Family and personal considerations have caused Luke Hall to resign as Taft High varsity wrestling coach
Coaching void tops Tigers’ to-do list as winter sports near
The recent resignation of Luke Hall as Taft High varsity wrestling coach for personal reasons will likely be the most difficult of nine vacant openings to fill at the school due to the nature of the sport and the recent success the program has enjoyed, Taft Athletic Director Bart Rothenberger said Monday.
It’s a tough position to fill sometimes, and I’m unsure about applicants at this point, but our goal is to fill it in the next week or so,” said the first-year Taft AD, who has four head varsity posts to fill among the 14 openings county-wide being advertised by the Lincoln County School District (the naming of Rothenberger as boys head varsity basketball coach and longtime Taft assistant and youth coach Mark Williams as girls head varsity basketball coach are pending).
“Luke’s done such a tremendous job from what I understand, and he’s got some good assistants, and we want those assistants who don’t have time to be head coach but still want to be involved with the program to continue in Luke’s absence,” Rothenberger said.
Hall, who coached four wrestlers to the State tournament in his first season back as coach after a year attending to the birth of his third child, said family considerations superseded his desire to continue coaching. Former Taft varsity head football and track and field coach James Mick and boys basketball coach Scott Henderson also cited personal reasons for their recent resignations.
“I made the decision to step down from the head wrestling coach position in order to refocus on responsibilities to my family and to my church,” said Hall, who resigned in in late August. The first wrestling practice is scheduled Nov, 14, just six weeks away.
Hall and current Taft head football coach Jake Tolan shared the Manny Lopez All-Sports Coach of the Year Award for their contributions to North County sports just last April.
Hall, who coached two wrestlers [Seth Steere and Joe Salsbery] to the State tournament in 2013-14, took the 2014-2015 season off for the birth of his third daughter. Tolan (now interim head football coach) assumed Hall’s duties for the season before he returned last year to refocus the team on the future. Four Taft wrestlers — Everett Thomas, Jacob Nelson, Michael Parker and Cade Knott — reached the State tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Only Parker had any appreciable previous wrestling experience.
“While it was a helpful season off, this past year has made me aware that, for this season of life at least, I am unable to maintain the commitment level I would want to for the wrestling program while simultaneously providing the leadership and support required of me as a father and husband,” he said. “As a result, I feel that I have not filled any of these responsibilities as well as is deserved.
“I believe that leading a wrestling program is a larger investment of time and energy than any other sport. The wrestling season has annually been a grueling four months for my family, and has also represented a difficult balance to maintain with my work as a youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church. In order for me to reprioritize my commitment to my wife and girls, wrestling was, unfortunately, an ‘extra’ endeavor that needed to go.”
Hall said Taft wrestling is ready for, and deserving of, a coach who can make a year-round commitment to the program, investing in offseason competition, camps and coaching training that he did not have enough time or energy to accomplish.
He thanked several people for the opportunity to be the head wrestling coach at Taft.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had over these last seven years to be a part of something very special to me,” he said.
In particular, Hall thanked former coach Jim Rodriquez for first hiring him in 2008; former Principal Scott Reed for giving him the opportunity to lead the program; current Principal Majalise Tolan for her continuing support; and the many athletic directors, parent volunteers, boosters and community members who helped make his coaching experience something he would treasure for his entire life.
“ I am indebted to the investment made by Jake Tolan, Chet Parker, and Tyler Cunningham in their service as not only assistant coaches, but in their reinforcement of me during the grind. I am especially grateful for the amazing patience and grit of my wife, Jennifer, who’s tougher than any wrestler I’ve met for her willingness to be a ‘wrestling widow’ for some 28 months, and for the leadership and community of Faith Baptist Church for not only supporting my investment in coaching, but for becoming some of Taft wrestling’s most visible fans and supporters.”
Hall also thanked the student-athletes he coached for a memorable experience.
“Most of all, I thank the kids who had the toughness and resolve to pour their lives into Taft wrestling and make this experience so amazing,” he said. “These young men, and sometimes women, are truly my heroes. I have been inspired in watching them overcome adversity on and off of the mat and am immeasurably proud of the men and women they have become and are becoming.”
Taft is seeking a varsity head track and field coach, an assistant track and field coach, a girls junior varsity assistant basketball coach. a middle school assistant football coach and a junior varsity softball coach
Rothenberger said former Taft High multisport athlete Tyler Lopez will fill a vacant assistant football coaching position. He said selection of assistant coaches in various sports will be determined once the head coaches are installed and able to select their own staffs. Rothenberger said he was concentrating his efforts on filling the winter openings before attending to the spring sports vacancies.