These days, George Foussekis is known as either the husband of Laura Foussekis or “that horseshoes guy from Blue Ridge Shores,” but there was a time when he was a well known football coach.
Foussekis served as the defensive line coach for the University of Maryland football team from 1972-1992. During his years with the Terrapins, the team won seven Atlantic Coast Conference championship titles and four bowl games.
With all those accomplishments, the achievement that the Charlottesville native says he’s proudest of is being part of Lane High School’s 1963 state championship football team his senior year.
“The camaraderie we had on that team; we had great coaches in [Tommy] Theodose and [Joe] Bingler, and the town was so involved in the football team that year,” he said. “It was a magical year. There’s a lot of good memories there.”
Foussekis’s talents as a defensive end earned him a scholarship to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and he began playing for the Hokies in the fall of 1964 under head coach Jerry Claiborne.
He was a starting player on the Hokies’ defense for three of his four years there, and played in the Liberty Bowl game in Memphis in both his sophomore and senior seasons. Foussekis was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 1989.
After his college graduation, Foussekis began his career as a football coach, working under Claiborne as the Hokies’ defensive line coach. He coached at his alma mater for two seasons before moving on to William and Mary to work with their football team. After one season with the Tribe, Foussekis had another opportunity to work alongside his former coach, this time at the University of Maryland.
Under Claiborne, the Terrapins won three back-to-back ACC championship wins in the 1974, 1975 and 1976 seasons, and scored a pair of bowl game wins, including a 13-0 win over the University of Florida in the 1975 Gator Bowl.
When Claiborne left Maryland after the 1981 season, Foussekis remained, lending his expertise to new head coach Bobby Ross. The Terrapins continued their successful run under the new leadership, earning another series of consecutive ACC titles (1983-85) and two more bowl wins.
While with the Terrapins, Foussekis worked with a number of up-and-coming football stars, including NFL players Randy White, Eric Wilson and Walter White.
“When you have good players [like that] you’re going to win,” Foussekis said.
The games that tend to come to mind more frequently, though, are the losses. Especially the close games, such as Virginia Tech’s 14-7 loss to the University of Miami in the 1966 Liberty Bowl.
“Anyone who’s a competitor thinks about the defeats more,” he said. “You think ‘Is there something I could have done to change things?’ With the wins, you take it and move on, but the losses stick with you.”
Foussekis continued to coach for the Terrapins until the end of the 1991 season, electing to retire at the age of 51.
“The recruiting process was getting to be a hassle and wasn’t fun anymore,” he said. “I decided that time was the most valuable commodity I had.”
In the years since, Foussekis has found new hobbies to occupy his time, from his plants at the Blue Ridge Shores home he originally bought for his parents in 1978, or traveling the world with his wife. He briefly returned to football in 1996, working with Virginia Military Institute defensive coordinator Chip Garber, a former player from Maryland. Foussekis was with the Keydets for one season before returning to retirement.
Though he hasn’t played or coached the game in years, Foussekis’s love for football, and especially the Hokies, hasn’t waned. He does admit, however, that he doesn’t watch his old team play in person as much anymore.
“It’s expensive [to go to the games] and you have to fight the crowds,” he said. “I think I can see more from right here [on TV].”