Dwayne Dyke is coming home to Fairmont Heights High School, but in a way, he never really left.
A 1979 graduate of the Capitol Heights school, Dyke was hired earlier this month as the new head football coach at Fairmont Heights. He replaces Cornell Simms, who was 2-18 in two seasons.
The Hornets have struggled mightily in recent years, going 31-88 over the past 12 seasons, including winless campaigns in 2011 and 2008. Dyke played under coach Ralph Paden, who guided the Fairmont Heights football team for 29 years before retiring prior to the 2004 season. Stefan Gansert coached Fairmont Heights for four years after that, but the team has had three coaches since 2008, including Paden, who came out of retirement to run the team in 2009.
Dyke aims to provide stability that the program has lacked in recent years — an effort that should be aided by his ties to the school. He holds school records for career tackles (312) and interceptions (33). But he also left behind something even more lasting: A mural he painted on the wall in the Fairmont Heights gym during his senior year remains there to this day.
“When I was in high school I had two jobs, and I’d leave work and come in and work on it,” said Dyke, a Bowie State University graduate who teaches technology. “I designed it and painted it. My name is still on it.”
Dyke has a long coaching career that began in 1993 with three years at the Forestville Boys and Girls Club. He spent two seasons (2000-2001) as an assistant at Gwynn Park High School. He also started the program at Shaw Middle School in Washington, D.C., from scratch. Starting a new team, he said, is a tougher challenge than resuscitating the team at Fairmont Heights will be.
“The kids are excited,” Dyke said. “I jumped in and got guys in weight training. We started a 30-day conditioning and get-strong program to get them ready for two-a-days in August. We had a good turnout for the opening of conditioning, 24 kids out there. That’s better than they had last year. We’ve got some linemen, a couple of 300-plus pounders who didn’t play last year. I feel real positive.”
With Dyke getting a late start on organizing offseason activities, Fairmont Heights missed the Prince George’s County Coaches Association 7-on-7 passing league tournament this month. Dyke said he’s working on organizing a four-team 7-on-7 event and has commitments from D.C. schools Ceasar Chavez and Spingarn.
He said he’s also working on increasing parent involvement, with hopes of starting a football booster club.
“We want to try to build a strong program,” Dyke said. “It means a lot to me. It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me, to be able to come back to my school and coach. I’ve always wanted to coach here, so it’s coming full circle.”