By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
There comes a time when a coach has to decide whether to continue coaching or step away and enjoy other things in life.
For South Laurel football Coach Larry Welch, that time is now, as he has decided not only to retire from coaching at the end of December, but also from teaching.
“After checking on the money working versus money retiring, that was a big factor,” Welch said. “And I thought I have coached and taught most of my adult life, which is very time consuming, and there’s a few things on my bucket list I’d like to mark off before I get to old to enjoy.”
Welch coached four seasons at South Laurel, where he as 10-32 with two trips to the playoffs, in 2011 and 2009. He was also head coach at North Laurel, and an assistant at South Laurel, Rockcastle County and Laurel County.
Welch said the decision to retire was hard, but “life has different seasons and I look forward to this one.”
“It was very hard to tell the team of my decision,” Welch said. “But I emphasized how much I cared about them and I’d be their number one fan.”
Welch said he wasn’t sure what he wanted his legacy at South Laurel to be, but he did know what he wanted his players to get from his coaching.
“I wanted players to have a positive experience and to help them grow into young adults with character, work ethic, team building and purpose,” Welch said. “The most important thing is what the players remember, whether it is wins, losses or special hits, occasions and activities we did together.”
There are several special memories that Welch will take away from his experience with the Cardinals.
“Some of the kids scoring their first varsity touchdown and their first varsity start,” Welch said. “The closeness and friendships and bonds with a lot of players, most important them coming back after graduation, calling and keeping in contact. For some of them just graduating.”
And there were three very special memories that will always stay with him.
“Travis Burns being able to focus and perform in a time that, for most, would be impossible just carrying on,” Welch said, referring to Burns playing after his mother passed away. “And seeing a player that actually had to have his heart stopped and put back in rhythm return to the field in a couple of weeks and starting.”
Then there was one that hit closer to home: Getting to coach his son.
“Watching my son play through high school after not being able to because I was coaching outside of the county when he was younger,” Welch said. “There were some big wins and big plays that come to mind but just being able to share them as a team is what I will remember.”