From Longhorn to Cougar to Pioneer

Hayden Davidson, sports writer

Once a triple-sport athlete in high school and a Division I football player in college, he is now a KHS teacher and coach. Some students may not know of math teacher Garrett Eskelsen, but he has experienced an interesting athletic career.


Parkway West

As a Longhorn, Eskelsen enjoyed a three-sport career of football, basketball and baseball. He was a tight end and defensive end in the fall, a forward and center in the winter and a catcher and first baseman in the spring. According to Eskelsen, “There was no offseason.”

In his 2005 senior season, Eskelsen was the primary passing target for future NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Eskelsen made an impact on both the offensive and defensive ends, leading his team in receiving yards and sacks in his senior season. In baseball, his coach was current KHS Varsity Baseball Head Coach Scott Weissman, who was the varsity baseball head coach at Parkway West from 1990-2009.

Photos courtesy of Garrett Eskelsen; visual by Hayden Davidson

The oldest of six kids, Eskelsen said he and his siblings set a high standard in athletics. Whether on the turf, the hardwood or the diamond, Eskelsen said he pushed himself to his limit.

• “It’s fun to watch, knowing him in high school and knowing him now,” Weissman said. “He’s still basically the same type of person, a person who’s respectful, who wants to do his best and always trying to learn and get better.”



Eskelsen continued his football career at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah as a defensive end. But according to Eskelsen, “a laundry list of injuries” hindered his career at BYU. He was on the roster for three seasons, but a hyperextended elbow, two separated shoulders and numerous ankle sprains kept him from getting on the field in a game. BYU’s current coach, Kalani Sitake, is a KHS alum, but Eskelsen played before his hiring.

Outside of football, Eskelsen studied economics and learned to speak Spanish fluently. Eskelsen lived in Tijuana, Mexico, for two years during college, which delayed his academic and athletic careers, so he graduated from BYU in 2012.

“If your arm is hurt, obviously you can go run, you can go do sprints. If your leg is hurt, you’re doing some kind of upper body deal,” Eskelsen said. “You’re always trying to work around it so when you come back into it, it’s not like you missed a full amount of time.”


Teaching at KHS

DeLila Green

After working at a bank and as a financial producer, Eskelsen went back to school to become a teacher, attending Webster University from 2015-2018. Eskelsen was a student teacher at KHS this past fall semester, and has been the maternity leave substitute for KHS math teacher Kelly Puetz this semester. He teaches two classes of Geometry and three classes of Precalculus.

Eskelsen said the biggest difference between KHS and Parkway West High School is the uniformity with which the material is taught at KHS. He said at KHS, “It’s more of a team effort [working with other teachers].” After Puetz returns, Eskelsen will be a substitute teacher for KSD. 

• “The teachers I work with are phenomenal,” Eskelsen said. “The students I have here are great. I love working with them. It’s that sense of community here at Kirkwood that I have really admired.”


Coaching at KHS

DeLila Green
Eskelsen supports his team as first base coach in a game vs. Parkway South April 22

In addition to teaching math this semester, Eskelsen began his first year coaching baseball as the KHS assistant freshman baseball coach. When the varsity, JV and freshman teams are together, Eskelsen works with catchers and first basemen. With the freshman team, he primarily works with catchers and outfielders, while KHS math teacher and Freshman Baseball Head Coach David Drury works with pitchers and infielders. Eskelsen uses his knowledge from his days as a varsity catcher to call pitching signs for the catcher to relay on to the pitcher. He is the freshman team’s first base coach as well.

• “I was looking for a coach and I didn’t even hesitate,” Weissman said. “Once I heard that he was available and I spoke with him, I was really excited because he knows the system and he teaches things the right way.”

• “He has a calmness about him and a confidence about him that says he’s been there and he’s done it,” Drury said. “He knows the game, so when he makes his comments, I value them.”