With just one week remaining before Independence High School kicks off its 2012 football season, Patriots coach Bill Geiler is getting his team ready to play. The Patriots, who won 10 games a season ago and finished third in the Southwestern 4A conference, are expected to have another strong campaign this fall.
But Geiler, who’s in his fifth year as a head coach and 36th overall, said he is stepping down after this season.
Geiler said he would be open to becoming an assistant coach at a Charlotte-area private school or in South Carolina next year, but he noted that he no longer wants the time commitment and responsibility that comes with running a large program.
“A lot goes into being a head coach, especially in Charlotte,” Geiler said. “I have done enough interviews and seen my name in the paper enough that I don’t need it anymore to fuel my ego.”
Geiler has made an immeasurable impact at Independence, winning four consecutive state championships as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2000 to 2003 and another as head coach in 2004. He added a fifth title in 2006 as defensive coordinator and, in all, has been at Independence for eight state championship teams.
“He is going to be sorely missed,” athletics director Kelly Lewis said. “It is not just as an AD-coach relationship; I have known Bill and his family for years, and I am going to miss him on a personal level.”
Geiler, who has two daughters and three grandchildren, said family is one of the main motivations for him stepping down. He said this week, for example, that he has barely spent time with his family and has been at the school from 6 a.m. until dinnertime doing football-related tasks.
“My wife has grown up a football wife, and my daughters have been around football their whole lives,” Geiler said. “I am ready to slow down and let one of the younger guys take over.”
Geiler said the leading candidate to replace him is current Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Evans, but Lewis would not discuss a successor.
“I am not going to address the next coach when this season has not even started yet,” Lewis said. “We will go through the process of finding a new coach when that time comes.”
Geiler said the things he will miss the most are the relationships he’s developed with coaches and players. Most of his current coaching staff is around his daughters’ ages, and he said he thinks of his assistants as family, too.
But it is time to move on.
“I think I have developed a good relationship with the media people and the other coaches I have gotten to know,” Geiler said. “For two hours during a game, we aren’t friends, but after that, it’s ‘What can I get for you?’ or ‘How can I help you?’
“I have gone to coaching clinics every year, and I have been doing this so long that I know everyone and they know me. I am still learning all the time, even from some of the younger guys. I will miss that, too, but it is time for me (to step down).”
Lewis said the Patriots will move on, but losing Geiler is a tough pill to swallow.
“Look at what he has accomplished here,” Lewis said. “We will not skip a beat, but there is no way to replace Bill Geiler. You can’t replace him, and he will be missed by a lot of people.”
Andrew Stark, firstname.lastname@example.org