I embarked on this journey more than 16 years ago as the volunteer freshman coach at Coventry High School in Akron, Ohio. I will never forget my pregame speech on the bus to take on Canton Timken’s freshman team with just twelve players. Listing the famous NFL superstars that had also stepped foot on that storied field (Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium), I simply wanted my kids to appreciate the greatest game in the world.
Craig EverhartRobinson head football coach 2018-2019
Fast forward to 2020 the year of a pandemic and Friday, November 6th our final regular-season game of the season. The day started with repeated phone calls from the administration that player after player starting with my quarterback would be sidelined for that night’s game vs Leto High School due to COVID-19 exposure. I felt like I had hopped on a time machine back to Canton, Ohio coaching with just enough kids to field a squad.
To top it all off just a couple of hours before kickoff I informed my Knight football team that I would be retiring from coaching to tend to a heart condition that has continued to prevent me from coaching at 100%. The stage was set to finish the season strong and get ready to travel to nationally ranked Jones High for Robinson’s first playoff game in nearly a decade. The night would end with two players in the hospital one testing positive for COVID-19 effectively ending our season and wrapping up a career that I will always cherish.
The questions from other coaches around the area started pouring in the next day asking if I was still going to retire or perhaps come back after such a disappointing conclusion. My answer was an easy one because the journey of coaching high school was such an incredible experience but it was time to close this chapter. For those of you that are reading this that are either considering the step of moving from assistant coach to head coach or are thinking about coaching for the first time, I hope the upcoming “Coaches Corner” segments from myself and other coaches around the area encourage you to do so.
Now more than ever our students and communities need high school football and the mentorship coaches provide. In my next segment, I will dive more deeply into the process and pedigree of becoming a high school coach. I feel extremely grateful to have gone on the journey and I hope my stories and the stories of my former colleagues help to inspire coaches across our area to stick with this all-important profession.