By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor

In football, a strong mentality is just as important as strong physicality. Oftentimes, it is rare to have a variety of talented players who are also equipped with intense leadership qualities.

Sophomore defensive lineman Kirmari Gainous is one of those players on the HutchCC football team. Especially with the big game this Saturday against second-ranked Butler, coach Rion Rhoades wants his mentality to trickle onto the whole team.

“Even with the magnitude of this game, I feel like it’s just another week to go 1-0,” Gainous said. “We don’t look too much at rankings, or who the teams are or who they have on the team; it’s just the next football game to be played.”

Rhoades has expressed how proud he is of his key players, including Gainous, no matter how different each player leads. The different techniques of leadership have steered the team in the right direction thus far.

“The group of guys that we get to work with this year as coaches – man, they’re special. Each one of these guys add an element of leadership to our team, some of them are vocal and some of them just lead by example,” Rhoades said. “I’m really proud of what they’ve meant to their teammates, and what they’ve meant to us as coaches trying to keep things on track and keep moving forward.”

Not only does Gainous display his leadership skills in game situations, but in practice and off the field as well.

“He’s done a really good job of welcoming guys to the program, but also making sure new guys to our program know how we do things and what the standards are; making sure they know what’s OK and not OK,” Rhoades said. “I think that’s a great thing when you have guys like that on your team.”

Additionally, Gainous provides yet another aspect to the team in which any coach would appreciate. Although he seems quiet and shy, Gainous is something of a jokester.

“I like to make people laugh. Sometimes I don’t even do it intentionally, it’s just me – my personality,” Gainous said.

He tries to implement humor when he sees a teammate in a bad mood, having a bad practice or maybe just doesn’t look like they’re having a good day. Gainous intends to cheer them up and oftentimes brings a laugh to the whole team.

Rhoades has heard of his jokester qualities, yet, does not see them as often as his other players do.

“I don’t get to see a whole lot of it. It’s like he turns the faucet off when I’m around,” Rhoades said. “He doesn’t wanna crack jokes or be funny when I’m there, but I do love it when I get to hear about their different personalities coming through.”

Little details like humor and other personality traits are what makes being a part of a team memorable according to Rhoades.

“As a head coach of a big team like what we have, you don’t always get to see some of their personality come through, but I love that it’s there,” Rhoades said.

His teammates have definitely recognized Gainous for the team comedian he is.

“He has a switch on him; he knows when it’s time to turn it on, and he knows when it’s time to get serious and turn it off,” sophomore quarterback Mark Wright said. “He’s one of those guys in our locker room who we hold high – everybody looks up to him.”

After Hutch, Gainous wants to see how far he can go in football.

“I’m really looking for somewhere I’m comfortable,” Gainous said. “I don’t need a big name school, I mostly want a lot of playing time and somewhere I fit in right.”

If the opportunities arise, Gainous would not be opposed to playing in the NFL; however, if football doesn’t take him that far, he has a back-up plan.

“If I stop playing football after college, I will be getting my degree in computer engineering,” Gainous said.

He does not plan on going back to his hometown of Tallahassee, Florida regardless of his career.

“I’m not one of those guys who will get stuck in the town they grew up in when there’s so much more out there,” Gainous said.

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