Following in his father’s footsteps

The timing was finally right for Jon Stringfellow to take a job he’s been training a lifetime for.

East Providence needed a football coach. Stringfellow needed to heal.

On Tuesday Stringfellow was named the Townies’ head coach, taking over the spot vacated by Jay Monteiro.

“I thought my coaching career was going to take a different path,” Stringfellow said. “It was always to be on the EP sidelines, it just took a little bit of a turn.”

The last six months have been difficult for Stringfellow. His mother Sheila died last August and six weeks ago, his father, William, did as well. William was a legendary coach and administrator for the Townies, winning state titles in 1979 and 1980 before taking over as athletic director. The press box at Pierce Field is named after William and Sheila and the Stringfellows are the unofficial first family of East Providence athletics.

“I knew he would have been the first guy on the phone [to congratulate me],” Jon Stringfellow said as he choked up over the phone. “Everything I did was to be like him. He was my first mentor. I just try to keep it going in his name and make him proud.”

Stringfellow coached at East Providence from 1991-2000 as an assistant, then went to Hendricken to work under Ron Mosca. When Keith Croft took over the program, Stringfellow took over the Hawks’ freshman program, coaching players like Kwity Paye and Xavier Truss, before taking last season off to spend time with his family.

Stringfellow is a dean of students at East Providence High School, which gives him visibility at the school and provides a face when it comes to getting players to come out for the team.

“He encounters every student both in positive situations and sometimes not so positive. He’s respected here,” EP athletic director Gregg Amore said. “He’s built great relationships and that’s the story I’m hearing from people around the state.”

East Providence hasn’t won a state title since 2006 and while getting back to that level is the goal, Stringfellow said he wants players to focus on getting better each day. He wants players to love the game the way he — and his father — did.

“I grew up watching film under the dining table with all the East Providence players around,” Stringfellow said. “It was just always something I wanted to do because there’s nothing like being at Pierce Field on a Friday night.”

erueb@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7264

On Twitter: @EricRueb

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