Green’s Dan Gourley retiring after 36 years as coach
|Photo courtesy of Green Schools Foundation|
During his high school coaching career, Gourley has coached football, basketball, track and golf. This past season, he coached the girls track team and the boys golf team at Green High School — the two teams he has coached for the past 22 years. However, last summer Gourley made the call to retire as the coach of those teams and from his job as a teacher following the 2011-12 school year.
Gourley said his last year at Green as a teacher and a coach has been “an emotional rollercoaster.”
“It was a tough decision, but the kids have just been great,” he said. “I’ve been doing it so long and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve been doing. And it’s such a great high school. It’s been such a blessing to me.”
Gourley began his coaching career 36 years ago at Tallmadge Central Junior High. He then moved on to Spring Hill Junior High, followed by a three-year stint at Highland High School from the 1978-79 to 1980-81 school years. In the fall of 1981, Gourley came to Green, where he has taught and coached ever since.
“I became the head coach of the girls track team in 1990,” he said. “And I’ve also been the head coach of the boys golf team for about 22 years.”
Gourley said this past year felt like the right time to make a change.
“I hit that 35-year mark [as a teacher], and I felt that maybe it was time to kind of step down and maybe start a new career,” he said.
That “new career,” Gourley said, likely still will involve sports.
“I’m looking at a number of things,” he said. “I’d really like to go on and coach the college level of track. I’ve been talking to some people that I’m not ready to name yet about doing that.”
Before he decides his next move, however, Gourley said he is going to do something he hasn’t been able to do during the past three-and-a-half decades.
“Golf season always starts Aug. 1, so this will be the first time in 35 years that I’ll be able to take a vacation in August,” he said. “The people I’ve been talking to on the university level told me to get back to them once I return from vacation, so we can work something out. I’m kind of looking forward to doing something like that.”
Other opportunities Gourley said he is looking into include mentoring student teachers and “teaching a class or two” at the university where he ends up coaching.
Gourley said he spent the past year savoring his final year as a high school coach — starting with his last year as the boys golf coach.
“It was especially tough at awards night,” he said. “The guys came up and they gave me a collage of pictures and a big hug. It was really emotional.”
Among his many favorite memories, Gourley said the golf team’s trip to the state tournament in 1999 ranks among the best ones.
“That was tremendous,” he said. “It was something we didn’t expect at the time. We had a very young team and the kids just shot lights out.”
As for the girls track team, Gourley said his fondest memory is a recent one. The coach said he will always remember the 2011 season, during which the girls track team won its first Suburban League title in school history.
“That was just a great feeling,” he said. “It was an up-and-down time overall, because my mother passed away the week of the Suburban League track meet. We had the funeral on Wednesday and then we had to run on Thursday. On Friday, I had to go back to the cemetery for internment, and then on Saturday it was back to coaching in the league finals. It was a real emotional time. It was sad, but at the same time we won and my dad was there and my son was there and my grandson was there.”
Both the 2011 and 2012 girls track teams finished with 7-0 dual meet records and earned Suburban League titles.
“This year was emotional for me as well, knowing it was my last time there coaching at Green High School,” he said. “I think what really got to me was when the girls started singing the alma mater after we won the championship. I was really blown away.”
Even with new endeavors ahead of him, Gourley admitted it will be tough to see the boys golf and girls track seasons start without him.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute,” he said. “I appreciate all the support I’ve had through the years from the parents, the Board of Education, the administration and the booster club. It’s just been outstanding to be at Green. They’re all very supportive. And I’ve had some great kids to work with. I’m going to miss it — and all of them — very deeply. I always had a thing on the wall in my classroom that said, ‘I’m teaching great people to do extraordinary things.’ I’ve always believed that to be true.”
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