coach. But, for me, it all started back at Strasburg High where, as a student, I learned a great deal from a legendary coach and athletic director.”
Costello was referring to Glenn Proctor, who spent 44 years as the football coach and athletic director for the Rams. Proctor was so beloved that the school renamed its football field in honor of the man who resigned in 2007 as the most successful football coach in the school’s history.
Proctor wasn’t the only legendary football coach in the state that Costello has worked with extensively. He was part of the new coaching staff at Virginia Tech that started a historic era for the Hokies beginning with the 1988 season, the second under a former player turned coach named Frank Beamer. He was on staff for Beamer’s first winning season at Virginia Tech when the team wen 6-4-1 in 1989. Costello earned his Bachelor’s degree in education while at Virginia Tech and the first 30 hours of his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.
Though it was tempting to remain in Blacksburg, Costello returned to the Shenandoah Valley and finished his M.S. Ed. at Shenandoah University.
“I wanted to be closer to my home and my in-laws,” said Costello, who has been married to his wife, Robin, for 26 years. They have one daughter, Catherine, 26.
One of the most unusual achievements in his career underscores Costello’s commitment to athletics and the students.
“I was named Coach of the Year twice and not just in two different decades, but two different centuries,” Costello said. “There’s not too many people who can claim that.”
He was named Delaney Athletic Conference (DAC) Coach of the Year for guiding the 1998-99 MMA boy’s basketball team to a regular-season conference title. Nearly 20 years later, he received the same award for leading the Wakefield Country Day School’s boys’ basketball team to a regular-season co-championship in the 2016-17 season. He was named Coach of the Year a third time just last year for leading the WCDS boys’ basketball team to a regular-season championship.
Costello’s crowning achievement came in 2003 when the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA) named him the Athletic Administrator of the Year for all independent schools.
During his three decades in athletics, Costello has coached basketball, cross country, football, and tennis. Highlights of his athletics include coaching two of MMA’s best athletes: Lee Durette (Class of 2003) scored 1,000 points for the boys’ basketball team and Eric Jenkins was a 1,000-yard running back and before leaving school prior to graduation.
Having been part of great athletic achievement at MMA in the past, Costello says even better times are just around the corner.
“As we continue to build our enrollment and profile of students and student-athletes, I hope for continued improvement in our competitiveness with hard work and dedication,” he said.