As an athlete, Gary Ogilvie never considered himself to be anything special.
While he loved to play sports — and he helped lead Garces to Central Section football championships in 1953 and 1954 — Ogilvie said he knew early on in life that coaching was something special.
“I was coaching when I was in the fourth grade,” Ogilvie said. “The sixth graders (at St. Francis) didn’t like that too much but that was alright … it’s something that’s bred in me.”
Ogilvie’s tenure as a football coach at the high school level spanned just 19 years at two schools — Garces and Tehachapi — but winning became his trademark.
His Garces team went 34-21-4 from 1963-1968, ending with a South Sequoia League title in 1968. Ogilvie started coaching at Tehachapi in 1971 and by the time he left after the 1981 season the Warriors had gone 102-33-4 with four Desert-Inyo League championships, a CIF Southern Section title in 1980 with a 13-0 run, and a Southern Section runner-up finish at 13-1 in his final year.
Strong credentials, for sure.
Ogilvie will be inducted into the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 21 at the Marriott Hotel. He will be joined by former major league pitcher Colby Lewis, longtime high school tennis coach Frank Thiessen and former Wasco track and field coach Andy Darby.
“It’s pretty exciting to be chosen for something like this,” Ogilvie said. “It is pretty amazing, especially when you’re an average, ordinary guy and not a real great athlete. I was just lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, both at Garces and Tehachapi.”
Interestingly, the two schools were rivals when Ogilvie was a quarterback at Garces but did not meet from 1955 through 1981, meaning Ogilvie never coached a rivalry game.
Why the move to Tehachapi?
“Probably because I knew a lot of people in the Tehachapi area,” Ogilvie said. “That was a great rivalry when I was going to school. My (wife) and I decided we’d like to move out of town. I was offered the opportunity to teach PE up there. At Garces I taught history and math, a little bit of everything.”
The two schools have faced each other nearly every year since Ogilvie retired from coaching and the “Ogilvie Trophy” — which the winning school keeps until the next meeting — was established in 2007. Garces leads the Ogilvie Bowl series 6-3, but the trophy currently resides in Tehachapi as the Warriors won the 2017 game.
“That’s great,” Ogilvie said of the trophy named after him. “I had good relationships with a lot of kids at Garces and still do, and Tehachapi, too. They’re both great schools, I love them both.”
But if push came to shove, mountain football wins out.
“I’m a Tehachapi boy,” he said with a smile. “I had some great relationships there.”
Such as coaching Steve Denman, then having Denman take over the reins in 1982 after Ogilvie left coaching and teaching for a career in the agriculture field.
Ogilvie credits his coaching success to having good kids who were good athletes at both schools but longtime friend Mike Keese said Ogilvie went far beyond X’s and O’s.
“It was the late 1970s and when I was coaching and put on clinics.” Keese related. “At this one Gary was one of the speakers and so was Dick Vermeil, who was the Philadelphia Eagles head coach at the time. Gary was his usual charismatic, energetic, motivational self.
“Dick Vermeil came up to me after the clinic, thanked me for having him, and said if he had an opening on his staff he would have hired that guy (Ogilvie). He told me that guy was awesome.”
Ogilvie played down his role as a motivator and said his passion for coaching came from the pure joy of playing sports as a kid.
“I don’t know about (being a motivator),” he said. “I just loved sports. Football, basketball, track. As a boy growing up I just loved every sport I could play. You have to have some motivation, but I had some pretty darn good kids, starting with Mike McCaffery (who went on to Cal and and the NFL) on down.
“I think the greatest asset I have is I love the kids. And I love coaching.”