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Prep Sports

April 29, 2014

Former Hilldale coach elaborates on resignation

As plans are made to find a quick replacement, former Hilldale head football coach Chad Kirkhart defended his decision to leave the post, saying it was his choice not to try and handle both his new post as assistant high school principal and the job he’s had for the past four seasons.

“I had the talk (with my family) and trying to balance both, you never know when things might come up at the school. Being in charge of all the football kids seventh through 12th (grade), that’s not something you turn on and off,” he said in a conversation at the football fieldhouse on Sunday. “To me, neither is a half-time job.”

Family also played into the decision, specifically his three girls, the oldest being a sophomore at Hilldale, Katie, who plays both basketball and golf.

“It’s not like I have three boys playing football,” he said. “Sometimes you get to the point where they love basketball and love golf and I want to be able to take them to golf tournaments in the summer. I’m here every day in the summer with football.”

He insists he was not told to choose between the two. He said he began work toward administrative certification two years ago and a recent opening posted less than a month ago gave him the opportunity to make the move.

“It was just the best decision for me,” he said.

It wasn’t without emotion. Kirkhart had to excuse himself a couple times as he shared the news with his players Friday.

“You get attached to coaches and kids. It’s tough when you have a lot invested in them and they have a lot invested in you. No matter the situation where you’re leaving it’s tough because you love those guys,” he said.

Hilldale athletic director Erik Puckett said there was no policy in place that would require choosing between one and the other, or for that matter, any coach who has an administrative job. He added that there had been nothing Kirkhart had done to warrant making it a choice or taking football away.

“He’s been a class act and a good coach,” he said, adding that he and Kirkhart would together go through the list of applicants for the job and decide who to bring in for interviews.

“We want to get this done as quickly and efficiently as we can,” he said, noting he’s received “four or five” applications. Included in that group, he said, were coaches who have previously been at Hilldale but did not release names.

When reached by phone, one of those confirmed on Monday he is one of the applicants.

“I enjoyed my time there,” said Wagoner secondary coach Travis Bryant. “It was a good place for me and it’s a place I’d like to go back to, given the opportunity.”

Bryant was at Hilldale for four seasons prior to joining Condict’s staff for the 2013 campaign.

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