FRONT ROYAL – Joey Kilgallen is always busy.
The Warren County junior usually starts his school mornings out at Lord Fairfax Community College, where he takes classes starting at 7:30 a.m. Kilgallen is part of the Governor’s School program for gifted kids.
“I have two classes there in the morning and then as soon as class is over there I have to race back (to Warren County) to start third period,” Kilgallen said of his schedule. “I get here about 25, 30 minutes late into third period where I have advanced (Phys-Ed). I was able to work with the teachers to be able to come a little bit later.”
The rush to success doesn’t stop there for Kilgallen. The two-sport athlete usually has a lot of homework to do as soon as practices are over.
He plays football and soccer at Warren County and is on the academic team during the winter, and he said he usually has about three hours of homework to do each day.
Warren County head football coach Brian Bush said that even after games, Kilgallen is ready to get home so he can finish his homework.
“Joey is a kid that he’s a true definition of the student-athlete,” Bush said. “The kid gets done with a game, he’s not worried about sleep or rest or anything like that. He’s trying to rush home to finish up homework so he can have enough free time over the weekend to hang out with friends or play video games or something like that.”
Kilgallen said that when he graduates from Warren County next year he will also have an associate’s degree in physics from Lord Fairfax.
He said last year he had to take advanced placement chemistry at Lord Fairfax, which is one of the toughest classes they have. He said it is difficult trying to go to do different schools at the same time, but he feels it’s worth it.
“It’s tough, but the learning environment that they’ve created for gifted students at Governor’s School – it really helps because it feels like all the students there really want to learn,” Kilgallen said. “And it helps to be surrounded by fellow students like that who you can really just learn around.”
Kilgallen said he comes from a military background and he wants to attend one of the service academies, preferably the Naval Academy, after high school.
He said that he’s not sure if being smart always helps him in sports, but he said playing sports help him get his mind off of his academics.
“I enjoy being able to step on the field after a long day of school,” Kilgallen said. “I can just shut all that off and just be able to play and compete.”
This season Kilgallen is the starting safety and kicker and punter for the Wildcats.
He said that he’s played at safety for a number of years, although this season he was moved from free safety to strong safety. Kilgallen said he enjoys playing the position.
“You have so much freedom,” Kilgallen said. “You can drop into coverage and make plays. You get to hit and you’re pretty much just an undersized linebacker and it’s great.”
Bush said that Kilgallen is very knowledgeable about the defense and is like a quarterback of the defense.
“His mental focus and his ability to read the offense and know what coverages we should be in,” Bush said of Kilgallen’s strengths on defense. “And he knows where everybody else is supposed to be. He’s like a true captain out there trying to put everybody in the right position and moved over. So being smart is his highest quality out there. And I know he’s heard that quite a few times but it’s awesome to have.”
Kilgallen has been a starter on Warren County’s soccer team the last three years and last year he had five goals and one assist.
He said he loves playing both soccer and football. Kilgallen said he would really like to improve on his kicking and punting this season. Last year he was the back-up behind Stuart Ashley, a 2018 Warren County graduate, who now plays at Liberty University.
“This season I feel like I have huge shoes to fill for Stuart,” Kilgallen said. “And I feel like I have a long ways to go. I have to progress even further because I’m not really a kicker. I’m just a football player who also plays soccer, so I can kick.”
The Wildcats are off to a slow start having lost their first two games of the season but have a bye this week. They will play at James Wood next week.
Bush said Kilgallen is a great leader and the kids look up to him. Bush said that if one of the players is having trouble in a class, Kilgallen will help tutor them, even if it’s a subject that Kilgallen doesn’t take.
Bush said Kilgallen is also reliable and will do whatever the team needs him to do.
“You can always count on him,” Bush said. “That’s the thing about him that I absolutely love is you can be a great student or you can be a great athlete and he’s a mixture of both. And if you ask him to do something he’ll get it done and he’ll find a way to get it done.”