PLYMOUTH — Football is a family affair in the Skirvin household.
The latest addition to the Plymouth Rockie football staff — 2018 grad Payton Skirvin — continues a tradition of Skirvin’s on the sideline.
Payton’s grandfather, Gene Sr., is a member of the Indiana Football Coaches Hall of Fame, and his father Gene Jr. is a long-time Rockie Defensive Coordinator and former head coach himself.
It just seems natural that Payton would come back and take up the trade.
“I was around it my entire life,” said Payton. “Growing up I was always a part of the football program, I think that getting away from it for a few years at college made me figure out that I really missed that competitive aspect of my life. Coaching is the opportunity to still be a part of that and still be giving back.”
Coming “back home” can be tough but for Payton it didn’t take much convincing to take a teaching offer at Plymouth’s Lincoln Jr. High.
“I like this community and I really wanted to coach so I thought coming back to the community that gave to me would be a good way to start,” he said.
He will also join his dad Gene on the sidelines for the first time as fellow assistant coaches. It can be hard for a coach to come back and take that first job being in the shadow of Dad.
“It makes it easy when he does everything the right way, and he always has,” said Payton. “Seeing what he did inspired me to have a similar impact.”
“I think it’s going to be awesome,” he said. “We’ve been talking football together our entire lives. Having an opportunity to coach together, and help develop a team together, that’s going to be a great thing. Our minds do kind of work alike and I think we’ll be able to solve some problems together but I like the dynamic of the whole staff. Being around some of those guys who’ve been around for a while I’m really excited about that.”
“At times there can be conflict but I think you are also able to get some feedback you don’t get another way,” said Payton. “Being related lets you speak a little more freely.”
Skirvin joins fellow 2018 grad Benji Nixon as coaches of Plymouth’s freshman team.
“I’m definitely a defensive guy,” said Payton. “Right now it looks like I’m going to be calling the defenses on the freshman team so need to learn what we want to do as a defense and try to be consistent with that at every level.”
The classroom is no less a challenge for the first-year coach, and teacher.
“I was looking to get into education in any spot,” said Payton. “Seventh-grade math teacher. I feel pretty confident in my skills there. It’s going to be exciting teaching students.”
“Seventh grade is an interesting age, so It’s going to be a fun challenge.”
Originally a business major at Indiana University, Skirvin switched paths.
“I figured out a few years into college that maybe the business route wasn’t the way I wanted to start off,” said Payton. “I’d like to stick around and be part of this community and build a program that everybody is proud of.”