Sports News

Aug 14, 2012 4:18 PM by Scott Breen - Q2 Sports

Van Diest emotional in addressing resignation thoughts

HELENA - Carroll College faithful are breathing a lot easier today after confirmation from head coach Mike Van Diest that he will not immediately resign.

Speculation on Van Diest's future caught fire Monday after word leaked that he had met with players Sunday to inform them he was considering resignation. Van Diest was unavailable for comment on Monday, but met with the media Tuesday.

"Selfishly, the time wasn't right to do what I did, and I'm very upset about that," Van Diest said. "Thankfully, there were a lot of people to help me through those last two days. It was tough. A lot tougher than I would have liked it to been."

"What took place these last couple days is not a culmination of what's been happening here these last couple years," he said. "It goes beyond the scoreboard. What it came down to was a self-analysis of myself. I've built up a wall around myself and not let a lot of people in."

"I grew up in playing sports in Helena and was a sore loser. What's motivated me for years is, I coach out of fear," he continued. "What I look for in myself is, I demand a lot. I look for that in my family, from my players, managers, athletic trainers, whatever. I had to re-evaluate those reasons to see if that's who I really was again. And I don't know that's who I was."

Van Diest said he spent a lot of time with family over the last couple months contemplating where his life stood after 37 years of coaching.

"It was never about Carroll College not being the right place for me... or because I didn't like Carroll, or what was going on here," he said, growing emotional. "It was never about anything with the players. Those guys mean more to me than most people know. My expectations are very high and I don't think I was living up to those."

Van Diest said he didn't know why thoughts of resigning hit him at the moment that they did, but said he was glad to be back where he belonged Wednesday morning, which was on the field coaching linebackers.

Van Diest and the Saints kick off their season a week from Friday at MSU-Northern.

Entering his 14th year at Carroll, Van Diest has led the Fighting Saints to six national championships and 12 straight Frontier Conference titles for one of the most dominating runs in college football history. His teams posted a 157-22 record in that span, including a Frontier Conference mark of 105-11 and a 36-6 playoff record in the last 12 years.

Last season Carroll reached the National Championship game for the 8th time in 10 years before losing 24-20 to St. Xavier, Illinois.

In 2010 Carroll won it's sixth National Title finishing 14-0 with a 10-7 championship win over the University of Sioux Falls. It was the 4th time under Van Diest that the Saints finished perfect, including 2003, 2005 and 2007.

During Van Diest's tenure, Carroll has showcased the NAIA's National Player of the Year four times. Tyler Emmert received the award in 2003 and 2005. Owen Koeppen was named Player of the Year in 2008. Chance Demaris won the award last season.

While at Carroll College, Van Diest has coached 33 All-Conference linebackers with seven being named First Team All-Americans: Joe Horne (2001), Cory Perzinski (2002), Marcus Atkinson (2003), Gary Cooper (2004, 2005), Seamus Molloy (2006), Owen Koeppen (2007, 2008) and Thomas Dolan (2010). Horne, Atkinson, Cooper and Dolan were also named Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Van Diest has been named Frontier Conference Coach of the Year nine times. In 2003 and 2005 he was named NAIA National Coach of the Year by the American Football Association as well as the AFCA Coach of the Year in 2003, 2007 and 2010.

Van Diest is a 1970 graduate of Helena High School. His career has included stops at his alma mater, the University of Wyoming, the University of Montana, the University of Massachusetts, and the Big Ten representative, Northwestern University, as an assistant coach. Van Diest has won titles at Montana (Big Sky Champions, 1982), Wyoming (two Western Athletic Conference Championships and one Pacific Division Championship, 1986) and twelve Frontier Conference Championships at Carroll, as well as the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2010 NAIA National Championships. He and his wife Heidi have two sons, Shane, 25 and Clay, 18.


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