In deciding to leave Kernel football job, Van Overschelde said resignation was 'on my heart for a while'
Mitchell High School football coach Kent Van Overschelde announced his resignation as the Kernels' head coach on Monday, ending a 16-year tenure as the team's leader and 20 total seasons on staff.
MITCHELL — For the first time since 2003, Kent Van Overschelde won’t be roaming the Joe Quintal Field sidelines this fall.
After 20 seasons coaching Mitchell High School football, including the past 16 seasons as the program’s head coach, Van Overschelde and activities director Cory Aadland announced the longtime coach's decision to step away on Monday afternoon.
In the announcement, Van Overschelde cited “prioritizing faith and family” as the primary reason for his departure, which he reiterated to the Mitchell Republic in a one-on-one interview on Tuesday afternoon.
“You’ve got to have something to believe in, someone to love and who loves you and something to do,” Van Overschelde explained, echoing a sentiment often attributed to legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of time my thoughts and time were focused on that third priority, so I hope to focus more on my family and faith.
“The decision wasn’t something that I had just made, it has been on my heart for a while,” Van Overschelde continued. “I weighed the positives, and like I do with everything, I make a commitment and go 100% toward that.”
While Van Overschelde resigned from his football position, he re-confirmed his short-term commitments to teaching and coaching MHS softball this spring in the first season as an activity sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.
“From the beginning, I’ve looked forward to that opportunity,” Van Overschelde said. “When March 20 rolls around, we’ll be firing up softball and I’m excited again because a privilege I have in this community is to coach and lead a program.”
Even so, the decision to resign from coaching football caught many by surprise, Aadland included.
“There was no indication that he was considering it,” Aadland said. “Since the season up to now, we’ve had normal conversations that we’d have every offseason (such as equipment, kids and coaches). It certainly wasn’t something that I was expecting, so it definitely caught me off-guard.”
According to Aadland, he and Van Overschelde had a conversation late last week and the weekend was used to give the idea some final thought before it was confirmed by Monday’s announcement. In beginning the search for the next MHS head coach, Aadland expressed “the natural thing would be to look for a lot of similar things (to Van Overschelde).” Per Aadland, the search for a new coach will begin immediately.
As for Van Overschelde, he noted that the outpouring of support from friends, family, former players and the community at large since the announcement has been “overwhelming” but he’s “so appreciative of that response.”
“I think everyone gets to a point in their profession when you feel like it’s the best time (to step away). I looked at where we are as a family and some of the things I want to do going forward,” Van Overschelde said in reflection. “A day removed from the decision, I feel a little selfish, but also I really feel that I leave the position without any regrets. I feel fortunate because there’s a rarity in that.”