Carson High football coach steps down
Appeal Sports Writer
Shane Quilling spent the last 20 years molding young athletes on football fields and tracks as well as young minds in the classroom.
Now, after seven years as head coach of the Carson High School varsity football team, the 42-year-old Quilling is going to be spending more of his time with his own family.
Quilling – who will continue to teach physical education and health at CHS – told his football team about his intentions on Monday after making his decision to leave the program about three weeks ago.
“It was no one thing – it was a number of things,” Quilling said Monday at his South Carson home. “I’ve been head football coach 10 of the last 11 years. It had a lot to do with my family. All my kids know about me is that I’m gone all the time. That’s all they’ve ever known. One of my kids gets into high school next year. The middle one has serious medical issues. The little one is in kindergarten.
“It had a lot to do with being tired, too. I’ve given my heart and soul the last seven years to football here. I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore.”
Quilling and his wife Brenda have three children, Chance, 13, Connor, 9, and Camryn, 5.
“(Leaving) had nothing to do with the season,” Quilling said. “I’m not going anywhere – I’m going to retire here. I’m not saying I’ll never coach again – just not for right now. I’m never going to be a head coach again. I’ve done enough. What’s been tough is that I’ve been married 16 years and known my wife for 17 and the only thing she knows is that I’m never home. In the fall, it’s always football. I’m never here. I can’t do that anymore.”
The Senators were 27-43 under Quilling and, after making the playoffs last season, went 2-8 in an injury-filled season this year. Carson played in the postseason three times under Quilling, never advancing past the first round.
Since 1970 Carson – with a student enrollment of about 2,600 – has had 10 winning seasons.
Douglas football coach Mike Rippee said he holds Quilling in high regard and that not enough people know what goes into being a head coach.
“He’s put a lot of work into that program – the hours he puts in during the school year, the summer camps – he’s a hard worker,” said Rippee, in his 23rd season at Douglas. “He’s an honest man. He stands up for what he believes. People judge too much on wins and losses.
“I always say everybody’s smarter than me. I’m the dumbest guy around. You’ve got to walk a mile in man’s shoes. Shane was a professional all the way. He showed up Thursday (in a 48-20 Douglas win) and his kids were prepared to play hard. It took everything we had to beat them. If it’s for his family, he made the right decision. He’s lucky – as I’ve been – to have a wonderful wife. It’s a partnership.”
Carson athletic director Diane Baker-Roberts said Quilling worked hard to build a winning program.
“My hat’s off to Shane, for all of his years of dedication,” she said. “He put his heart and soul into the program. Out of the last 365 days, he was probably here 320 of them. He’s here all of the time, what with organization, the film (sessions). His kids are growing up and he’s missing a lot of time with them. He has a young family.”
Baker-Roberts said Quilling’s won-loss record should not reflect poorly on him.
“What I’ve seen the last five years, is that kids don’t have the dedication to go out and work hard and play football,” she said. “There have been about a half-dozen that could’ve played on the varsity team, but chose not to. We push for three-sport athletes, but we don’t have many.”
Baker-Roberts said no successor has been named.
“We’re opening up the position to as many entities as we can – statewide and out of state as well,” she said. “We’re doing that now. (The search) will be conducted by me, the administration and human resources. We’ll go from there.”
Quilling is a native of Sidney, Mont. He played as a linebacker on the 1984 Montana State team that won the national Division I-AA championship. He began his career in Choteau, Mont., where he coached football and track.
He coached in three states, where his other teams won three state championships (including one in1995 at Box Elder High School, in Brigham City, Utah) and several regional championships before he moved to Carson in the summer of 2000.
“He cared a lot about his players – personally and on the field,” said senior center-defensive tackle Mitch Brantingham. “I enjoyed every minute of (playing for Quilling). I think he did a good job. We had a lot of injuries and a lot of things didn’t go right.”
Asked if it was a tough decision to walk away, Quilling shook his head.
“Not after weighing everything,” he said. “I feel bad for some of the kids. I’m going to miss them. I had some good kids in the program. But I have to do what’s best for me and my family. This is what’s best for me and my family.”
He said there are some elements of the job that he won’t regret leaving behind.
“All of the fundraising … I won’t miss that,” Quilling said. “It’s a tough job. A lot of people think they have all the answers out there. Until they are involved day-to-day in any program at Carson High School, they have no right to comment. They have no idea what happens.
“As a head coach you take responsibility. You have to have big shoulders. You have to be able to handle criticism. I’m fine with that. I’d do the same thing again. Whoever comes in, I wish them the best of luck and I’ll support them.”
Along with the three athletic directors with whom he’s worked – Fred Andreason, Ron McNutt and Baker-Roberts – Quilling singled out principals Glen Adaire and Fred Perdomo as well as the freshman, junior varsity and varsity coaches.
“All of the numerous coaches did a great job,” he said. “Without them, we’d have no success at all. You can’t do everything as a head coach. You need good people to support you.”
Quilling said he’s going to miss being out in the field on Friday nights and calling the plays in the game he first started playing in the seventh grade because there wasn’t a Pop Warner program.
“Football has been a huge part of my life.” he said. “It got me through college; it got me a scholarship. I had some good teams and some great experiences. It gave me the opportunity to work with some great kids, who were totally dedicated and committed to the program.
“That’s the fun part of coaching. When you can’t play anymore, you see the work from the weight room progress onto the football field. They grow physically; they grow in front of your eyes from young kids – 14 and 15 years old – into 18-year-old adults. In teaching, too, you see that growth. That’s the fun part. That’s what I’ll miss.”
• Contact sports writer Mike Houser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1214.