Warsaw's Phil Jensen retires from coaching football
Warsaw football's mantra has been "Son, Student, Athlete."
Head coach Phil Jensen is focusing on the first of those three, deciding to step away from the sidelines and retire from coaching.
With two kids in college, and his son Michael playing football at Indiana Weslyan, Jensen hopes to spend more time visiting family.
“There's too much conflict between college football and high school football," he said. "I’ve got a short window left with my son to be able to watch him and that’s where I’ve got to go. This dad doesn’t want to miss a second of that with his kids.”
Of course, that means giving up a leadership role he's held for the better part of two decades.
The Penn High School and Butler University grad coached the Tigers in two stints: first from 1996-2003 and then his current tenure beginning in 2008.
The school voiced its support for Jensen's decision in a statement to ABC57.
“Tiger Athletics has been very fortunate to have a leader like Coach Jensen guiding our football program for these many years," said athletic director Dave Anson. "His passion for kids is sincere, and he has been instrumental in many positive initiatives and programs. Coach Jensen has embodied our football program's Son, Student, Athlete mantra fully and served as a positive model for many. We respect the difficulty of his decision to step down from this leadership role and head coaching position, and we wish coach Jensen nothing but the best.”
That support is something Jensen says he has felt throughout his time at the school.
If there were a perfect time to step away, it was the completion of this past season.
Jensen eclipsed the 100-win mark with the Tigers with a regular-season win against Elkhart Memorial. He then became Warsaw's all-time leader in coaching wins with his 104th and final victory, beating Chesterton in sectionals.
“I think God made a couple things happen this year that made it alright to say it was time to be done. When I came here, Warsaw was one of the few schools in the state that had never won a playoff game. To win the 104th one in a playoff game at home in our new stadium, that will be a special moment for me.”
Though he's leaving the sidelines, Jensen will continue working at WCHS, and still wants to stay active in his community.
“My kids were raised here. This is home. I’ll always be a part of this.”
No replacement or candidates have yet been named.