Andy Stoner loves football, but his family means the world to him.
So after some long talks with wife Adrienne, and soul-searching, Stoner has decided to step away from the game.
Unofficially, after six seasons, Stoner has decided to resign as the James Buchanan Rocket head football coach.
“I love coaching, but I love my family more,” said the 41-year-old Stoner. “I can finally try to be a true husband and father now.”
This was not a spur of the moment decision.
This had nothing to do with giving into unhappy parents.
And this was not because of a lack of support from school administration or the surrounding communities.
This was about deciding whether to continue to spend day after day, month after month eating and sleeping football and only spending some time with his family OR finally turning all his time to being with Adrienne and watching Hannah and Allie at competitive cheer competitions, cheering for Jacob on the baseball diamond and wrestling mat, supporting David Taylor has he embarks on his young wrestling career and chasing Samuel around at all the siblings’ events.
“This was a very tough decision, but it was a decision we wanted to make,” Stoner said. “When I took this job six years ago it was my dream job. You never expect to coach at the high school you played at, but I got the opportunity. I fell in love with coaching and teaching the players. I wanted to show them how to be treated well and included in a program.”
And like any coach, Stoner would’ve liked to have seen more wins, but it was never about wins and losses for him.
“I wanted each player to develop into a whole person and not just an athlete,” said Stoner, who finished with an 8-51 overall record. “I tried to do more things with the players than just on the field.”
The direction of the football program looked like it was going to get a boost when the Rockets decided to leave the Mid Penn Conference and go to an independent schedule this season, but that didn’t happen.
“We got to play smaller schools that compared better to us number wise,” Stoner said. “We had a lot of injuries at key positions. We played three different quarterbacks and lost our top running back the third game of the season. We only won one game, but we were in two other games that we didn’t finish. The bottom line and biggest problem with our program is we still need more players. We have a lot of players going both ways so when someone gets hurt we have to try to fill in, but we don’t have enough players.”
Finding a replacement for Stoner will happen, but finding one with the same kind of passion, drive and compassion for the Rocket football program will be tough.
So now, for days, weekends and months to come, Stoner will get some well deserved time away from what kept him away from his one true love – his family.
“I’m gonna miss it, but I’m looking forward to all my time with my family,” Stoner said.