Steve Englehart: Builds Florida Tech Panthers Into Gulf South Conference Power From Scratch
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // August 4, 2019
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Steve Englehart – 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. (Video aired in 2017)
2017 SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE
• Architect of Panther Football
• Gulf South Coach of the Year
• Took FIT To NCAA Playoffs
WELL-PLANNED BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Building anything successfully from the ground floor up requires a lot of teamwork, time, work ethic and patience.
Nothing embodies those characteristic more than the Florida Tech Football program and the people that helped make the Panthers an on field reality and quick success in the standings.
From former school President Anthony J. Catanese, to John Thomas, to 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Steve Englehart, Florida Tech football is a blue print on how to develop and build a successful NCAA football program.
Hired in June 2011, 14 months after the Board of Trustees endorsed action items that would allow the dream to become a reality on the field, Coach Englehart arrived from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where he was the youngest college head coach in the country at just 27 years old in 2006.
At Rose-Hulman, Englehart compiled a four-year mark of 26-14, the most successful four-season stint in the school’s history at that time.
While sports are important at FIT, academics take precedent and Englehart could certainly guide his new and future players in that manor based on his own college success.
Englehart played quarterback at Indiana State from 1996-99, earning letters in 1997, 1998, and 1999. He was named to the Gateway Football Conference’s All-Academic Team in 1998 and 1999 and was also named a GTE Scholar Athlete three times.
The test for Englehart at FIT was a task few in coaching have ever accepted and executed successfully as quickly as he has. Once he accepted the position as head coach at FIT, there were still nearly two years before his team, which didn’t exist, could take the field and play.
However, during that time span, Englehart, along with his staff had to execute the first of many successful game plans, which did not include a run or a pass but instead required hours on the road recruiting and fundraising.
Long days and even longer nights produced great recruits and the money needed. Once the Panthers got the chance to take the field in 2013, the results were more than anyone could have hoped for as Florida Tech finished their first year 5-7, and their inaugural season would be the last time the Panthers finished under .500.
In 2014, Englehart’s Panthers went 6-4 and shocked the college football world with their first-ever win over a ranked opponent. The Panthers defeated No. 12 Tarleton State, 37-31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Coach Englehart’s hard work resulted in his recognition by the Gulf South Conference as Co-Coach of the Year.
The 2015 season would be even better as the Panthers arrived as a Gulf South Conference power, finished the season 7-4 and had a chance to win the conference championship in the final game of the season. The Gulf South Conference would again recognize Englehart, but this time he stood alone as coach of the year.
WINNER ON THE FIELD AND IN LIFE
Like a well-oiled machine built to get better as time passes, the Panthers entered 2016 season with high expectations and Coach Englehart’s team would not disappoint, as Florida Tech finished the season 8-2 with five wins in conference play.
Their record earned them the programs first ever trip to the NCAA D2 playoffs, and although the Panthers came up short, the future moving into 2017 is as bright as ever.
Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, Coach Englehart comes from a great family of love and support. When asked about his earlier years, Coach Englehart very fondly speaks of his parents, Steve and Debbie, and his brother Chad and sister Leslie.
But what makes the Steve Englehart story complete is his wife and children. Englehart and his wife and high school sweetheart Carrie, are the proud parents of three beautiful children – two boys, Caden, 16, and Ty, 13, and daughter Lila, who is 6.
Coach Englehart’s blueprint for success continues to be a work in progress, but as he enters his fifth year walking the sidelines at Florida Tech Panther Stadium, one thing is for sure, success breeds success and Steve Englehart has been nothing but that in his life, and during his tenure at Florida Tech.
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THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 8.
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