Pat Samanich’s 18-year tenure as a football coach at New Albany High School came to an end April 30, but the full gravity of his decision might not hit him until August.
Instead of planning two-a-day practices, he will be fitting into his new job as dean of students.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m excited,” said Samanich, who resigned after five seasons as head coach. “The timing works out. For where we are as a family, to be approached about a leadership position like this, it was something that really interested me. I think I can serve students in a larger capacity. That (being) said, my heart hurts leaving the program.”
Samanich was 39-20 overall and 24-7 in the OCC-Capital Division with the Eagles, including three Division II regional runner-up finishes and league championships each of the past two years.
Samanich’s resignation and promotion into the newly created position were announced in a statement on the school’s athletics website April 30. He currently is a technology teacher at the high school and will continue in that role for half a day next year while working as dean of students the other half.
The statement was released at the same time Samanich was meeting with his players, according to athletics director Richie Wildenhaus.
“Pat has influenced 120 guys on the sideline, and in this new role he can spread his impact and leadership over the entire campus,” Wildenhaus said, adding Samanich still will have some presence in the athletics department through professional development programs. “Pat was on my interview committee when I was coming here. We’re both from the same high school (Kettering Fairmont). He was one of the first guys to welcome me to New Albany when I was still in Colorado (in my previous athletics director job). I value the friendship we have.”
New Albany went 8-5 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital last year, losing to Massillon Washington 24-6 in the Region 7 final.
Samanich came to New Albany in 2000, coaching quarterbacks, receivers and special teams under coaches Jamie Masi (2000-03) and Mike Golden (2004) before being promoted to offensive coordinator when Mark Mueller became head coach in the spring of 2005.
Samanich succeeded Mueller, his college roommate at Ashland University, in March 2013.
The Eagles reached regional finals the past two years despite starting 1-3 each season.
Running back Alex Cox said Samanich was a masterful motivator, especially when the team struggled.
“He forced improvement, and it was in the right way,” Cox said. “He’s been a great role model who’s given us a lot of core values. He’s really helped us become better young men. (Samanich stepping down) hit us hard, but he’s told us he’s still going to be there for us. We’ll play as hard for our next coach as we have for him. That’s what he expects from us.”
As April 30 officially was Samanich’s last day as coach, the job was posted internally for three days beginning May 1. If a suitable candidate is not found by then, the position will be posted externally, according to Wildenhaus.
Samanich, who also coaches middle school track and field, said he still plans to be around the program as able.
“(August) is when I’ll really miss being in the locker room where the work gets done. This program is just special to me,” he said. “But my (oldest) daughter (Evie) will be a senior next year and we’re exploring college options now. I want to make sure I’m fulfilling responsibilities to my family, too.”