PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The football field at Richwoods High School has been Roland Brown’s office since 1986.
He’s wrapping up a 35-year teaching and coaching career this school year.
“It’s been my home away from home for 35 years. A lot of times I spend more time here than I do at home,” Brown said. “It’s been a great place with great people.”
He thought his final season as the Knights head football coach would be this fall. But the Illinois High School Association moved football from fall to spring due to the pandemic. So this fall gthere are no games, no scouting reports to prepare, and no padded practices.
His team is practicing in helmets a couple of days a week through October. Not the retirement season he envisioned.
“I sit back and think, it’s a weird way to end things up. It’s an empty feeling not having anything on a Friday night,” said Brown.
The veteran coach says the hardest thing about this fall isn’t necessarily the lack of games, it’s the lack of interaction he has with his players. With Richwoods students remote learning, he doesn’t see his players in the classroom, or the hallways or in the cafeteria.
He only sees them at 4:00 on the practice field a couple days a week.
“There’s always that time you see them in the hallway,” Brown said. “Just to see day to day behavior, (talk about) day to day grades. You miss out on it when they’re not with you.”
Brown says an unusual final year at Richwoods can’t wipe out all the great years that have led to this point. He just enjoys being with his players on a limited basis this fall and looks forward to kicking off the season in a few months.
“I’ve had a great staff and great kids over the years. The phenomenal coaches I’ve been able to work with, phenomenal kids,” Brown said. “It’s made it a pleasure.”