A lifelong love of football has taken Solon Police Lt. Joseph T. Alestock from the field to the sidelines where he answers to the name Coach Joe.
For the past 12 years, Mr. Alestock, 56, has balanced police work and his football passion, serving as head coach for the freshman team at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls.
There, the Kent native grooms a team of 37 to become varsity football players.
“My responsibility is to introduce them to the system we run at Walsh and get them interested in the sport while having fun so that they move on to the varsity level,” said Mr. Alestock of the part-time position.
He and his wife Karen’s two children, Ryan and Emily, attended Walsh, where Ryan, now 28, played football and Emily, 25, was a cheerleader.
This is not his first time serving as coach though. The Stow resident, who began with the Solon Police Department in 1988 where he rose through the ranks to the position of lieutenant, has coached the Stow Youth Football League for three years before moving on to the Holy Family CYO league in Stow where he spent about six years coaching.
He said he is drawn to the camaraderie of the game having played football for the first time at the age of 7 for the Kent Little Rough Riders.
Mr. Alestock continued his football career playing at Kent Roosevelt High School where he was a defensive lineman on the varsity team. He also played as a member of the U.S. Air Force where he served from 1983-1987. His team, the Camp New Amsterdam Wolf Hounds, was named for the Air Force base in Amsterdam.
Out of the service, Mr. Alestock continued playing as a member of the Cleveland Warriors police and fire football league as an outside linebacker.
The avid weightlifter who measures 5-foot-11 and weighs in at 225 pounds, benches up to 385 pounds and has earned titles as part of amateur bench pressing competitions. He works out almost every day of the week at Akron General Wellness in Stow.
Football is a way to stay in shape, he noted, to be able to compete.
“It’s a passion,” he said.
It is the same for his law enforcement career, something he has aspired for all his life, he said.
“I have wanted to be a police officer for as long as I can remember,” he said. He joined the Air Force for the law enforcement experience.
Mr. Alestock considers himself a strict coach when it comes to technique and following the rules of the game, but maintains a lightheartedness so the boys enjoy themselves and can have a good time at the end of the day.
Mr. Alestock begins the season typically in April with weightlifting, then runs a youth camp at Walsh in June for young kids fourth through ninth grade. A freshman camp begins in July.
He leaves the station each day to head to practices, and games are each week on Thursday during football season. Mr. Alestock also assists with varsity and JV games on Friday and Saturdays.
He proudly described an undefeated season for the Walsh Jesuit Warriors which was very special to the boys in past years.
“During my time there, we have been very successful with our program and retaining boys to the varsity level,” he said.
He said he brings to his role as coach experience and knowledge of the game. He also brings the passion, he said.
“The boys feed off my passion, especially during games,” he said. “I bring that sense of commitment to them. When you commit to a team, it’s your responsibility to fulfill that. You play for the guy beside you – your brother.”
A fan of high school and college football, Mr. Alestock doesn’t follow professional football much, as he feels it is more of a business than a sport, he said. He is a fan of the Los Angeles Rams and regularly attends Ohio State Football games, naming the Buckeyes his favorite college team.
“Coaching keeps me in the game,” Mr. Alestock said, “and young at heart.
He enjoys listening to the player’s conversations and how they see the world and respond to it, he said.
“Sometimes it can be real eye-opening to be around young people.”