- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In early June, a line in Mike Nines’ email signature read “Head Football Coach, Leonardtown High School” because, at the time, he was heading into his fourth year as head man of the program.
But just two weeks ago, he and his wife Ashley were offered teaching jobs at the same Pennsylvania high school.
Thus, Nines has stepped down as Leonardtown head football coach and his wife followed suit as she stepped away from the Great Mills High School girls head soccer coach position.
“My wife and I both got jobs in Pennsylvania where we’re closer to our families, and because of that, it was a family decision,” Nines said.
Now, that email signature will no longer have the words “Leonardtown High School” in it.
“It was extremely hard,” Mike Nines said. “It’s still really hard. I am all in it for the kids. We have a great team coming back with a bunch of really good kids, and it is difficult to leave them.”
Nines has spent five years within the Leonardtown program, two as an assistant and three as head coach, but it was his last year as head coach that will go down as perhaps the most memorable.
He was named The Enterprise 2012 All-County Co-Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 5-5 record and the St. Mary’s County football championship.
The season was made memorable after a 44-21 victory Sept. 28 over Chopticon, which ended an 18-year losing streak to the Braves.
Nines admitted that he will have two long-lasting memories as he leaves the Leonardtown program, the kids who have come through and that late-September victory.
“I’d say the memory that I will always have is ending the Chopticon run and beating them [last] year,” he said. “Knowing that the kids worked so hard and were so happy after the fact is going to be one that sticks out of my mind for a long time.”
As Nines was promoted to the head coaching spot from his assistant position, one of his assistants will do the same. James Klenk will be the new head man of the Raiders football team.
“I’ve worked with him and he has been on my staff for years, and I know they are going to do great in the future. That makes me feel better,” Nines said.
After informing his staff and Leonardtown athletic director Randy Tira of his decision, Nines admitted that the word begin to spread, which left him the task of telling one more group of people, his players.
“I pulled my kids in two weeks ago in a weightlifting session and it was hard and emotional, but they know what is expected of them,” Nines said. “They are going to persevere with or without me, and I am irrelevant. It’s all about them. It was tough, but it was OK.
“I feel like I helped the kids achieve what they achieved. Taking care of them and watching them mature and grow and understand what it takes to be a football player was a rewarding experience for myself.”
Nines admitted that he has been offered coaching jobs in Pennsylvania and is weighing his options.
“My heart is still down at Leonardtown, so I don’t know if I can coach anywhere else [this] year,” he said.
His wife also is weighing options, but Nines believes that she may take a year off, too. The Hornets were 2-11 overall in Ashley’s final season in 2012, losing in the first round of the Class 4A East Region playoffs.
“Our entire married life, we have been head coaches,” Mike Nines said. “I think we may just take a season off and be a couple. There are options for both of us, but I think we are of the mindset that we’re both going to take a season off.”