Every year there are coaching changes in the high school athletics department. Sometimes it is a dramatic departure in a major sport and other times the quiet loss of a head coach in a sport few give much attention to. But four departures from the Carbon athletic department this year will leave quite a void that hasn't been felt in a long time.
Reasons for the departures are as varied as the programs they oversee, but one thing is for certain: they will all be missed. Jeff Jorgenson is stepping down as the Athletic Director. Tony Pinedo is retiring and leaving behind Girl's Softball and Boy's Golf. Cami Carlson has given up the head coaching position on the Girl's Basketball team so she can concentrate on promoting the book she wrote. Finally John Watkins is ending his tenure as the head wrestling coach for Carbon and retiring as well.
Jorgenson has been part of the athletic department for more than 20 years. He took over as Carbon's Athletic Director after Mrs Dupin retired. He is going to continue teaching for the next several years, but decided it was time for some new perspectives for the job.
"It is time, I'm beginning to be a big, grumpy old man," he said with a grin. Carbon Boys basketball coach Ted Bianco has been named to replace him and Jorgensen added that Bianco is already starting some things that he had never thought to do.
Jorgenson is going to miss the kids, but has vowed not to divorce from Carbon sports entirely. He just gets to pick and chose what he wants to be involved with and become a true fan in the stands again.
He stated he will not miss some of the parents, coaches and administrators he has had to deal with. He admits it only takes a few bad interaction to make the job difficult. He is also not happy with the new demands for less compensation that have been piling up over the past several years in the job.
"It is time consuming, both physically and mentally. Between the paper work, scheduling, being at most of the activities, coordinating with coaches and dealing with parents and officials and students, it takes its toll."
He will spend more time with family and likes the fact that taking time off won't be a burden on the Carbon High administration. He enjoys working with Principal Greg Stanfield and has been appreciative for the great working relationship the two have had.
Mostly he is hoping he had made a difference in the lives of the students and athletes he has had the privilege to work with over the years.
Tony Pinedo also echoed his appreciation of Principal Stanfield. He is going to miss him as a friend as well. Pinedo made a difficult decision to leave because now that his kids are grown and graduated he and his wife want to move to be closer to them as they have left the area. Pinedo has been a coach for 31 years. Twenty-six of them have been at Carbon High. The other four were at Emery.
His biggest regrets in leaving are certainly going to be his associations with the students and athletes.
"I don't know if I ever wanted to grow up and this job let me be both a teacher and a kid at times." he said as he explained his passion for what he did. Because he got to travel with the choir and the athletes for events and performances, he got to really know his students in a way many teachers do not. His eyes glistened as he talked with pride about how he has watched so many come through his doors over the years.
Pinedo is going to miss the camaraderie that has transpired at lunch in the "coaches corner" where the coaches sit and eat lunch every day. He finds it a place to de-stress, get new ideas and just laugh and share stories. He and Coach Garvin are the last of the original group that Pinedo refers to as a great group of men.
What he is least going to miss is teaching Driver's Ed. He says it feels like the movie "Ground Hog Day" as he and Coach Moynier meet, say good morning and unlock the gate each day at 5:00 a.m. before climbing in with their students eager for their turn behind the wheel.
Also he was a bit blunt about where he stands on some of the changes that are being implemented in the classrooms. He feels that they are not helping the teachers do a better job. And finally he will not miss making cuts to promising athlete that try to make the squad. He says despite what those who are cut might feel, coaches do feel their pain and wish they could just keep every one.
Cami Carlson just finished up her most successful season as head coach as she took her girl's basketball team into the championship game before losing to rival Emery. She told her team at the final banquet of her decision to leave amid tears and disbelief.
Since then she has heard rumors that her quitting was due to the final loss, but in reality her decision to step down had been made months before and it was due to a personal triumph rather than a team loss.
She had a long time dream to write a children's book. She did just that and submitted it to be published. Expecting to face first time writer's rejection, she was delighted instead to have the book picked up by the publisher. Faced with the time needed to properly promote her book, she knew she had to let the coaching duties go.
Carlson had been head coach of the team for five years and the assistant coach six years before that. She also helped out with the softball team for several years. She has taken her team into the state tournament every year.
"The girls, parents and administration have wonderful to work with. My assistant coaches have been great too." she said as she reminisced about the years, "It is sad to end with that loss in the championship game, but it was still the best year yet. The girls gave it their all and it will be a great one to remember."
She still enjoys coaching, but the time and effort begins way before the season starts with camps, open gyms and scheduling. She does hope to return to coaching one day, but for now she has a dream to follow.
John Watkins had not even planned to coach the four years that he did. He has already retired from a career as a wrestling coach in 1995 in the Las Vegas area. He agreed to step in and coach one year while the district found a new coach. Close to six years later he has told them it is time they got that job done.
"The team need a young, but experienced coach who can get down and wrestle with the boys to show them what they are talking about. I can't do that any more." he explained.
Watkins sees sports and especially wrestling as a way for young men to develop discipline and good character. He has prided himself in getting to be part of helping many lay the foundation for years to come. He says he has enjoyed watching kids come in with mediocre talent and work hard to become polished and dynamic adults.
He continues to stay in touch with many of his past athletes. He believes that every athlete that has a decent coach that cares goes on to be successful in life because they learn how to overcome adversity and stick to things until they master them.
He will not miss the need to fund raise to keep his program alive. They have built a good core of corporate sponsors over the years for items like hotel rooms and entry fees that come in at over $3,600 a season, but still it is almost a full time job in itself.
Carbon High Principal Greg Stanfield is looking to fill the positions as soon as possible. Back in January he was commenting on what a good coaching staff he had to work with. Now he looks back at the irony of that statement and hopes he is able to find new talent to fill the holes left behind. Carbon also heads to a new region again as the UHSSA has realigned again and will face teams like Payson, Spanish Fork, Delta and North Sanpete.