Van Diest stays put at CarrollMike Van Diest says he coaches out of fear — the fear of failure, the fear of falling short of his own high standards, the fear of being fired.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Mike Van Diest says he coaches out of fear — the fear of failure, the fear of falling short of his own high standards, the fear of being fired.
That fear has driven him to a 157-22 record, six NAIA national championships and three runner-up finishes as the head coach of the Carroll College football team. But it also may have led to a personal crisis that nearly caused him to resign just weeks before the start of the 2012 season.
“I don’t think I was living up to the expectations I set for myself,” he said.
Van Diest explained in an emotional news conference Tuesday the last two wrenching days in which speculation swirled that he was stepping down. He said that recently, and particularly after Saturday’s scrimmage, he noticed himself seeing his players more for the skills they could bring to the field than as young men who are more than just athletes.
“I found myself only looking at that part of the person, that part of the player,” he said.
That realization made him flash back to how he was treated in 1985, when as an assistant he and the rest of the University of Montana coaching staff were fired after a 3-8 season.
“We were just football coaches,” he said.
Other things had been piling up, too. The long hours. His sons were only home for a short time this summer. One son, Shane, is an assistant to Joe Glenn at South Dakota and the other, Clay, is playing hockey in Canada.
“I just never really had time to sit down with Heidi and the boys.”
He met with some of the players Sunday night and talked about resigning.
Word quickly spread around the state.
But Van Diest then made a self-analysis of “Mike Van Diest, not just as head coach,” but how he could be a better friend, husband, parent and colleague. He talked with his family, trusted friends, athletic director Bruce Parker and Carroll’s chaplain, the Rev. Marc Lenneman. He heard from many supporters.
And he stepped back from the brink and decided to stay on the job.