Kal Goodchild doesn’t know what his next adventure will be.
But he knows one thing.
When the high school football season opens its 2019 campaign in August “I’ll be somewhere on a Friday night.”
Goodchild, 59, announced last week he was stepping down as the head football coach at Benton Community High School after two stints and 23 years directing the Bobcat program. Goodchild owns a career record of 149-59, including last falls’s 9-2 campaign that ended with a loss in the state quarterfinals. Nine of his teams won conference or district titles.
I wrote “owns” and not “owned” on purpose. Goodchild admits he may not be done walking the sidelines.
“I wasn’t ready to get out of coaching,” he said.
But a combination of circumstances, including his IPERS, played a role in his decision. He also wanted to go out on his own terms — not after a bad season or, worse, a bad experience.
“I’m walking away when I’m happy,” he said.
Happy is a great way to describe Goodchild. He is one of the good guys coaching our high school students. We’re fortunate in Eastern Iowa to have a number of coaches who spend countless hours in and out of season, molding our children into better athletes and better people.
“To be honest with you, I had a good run,” he said. “I am so lucky ... I had it so good.
“I have not had parent issues. I have not had kid issues.”
That’s kind of a bold statement these days when parents often are chastised for their behavior during games, in late-night phone calls to a coach’s home, or meetings at school.
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But Goodchild earned their respect because he respected their children. And while today’s youth may have their collective heads buried in their devices with ear buds blocking out the world, Goodchild sees something special.
“I don’t think I’ve seen much change in kids,” he said. “They will still work if you push them.”
It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the relationships he’ll miss the most, the “camaraderie with the kids ... and the connection with the whole school.”
Although he didn’t want to single out any of the players he coached over three decades at the Van Horne school, one of his former players likely does stand out. Goodchild had the opportunity to coach his son, Kyle.
“I didn’t really understand what I was dealing with until it was over.” said Goodchild, who also enjoyed watching his daughter, Kari, excel at volleyball.
He said he’ll also miss the “game-planning, the strategy” and working with his assistant coaches.
“Football is a sport you can’t do by yourself,” he said. “I’m going to miss that piece.”
Then again, maybe he won’t miss it for very long. Benton already has announced longtime Cedar Rapids Prairie and Bobcat assistant Jeff Zittergruen will take over, pending school board approval this week.
“I’m never going to say never,” Goodchild said.
And that’s good news for wherever his next adventure takes him.
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