Eastlake football coach Gene Dales resigned on Monday, citing the need to take care of personal and family issues that limited his commitment to football.
Dales, 57, steps away two games into his eighth year at Eastlake, the school he guided to the 4A state quarterfinals last season. Dales said he stayed up all night on Sunday before deciding he couldn’t give the needed time and effort to football.
Pat Parnell, Eastlake’s defensive coordinator, will serve as the interim coach. The Wolves are 0-2 this season for the first time in Dales’ tenure.
“It was a gut-wrencher,” Dales said when reached by phone Monday afternoon. “I didn’t sleep last night. It was an all-nighter really just going through the pros and the cons and not wanting the players and community to think I was giving up on them, but also to make it stated in such a way that I realized, given my circumstances, that I wasn’t giving 100 percent. That’s the way it should be. It would be better for all parties for me to step away at this time.”
In a statement, Dales said his father passed away in July and that his wife, Jackie, had been admitted into a two-week program in October at National Jewish Health in Denver to evaluate her chronic respiratory disorder.
“You always hear about guys that want to spend more time with their family,” Dales said. “In my situation, I’ve just got a lot of personal things that are going on that are conflicting with the amount of time it takes to do the job right. I just didn’t feel like it was fair to my players or my coaches for me not to be able to focus 100 percent and give everything I’ve got. That’s what we always expect from them, and I wasn’t able to do it.”
He informed Eastlake athletic director Pat Bangasser at 7:15 a.m. Monday morning of his decision before telling his team later that afternoon.
“It was very difficult because obviously I have a passion for the game,” Dale said. “It’s been a part of my life for 47 years. That part was really difficult for me. I was laughing afterwards because I was realizing that this must be what all the guys feel like on their last day when they’re playing and they have to come to grips with it. In my situation, I’m looking at it as I’m probably done as a head football coach. Stepping away probably means I’m stepping away for the rest of my life.”
According to the Eastlake football website, Dales’ teams have made it to the playoffs in 23 of the past 27 years while three of those teams have played in the championship game. The site also said this: “The week-long preparation which culminates in Friday Night’s execution is the thrill and challenge which continues to spark Coach Dales’ love for the game.”
“Your No. 1 priority in your life is your family,” said Banger, the Eastlake athletic director. “He’s put his heart and soul into the program for eight years and done really well. We thank him for what he’s done, and we understand it’s a tough decision. The timing wasn’t ideal, but you do what you’ve got to do for your family.”
Said Dales, whose voice started wavering as he spoke, “I love my school. I love my kids. It’s just a hard thing to do and not do it right.”
Eastlake plays Seattle Prep on Friday.
Here is the statement Dales released in full:
This past summer has been a difficult one for the Dales family. My father passed away this past July and my wife has been admitted into a 2 week program at National Jewish in Denver, Colorado this October to evaluate her chronic respiratory disorder. Since family always comes first, these factors along with other personal issues have brought me to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of both my family and the program that I step down as the Football Coach at Eastlake effective today. At this time I cannot provide the time, energy and passion that these players and coaches deserve.
We have an excellent coaching staff in place and I am confident that Coach Parnell will motivate and lead the program immediately. I have loved the past seven seasons at Eastlake and thank everyone for the friendship and support they have provided.