Being head coach of the Helias football team was Chris Hentges' dream job.
He was an All-American for the Crusaders in the 1980s, playing for his father, Ray. And when he decided to become a football coach, Helias was where he wanted to be. But there's more to life than following your dream.
"It came down to priorities and balance," Hentges said Monday night after announcing he was stepping down after five years as Helias' head coach. <!-- "Football had become No. 1 in my life and my family had become second and it had been that way for the past few years and that's not right.
"Football isn't life, even though some people might think it is. Being a head football coach today has a way of dominating your life if you let it and that's what happened to me over the past five years."
Hentges noticed gradually over the past few years football was taking over his life. Things such as the weight room, clinics and revamping playbooks had to be done.
"Even in the middle of summer, it was always on my mind, I was preoccupied even though I needed to take some time away from it," Hentges said. "But that was hard to do.
"I don't want to say it was consuming me, but it was definitely dominating many aspects of my life. I was putting that pressure on myself."
And it was that pressure, from himself and no one else, that brought about his decision.
"The administration, even though they didn't want me to step down, was very supportive," said Hentges, who along with his wife, have four children ranging from a sophomore at Helias to a 4-year-old.
Helias Dean of Students Stan Ochsner said he understands the reasoning behind the decision.
"We're sad here at Helias, Chris is a great football coach, but he has his priorities straight," saud Ochsner, who had young children himself while serving as a head coach at Helias. "It's hard for somebody to walk away from a position like this, but he wants to do it for his family and that's admirable.
"Speaking from experience, that time with your family just flies by."
Hentges made the announcement near the conclusion of the Crusaders' football banquet at the school.
"I wanted to do it in front of the players and the parents so they could hear it from me," he said.
The Crusaders won 50 games under Hentges, including district titles the past four seasons. Helias was the Class 4 runner-up in 2008 and 2009.
"I'm proud of what we've done here and I think what we've done is important," Hentges said. "But there's nothing as important as being a father and a husband."
Hentges will continue to teach at Helias.
"I have no offers and no plans to go anywhere else," he said. "I don't ever see myself leaving this school, I am a Crusader for life."
Hentges still has a desire to coach football. And he knows, at some point in the future, he will.
"It's in my blood, it's been a part of my life for so long," he said. "I need to step back, get away, be a dad for a while, then I fully expect to come back and be a part of the football program in the future.
"I can't just sit in the stands, that's not me. But I need to achieve that balance first."
The decision on Hentges' replacement will be made soon, Ochsner said. One obvious choice on the staff is assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Phil Pitts, a Helias graduate.
"Helias gave me the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream, to be the head football coach here," Hentges said. "And I will forever be thankful for that."
2006 7-3 2007 10-0
• 2008 8-1
• 2009 10-0
• 2010 6-4
2007 0-1 2008 4-1
• 2009 4-1
• 2010 1-1
•-Class 4 runner-up -->