LIBERTY TWP. — Lakota East High School football coach Rick Haynes simply thought it was a time for change.
The longtime Thunderhawks coach informed the football team of his resignation after school Wednesday afternoon. Haynes, 61, plans to step down as dean of students on June 30, too.
“Life is about choices,” Haynes told WCPO.com. “After 13 years I just thought it was in the best interest of the program to hear a different voice, a new voice. That was my gut feeling.”
Haynes started with Lakota East in 2010 and led the Thunderhawks to their first playoff berth in 2012. Lakota East (3-7, 3-6 Greater Miami Conference in 2022) had five postseason appearances under Haynes.
“The quality of young men was second to none,” Haynes said. “Their work ethic was outstanding.”
Haynes said it was a difficult decision and he didn’t want to disclose the news during the Greater Miami Conference’s 24th annual college signing day ceremony out of respect for the student-athletes in the conference.
“I want to thank him for everything he did for our student-athletes,” Lakota East athletic director Jill Meiring said. “He’s a great role model for the guys.”
Meiring said she does not plan to name an interim coach and will allow the current assistant coaches to run the program starting this month. Meiring said she anticipates the head football coaching vacancy will be posted sometime next week.
Haynes said he would consider coaching high school football again, but just not in a head coaching capacity.
“I still think I have some gas left in the tank,” Haynes said.
Haynes is grateful for the players he’s coached over the years including 2023 offensive lineman Austin Siereveld who signed with The Ohio State University in December and enrolled early in the program.
The significant impact Haynes had in Greater Cincinnati high school football is obvious. He completed his 40th season overall of coaching (high school and college) this past fall.
“He was a great coach, ran a great program,” Sycamore coach Scott Dattilo said. “His kids played hard. They always played well in his system.”
Haynes was instrumental in implementing the triple-option offense while at Colerain. That made a significant impact in the GMC and Southwest Ohio, according to Fairfield coach Jason Krause said.
“Our league lost a good one,” Krause said. “He’s one of the best.”
Haynes was an assistant at Thomas More University from 2007 to 2009. He was an assistant coach at Colerain from 1991 to 2006 including the Cardinals’ Division I state title in 2004.
University of Cincinnati special teams coordinator and secondary coach Kerry Coombs said he treasures the days when he coached with his best friend on Cheviot Road.
“One of the finest football coaches I’ve ever encountered any any level,” Coombs said. “He’s an honorable man with an ethical standard not only for him but for others around him. It’s a loss for high school football.”
Haynes coached at Loveland from 1990 to 199, Centerville (1986-89), Springfield North (1984-85) and the University of Dayton in 1983. His impact was significant around Southwest Ohio.
“Rick is a great man and a mentor,” Oak Hills coach Justin Roden said.
Mason coach Brian Castner said Haynes simply loved to talk football and life with other GMC coaches.
“He’s what you call a football coach,” Castner said. “He’s a ball coach all the way to the core.”
Lakota West coach Tom Bolden said Haynes is instrumental in his coaching career.
“I have learned so much about football from him,” Bolden said. “He’s a huge reason why I’m a head coach. I wish him the best as he moves on in his future endeavors.”
WCPO is a media partner of The Journal-News
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