Lake Buena Vista football coach steps down

After former head football coach at Lake Buena Vista High School, Joe Rienzi, made the decision to step down, Brant Peddy will lead the Vipers during the 2023-24 football season.

Joe Rienzi started the football program at Lake Buena Vista High School two years ago.
Joe Rienzi started the football program at Lake Buena Vista High School two years ago.
Photo by Andrea Mujica
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Lake Buena Vista High School just bid farewell to its founding head football coach, Joe Rienzi. 

“I’m going to miss everything about (Lake Buena Vista),” he said. “It’s a program that I started. I was the first real teacher hired there. I’m going to miss the kids. I’m going to miss the community. I’m going to miss the student section on Friday nights — that was probably the best I’ve been around. It’s like moving away from your family, so it’s tough.” 

Rienzi built the Vipers football program from the ground up, teaching his players everything about the game. Even though there was no plan to leave, the decision to step down from his head football coach position came after his wife, Gabby Rienzi, was offered an opportunity to advance her professional career in the small city of Lebanon, Tennessee. 

“She’s been my cheerleader for a long, long time,” Rienzi said of his wife. “I’ve been coaching for 15 years. She’s been my cheerleader for forever. So she wanted to go for an opportunity, so I said, ‘Go for it.’ … (My wife and I) put a lot of thought into the decision. … To be able to support her and be the kind of spouse that she’s been to me through my entire career, (well) it’s nice to have the opportunity to be that for her.” 

Two seasons in and a handful of memories later, Rienzi will forever treasure his time at Lake Buena Vista, the place that allowed him to live his dream. 

“As a coach, I had dreams, too,” he said. “I always wanted to be a head coach. I’m always going to be appreciative of Dr. (Guy) Swenson and Ms. Bradley. … They gave me an opportunity at a brand-new school … to live my dreams. But (it’s more than that). It’s the relationship with the kids — the guys you work with and the students on campus. That’s the stuff I’m going to remember the most and the stuff I’m going to hold onto.” 

For Rienzi, the biggest thing he wanted to pass along to his athletes was not the fundamentals of the game but rather how to be good human beings. That’s what he wants them to remember. 

“I’d like to think they’ll remember the good stuff, the fun times we had together,” he said. “I would like to think that I always told them that I want them to be decent human beings. Our team GPA increased almost an entire half point. … I hope that they realize that being a football player is a privilege, and I hope they use it to be better themselves in the future. … I ended every single practice by saying, ‘Take care of your grades; take care of your bodies. I love you guys.’ Hopefully, they understand that I do.” 

Rienzi has accepted a position to teach at Lebanon High School and is looking forward to returning to coaching in the near future. 


Once a chapter ends, another begins, and the Vipers now have a new head football coach in Brant Peddy, whose training philosophy differs from Rienzi’s but still has the same goal in mind — to train good athletes and teach them, above all else, how to be great people. 

Brant Peddy is ready to take on the challenge of leading the Vipers for the upcoming 2023-24 season.
Photo by Andrea Mujica

“I want them to learn life lessons through football,” he said. “To me, there is no other sport that teaches life lessons better than football.”

Originally from Jackson, Tennessee, Peddy’s background runs within the strength and conditioning world. 

“Strength and conditioning is my background; football is my love,” he said. “I’ve taken the conditioning up a little bit. I believe you got to put the work in.” 

Three things are at the base of what Peddy wishes to teach the boys prior to the start of the 2023-24 season: hard work, discipline and structure. 

“We’ve got to be disciplined,” he said. “What I’ve seen here is they were ending games last year, but they weren’t disciplined. I hate to lose, but as long as our kids are competitive and they fight to the end — win or lose — I think that’s an improvement.” 

Peddy was one of the coaches Rienzi was looking to hire as part of his coaching staff back in 2020, when Lake Buena Vista wasn’t yet open. However, life had another plans for him — taking him to Mount Dora High School, then Windermere High School, until he finally landed at Lake Buena Vista during the spring season. 

“I’m excited for him, and I’m excited to see what he can do with his first round at being head coach,” Rienzi said. “He’s a great dude. He’s somebody that I know will be great for the kids at (Lake Buena Vista). He’s going to be a great influence on them. The kids already like him, because he was with us in the spring. I’m excited to see him pick up the ball and run with it.” 

In addition to working on the depth of the team, Peddy is looking forward to motivating the boys to become leaders within the team — and to help them believe they have the ability to win and finish all the games — while allowing them to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

“I believe in a starting (practice) time, I don’t believe in a finish time,” he said. “I will tell you when I think we are going to try to stop, but I’m not going to carry that because success never stops. … (I believe) in giving the kids an experience, something they can remember, because high school is once and everybody loves high school. I believe in giving the kids a great experience and in helping them grow and develop and be good people in the community.”



Andrea Mujica

Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.

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